Couric Leads with 'Historic Alliance' on Gun Control, Brady Chief --6/14/2007
2. Shales: 'Even Critics of Rather' Must Admit His Firm 'Integrity'
3. Masochistic ABC Touts Moore: 'Media Complicit' in Troop Deaths
4. Blitzer Plugs Moore's Film, Support from 'People at Your Bedside'
5. Newsweek Laments Anti-Hillary 'Inventions' It Spread or Confirmed
6. CBS's Couric Uniquely Reports Shrinking Federal Budget Deficit
7. Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs Paris Hilton Has Found God'
Katie Couric led Wednesday's CBS Evening News by trumpeting a victory for gun control and featuring a one-on-one interview with a gun control advocate. "An historic alliance between Democrats and the NRA produces the first major new gun control bill in years," Couric teased. "Tonight, they're closing the loophole that allowed the Virginia Tech killer to buy his guns." After that plug for House passage of a bill that still must go through the Senate and be signed by the President, she teased another story, one seemingly more crucial but didn't get to until 14 minutes into her newscast, "A CBS News exclusive: For the first time, the Director of the FBI details the nuclear threat that America faces today" from al Qaeda. Couric led by touting how the closing of "the loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to buy the guns he used in the April massacre despite his history of mental illness" is "the first major new gun control legislation in more than a decade and it has the backing of the NRA."
After NRA Executive Director Wayne LaPierre got one sentence in the story from Sharyl Attkisson ("We'll work with anyone if you protect the rights of law-abiding people under the Second Amendment and you target people that shouldn't have guns"), Couric turned to Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. She started by asking him to assess the effectiveness of the proposed new law before fretting that it doesn't go far enough: "What about gun shows though? Won't they still be permitted to buy them there?" She also let Helmke ruminate on what "motivated" the NRA to back the bill. Helmke used that as a chance to forward a talking point: "It's too easy in this country for dangerous people to get guns. We have very weak gun laws. We need to strengthen these things."
ABC's World News led with the new attack on the al Askari Mosque in Samara (the second story o CBS) and NBC Nightly News began with their latest poll on an "angry America" with only 19 percent seeing the nation going in the right direction and approval for Bush at 29 percent and for Congress as 23 percent, followed by the mosque attack.
Neither ABC or NBC, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth observed, mentioned the House passage of the bill to require states to provide the FBI with the names of those mentally ill who should not be allowed to buy a gun.
[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Couric opened the June 13 CBS Evening News: "Hello, everyone. Congress is trying to prevent another Virginia Tech. The House voted today to close the loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to buy the guns he used in the April massacre despite his history of mental illness. It's the first major new gun control legislation in more than a decade and it has the backing of the NRA. House passage came on the day a federal report was released on the Virginia Tech shootings. Among the key findings: Information states have about people prohibited from buying guns is not making it into the national registry. That's exactly what this new law addresses. So we'll begin on Capitol Hill with Sharyl Attkisson."
Following Attkisson's report, Couric interviewed Helmke via satellite:
COURIC: Paul Helmke is President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. He's in our Washington bureau tonight. Mr. Helmke, we just heard Sharyl Attkisson talk about the fact that there are 2.5 million mentally ill people who should be prevented from buying guns in this country. Will this new law do that?
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales has always been a bit of a Dan Rather apple-polisher, but Wednesday's "Style" section article on Dan Rather's feud with CBS grew preposterous, when right after he wistfully noted Rather might still be the CBS anchor "if not for a botched CBS News report about President George W. Bush's lack of active service in the National Guard," he claimed everyone must acknowledge Dan's virtue: "Even critics of Rather would have to admit he has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, for hard news over fluff and for integrity in the newsroom."
No, actually critics of Rather would have to do no such thing. This is like arguing that Bill Jefferson has always stood, firmly and stubbornly, against congressional bribery.
This is the sad by-product of Fox News putting Rather on the air Tuesday to pose as the defender of "quality news with integrity," and while FNC's David Asman pressed Rather on his criticisms of CBS, he never touched on the issue of Rather's journalistic disgrace, the phony Air National Guard documents from Kinko's dumped on Bush with weeks to go in the 2004 campaign. For more on the FNC appearance, check the June 13 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Shales interviewed Rather by phone and eagerly lined up with him against CBS boss Les Moonves, chiding Moonves for "blurring" Rather's criticisms as "sexist." He also let Rather rehash his line about how conservatives are ruining the country while the network bosses are kissing up to them:
"We have enormous life-or-death issues and challenges facing us in this country and the world today," he said. "Everything from the dismantling of civil rights enforcement within the Justice Department to the war in Iraq to news of secret prisons in Europe and, of course, the next presidential election.
"And yet, for some reason, Paris Hilton is the big story on newscast after newscast. She is inescapable. Putting Paris Hilton on the front page is ridiculous, and it is a mistake to load up a newscast with soft features. The corporate leadership of CBS doesn't even know what hard news is supposed to be -- not now, and not in the last years that I was the anchor of the broadcast. They know about entertainment, not news, and about kissing up to politicians in Washington who can do them some good from a regulatory standpoint and help improve their profit picture."
END of Excerpt
For the June 13 column in full: www.washingtonpost.com
(In fact, Thursday's Post only corrected one of the errors: "A photo caption with a June 13 Style article misidentified the Fox News host pictured talking to Dan Rather. It was David Asman, not Neil Cavuto." See: www.washingtonpost.com )
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Wednesday, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
It should be noted that this is day two of GMA's pre-taped interview with Moore and he was featured on the Wednesday edition of Nightline.
The June 13 CyberAlert recounted: On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Chris Cuomo conducted part one of a mostly softball interview with Sicko filmmaker Michael Moore. But despite a flowery introduction where the GMA anchor asserted "[Moore's] critics are struggling to fight his basic premise that America's health care system is in trouble," Cuomo still found himself backpedaling after labeling the liberal filmmaker's Cuba trip a stunt. The ABC host, son of Mario Cuomo, quickly exclaimed, "Look, I like your stunt." Robin Roberts set the tone: "Michael Moore sinks his teeth into America's health care industry, asking, 'Are alleged terrorists getting better health care than you are?'...Can't wait to see that." Cuomo contended that "his critics are struggling to fight his basic premise that America's health care system is in trouble." See: www.mrc.org
Co-anchor Robin Roberts teased the June 13 segment by solemnly noting that Moore "asked some pointed questions at us, the media." In an introduction that mentioned the filmmaker's new movie Sicko, Cuomo dutifully parroted Moore's critique over how the same media that failed the country over Iraq is now botching coverage of health care: "Interestingly, he's concerned the health care debate will go the same way that he sees the war debate as having gone, where he also places blame with the media. And he hopes the battle to change health care will have a different outcome."
Apparently Moore's attack on ABC was too much, even for someone with such a fine liberal pedigree as Chris Cuomo. (The ABC host is the son of former Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of New York's Democratic Attorney General.) Cuomo bristled at the contention that the media are complicit in the deaths of American soldiers: "You want to talk about this house. You want to make a grand statement about this house? This house is the house of Bob Woodruff who went to cover the war and almost got killed because he wanted to show the truth of the situation. I don't think it's a situation to make a grand statement about what the media does in a situation like that."
Of course, if Cuomo and GMA found Moore's thesis so objectionable, why did the network have him on three times in two days?
(In May, the MRC's Rich Noyes wrote a Media Reality Check, "The Media Before the War: Facts vs. Liberal Mythology; For Months Prior to Start of Iraq War, Big Media Highlighted Anti-War Arguments, Doubted Bush Administration Claims." See: www.mrc.org )
Cuomo didn't appear too miffed. He still found time to shoehorn two clips of Sicko into the segment and to close the interview by bantering with Moore about losing weight. To be fair, the ABC anchor did note that "critics say" he minimizes the high taxes that countries with universal health care pay. However, the main focus of his interview centered around discussing media criticism and, essentially, promoting the filmmaker's movie.
Co-host Diane Sawyer helpfully announced, "Sicko is in theaters on Friday, June 29." She also promised that GMA would spend all next week investigating the health care industry.
A transcript of the segment, which aired on June 13 at 7:40am:
7:30am tease from Robin Roberts: "This morning, he is a flame thrower and he is back at it. We're talking about Michael Moore with his new documentary Sicko. This time he's taking aim at America's ailing health care system and that's not all. You know, he asked some pointed questions at us, the media. He's going to continue his conversation with Chris Cuomo this morning and you'll hear it in just a little bit."
7:40am. Diane Sawyer: "Michael Moore is never afraid to go on the attack, as everyone knows from his award-winning filmmaking. And we talked with him about his new film, Sicko. It is a blistering attack on the health care industry. Chris Cuomo talked yesterday with him and he's back with more today."
On Tuesday's The Situation Room, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer highlighted far-left filmmaker Michael Moore's trip to the California state capitol and rally with nurses who support his push for universal health care and the abolition of private health insurance. At one point, Blitzer plugged the segment by referring to how Moore is "getting some unexpected support from people at your hospital bedside."
Correspondent Brooke Anderson reported live from the state capitol -- once during the 5:00pm EDT hour and again during the 7:00 hour -- to cover Moore's activities. She enthused about how the rally was "very energetic, a lot of singing and dancing and chanting. But Michael Moore is here, along with nurses from all across the country, and they are hoping to bring attention to the U.S. health care industry and the problems they feel plague the current system." She included a clip of the filmmaker complaining about profits in the health care industry: "This doesn't look good, folks. I mean, it doesn't look good to the rest of the world, and it won't look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They'll wonder, what were these people thinking?"
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below is a transcript of both the segment from the 5:00 hour and the one from the 7:00, including some of the plugs that aired during the June 12 The Situation Room:
WOLF BLITZER, in a plug at 4:28pm: And the man behind the film Fahrenheit 9/11 turns his lens to the nation's health care system. Michael Moore is up to something today in California that may anger some people, just as his new film Sicko suggests the health care industry is driven by greed.
BLITZER, at 5:18pm before commercial break: Coming up, he's taken on big money, the NRA, and the Iraq war. Now, filmmaker Michael Moore is going after the issue of health care. Why's he getting some unexpected support from people at your hospital bedside?
BLITZER, at 5:50pm: The controversial filmmaker Michael Moore is stirring things up in the Golden State. The maker of the new documentary entitled Sicko was over at the California state capitol today. Nurses joined him on the capitol steps for a rally. CNN's Brooke Anderson is joining us now. I take it there's stuff going on behind you, Brooke. Tell our viewers what Moore is hoping to accomplish today.
BLITZER, at 7:40pm: The filmmaker Michael Moore has taken on the NRA, the Iraq war, lots of other subjects. Now the director of the new documentary Sicko is going after health care, and he's getting support from nurses, at least a lot of nurses. CNN's Brooke Anderson is joining us now from Sacramento. What was Moore hoping to accomplish, Brooke, today in California's capitol?
The cover of the June 18 Newsweek touts a story inside on "Hillary's Likability Gap." That's not exactly how it's pitched inside, where the magazine tries another attack on right-wing Clinton haters titled, "The New War on Hillary." Reporters Jonathan Darman and Mark Hosenball pondered the "haters' fury," and remember the bad old days of First Lady Hillary: "Installed in Washington, Hillary morphed into a comic-book villain for her detractors -- a man-eating feminist, they claimed, who allegedly threw lamps at her husband, communed psychically with Eleanor Roosevelt and lit a White House Christmas tree adorned with sex toys. The narrative of depravity -- a tissue of inventions by conservatives -- was often hard to follow."
For the Newsweek article: www.msnbc.msn.com
But wait, wait: who "invented" Hillary's seances with Jean Houston conjuring up Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House? That story emerged from the keyboard of Bob Woodward -- no conservative -- in 1996. Newsweek wrote an article lamenting the story, hailing Hillary as a persecuted "Joan of Arc figure."
[This item, by Tim Graham was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
And what about the lamp-throwing? Newsweek really launched those rumors nationwide (albeit with sympathy toward poor Hillary) in the April 5, 1993 edition:
For the Secret Service, this is war. The agency doesn't want to surrender any of its expanded authority. Ever since the 1981 attempt on Ronald Reagan's life, agents have been stationed inside the First Family's living quarters. Horrified at the intrusion into their privacy, the Clintons shifted them to a second-floor outpost. Don Edwards, spokesman for the Secret Service, insists the agency was never threatened and "is not resisting anything." But he acknowledges that Clinton is an energetic, accessible president, and everyone is adjusting -- some apparently better than others. Like the waiter who shows displeasure by spitting in the soup, some agents apparently began telling tales of what might be called spirited discussions between the Clintons. Pretty soon, Washington dinner parties were buzzing with stories of Hillary throwing -- take your pick -- a lamp, a briefing book or a Bible at Bill. One outlandish tale has an angry Hillary lighting a cigarette to trigger her husband's allergies -- this from a woman who banned smoking in the White House.
There is no evidence to support any of the stories. White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos denies everything from the home-front battles to dissension with the Secret Service. "It's ill informed, malicious, untrue gossip," he says, adding, "It's part of the air here." That much is true. When it comes to gossip, Washington is a small town. The late Alice Roosevelt Longforth kept a needlepoint pillow that said, "If you haven't got anything good to say about anyone, come and sit by me." Right-wing Republicans have been most active in spreading the notion that Hillary is the power in front of the throne, calling the shots and cursing like a man. But even White House aides feed the rumor mill in a can-you-top-this competition.
END of Excerpt
Poor Hilllary, even White House aides hate her (were they part of the inventing conservatives?), but not Eleanor Clift, who wrote the sympathetic 1993 squib. It's interesting that Clift's name sits at the end of the 2007 article, as well. Why would Newsweek spread rumors nationwide in 1993? Was it itching to rename itself Rumorweek? Or was the story designed to elicit sympathy for poor Hillary against those Secret Service creeps who are to be suspected of intrigue at all times?
Our MediaWatch newsletter gave Newsweek a "Janet Cooke Award" for its cock-eyed Hillary seance coverage. Then-Washington Bureau Chief Evan Thomas tried to blur the issue with other, more traditional First Ladies in the July 1, 1996 edition, as we noted then:
"A long-time searcher for spiritual meaning, Mrs. Clinton had conjured conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt long before she met Dr. Houston. Mrs Clinton is not even the first First Lady to dabble in psychics or mediums: the wives of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, John Tyler, Woodrow Wilson, and Warren G. Harding all tried, in one way or another, to communicate beyond the grave. Unlike Nancy Reagan, Hillary never tried to use psychic powers to influence her husband."
Thomas added: "To many women, Hillary Clinton is not a cold-eyed conspirator, but a martyr." He quoted Mrs. Clinton's fans at a Boston fundraiser for the Clinton campaign saying Hillary's "being bashed by the press" because "a lot of people don't like a strong woman." Thomas concluded that to these voters, "Hillary looks just the way she does to her philosopher friend, Dr. Houston -- as a Joan of Arc figure, persecuted for her righteous crusade."
If it seems hardly noteworthy for liberal Hillary to be popular in Massachusetts, the June 21 Boston Herald's account of the fundraiser presented a less than popular figure. Reporter Joe Sciacca quoted a Democratic operative: "They couldn't give tickets away. A lot of people got [free tickets]. Even the applause lines were off. A lot of people are getting concerned." Thomas told MediaWatch: "Our reporter Martha Brant was there and saw it first-hand. They certainly were enthusiastic Hillary-lovers at this lunch...I don't think the point's negated if they had difficulty selling tickets."
END of Excerpt
That's online, in full, at: www.mrc.org
Among Tuesday's broadcast evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely relayed the positive news of a shrinking federal budget deficit, as released by the Treasury Department. As anchor Katie Couric read a brief item on the subject, she described the data as "some good news for a change" as she reported that tax revenues are "way up" and that the budget deficit is almost "35 percent lower than it was last year." Couric: "To the economy now, and some good news for a change about the deficit. It's actually shrinking."
Notably, on the Saturday June 9 edition of CNN's In the Money, during a discussion of the effect of the economy on the presidential race, guest Greg Valliere of Stanford Washington Research Group chided the media for not reporting on good economic news in light of lower budget deficit numbers as he described the overall economy as "okay" and the unemployment rate of 4.5 percent as "a great number." The show's anchor, Christine Romans, defended the media's obsession with the cost of the Iraq war. Romans: "I think one of the reasons why, and I can't speak for the rest of the media, but why there may be the perception, at least, that it's been ignored is there is an incredible amount of spending going on for the war in Iraq, and that is something that, you know, we have to pay for."
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday June 12 CBS Evening News, followed by the relevant portion of the Saturday June 9 In the Money on CNN:
From the June 12 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: To the economy now, and some good news for a change about the deficit. It's actually shrinking. Tax revenues are way up this year, and with that, the Treasury reported today that the deficit has fallen sharply to about $149 billion. That's nearly 35 percent lower than it was this time last year.
From the Saturday June 9 In the Money on CNN:
GREG VALLIERE, STANFORD WASHINGTON RESEARCH GROUP: Right now the economy is okay. It's not great. It's not terrible. Unemployment is 4.5 percent. That's a great number. The overall GDP number is going to be much stronger in the second quarter, this quarter, than it was in the first. So it's going to be hard to get a lot of traction on the economy when things are pretty good.
From the June 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Paris Hilton Has Found God." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Instead of pretending to read newspapers, now pretending to read the Bible
9. Been exchanging text messages with Pope Benedict XVI
8. New catchphrase? "That's holy!"
7. Begins each day with a prayer to Santa
6. Spent the last 10 hours trying to turn water into cosmopolitans
5. Vowed to give up all earthly possessions that are no longer in style
4. Changed chihuahua's name from Tinkerbell to Ezekiel
3. Now, only time she gets on her knees is to pray
2. Latest sex tape sponsored by the National Council of Churches
1. Often asks herself: "Where would Jesus shop?"
-- Brent Baker