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Couric Showcases Obama Over McCain, Admits a Media 'Obamathon' --7/23/2008


1. Couric Showcases Obama Over McCain, Admits a Media 'Obamathon'
CBS tried to bring some balance Tuesday night to Barack Obama's Magical Media Tour by having Katie Couric interview both Barack Obama and John McCain, and though she pressed Obama repeatedly on the success of the surge, Obama still came out ahead since CBS devoted more than seven minutes (over two excerpts) to Couric's questions and Obama's answers as the two sat together in a foreign setting compared to barely three minutes allocated to Couric and McCain by satellite. Couric touted at the top of the CBS Evening News: "We spoke exclusively and separately with both presidential candidates today and what emerged was a kind of a long distance debate. And their differences on the wars have never been sharper or clearer." At the end of the newscast, from Amman Couric wondered: "Will this summer of love last" for Obama? And she conceded the media are part of the infatuation: "It has been an Obamathon ever since the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee touched down in Afghanistan. At today's press conference in Amman, a throng of reporters recorded his every move. In total, 200 journalists requested seats on 'Air Obama' -- 40 of them were accepted. The bill for the trip? About $20,000 each."

2. ABC's Sawyer and Stephanopoulos Gush Over Obama's B-Ball Skills
Journalist George Stephanopoulos and ABC's Diane Sawyer rhapsodized over Barack Obama's Middle East trip on Tuesday's Good Morning America. Stephanopoulos swooned that the visit to the region was going "better than they could have imagined in the Obama campaign." He then proceeded to narrate footage of the Democratic candidate. While video of Obama playing basketball with troops in Kuwait appeared on screen, Stephanopoulos fawned as Obama made a shot, "...How much better can you get than that? Look at that. Right in the hoop on the first try." Agreeing, Sawyer cooed: "How sweet." With no apparent sense of irony, Sawyer, the GMA co-host, also brought up the complaints that the media have uncritically covered the trip. After playing a clip of a McCain appearance with George H.W. Bush, in which the former President joked that the candidate is "a little jealous" of all the attention Obama is getting, Stephanopoulos agreed: "[McCain] is a little jealous."

3. NBC's David Gregory: Maliki 'Refutes' Notion of Obama 'Naivete'
NBC's David Gregory, substitute-hosting on Tuesday's Today show, argued with Rudy Giuliani that any notion of Barack Obama's foreign policy "naivete" has been refuted by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Gregory contended that Maliki's suggestion of a U.S. troop withdrawal by 2010 "validated" Obama's position. Giuliani scoffed that Democratic presidential nominee wouldn't have even been able to visit with the Prime Minister in Iraq, if it weren't for the surge that the Obama opposed.

4. NY Times' Harwood 'Surprised' by Rejection of McCain Op-Ed
When a writer for the New York Times questions his own paper, for refusing to publish an editorial by John McCain, and a former Clinton press secretary questions the "balance" of the coverage of Obama's foreign tour, you know the media have reached a bias tilting point. On Tuesday night's Hardball, New York Times political writer John Harwood said of the Times decision to spike a McCain op-ed: "I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama." And former Bill Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers called the press coverage of Obama overseas "extraordinary" and admitted: "It's legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?"

5. Olbermann Slams McCain as Agreeing w/ "Racism & Religious Hatred"
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used a sloppily worded statement by an 83-year-old decorated veteran, Bud Day, who volunteered for both World War II and the Vietnam War, and who ended up spending 30 months as a POW, a man whom Olbermann called "dangerously deluded" and labeled as a "slob" and a "clown," to paint John McCain as agreeing with what the MSNBC host referred to as Day's "racism and religious hatred." After quoting part of a recent statement by Day in which he referred generically to "the Muslims," instead of "Muslim extremists," as wanting either to "kill us" or to force Americans to "kneel," Olbermann claimed that McCain "agrees" that Muslims are the enemy. As he tagged Day as "Worst Person in the World," Olbermann slammed McCain: "And you heard him [Day]: John agrees with him. As of tonight, John's campaign has refused to repudiate Day's racism and religious hatred. Maybe John needs to get rid of this clown but fast. Bud 'The Muslims are Going to Kill Us' Day, today's 'Worst Person in the World.'"

6. Helen Thomas Replies 'Hell No' to Question of Liberal Media Bias
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin, in the Tuesday edition of the Washington Examiner's "Yeas & Nays" feature, reported that Helen Thomas gave a vehement denial of whether the media, and the White House press corps in particular, have a liberal bent. "Yeas & Nays got a sneak peak at Rory Kennedy's new HBO documentary -- 'Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at The White House' -- which premieres next month, and Thomas is asked whether most White House reporters are liberal. 'Hell no!' she responds. 'I'm dying to find another liberal open their mouths. Where are they!'"


Couric Showcases Obama Over McCain, Admits
a Media 'Obamathon'

CBS tried to bring some balance Tuesday night to Barack Obama's Magical Media Tour by having Katie Couric interview both Barack Obama and John McCain, and though she pressed Obama repeatedly on the success of the surge, Obama still came out ahead since CBS devoted more than seven minutes (over two excerpts) to Couric's questions and Obama's answers as the two sat together in a foreign setting compared to barely three minutes allocated to Couric and McCain by satellite. Couric touted at the top of the CBS Evening News: "We spoke exclusively and separately with both presidential candidates today and what emerged was a kind of a long distance debate. And their differences on the wars have never been sharper or clearer."

At the end of the newscast, from Amman Couric wondered: "Will this summer of love last" for Obama? And she conceded the media are part of the infatuation: "It has been an Obamathon ever since the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee touched down in Afghanistan. At today's press conference in Amman, a throng of reporters recorded his every move. In total, 200 journalists requested seats on 'Air Obama' -- 40 of them were accepted. The bill for the trip? About $20,000 each."

In contrast, she pointed out, as if CBS News couldn't have done anything about it, that "last night John McCain arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire" and was greeted by just "two journalists waiting on the tarmac." She also noted that "his campaign has revealed a contest: Two videos featuring what they claim is a media love affair with Obama." They "claim"? How about they "illustrate."

Earlier in the newscast, she set up the second segment of the interview with Obama, which she traveled to Jordan to conduct: "Senator Obama hopes this trip will enhance his credibility as a world leader, something I asked him about in our exclusive interview earlier today."

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

McCain's three-minute interview, done via satellite from New Hampshire, delivered 18 times more coverage time than he received from the CBS Evening News during his trip to Iraq. When McCain visited Iraq the week of March 16, the MRC's Kyle Drennen documented, the CBS Evening News allocated "only 31 words, a grand total of 10 seconds, to the Republican nominee's Iraq visit during the entire week."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of Couric's remarks from Amman at the end of Tuesday's CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Finally tonight, it has been an Obamathon ever since the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee touched down in Afghanistan. At today's press conference in Amman, a throng of reporters recorded his every move. In total, 200 journalists requested seats on "Air Obama" -- 40 of them were accepted. The bill for the trip? About $20,000 each. Ironically, no seats were provided to the foreign press.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Senator, how's your trip?
BARACK OBAMA: Great so far, thank you.
COURIC: The non-stop coverage this week has stolen most of the limelight from his opponent. Last night, John McCain arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire. Three fingers flashed an OK symbol to the two journalists waiting on the tarmac. No video available. But McCain is making the best of it.
JOHN MCCAIN: I'm a big boy and I'm enjoying every minute of the campaigning, and I'm certainly not complaining. In fact, I think it's fun to watch.
COURIC: And fun to mock. His campaign has revealed a contest. Two videos featuring what they claim is a media love affair with Obama. You can even vote for your favorite.
TUCKER CARLSON, FROM MSNBC, IN McCAIN AD: It's more than love. I mean, it's the kind of love that, anybody who's been a ninth grade boy understands this species of love.
COURIC: But will this summer of love last? And will voters want to go steady with Barack Obama? We'll find out in November. And that is the CBS Evening News for tonight. I'm Katie Couric in Amman, Jordan. Thank you for watching. Good night.

The questions from Couric to Obama, in Amman, as aired on the Tuesday, July 22 CBS Evening News. (Online, CBS News has posted video and a transcript, which I corrected in parts below, of the entire 22-minute interview session: www.cbsnews.com )

Questions posed in the first of two segments aired:

- Having said that, if General Petraeus or the Chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mullen, say to you, "Hey, President Obama," if that comes to pass, "you cannot take out the final complement of combat troops. We need them in theater," you would say?

- Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month, the country was rife with sectarian violence, and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying, "Why?"

- But talking micro-cosmically, did the surge, the addition of 30,000 additional troops help the situation in Iraq?

- Do you think the level of security in Iraq would exist today without the surge?

Questions from Couric in the second interview excerpt, which Couric set up: "Senator Obama hopes this trip will enhance his credibility as a world leader, something I asked him about in our exclusive interview earlier today."

- You reportedly chafe when your foreign policy expertise is questioned. If foreign policy is not your weakest area of expertise, what is?

- But what area do you feel least comfortable with?

- You're heading to Israel after Jordan. And according to a recent poll out of Jerusalem, Israeli Jews favor John McCain for President 43 to 20 percent, with one-third undecided. Why do you think that's the case?

- How likely do you think a preemptive military strike by Israel against Iran may be?

- This is not a speculative question then. Was it appropriate, in your view, for Israel to take out that suspected Syrian nuclear site last year?

- Finally, you'll be going to Germany and to France and Great Britain. And according to German press reports, as many as a million people may be gathering to hear your speech in Berlin. Do you worry at all, Senator Obama, that this kind of crowd in Berlin may be slightly off-putting to the guy in Columbus, Ohio, who's just lost his job?

Couric's inquiries to McCain, who appeared via satellite from New Hampshire, in the one interview excerpt aired on the CBS Evening News. (CBSNews.com transcript and video of the entire 14-minute interview: www.cbsnews.com )

- Senator McCain, Senator Obama says while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias and says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?

- A commentary on what? [McCain: That Senator Obama does not understand the challenges we face.]

- Senator Obama describes Afghanistan as the central front on the war on terror. That is where, after all, Senator, 9/11 was plotted. Why do you believe Iraq is the central front in the war on terror?

- Senator McCain, you sound very frustrated with Senator Obama's perspective.

Next up on the Obamathon interview parade: Obama with ABC's Charlie Gibson on Wednesday's World News.

Brian Williams gets him in Germany on Thursday before Tom Brokaw has him from London on Sunday's Meet the Press. TVNewser is maintaining a TV interview list, and updated it Tuesday: "FNC's Bill Hemmer gets the Saturday slot. He'll interview Obama in London on Saturday." See: www.mediabistro.com

That still leaves Friday open.

ABC's Sawyer and Stephanopoulos Gush
Over Obama's B-Ball Skills

Journalist George Stephanopoulos and ABC's Diane Sawyer rhapsodized over Barack Obama's Middle East trip on Tuesday's Good Morning America. Stephanopoulos swooned that the visit to the region was going "better than they could have imagined in the Obama campaign." He then proceeded to narrate footage of the Democratic candidate.

While video of Obama playing basketball with troops in Kuwait appeared on screen, Stephanopoulos fawned as Obama made a shot, "...How much better can you get than that? Look at that. Right in the hoop on the first try." Agreeing, Sawyer cooed: "How sweet." With no apparent sense of irony, Sawyer, the GMA co-host, also brought up the complaints that the media have uncritically covered the trip. After playing a clip of a McCain appearance with George H.W. Bush, in which the former President joked that the candidate is "a little jealous" of all the attention Obama is getting, Stephanopoulos agreed: "[McCain] is a little jealous."

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

He added: "They are frustrated in the McCain camp, as you could imagine. Because you have got so much coverage of Obama's trip here. But this trip is unprecedented right now."

Of course, if the McCain camp is jealous, perhaps it might have more to do with the fact that Obama receives excited narration over such things as his basketball skills.

Discussing the comment by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki that seemed to endorse Obama's call for timetables, Stephanopoulos asserted: "Events are really conspiring to help Senator Obama here." After mentioning the fact that a top member of the State Department met with Iran's nuclear regulator, the This Week anchor hopefully observed, "And, remember, Diane, all Obama has to do on national security is blur the distinctions, fight John McCain to a tie, then you get to issues where the Democrats and Obama have a big advantage."

A transcript of the July 22 segment, which aired at 7:06am:

DIANE SAWYER: Joining us live now for the bottom line -- in serious need of it this morning, George -- it's chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Hey, Diane,
SAWYER: So, how has the trip gone? How has he done?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Better than they could have imagined in the Obama campaign. Look at the pictures. [Pictures of Obama appear onscreen.] You saw some of them in Jake's piece just right now. But, look at these pictures. General Petraeus and Barack Obama. There they are in the helicopter yesterday touring over Iraq. You also have those pictures of him in Kuwait playing basketball with the enlisted troops there in Kuwait and how much better can you get than that? [Video of Obama shooting a basketball and making the shot.] Look at that. Right in the hoop on the first try.
SAWYER: How sweet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He wisely gave up right after that. But then in the serious parts of the trip, as well, meeting with Prime Minister Maliki of Iraq who did as I said, as Jake just said, give him a big, big gift this weekend when he seemed to endorse the Obama position on Iraq.
SAWYER: But coming up here, what is ahead? He goes to Israel. A little trickier.
STEPHANOPOULOS: On his way to Israel right now. It will be trickier. You know, the politics of the Middle East peace process are very, very tricky. He'll be meeting tomorrow with the Prime Minister of Israel and three people who want to take his job, probably all looking to trip him up along the road and in Europe he'll be giving a big speech in Germany, who knows how big the crowd is going to be. Here's where that could become problematic for Barack Obama. If that crowd seems to take on an anti-American cast, seems to get a little wild, a circus, a campaign rally, that could be trouble for him. The campaign says they're prepared for that and that the speech will be sober, serious and non-political.
SAWYER: What about the change in position with the Bush administration that we've been seeing over the past week? What does this mean, the time horizons? Now time horizons instead of timetables.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Events are really conspiring to help Senator Obama here. You sw the Bush administration come out for a time horizon. They say it's not a time table on Iraq. You saw the prime minister and his spokesman of Iraq endorse the Obama position. Even on Iran, you see the Bush administration meeting with the Iranians-
SAWYER: Meeting with the adversary.
STEPHANOPOULOS: -which is Barack Obama's position, as well. Both Barack Obama and John McCain now have the same position on Afghanistan. And, remember, Diane, all Obama has to do on national security is blur the distinctions, fight John McCain to a tie, then you get to issues where the Democrats and Obama have a big advantage.
SAWYER: A Lot of reporting, a lot of speculating about whether the press is simply covering the Obama trip too much and covering it without criticism too much. Yesterday, we saw John McCain and former President Bush and they were asked about the coverage that Obama is getting on the trip. Here's the clip.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you have any concerns about the appropriateness of the scale of events Senator Obama plans to conduct in Europe, for example?
GEORGE HW BUSH: A little jealous is all.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, McCain's smiling. He is a little jealous. They are frustrated in the McCain camp, as you could imagine. Because you have got so much coverage of Obama's trip here. But this trip is unprecedented right now. I think is that Senator McCain and his team are going to try to counter it later with more interviews. They are even suggesting there's some kind of a surprise coming this week.
SAWYER: All right. Quick word. Anything new, concrete on vice president choices?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, that's the question. Is the surprise that John McCain is going to announce the vice president. Conceivable, not likely.
SAWYER: Not likely. Nothing new for the moment.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Not yet although we're hearing McCain with his choice, wants to, quote-un-quote, scramble the jets.
SAWYER: Meaning?
STEPHANOPOULOS: Bold choice.
SAWYER: Bold choice. All right. Thanks, George. Good to see you.

NBC's David Gregory: Maliki 'Refutes'
Notion of Obama 'Naivete'

NBC's David Gregory, substitute-hosting on Tuesday's Today show, argued with Rudy Giuliani that any notion of Barack Obama's foreign policy "naivete" has been refuted by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Gregory contended that Maliki's suggestion of a U.S. troop withdrawal by 2010 "validated" Obama's position. Giuliani scoffed that Democratic presidential nominee wouldn't have even been able to visit with the Prime Minister in Iraq, if it weren't for the surge that the Obama opposed.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following exchanged occurred on the Tuesday, July 22 Today show:

DAVID GREGORY: Let me turn to Iraq this morning. A lot of news. Senator Obama's trip. And he said late last night that if he had it to do over again he would not support the troop surge in Iraq. McCain has already been critical about that. What do you think that should say to voters about his view of the war and his judgment?
GIULIANI: I don't, I don't understand, I don't understand what Senator Obama was saying. I mean he, he, he goes to Iraq to go on a fact-finding mission and the facts that he finds are that violence is down 70/80 percent. That everyone believes, particularly the military commanders he's talking to, that it was a great success. The only reason that Al-Maliki is talking about a possible withdrawal in 2010 is because the surge has worked. Couldn't possibly be talking about something like that. And we don't know if it'll happen or not depending on the facts on the ground. So I think it either indicates that Senator Obama is not on a fact finding mission because the facts don't seem to affect him or Senator Obama has a stubbornness of wanting to stick to his political position, which now turns out to be incorrect. The position he took a year ago, to oppose the surge, would have left us with a great loss and a Middle East in chaos right now. The position that was the correct one, that turned out historically to be correct is the position that we should have done the surge.
GREGORY: Alright but, but let's take on this argument a little bit because, Mr. Mayor, as you know Senator McCain has effectively chalked up Obama's position on Iraq to naivete, that he's effectively called for surrender. And yet by sticking to the idea of a 16-month phased withdrawal from Iraq, that has ultimately been validated by the Iraqi prime minister, hasn't that effectively refuted that argument?
GIULIANI: Of course not. You wouldn't be there if the surge didn't work. The, you, unless you wanted to pull out the troops in the midst of chaos. Unless he wanted to create civil war in Iraq. These are the facts-
GREGORY: Right.
GIULIANI: -that Senator Obama ignored a year ago. It now turns out that had you had not the surge either we would be in a much worse situation in Iraq or as the Democrats and Harry Reid and Obama wanted to do, we would've declared that we had lost and pulled out.

NY Times' Harwood 'Surprised' by Rejection
of McCain Op-Ed

When a writer for the New York Times questions his own paper, for refusing to publish an editorial by John McCain, and a former Clinton press secretary questions the "balance" of the coverage of Obama's foreign tour, you know the media have reached a bias tilting point. On Tuesday night's Hardball, New York Times political writer John Harwood said of the Times decision to spike a McCain op-ed: "I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama."

And former Bill Clinton press secretary Dee Dee Myers called the press coverage of Obama overseas "extraordinary" and admitted: "It's legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For more on the rejection of the McCain op-ed by the New York Times, see the July 22 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

The following segment aired on the July 22 Hardball on MSNBC:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Dee Dee, seven times they have ran, you know, written articles by John McCain or written by his staff, approved by him. How can they be accused of stiffing him if they have such a record?
DEE DEE MYERS, VANITY FAIR: Well I think it was very particular to the exch-, the email exchange to between the op-ed page editor and the McCain campaign where, where the tone of the email came off like, "Oh gee thanks but no thanks, come again another time." And you know, clearly the Times has always reserved the right to edit. You know millions of people submit op-eds to that page, it's the most powerful page in the country, arguably. And certainly the McCain campaign has been edited in the past, I'm sure of that. But I think there was something in the tone where rather than saying, "Oh we would love to have Senator McCain's presence on the page this time, but let's discuss what we need to do get there." The tone was more like, "Mmm, come back next time."
MATTHEWS: What do you make of it John? Is this a, is this a tempest in a teapot raised by the McCain people dumping this little factoid on Drudge and getting a lot of heat about it yesterday or is there legitimate claim that they're being stiffed by a liberal op-ed page?
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC/NEW YORK TIMES: Well I think they decided rather than engage in the back and forth, that they would get the PR hit by putting it out there. Look it is standard practice for newspapers to go back and forth with authors. I've certainly been through it a million times on stuff that I've written. The question is how different is the standard when you are talking about a nominee of a major party to be President of the United States. I was surprised that they did not take it, especially having just run Barack Obama, but I understand their reasoning for it. And I think when Dee Dee talks about the tone of the note, I think one particular lightning rod for the McCain campaign to seize on is the use of the word "timetables," because John McCain, of course, has been resisting timetables and some people might interpret that or spin it that the New York Times is telling John McCain that he needs to be for a timetable and I don't think that was the intent of the editor of the page. But that provides some fodder for the McCain campaign.
MYERS: But it also, the, the timing of it. And John's right they, the, the McCain campaign chose to put it out there as a, as an grievance rather than negotiate a new op-ed piece.
MATTHEWS: Okay is this strategic? Is this part of their plan to, to, to blame the press?
MYERS: Well I think it's an opportunity.
MATTHEWS: I mean every, every candidate at times, the Clintons blamed the press in the primary season. Everybody seems to decide at sometimes, in their interest, to blame the press.
MYERS: Right.
MATTHEWS: There's a piece in Vanity Fair, your magazine, this week by Gail Sheehy, in the new edition, that says Hillary Clinton way back in '98 with all the problems with Monica and everything-
MYERS: Right.
MATTHEWS: -that there was, she said, "You gotta blame the press." That's a strategy.
MYERS: Right, right. And that, that clearly was, at times, a strategy. And it was, you know, it was, at times a strategy in the Clinton primary campaign this spring and, and into the-
MATTHEWS: I noticed! How did I notice?
MYERS: You know let me think, did you come up? I don't know.
MATTHEWS: My name might have been mentioned.
MYERS: But, but, but I think that because of the extraordinary attention paid to Senator Obama's trip, right now, and he's in the midst of this extraordinary event overseas that I think the McCain campaign just saw this was one more brick in the load and they decided to put it out and make an issue of it. And it has become, I think, today and a bit yesterday an issue. It's a, it's legitimate question. Is the press coverage between the two candidates balanced?
HARWOOD: And Chris that's exactly the reason why this was the right time for them to do it, from their point of view is that-
MATTHEWS: Right.
HARWOOD: -when you do have all these anchors going over there they've, they've got to try to find a way to break through the clutter and get John McCain's argument out in front of the press. When you, when you go after the press like this, as a Republican, you, you try to unite your base a little bit and, and rally them with this familiar argument. And also try to, sort of, turn around a situation where Barack Obama is getting this extraordinary coverage.
MATTHEWS: Would they have done the same thing to the Washington Times? If the same exact thing had happened?
HARWOOD: No! Because there's no juice for a Republican to go after the Washington Times.
MYERS: Right.
MATTHEWS: Or the Wall Street Journal.
HARWOOD: Exactly. But if you go after the New York Times which, to some conservatives sort of stands for liberal media, that is something where you may be able to get some mileage out of it.

Olbermann Slams McCain as Agreeing w/
"Racism & Religious Hatred"

On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann used a sloppily worded statement by an 83-year-old decorated veteran, Bud Day, who volunteered for both World War II and the Vietnam War, and who ended up spending 30 months as a POW, a man whom Olbermann called "dangerously deluded" and labeled as a "slob" and a "clown," to paint John McCain as agreeing with what the MSNBC host referred to as Day's "racism and religious hatred." After quoting part of a recent statement by Day in which he referred generically to "the Muslims," instead of "Muslim extremists," as wanting either to "kill us" or to force Americans to "kneel," Olbermann claimed that McCain "agrees" that Muslims are the enemy. As he tagged Day as "Worst Person in the World," Olbermann slammed McCain: "And you heard him [Day]: John agrees with him. As of tonight, John's campaign has refused to repudiate Day's racism and religious hatred. Maybe John needs to get rid of this clown but fast. Bud 'The Muslims are Going to Kill Us' Day, today's 'Worst Person in the World.'"

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

While Day's generic reference to "the Muslims" was inappropriate and deserves correction, in part of the same statement ignored by Olbermann, Day seemed to contradict the idea that he might view all Muslims as the enemy as he declared that America should "support the Iraqi government." Day: "And out here in the Panhandle, there's a ton of retired military, and they all expect our government to get in there and support the Iraqi government, get them to the point where they can carry on on their own, and then get the country stabilized and hopefully have a government along with Israel in the Middle East who has some kind of a relationship with us."

Audio of the relevant statement by Day can be found here: miamiherald.typepad.com

And, contradicting Olbermann's claim that McCain believes Muslims in general are the enemy, on Friday a Fox News article reported that "A campaign spokesperson for McCain said Day intended to say Islamic extremists -- an important distinction as some Muslims feel inappropriately discriminated against since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." See: elections.foxnews.com

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday July 18 Countdown on MSNBC, followed by a transcript of some of Day's statement:

# From the Friday, July 18 Countdown:

KEITH OLBERMANN: But our winner, speaking of dangerously deluded, Swift Boater Bud Day, John McCain's fellow Vietnam POW, trotted out on a conference call with reporters by the Republican party of Florida. Says Mr. Day, quote, "The Muslims have said either we kneel or they're going to kill us. I don't intend to kneel, and I don't advocate to anybody that we kneel, and John doesn't advocate to anybody that we kneel."
"The Muslims." Not terrorists, not even Islamo-fascists, but "the Muslims." The Muslims who are opposing terror with us, the Muslims who have given authorities the world over leads and tips about terrorists, the Muslims who live peacefully and contribute to our nation. And you heard him: John agrees with him. As of tonight, John's campaign has refused to repudiate Day's racism and religious hatred. Maybe John needs to get rid of this clown but fast. Bud "The Muslims are Going to Kill Us" Day, today's "Worst Person in the World."


# A portion of Bud Day's statement: "John McCain will obviously be identified with the war because he has advocated the surge, he has said the war on terror is the most important thing that we have to have. And people forget, out in the press out in the public, that we're at war. Right now, we don't have any choice. The Muslims have said either we kneel, or they're going to kill us. I don't intend to kneel, and I don't advocate to anyone that we kneel, and John doesn't advocate to anybody that we kneel. And out here in the Panhandle, there's a ton of retired military, and they all expect our government to get in there and support the Iraqi government, get them to the point where they can carry on on their own, and then get the country stabilized and hopefully have a government along with Israel in the Middle East who has some kind of a relationship with us."

Helen Thomas Replies 'Hell No' to Question
of Liberal Media Bias

Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin, in the Tuesday edition of the Washington Examiner's "Yeas & Nays" feature, reported that Helen Thomas gave a vehement denial of whether the media, and the White House press corps in particular, have a liberal bent. "Yeas & Nays got a sneak peak at Rory Kennedy's new HBO documentary -- 'Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at The White House' -- which premieres next month, and Thomas is asked whether most White House reporters are liberal. 'Hell no!' she responds. 'I'm dying to find another liberal open their mouths. Where are they!'"

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

During the documentary, Thomas went on to accuse the press of treating Former President Bill Clinton oppressively, especially during his second term. "[Thomas] exhibited great empathy for what President Clinton went through during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. 'I don't know how he could have taken what he took,' said Thomas. 'For reporters, it was a story you couldn't avoid as much as you'd like to,' but 'no president has been subjected to that type of tyranny.'"

The Washington Examiner item: www.examiner.com

Perhaps Helen Thomas has high standards as to what defines a liberal, but one need only to look at the White House press corps to cast doubt on her assertion that she is the only liberal member of the corps.

CNN's John Roberts, a former White House correspondent for CBS News, had Scott McClellan on as a guest when the former Bush White House spokesman's "tell-all" book was about to be released in May 2008. Roberts, responding to an excerpt from McClellan's book, declared, "[McClellan] finally articulates what we all came to believe...and further goes on to say that this war was unnecessary." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Roberts voiced similar sentiments about the Iraq War during his time at the White House. During a July 30, 2003 press conference with President Bush, he asked: "The world is a better place, and the region certainly a better place, without Saddam Hussein. But there's a sense here in this country, and a feeling around the world, that the U.S. has lost credibility by building the case for Iraq upon sometimes flimsy or, some people have complained, nonexistent evidence. I'm just wondering sir, why did you choose to take the world to war in that way?"

-- Brent Baker