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Couric Injects Silly Girl Talk in Clinton Interview on 60 Minutes --2/11/2008


1. Couric Injects Silly Girl Talk in Clinton Interview on 60 Minutes
60 Minutes on Sunday night ran back-to-back interview segments with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and while Steve Kroft's session with Obama provided a friendly forum in which Kroft admired how "through twelve long months of mind-numbing, muscle-aching, adrenaline-fueled monotony and exhaustion, there has been barely a misstep" by Obama, it was devoid of anything approaching the giddy girl talk about mainlining coffee and high school boys Katie Couric put into her segment with Clinton. Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton "remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist." She soon wondered: "How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?" In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: "But I'm talking about pure stamina" and marveled: "Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?" Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?" Clinton denied that, prompting an exchange full of laughs and giggles about how boys treated Hillary in high school.

2. Lauer to Coulter: Aren't All You Conservatives Like 3-Year-Olds?
Friday's edition of Today on NBC had several conservative-denigrating moments over the ideological direction of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Matt Lauer interviewed columnist Ann Coulter and threw a spitball about conservatives being babies: "Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, 'if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home.' How do you respond to that?"

3. ABC: Global Warming to Force Humans to Flee Destroyed Earth?
Good Morning America weatherman and resident environmental alarmist Sam Champion wondered on Friday if global warming could cause "the ultimate climate disaster" and force humanity to abandon Earth and live in space. (Throughout the day's themed program, various GMA hosts filed reports on space and astronauts.) So, as a transition to a piece on liberal environmental issues, Champion segued: "And now to our series 'Global Warming: Global Warning.' Could global warming one day force us into space to live?" (The ABC weatherman appeared in a pool as part of a previous space segment on weightlessness.) Champion used the segment to preview a new documentary called "Six Degrees Could Change the World" that air Sunday night on the National Geographic Channel. He failed to inform viewers that the author upon which the special is based on, Mark Lynas, is a hard-left environmentalist who once threw a pie in the face of Bjorn Lomborg at a reading of Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

4. ABC Tries to Explain Absence of Gun Control Discussion
In light of recent high-profile shootings, Friday's World News with Charles Gibson featured a report that seemed to lament the absence of public calls for additional gun control. While not directly advocating new gun laws, the report cited statistics often used by those who support gun control. Before correspondent Pierre Thomas cited a poll showing 60 percent of Americans "favor stricter gun control laws," Gibson introduced the piece: "Well, there are 230 million guns in America. There are more guns than there are adults. In the past incidents, like the one in Kirkwood, would rekindle debate over gun control. But as ABC's Pierre Thomas reports, gun control advocates are now mostly silent."

5. CNN Veteran Reporter Andrea Koppel Joins Left-Wing PR Firm
Andrea Koppel, who left CNN last July after 14 years as an on-air correspondent, has joined M+R Strategic Services, a Washington, DC-based public relations firm with a long list of left of center and solidly left-wing clients, as chief of its Communications Division. Amongst the clients listed on the firm's Web site: Environmental Defense, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Turner Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, People for the American Way, Campaign for America's Future, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Organization of Women - New York State, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as well as the radical left Center for Constitutional Rights and George Soros' Open Society Institute. Koppel, the daughter of Ted Koppel, served as an international correspondent for CNN, then covered the State Department before spending her last months at CNN covering Capitol Hill. She proclaimed in the firm's press release that she wants to fight for "the voiceless in our society" as she embraced the "impressive roster of clients" and promised to help them "achieve their goals."

6. WashPost Runs Op-Ed by Artist Upset He Had to Go to White House
It's never too late, apparently, for the Washington Post to make room on its op-ed page for a gratuitous display of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), at least a comparatively mild case. On Saturday, more than two months after the December 2 Kennedy Center Honors and more than six weeks after they aired on CBS on December 26, the paper carried a piece from honoree Leon Fleisher, a pianist and conductor, about how "unhappy" he remains "that I was required to attend a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala" given "I am horrified by many of President Bush's policies." Fleisher bared his angst in a column titled "My White House Dilemma." He "wrestled" with the "dilemma" of going to the White House because: "In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of 'values' that include a careful defense of the 'rights' of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world."

7. Maher: 'Why Couldn't Rush Limbaugh Have Croaked from It?'
Bill Maher, on his HBO show Friday night, rued that it was actor Heath Ledger, and not Rush Limbaugh, who "croaked" from the mis-use of prescription drugs. In an interchange with conservative/libertarian humorist/author P.J. O'Rourke who derided Limbaugh as "the fat guy" who "refused to share his drugs," Maher referred to "the OxyContin that he was on" and then lamented Limbaugh hadn't died: "Why couldn't have he croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?"


Couric Injects Silly Girl Talk in Clinton
Interview on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes on Sunday night ran back-to-back interview segments with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and while Steve Kroft's session with Obama provided a friendly forum in which Kroft admired how "through twelve long months of mind-numbing, muscle-aching, adrenaline-fueled monotony and exhaustion, there has been barely a misstep" by Obama, it was devoid of anything approaching the giddy girl talk about mainlining coffee and high school boys Katie Couric put into her segment with Clinton.

Couric set up the story by trumpeting how Clinton "remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist." She soon wondered: "How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?" In seeming awe, a giggling Couric followed up: "But I'm talking about pure stamina" and marveled: "Do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?" Later, as the two stood in a high school classroom, Couric cooed: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?" Clinton denied that, prompting this exchange full of laughs and giggles:

COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?
CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs] COURIC: [giggling] I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that!
CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]

CBSNews.com posted video of Steve Kroft's segment with Barack Obama: www.cbsnews.com

And a text version of it too: www.cbsnews.com

Video of Katie Couric's piece with Hillary Clinton: www.cbsnews.com

The online text version of Couric's story (note it does not exactly match what aired -- for instance, it leaves out the high school boy talk exchange): www.cbsnews.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

From the February 10 60 Minutes segment, the set up and then highlights of where Couric delved into silly girl talk with Clinton:

KATIE COURIC, INTRODUCTION TO SEGMENT: Senator Hillary Clinton never expected such a tight race. Last fall, she was ahead in the polls by a wide margin with no serious rivals to worry about. Now she finds herself locked in a fierce battle with her opponent Barrack Obama. But she's already won several big states and she's got her eye on two important primaries in early March, Texas and Ohio. With the Democratic nomination in the balance, she remains focused, energized and anything but defeatist....

COURIC: We were at her home in Chappaqua, New York, on Super Tuesday as she sat through 57 satellite interviews with reporters from across the country, repeatedly stressing her readiness to be President.
CLIPS OF CLINTON: On day one. On day one. On day one.
CLINTON: It's exhausting.
COURIC TO CLINTON: How do you do it? I mean, the satellite interviews, the speeches, the travel, the debates, the schmoozing, the picture taking, 24/7?"
CLINTON: I do it because I really believe in what I'm doing.
COURIC: I knew you were gonna say that.
CLINTON: Well, but it's true.
COURIC, GIGGLING: But I'm talking about pure stamina.
CLINTON: Well, pure stamina. I have a lot of stamina and I have a lot of resilience.
COURIC: Having said that, do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee?
CLINTON: I take vitamins. I drink tea, not coffee anymore. I have really stopped drinking diet drinks because I found that they gave you a jolt, but they weren't good over the long run. I used to drink a lot of them. I drink tons of water. Just as much water as I can possibly drink. You know, my two secrets to staying healthy: wash your hands all the time. And, if you can't, use Purell or one of the sanitizers. And the other is hot peppers. I eat a lot of hot peppers. I for some reason started doing that in 1992, and I swear by it.
COURIC: Her staff is as sleep deprived as she is, many of them longtime loyal Clintonites, with a war room similar to Bill Clinton's in the 1990s....

Portion of story taped around an event at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington County, Virginia, where Couric grew up and her parents still live, though she attended a different high school:

COURIC: What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?
CLINTON: Not always raising my hand, not only raising my hand.
COURIC: Someone told me your nickname in school was Miss Frigidaire. Is that true?
CLINTON: Only with some boys. [laughs]
COURIC, GIGGLING: I don't know if I want to hear the back story on that!
CLINTON: Well, you wouldn't want to know the boys either. [bursts out laughing]

Couric did gently challenge Clinton a few times, for example wondering "Why are you so often seen as polarizing?" and when Clinton complained about the 400 billion deficit projected in President Bush's new budget, Couric pounced: "A deficit that's been caused largely by a war that you authorized."

Lauer to Coulter: Aren't All You Conservatives
Like 3-Year-Olds?

Friday's edition of Today on NBC had several conservative-denigrating moments over the ideological direction of presumptive GOP nominee John McCain. Matt Lauer interviewed columnist Ann Coulter and threw a spitball about conservatives being babies: "Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, 'if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home.' How do you respond to that?"
Tim Russert acknowledged in his pundit's corner that conservatives must be assuaged, but that if McCain gives an inch to his right, "the Straight Talk Express will be derailed." For liberal media types, since 2000, Straight Talk was a way to equate talking liberal with talking "straight," that liberalism has all the straight answers.

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Here's a fuller bite of Russert:
"John McCain is going to have to sit down with these groups the way he did yesterday with the CPAC Convention, reach out to people across the country. The difficulty is if they start demanding compromises on his positions on torture or on campaign finance and he is seen as caving in or weakening, the Straight Talk Express will be derailed and he'll lose his ability to reach across and pull in independents. So it's a very dicey tight rope for John McCain to be walking."

McCain clearly has a tightrope to walk, but it's a little biased to imply that being conservative would put McCain on the Dishonest Talk Express. Here's some of Matt Lauer pressing Ann Coulter on conservative brattiness, stealing a bit from Peter Jennings comparing the 1994 Republican takeover as a two-year-old temper tantrum:

LAUER: Critics of conservative voices right now are saying for the first time in a very long time, the conservatives have lost. They haven't been able to choose their nominee and it's the political version now of a 3-year-old saying, "if you can't play the game the way I want to play, I'm taking my football and I'm going home." How do you respond to that?
COULTER: Well, I think I did just answer that. It isn't that. It's that I will always vote for the most conservative candidate, I don't care if there is an "R" after his name. If Teddy Kennedy runs as a Republican, I'm not voting for Teddy Kennedy. As for conservatives losing, I think if we'd been given a little more time. The one thing I think it really shows is the overwhelming power of the mainstream media. Because you talk to these Republicans who voted for McCain, they don't know anything about his record other than he was a POW.
LAUER: Let me just read you one thing Governor Romney said yesterday. He said in talking about continuing his campaign or not, if he continued, quote, "it would make it more likely that Senator Clinton or Obama would win and in this time of war I simply cannot let my campaign be part of aiding a surrender to terror." So, if you this support Hillary Clinton as opposed to John McCain would you not be aiding a surrender to terror according to the man you supported?
COULTER: I think he should say that since he hopefully will be running in 2012. One way I'd vote for McCain is if he picked Mitt Romney as his vice president.

At the start of the interview, Lauer laid the attitude on this with "Come on!" Wouldn't it be nice if NBC tried that during one of their typically fawning Jimmy Carter interviews? ("Israel has apartheid? Come on!") It began like this:

MATT LAUER: Among those angry conservatives is Ann Coulter, the author of "If Democrats Had any Brains They'd Be Republicans." And believe it or not she says she'd rather have Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office. Ann, good morning. Welcome back.
ANN COULTER: I prefer to think of myself as principled conservative.
LAUER: Not angry? Well, come on! You got John McCain as the presumptive nominee of your party right now. Are you going to calm down and get in line as he suggests? Or are you going to move to Bolivia?
COULTER: Well, I'll vote for the most conservative candidate. It's just not clear that's John McCain.
LAUER: Come on. Isn't it very clear that John McCain is more conservative than Hillary Clinton?
COULTER: I don't think it is. I think there isn't much difference between the two of them. And I'd rather have Republicans in Congress fighting a liberal president than saying, "oh, he's our president. Let's go along with that." And I'd rather not get blamed for it and live under 30 years of Democratic rule.

The "come on" isn't too unreasonable when Coulter suggests McCain and Hillary Clinton might be equally conservative. But the first usage came along with an insistence that she "calm down" and suggests that the reasonable person will just fall in line, and not "move to Bolivia." I don't believe Coulter threatened to move south of the border. Equating Hillary with McCain sounds uncalm, but a conservative should be able to state that McCain fails many a conservative litmus test. The most egregious one is the way he has sought out the liberal media as more of an organizing base in the last decade than he has sought out the conservative movement.

ABC: Global Warming to Force Humans to
Flee Destroyed Earth?

Good Morning America weatherman and resident environmental alarmist Sam Champion wondered on Friday if global warming could cause "the ultimate climate disaster" and force humanity to abandon Earth and live in space. (Throughout the day's themed program, various GMA hosts filed reports on space and astronauts.) So, as a transition to a piece on liberal environmental issues, Champion segued: "And now to our series 'Global Warming: Global Warning.' Could global warming one day force us into space to live?" (The ABC weatherman appeared in a pool as part of a previous space segment on weightlessness.) Champion used the segment to preview a new documentary called "Six Degrees Could Change the World" that air Sunday night on the National Geographic Channel. He failed to inform viewers that the author upon which the special is based on, Mark Lynas, is a hard-left environmentalist who once threw a pie in the face of Bjorn Lomborg at a reading of Lomborg's book, "The Skeptical Environmentalist."

Speaking of the famous pie throwing incident, Lynas, in another interview, has justified attacking someone who disagreed with him: "I wanted to put a baked Alaska in his smug face, in solidarity with the native Indian and Eskimo people in Alaska who are reporting rising temperatures, shrinking sea ice and worsening effects on animal and bird life." See: Independent.com: www.independent.com.mt

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Together with clips of Lynas from the documentary, Champion proceeded to offer hyperbolic panic about the end of all life. He intoned: "If the world warms by six degrees, it would be the ultimate climate disaster...Natural disasters become routine and catastrophic flooding leaves major cities abandoned." Champion also followed the Al Gore model and claimed that all disagreement on the subject has ended: "The debate put aside, scientists now agree our world is getting warmer." Of course, even Champion was forced to admit, in a circuitous manner, that there has been relatively little change over the last millennia: "In fact, it's nearly one degree warmer than it was a thousand years ago."

Lynas also predicted the end of civilization if global warming isn't reversed: "If temperatures soar by six degrees within less than a century, that we are going to face nothing less than a global wipe out." Lynas is not only an alarmist, he's an alarmist who doesn't even believe such events, that are so frighteningly used in his special, are "even likely." A February 5, 2008 report by the Business and Media Institute noted the real intent of the documentary:

It's one thing to portray a doomsday scenario as it would happen unless drastic action is taken when it comes to global warming. It's been done over and over.

But Mark Lynas, author of "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet," took a different approach. Lynas, who is actively campaigning for government "solutions" to combat global warming, presented what he acknowledged were unlikely scenarios in his book and movie to create a sense of climate change panic.

For the entire BMI article: www.businessandmedia.org

At the segment's close, Sam Champion lobbied for a blame-America approach. Absolving China, he lectured: "And the truth is, [cutting carbon emissions is] for us to do as the largest emitter of carbon pollution."

It's hard to believe that Champion could top previous hyperbolic segments. (This is the same person who in early 2007 hosted a piece which wondered if "billions" could die from global warming.) But by speculating about the need to abandon Earth, he has indeed raised the bar.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 8:45am on February 8:

SAM CHAMPION: And now to our series 'Global Warming: Global Warning.' Could global warming one day force us into space to live? Well, this morning, we're focusing on this book "Six Degrees," which has been turned into a National Geographic Channel movie. The debate put aside, scientists now agree our world is getting warmer. In fact, it's nearly one degree warmer than it was a thousand years ago. It doesn't sound like much, but consider this: This could be our world just two degrees warmer. Arctic Sea ice in Greenland vanishes, polar bears struggling to survive while insect migration pattern are disrupted. Rising tides swallowing Pacific islands like Tuvalu
MARK LYNAS (Broadcast commentator, journalist and author): At two degrees of warming, the impacts in the marine ecosystem are going to be much more severe. We're likely to lose the vast majority of the world's tropical coral reefs.
CHAMPION: At four degrees warmer, oceans submerge Venice. Himalayan glaciers recede and the Ganges River runs bone dry. Tundra in northern Canada is fertile farm land. The ice sheet covering western Antarctica collapses, bringing sea levels three to four feet higher. If the world warms by six degrees, it would be the ultimate climate disaster. Teeming blue oceans become underwater wastelands. Natural disasters become routine and catastrophic flooding leaves major cities abandoned.
LYNAS: If temperatures soar by six degrees within less than a century, that we are going to face nothing less than a global wipe out.
CHAMPION: But scientists say it's not too late if the world curbs its energy consumption by 2015. In developing countries like China, the problem is particularly urgent.
LYNAS: I don't think we can turn around to the Chinese and say, "I'm sorry, we need to save the future of the planet." Rich countries have to take the lead and we have to cut our emissions in a more dramatic sense in order to allow some room for growth in the poorer countries.
CHAMPION: And the truth is, that's for us to do as the largest emitter of carbon pollution. For more information on global warming, you can hit us at ABCNews.com. To watch the special "Six Degrees," it's on the National Geographic channel on Sunday.

ABC Tries to Explain Absence of Gun Control
Discussion

In light of recent high-profile shootings, Friday's World News with Charles Gibson featured a report that seemed to lament the absence of public calls for additional gun control. While not directly advocating new gun laws, the report cited statistics often used by those who support gun control. Before correspondent Pierre Thomas cited a poll showing 60 percent of Americans "favor stricter gun control laws," Gibson introduced the piece: "Well, there are 230 million guns in America. There are more guns than there are adults. In the past incidents, like the one in Kirkwood, would rekindle debate over gun control. But as ABC's Pierre Thomas reports, gun control advocates are now mostly silent."

After listing several recent instances of gun crimes, pointing out that some guns were bought legally while others were "taken from family members," Thomas continued: "What, if anything, can be done to stop the violence? Polling shows three-quarters of Americans believe the Constitution guarantees the right to own guns. But six in ten Americans favor stricter gun control laws. And yet, even those who support more restrictions on guns admit they've been losing ground."

Following a soundbite from gun control advocate Paul Helmke, who complained that "politicians are afraid to talk about" gun control, Thomas relayed that those who oppose gun control are more likely to voice their views: "The politicians who are talking are the ones who support gun owner rights. Just today, 55 Senators and more than 250 Congressmen filed a brief to the Supreme Court opposing Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban."

Then came the report's only argument against gun control as made in a soundbite by Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison who argued that "maybe if these people had had their own weapons to defend themselves, maybe some of these things wouldn't have happened."

Thomas concluded: "For the most part, that's the argument that appears to be winning."

[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For ABC, this was only the latest example of such reports favoring more gun laws. In April 2007, after the Virginia Tech shootings, reports on Good Morning America and World News similarly lamented the absence of new gun control initiatives. Check the April 23 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

And on World News, also anchored by Gibson, correspondent Brian Ross portrayed Virginia's "lax" gun laws as being at fault. See the April 18 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

In July 2007, World News Sunday suggested that opposition to gun control by rural areas in Pennsylvania was to blame for Philadephia's murder rate. Check the July 9 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Also in July, World News with Gibson incorrectly implied that a murder suspect in New York City bought his gun from a gun store in Virginia, ignoring the fact that the gun's original owner had purchased it legally, and contended that criminals often go to shops for their weapons. See the July 20 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Below is a complete transcript of the report from ABC's World News with Charles Gibson from Friday, February 8:

CHARLES GIBSON: Well, there are 230 million guns in America. There are more guns than there are adults. In the past incidents, like the one in Kirkwood, would rekindle debate over gun control. But as ABC's Pierre Thomas reports, gun control advocates are now mostly silent.

PIERRE THOMAS: One week in America. Outside Baltimore, a 15-year-old boy charged with killing his parents and two brothers. Five women shot dead in a clothing store outside Chicago. Three people murdered in a suburban Maryland restaurant. In Los Angeles, a man kills three family members and a police officer. Then, last night, a city hall becomes a shooting gallery. And this morning in Baton Rouge, a nursing student guns down two of her peers before killing herself. Handguns were the weapon of choice in many of the shootings. Police suspect the guns were purchased legally in some cases. In others, taken from family members. Or bought on the black market. What, if anything, can be done to stop the violence? Polling shows three-quarters of Americans believe the Constitution guarantees the right to own guns. But six in ten Americans favor stricter gun control laws. And yet, even those who support more restrictions on guns admit they've been losing ground.
PAUL HELMKE, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: The conversation about what to do about guns is not happening. Almost universally, regardless of party, regardless of ideology, regardless of which office they're running for, the politicians are afraid to talk about it.
THOMAS: The politicians who are talking are the ones who support gun owner rights. Just today, 55 Senators and more than 250 Congressmen filed a brief to the Supreme Court opposing Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban.
Senator KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON (R-TX): People believe that they should have the right to defend themselves. Maybe if these people had had their own weapons to defend themselves, maybe some of these things wouldn't have happened.
THOMAS: For the most part, that's the argument that appears to be winning. Pierre Thomas, ABC News, Washington.

CNN Veteran Reporter Andrea Koppel Joins
Left-Wing PR Firm

Andrea Koppel, who left CNN last July after 14 years as an on-air correspondent, has joined M+R Strategic Services, a Washington, DC-based public relations firm with a long list of left of center and solidly left-wing clients, as chief of its Communications Division. Amongst the clients listed on the firm's Web site: Environmental Defense, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, Turner Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, People for the American Way, Campaign for America's Future, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, National Organization of Women - New York State, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, as well as the radical left Center for Constitutional Rights and George Soros' Open Society Institute.

The firm's list of clients: www.mrss.com

Koppel, the daughter of Ted Koppel, served as an international correspondent for CNN, then covered the State Department before spending her last months at CNN covering Capitol Hill. She proclaimed in the firm's press release that she wants to fight for "the voiceless in our society" as she embraced the "impressive roster of clients" and promised to help them "achieve their goals."

The February 7 press release quoted Koppel: "I am so excited to get to work helping M+R's impressive roster of clients achieve their goals. I am by nature a very passionate person who cares deeply about fighting for the underdog, the voiceless in our society. I spent over 20 years in the broadcast news industry crafting compelling news stories -- at M+R I look forward to helping our clients best position themselves so their stories can be heard."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

MediaBistro's PRNewser posting obfuscated the firm's left-wing client list as it euphemistically described the company: "M+R runs issues campaigns for a wide variety of political causes, non-profits, farming concerns, and corporations such as the Save Dafur Coalition, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, Oxfam America, and Habitat for Humanity."

For that posting: www.mediabistro.com

The M+R press release about Koppel boasted about blocking oil drilling in the Arctic and made clear the firm only advances causes which match its agenda:

M+R has helped clients lead some of the most critical public interest initiatives of the past decade, ranging from the effort to block oil drilling in the Arctic to the international movement to end genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Since its founding in 1991, M+R has developed robust public policy campaigns online and in the field for many of the country's most effective nonprofit advocacy groups, advancing their interests and earning support for their causes in state legislatures, the Congress and the public sphere. M+R is a full-service campaign firm known for shaping public dialogue, generating media attention and creating a groundswell of support for issues until they cannot be ignored by decision-makers.

For the press release: www.prnewswire.com

WashPost Runs Op-Ed by Artist Upset He
Had to Go to White House

It's never too late, apparently, for the Washington Post to make room on its op-ed page for a gratuitous display of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS), at least a comparatively mild case. On Saturday, more than two months after the December 2 Kennedy Center Honors and more than six weeks after they aired on CBS on December 26, the paper carried a piece from honoree Leon Fleisher, a pianist and conductor, about how "unhappy" he remains "that I was required to attend a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala" given "I am horrified by many of President Bush's policies." Fleisher, who was honored along with Brian Wilson, Steve Martin, Diana Ross and Martin Scorsese, bared his angst in a column titled "My White House Dilemma." He "wrestled" with the "dilemma" of going to the White House because:
"In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of 'values' that include a careful defense of the 'rights' of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world."

Fleisher proceeded to assert attending the White House reception "presented a profound irony" that "turning a blind eye to the political undercurrents of the event dismantles the very force of art in this country that the honors celebrate: the freedom, nay, the obligation to express oneself honestly and without fear." But he resolved his dilemma by "wearing a peace symbol around my neck and a purple ribbon on my lapel, at once showing support for our young men and women in the armed services and calling for their earliest return home."

He concluded: "Yes, art is long. And life is short. And I am waiting most impatiently for Jan. 20, 2009."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

An excerpt from Fleisher's op-ed the Washington Post found worthy of space in its Saturday, February 9 edition:

I am a musician, one of five artists -- the others being Brian Wilson, Steve Martin, Diana Ross and Martin Scorsese -- honored recently by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

The event, a deeply moving and gratifying tribute to the performing arts and artists in America, was broadcast to our nation. But what you couldn't see in that broadcast was how conflicted I felt about being there.

Let me be frank: I was flattered to be included in so distinguished a group and to be recognized for whatever contributions I may have made to American life. I was pleased to be part of an event that raises money for an institution as vital as the Kennedy Center and to be with my family and to see their joy at the ceremony.

What made me unhappy and continues to trouble me was that I was required to attend a White House reception on the afternoon of the gala. I cannot speak for the other honorees, but while I profoundly respect the presidency, I am horrified by many of President Bush's policies.

In the past seven years, Bush administration policies have amounted to a systematic shredding of our nation's Constitution -- the illegal war it initiated and perpetuates; the torturing of prisoners; the espousing of "values" that include a careful defense of the "rights" of embryos but show a profligate disregard for the lives of flesh-and-blood human beings; and the flagrant dismantling of environmental protections. These, among many other depressing policies, have left us weak and shamed at home and in the world.

For several weeks before the honors, I wrestled with this dilemma, deciding in the end that I would not attend the reception at the White House. That decision was met with deep, if understandable, disapproval by the powers that be. I was informed that I was hardly the first honoree to express such reserve; cited to me, among others, were Arthur Miller and Isaac Stern during the Reagan years and several during the present administration. I was asked to attend all of the scheduled events and to follow the well-established protocol of silence.

While this might have made for a glamorous experience, it also presented a profound irony. Turning a blind eye to the political undercurrents of the event dismantles the very force of art in this country that the honors celebrate: the freedom, nay, the obligation to express oneself honestly and without fear. Ultimately, there is no greater honor than that freedom.

In the end, I decided to attend wearing a peace symbol around my neck and a purple ribbon on my lapel, at once showing support for our young men and women in the armed services and calling for their earliest return home. My family did the same, as did a number of fellow attendees who, over the weekend's various events, asked me for ribbons of their own....

Some seven decades separate the time when older people would tell me that I played very well for my age from the occasions nowadays when younger people say the same thing. That time seems to have flown by, and I have come, perhaps inevitably, to understand the aphorism "Ars longa, vita brevis." Yes, art is long. And life is short. And I am waiting most impatiently for Jan. 20, 2009.

END of Excerpt

For the op-ed in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Page for the Kennedy Center Honors: www.kennedy-center.org

Bio of Fleisher: www.kennedy-center.org

Maher: 'Why Couldn't Rush Limbaugh Have
Croaked from It?'

Bill Maher, on his HBO show Friday night, rued that it was actor Heath Ledger, and not Rush Limbaugh, who "croaked" from the mis-use of prescription drugs. In an interchange with conservative/libertarian humorist/author P.J. O'Rourke who derided Limbaugh as "the fat guy" who "refused to share his drugs," Maher referred to "the OxyContin that he was on" and then lamented Limbaugh hadn't died: "Why couldn't have he croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger?"

Flash video and MP3 audio will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, watch or listen by going to Noel Sheppard's NewsBusters node: newsbusters.org

The exchange on the February 8 Real Time with Bill Maher:

BILL MAHER: Why is it that the Republican establishment, I guess it is, have so much disdain, not just for McCain, but the other guy who's still in it, Huckabee? They don't like either one of them.
P.J. O'ROURKE: Well, I think a couple of things are going on. It's the, it's the twilight of the radio loud-mouth, you know? I knew it from the moment the fat guy-
MAHER: You mean Rush Limbaugh and Sean-
O'ROURKE: -from the moment the fat guy refused to share his drugs [audience laughter]. I was, you know, he never called, he never wrote. I'm ready to party, you know, come on! No, I think it's kind of over for those people. So-
MAHER: Right, you mean the OxyContin that he was on?
O'ROURKE: Yeah, exactly. You know, that stuff's good!
MAHER: Why couldn't, why couldn't have he croaked from it instead of Heath Ledger? [small audience groans]
O'ROURKE: Yeah, yeah, you know, it's a fitness thing.

-- Brent Baker