2. CNN's Jim Acosta: Palin 'Still Very Much on Script, Teleprompter'
3. NYT: Palin 'Petty'; McCain Guilty of 'Demonstrable Falsehoods'
4. Cokie Roberts Links McCain's Fannie Mae Plans to Herbert Hoover
Media Appearance Alert: Clay Waters, of the MRC's TimesWatch site, is scheduled to appear this morning, Tuesday, on the Fox News Channel at 9:45 AM EDT (8:45 AM CDT, 7:45 AM MDT, 6:45 AM PDT) to discuss New York Times coverage of the presidential campaign.
If Katie Couric is to be consistent and treat Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whom Couric is scheduled to interview this week, as gently as she did Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden in her day with him Thursday in Ohio which became a story on the Monday night CBS Evening News, she will (Couric quotes from the Biden story in the parentheses):
# Not apply any ideological label: ("We decided to take a closer look at the 65-year-old Senator from Delaware.")
# Hail her outspokenness: ("You say what's on your mind and I think people appreciate that.")
# Ignore obvious factual/historical flubs: (Biden: "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on television...") FDR was not in office at the time of the 1929 crash and his "fireside chats" were on the radio.
# Relay as reality positive campaign spin about her attributes: ("Relating to the fears of the average American is one of Biden's strong suits.")
# Cue up campaign rally attendees to praise her: ("What was it about what he said that really resonated with you in particular?" Answers: "I think he expressed what most working Americans feel at the moment. He seems to relate to our pain." and "I want him in office because I believe he will do things for women.")
# Empathize with the challenge she faces at the upcoming debate: ("Are you worried you're going to have to pull your punches a bit because of her gender and you don't want to seem like you're bullying her? It's a different dynamic when it's a male/female thing, isn't it?")
# And if she repudiates a McCain-Palin TV ad, CBS and Couric will not jump to publicize the internal dispute and wait until the story airs to mention it late in the story, then give her the last word to say the other campaign's ads are worse:
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The "Katie Couric Reports" story, "Joe Biden: Behind the Scenes," on the Monday, September 22 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: The way it usually works, after the conventions the nominees for Vice President usually fade into the background, but not this year. The choice of Sarah Palin has focused a lot of attention on the number-two spot on both tickets. Joe Biden spoke today to the National Guard Association and said the Guard should have a greater voice at the Pentagon, noting more than half the Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans are guardsmen and reservists.
The CBSNews.com version, with video. The online story text is markedly different from what aired: www.cbsnews.com
On Monday's American Morning, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta tried to throw a bit of cold water on the news that tens of thousands showed up in central Florida for a Sarah Palin campaign rally on Sunday. When co-host John Roberts asked about the high turnout, Acosta replied: "[T]his was an enormous crowd out here in Florida. She is still very much on script, John -- still very much on that teleprompter, talking mainly in generalities."
Roberts, besides asking about the Palin rally, asked if the Alaska Governor had mentioned the proposed financial bailout during her speech, since the two of them had discussed Barack Obama and John McCain's responses to the proposal and how it may affect how the two will campaign on the issue of the economy. Besides mentioning the "enormous crowd," he referenced how the campaign stop was located in "that central Florida -- critical I-4 corridor area," and how Palin played up McCain's credentials with economic issues.
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
One wonders when CNN will get around to Obama's use of the teleprompter and generalities during his long campaign for the presidency.
The transcript of the relevant portion of the Roberts-Acosta segment, which aired 34 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour of Monday's American Morning:
JOHN ROBERTS: ...McCain did acknowledge yesterday that the President does not have the power to actually fire the SEC chairman.
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt evaluated two tough political stories in the Sunday Week in Review, one anti-McCain, the other anti-Palin. While he found the McCain piece fair, he faulted the anti-Palin piece. In both cases, Times reporters and editors rallied to the defense of the pieces. Political editor Richard Stevenson found McCain guilty of "demonstrable falsehoods" and Executive Editor Bill Keller accused Sarah Palin of "sometimes petty, peremptory" political leadership in Alaska.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from Hoyt's September 21 piece:
When a newspaper like The Times takes a tough, critical look at a candidate in this year's presidential election, it has to give readers enough solid evidence to make up their own minds about whether it is being accurate and fair. Consider two front-page articles last weekend: I think one delivered the goods and one fell short.
The first, in Saturday's paper, reported that John McCain had drawn "an avalanche of criticism" from Democrats, independents and even some Republicans "for regularly stretching the truth" about Barack Obama's record and positions.
Without relying on others to make the charge, the article declared that the McCain campaign had "twisted Mr. Obama's words" to suggest he had compared Sarah Palin to a pig. It also stated that McCain himself had "falsely claimed" that Obama supported comprehensive sex education for kindergartners, had "repeatedly and incorrectly asserted" that Obama would raise taxes on the middle class, and had "misrepresented" Obama's positions on energy and health care.
Hoyt quoted a Times editor:
But the Times article was built on a solid foundation of fact, and Richard Stevenson, the editor directing coverage of the election, said, "We don't want to fall into the trap of false equivalency." He said reporters had seen a pattern of "demonstrable falsehoods, exaggerations, misconstruals or omissions" on the part of McCain that seemed notable, even for a heated presidential campaign. While the article said that Obama's "hands have not always been clean in this regard" -- he "incorrectly" said that McCain supported a hundred-year war in Iraq, "distorted" his record on school financing and took economic comments "out of context" -- the brunt fell on McCain because of his large number of misrepresentations recently.
That echoes the notorious memo from then-ABC News political director Mark Halperin during the heat of the Bush-Kerry contest in October 2004, bemoaning the myth of equal accountability of both parties and urging his staff to "step up" and "serve the public interest" by defending Kerry against Bush attacks:
....the current Bush attacks on Kerry involve distortions and taking things out of context in a way that goes beyond what Kerry has done.
Kerry distorts, takes out of context, and mistakes all the time, but these are not central to his efforts to win.
We have a responsibility to hold both sides accountable to the public interest, but that doesn't mean we reflexively and artificially hold both sides "equally" accountable when the facts don't warrant that.
I'm sure many of you have this week felt the stepped up Bush efforts to complain about our coverage. This is all part of their efforts to get away with as much as possible with the stepped up, renewed efforts to win the election by destroying Senator Kerry at least partly through distortions.
It's up to Kerry to defend himself, of course. But as one of the few news organizations with the skill and strength to help voters evaluate what the candidates are saying to serve the public interest. Now is the time for all of us to step up and do that right.
END of Excerpt
More in the October 9, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Back to Public Editor Hoyt's column from Sunday:
Jim Rutenberg, one of two reporters who wrote the article, said he felt comfortable describing McCain's false, incomplete or misleading statements in declarative fashion because The Times had independently reported the facts and given them to readers. The false charge that Obama supported comprehensive sex education for kids in kindergarten had been refuted two days earlier in a "Check Point," the newspaper's vehicle for assessing the accuracy of campaign claims. A chart with the Saturday article compared McCain's charges on taxes, energy and health with the facts.
Journalist Byron York actually did some research on the bill and came to an opposite conclusion -- that McCain was right: "The fact is, the bill's intention was to mandate that issues like contraception and the prevention of sexually-transmitted diseases be included in sex-education classes for children before the sixth grade, and as early as kindergarten." See: article.nationalreview.com
Hoyt did find reason people might find the Times unfair to conservatives in its negative would-be expose of Palin's political style in Alaska:
It began with a sweeping assertion: "Gov. Sarah Palin lives by the maxim that all politics is local, not to mention personal." Scott Blum of Atlanta said, "To justify stating this conclusion so forcefully in a front-page news article, the body of evidence had better be so compelling that most reasonable people would agree." But Blum found the article "largely one-sided" and unconvincing.
I think it presented a series of unflattering anecdotes, some confusing and incomplete, but never made the connection between style and results necessary to judge a politician who was overwhelmingly re-elected mayor and has an 80 percent approval rating as governor.
Hoyt quoted Times reporter Peter Goodman, who worked on the story, saying it was "fair, deeply reported and solid to the point that the McCain-Palin campaign has not challenged a single fact," and Executive Editor Bill Keller, who defended it:
The story demonstrated "a style very personal, sometimes petty, peremptory, and a style that demands a high degree of loyalty," [Keller] said. "That tells you something about somebody who might be president."
For Hoyt's piece in full: www.nytimes.com
On Sunday's This Week, journalist Cokie Roberts indicated that, in regards to John McCain's reaction to the ongoing financial problems on Wall Street, "...He's a Republican and whenever Republicans get into this kind of mess, everybody, even people who were not born or close to being born, the specter of Herbert Hoover comes out to, to haunt them." Roberts didn't clarify just who the "everybody" is that would connect McCain and the Depression era President.
Roberts, who appeared on the ABC program's panel to discuss last week's Fannie Mae meltdown and the government's planned bailout, also asserted a "stark contrast" between the economic advisors of Senators McCain and Barack Obama. She then added that the Democrat's liberal advisors reassure her: "I mean, the Obama advisers, with, looking at Bob Rubin and Warren Buffett and Paul Volcker in there, you know, you do feel a sense of security there."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Longtime ABC journalist Sam Donaldson placed blame for the Fannie Mae crisis at the feet of deregulation and singled out former McCain advisor Phil Gramm: "We deregulated beginning in '99 and 2000 the banking industry, Phil Gramm and others, I think that Obama ad is correct. He was one of the prime movers. Now we're going to have to clean that up at great expense."
He then derided: "So, I mean, I think for John McCain, though, who has the heaviest burden here, since he voted for all the deregulation, for him to now say he would be the toughest re-regulator is kind of a hard thing to swallow."
Of course, both Donaldson and Roberts ignored any role Democrats might have played in the collapse of Fannie Mae. An editorial in the September 17 edition of New Hampshire's Union Leader explained the part Democrats such as Senator Charles Schumer and Representative Barney Frank played in stymieing oversight:
In 2002, shortly before accounting irregularities were exposed at both companies, Frank said, "I do not regard Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as problems," The Wall Street Journal reported. After the Freddie Mac accounting scandal in 2003, Frank said, "I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis."
But there was a crisis, thanks in large part to Frank, Sen. Charles Schumer and others on the leash of these companies. In Congress, they made sure there was no additional oversight, no additional limit on executive behavior and compensation, and no further restraint on the growth of the companies' mortgage-backed-securities portfolios, among other changes.
In fact, Frank & Co. made matters worse by pushing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to take on greater risk. They wanted more loans to people who might not qualify for traditional bank financing. And, as The Wall Street Journal has pointed out, Frank "pressured regulators to ease up on their capital requirements -- which now means taxpayers will have to make up that capital shortfall."
Union Leader editorial: www.unionleader.com
SAM DONALDSON: And everyone is now for re-regulation. You know, we deregulated the savings & loan industry. When was that? It began '79, I realize. But Reagan really accelerated it and then we had to clean that up. We deregulated beginning in '99 and 2000 the banking industry, Phil Gramm and others, I think that Obama ad is correct. He was one of the prime movers. Now we're going to have to clean that up at great expense. So, I mean, I think for John McCain, though, who has the heaviest burden here, since he voted for all the deregulation, for him to now say he would be the toughest re-regulator is kind of a hard thing to swallow.
DONALDSON: But I do agree that when I say age, I don't know the difference between finding your talking points and not delivering the right ones. We've seen him do this frequently, but this last week was the worst. Between two stops in Florida, as you say, he's had to revise his thinking about what he wanted to say about the economy, wanted to feel the pain suddenly rather than say everything is great.
-- Brent Baker