2. CBS Focuses on Bolton Antagonists, Ignores Supportive Comments
3. Stephanopoulos Uses GM's Troubles to Push "National Health Care"
4. Early Show Has Time for SpongeBob and Elvis, Not Big Jobs Gain
ABC's Terry Moran treated Latvia President Vaira Vike-Freiberga as the "instigator" of controversy, during President Bush's trip to mark VE Day, for maintaining that the Soviet Union was not a "liberator" of the Baltic states, but an "occupier" for 45 years after World War II. After noting on Friday night how the "Russians are furious," Moran asked Vike-Freiberga: "So is the Russian government today, then, lying about that history?" When she replied "yes," Moran painted her as the one out of line: "That's an extraordinary thing for the head of state to say about another government." The next night, Saturday anchor Bob Woodruff portrayed the truth of the history as up for debate: "The war was followed by decades of Soviet military presence. There are many ways to view that history." Moran soon asserted: "The main instigator of this controversy is Latvia's outspoken President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga."
Woodruff brought aboard left-wing professor Stephen Cohen who saw "truth" in both views: "It's true as the Baltics complain, that they suffered around Soviet occupation. But it's also true, as Moscow points out, that the Baltic countries when they were under German occupation, collaborated with the Germans against the Russians. So who can say whose truth is truer?"
World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up the May 6 story: "President Bush has just arrived in Europe for a trip to commemorate the end of World War II. It was also planned as an opportunity for Mr. Bush to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on an anniversary of the joint U.S./Soviet victory over the Nazis. But the trip has become embroiled in controversy. And ABC's Chief White House correspondent, Terry Moran, joins us from the Baltic nation of Latvia, with more on that. Terry."
The next night, Saturday, May 7, World News Tonight anchor Bob Woodruff led his broadcast: "We begin tonight in Europe, with President Bush, 60 years to the day after Germany surrendered to the Allies in the second World War. More than 40 million people were killed in Europe. More than half of them civilians. For millions more in Eastern Europe, the war was followed by decades of Soviet military presence. There are many ways to view that history. And as President Bush discovered in Latvia today, it is a very sensitive topic. ABC's Terry Moran is in the Latvian capital."
Moran began: "In this ancient Baltic city today, which for decades was occupied by the Soviet Union, President Bush made a solemn declaration."
Woodruff then set up a brief q and a: "Let's turn, now, to Stephen Cohen, professor of Russian studies at New York University. Dr. Cohen, as Terry said, the President is in a very tough decision diplomatically. But he appears to have come down pretty squarely against the Russian view of history. Is he right?"
NYU's page for Cohen: www.nyu.edu
Veteran MRC followers or CBS watchers will recall that for many years Cohen served as a consultant to CBS News where he offered analysis from the far-left on U.S.-Soviet relations. Two examples:
-- Cohen on the October 24, 1989 CBS Evening News: "What does realistic mean with Mr. Gorbachev any more? We used to know what realism was in world affairs, but we have a Soviet leader as bold as we, I think, have ever seen, and a man who seems to be some kind of dreamer. He dreams new dreams. I think he's saying 'Match me in boldness and we'll create a new world.'"
-- From the October 1989 MediaWatch, an MRC publication:
Saturday's Washington Post carried an op-ed by Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga, "Rights and Remembrance." See: www.washingtonpost.com
"Panel Testimony on Bolton Is Mixed," read the Saturday Washington Post headline over testimony on Friday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the nomination of John Bolton for Ambassador to the UN and Friday's Post had highlighted how, "in a boost for Bolton....former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage" had "endorsed Bolton" as "eminently qualified." But none of that positive news for Bolton made it into Friday's CBS Evening News coverage. Anchor Bob Schieffer touted how "there are new snags tonight in the President's effort to get the controversial John Bolton confirmed as the new UN Ambassador." Gloria Borger led with how "Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff told Senate investigators today that it would be a mistake to confirm John Bolton as UN Ambassador" and stressed how "Democrats continue to question whether Bolton tried to intimidate intelligence officials with whom he disagreed."
Friday's story was CBS's first all week about Bolton, meaning they also overlooked, along with ABC and NBC, Margaret Thatcher's endorsement of him. Neither ABC or NBC aired a Bolton story on Friday night.
Schieffer set up the May 6 report: "There are new snags tonight in the President's effort to get the controversial John Bolton confirmed as the new UN Ambassador. Gloria Borger is at the Capitol. She has more on that. Gloria?"
Borger began: "Colin Powell's former Chief of Staff told Senate investigators today that it would be a mistake to confirm John Bolton as UN Ambassador. In a closed-door session, Lawrence Wilkerson also said that after Bolton gave some controversial speeches in 2002, he was effectively muzzled unless his public remarks were fully cleared by Powell's top lieutenants. Democrats continue to question whether Bolton tried to intimidate intelligence officials with whom he disagreed. One official is Christian Westermann. In private testimony, Westermann said he was summoned to Bolton's office, who was [text on screen] 'yelling and screaming and red in the face, and wagging his finger.' Others have testified that Bolton tried to have Westermann fired, a charge that Bolton denies."
But the next morning's Washington Post story provided a less one-sided assessment of the Friday testimony. An excerpt from the May 7 article, "Panel Testimony on Bolton Is Mixed," by Glenn Kessler:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff heard praise and criticism of John R. Bolton yesterday on the last official day of discovery in the battle over his nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. The State Department delivered volumes of documents and other information in response to lawmakers' requests, but infuriated Democrats said key requests involving Bolton's use of U.S. intelligence were not delivered....
Key witnesses yesterday included Larry Wilkerson, chief of staff of then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, former assistant secretary of state Otto Reich; and Robert L. Hutchings, former chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Wilkerson is a strong critic of Bolton, though he made it clear he was not speaking for Powell; Reich is a staunch defender; and Hutchings tangled with the nominee over language Bolton wanted inserted in speeches he made as undersecretary for arms control.
Officials involved in the investigation also provided transcripts relating to allegations by Melody Townsel, who has accused Bolton of angrily and repeatedly berating her in 1994 when she was a contract worker for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Kyrgyzstan. A letter from Townsel on the allegations helped derail a vote on Bolton three weeks ago, though the lengthy transcripts provide a murky picture of what transpired during a dispute among AID contractors.
Oddly, one of Bolton's current top aides, Matthew Freedman, was also Townsel's supervisor at the time. He told the committee in an interview Wednesday that Townsel "was very creative" and "very good" but she had a tendency to "exaggerate and use language that was inflammatory." He denied her claim that he had directed her to talk to Bolton, then a lawyer handling issues for one of the companies, and said he had "no memory" of her mentioning Bolton at the time....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff prepared to interview former secretary of state Colin L. Powell's chief of staff today as bipartisan harmony on the committee became increasingly frayed over Democratic requests for documents, interviews and other materials related to John R. Bolton's nomination as U.N. ambassador.
Democrats view Larry Wilkerson, a longtime Powell aide who has been publicly critical of Bolton, as an important guide to Powell's thinking and actions about key incidents being investigated by the committee, a Democratic aide said. Alone among living former Republican secretaries of state, Powell has pointedly refused to endorse Bolton and privately told some senators he had concerns about Bolton's judgment.
In a boost for Bolton, however, Powell's closest friend, former deputy secretary of state Richard L. Armitage, endorsed Bolton in a statement to the Associated Press. "John Bolton is eminently qualified," Armitage told a reporter as he entered an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "He's one of the smartest guys in Washington."
Asked if Bolton was a good choice, Armitage replied, "It was the president's choice and I support my president."
Armitage had many testy battles with Bolton during President Bush's first term, and his positive remarks surprised Bolton's supporters. Many of the former State Department officials who have emerged to criticize Bolton are close associates of Armitage....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
After a story on GM's financial troubles, ABC's George Stephanopoulos, on Sunday's This Week, recited to former GE CEO Jack Welch how Korea, Japan and Germany have "national health care." He then demanded: "Can American manufacturing survive if we don't have some sort of national health care system?" Later, during the roundtable segment, Stephanopoulos repeated his leading question which even Sam Donaldson found off base.
Sunday's This Week began with a taped story from Betsy Stark on the plight of General Motors. She attributed some of GM's financial troubles to how the company pays $1,500 per car in health care costs while the steel for a car only costs $800. Left unsaid: That many equivalent GM models sell for less than the Toyota model and Toyota's sales are soaring.
Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, came aboard via satellite from Fairfield, Connecticut to discuss GM's situation. Stephanopoulos asked him: "When you look at Korea, when you look at Japan, when you look at Germany, every one of those nations has national health care. Can American manufacturing survive if we don't have some sort of national health care system?"
Later, during the roundtable with George Will, Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, Will pointed out that health care benefits are just un-taxed compensation, so if those benefits were reduced, workers would expect a commensurate hike in direct compensation, thus not saving GM any costs.
Undeterred, Stephanopoulos again pressed his agenda: "Go back to George's point, Sam. He says health care is compensation. It's also true that if you look at our competitor, Korea, Japan, Germany, it is compensation paid for, subsidized by the government. Is there any way that any major manufacturer can do this on their own?"
Not much "news" on CBS News. The April employment numbers released Friday morning showed a gain of 274,000 jobs, with the figures for earlier months revised upward so that employers have added an average of 211,000 jobs per month this year, up from 183,000 a month last year. On Friday's Early Show, however, while during the 8am news update viewers learned about how "Americans are losing confidence in the economy," as the CBS program highlighted a competing network's poll, at 8:30am EDT viewers heard nothing about the then just-released employment figures. Instead, CBS viewers were treated to Hannah Storm, Rene Syler and Harry Smith singing a SpongeBob SquarePants song, "Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?", followed by weather reader Dave Price outside with a bunch of Elvis impersonators.
During the 8am news update on the May 6 Early Show, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, quad-host Hannah Storm announced: "And at home, Americans are losing confidence in the economy. Only half of Americans think the economy is doing okay. Just as many worried by interest rates and high gas prices think the economy is doing poorly. And bad news for the auto industry certainly isn't helping. General Motor's and Ford's debt is now being called 'junk'. Ford's profits are way down and GM is losing money."
An on-screen graphic gave credit to the USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll, with these findings: Rating the Economy Good/Very Good: 50% Poor/Very Poor: 49%
Fast forward a half hour and the Labor Department released very positive employment numbers which showed a big job gain the unemployment rate holding at 5.2 percent.
As the 8:30am EDT half hour opened, Early Show viewers saw and heard Rene Syler, Hannah Storm and Harry Smith sitting on a coach as they sang a song from a cartoon show for kids:
Storm: "Hi, everybody. We've been singing the song all morning 'Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?'"
Then it was outside with Dave Price and six Elvis impersonators decked out in all-white to promote CBS's Sunday movie about Elvis.
CBS devoted the remainder of its 8:30 half hour to an interview with Camryn Manheim, who played Elvis' mother in the movie, and the President of Nickelodeon to plug a new season of SpongeBob SquarePants.
-- Brent Baker