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MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

Couric Touts 'Rare Interview' with Maliki That's One Question --12/1/2006


1. Couric Touts 'Rare Interview' with Maliki That's One Question
A night after the media were full of reports about how Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had "snubbed" President Bush by deciding to not join a meeting with Jordan's King, Maliki snubbed CBS anchor Katie Couric who, nonetheless, teased "my interview with Iraq's leader" -- a session which she conducted by hastily sitting on a coffee table and which consumed barely 30 seconds of her newscast. Viewers heard two answers from Maliki, but just one question from Couric, a question the CBS Evening News played both in the up top tease and later in Couric's brief-re-cap of her time with Maliki: "How frustrating has it been for you, Mr. Prime Minister, to not have greater authority sooner?" Despite the brevity of the exchange, and how it was conducted with Couric sitting on the corner of a coffee table to face Maliki who sat on a sofa, Couric touted how "he sat down for a rare interview just after his meeting with the President." Without irony, she noted how Maliki had "a lightning-fast summit" with President Bush. AUDIO&VIDEO

2. Olbermann Hits Gingrich's 'Fascist' 'Assault' on First Amendment
On Thursday's Countdown, two days after comparing Newt Gingrich's ideas on free speech and anti-terrorism measures to Naziism, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann aimed his latest "Special Comment" rant at the former House Speaker over a speech he gave at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, during which Gingrich had talked about restricting some free speech rights for those who incite terrorism. Olbermann used a number of charged words and phrases in hitting Gingrich, including "fascism," "barbarism" and "delusions of grandeur." He also referred to Gingrich as a "dangerous creature" and compared Gingrich to an "arsonist giving the keynote address at a convention of firefighters." Accusing Gingrich of "exploiting" terrorism to pursue the presidency, the Countdown host quoted a line from The Manchurian Candidate referring to Angela Lansbury's character who planned to seize power while "waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom." Olbermann concluded by proclaiming that he is "thankful" not to be with Gingrich in "that dark place" where "the way to save America is to destroy America."

3. For Disputing 'Civil War,' Olbermann Tags Bozell 'Worst in World'
On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Countdown made Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center, the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World." Bozell's offense? Asserting that "probably a hundred Generals in the field in Iraq would disagree" with describing the situation in Iraq as a "civil war." Olbermann demanded: "Okay, name them. We're waiting." But seconds before Olbermann had inadvertently made Bozell's case as he recalled how "in August and September alone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace and General Abizaid and General Casey all admitted that at minimum, Iraq could be headed to civil war." Yes, "could" be "headed" for civil war, but not in one. And, for someone who propounds to be such a stickler for accuracy (on Tuesday he ridiculed FNC for dropping one letter from his name, Olbermann flubbed a basic fact. Just as he did the last time he denounced Bozell as the "worst," Olbermann called the Media Research Center the Media Research "Council."

4. During Christmas Decoration Tour, CBS Hits Mrs. Bush About Iraq
For the second consecutive year, CBS seized upon the opportunity to view the White House Christmas decorations to ambush First Lady Laura Bush with questions about Iraq. However, when CBS interviewed First Lady and Senator-elect Hillary Clinton in 2000, Jane Clayson ignored policy questions and instead highlighted Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments and inquired about Mrs. Clinton's favorite Christmas traditions. On Thursday's Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm portrayed Iraq as hopeless and was dismayed that U.S. troops are not being withdrawn: "And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as I think many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops but yet, once again we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely."

5. Kudos to NBC for Acknowledging Unfulfilled Hurricane Forecasts
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his newscast from Amman Thursday night with "a confession." Williams acknowledged: "We got something wrong. It wasn't just us. It was everyone in the news media and the folks in the federal government who are supposed to be the experts at predicting hurricanes. You may recall the dire predictions." Williams showed a clip from May of himself worrying about whether New Orleans was "ready" for another hurricane. He then reminded viewers of how the forecast was for "between eight and 10 hurricanes and half of those would be major, we were told, meaning at least Category 3." Williams pointed out: "Well, the season officially ended today back home, and we are happy to report, what did happen, turns out, wasn't even close. There were only nine named storms, not 16 of them. Five hurricanes, none of them making landfall in the U.S. And only two of the storms, Gordon and Helene, were strong enough to be called anything close to major."


Couric Touts 'Rare Interview' with Maliki
That's One Question

A night after the media were full of reports about how Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had "snubbed" President Bush by deciding to not join a meeting with Jordan's King, Maliki snubbed CBS anchor Katie Couric who, nonetheless, teased "my interview with Iraq's leader" -- a session which she conducted by hastily sitting on a coffee table and which consumed barely 30 seconds of her newscast. Viewers heard two answers from Maliki, but just


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one question from Couric, a question the CBS Evening News played both in the up top tease and later in Couric's brief-re-cap of her time with Maliki: "How frustrating has it been for you, Mr. Prime Minister, to not have greater authority sooner?"

Despite the brevity of the exchange, and how it was conducted with Couric sitting on the corner of a coffee table to face Maliki who sat on a sofa, Couric touted how "he sat down for a rare interview just after his meeting with the President." Without irony, she noted how Maliki had "a lightning-fast summit" with President Bush.

[A video clip, which best conveys the hurried nature of the encounter and how Maliki jumped up at the end, will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. In the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or to listen to MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]

All three broadcast network evening newscasts came from Amman, but only ABC's Charles Gibson got a real session with Maliki, an interview that aired for four minutes on World News. NBC sheltered anchor Brian Williams from an embarrassing drive by encounter with Maliki, but the NBC Nightly News did show a standing Maliki responding to one question from reporter Richard Engel.

Couric did get a consolation prize -- a regular interview session with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Couric's tease at the start of the November 30 CBS Evening News from Amman:
"Tonight: My interview with Iraq's leader."
Couric to Maliki: "How frustrating has it been for you, Mr. Prime Minister, to not have greater authority sooner?"

Couric later took just over a minute to narrate her time with Maliki:

Couric: "The recommendations of the Baker commission were not discussed here in Amman today -- at least that's what the Iraqi Prime Minister told me when he sat down for a rare interview just after his meeting with the President. It was a lightning-fast summit, but as he made a dash to the airport to go home-"
Couric, walking beside, but behind Maliki, pointing to a door: "And then you're leaving out here, yes?"
Couric: "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki took a few minutes to give us an unusually upbeat assessment of the summit's outcome."
Prime Minister Maliki, through translator, as he sat on a sofa opposite Couric: "I'm very happy. I reminded both of us of our victory in Iraq, the victory of democracy and freedom against dictatorship."
Couric: "How frustrating has it been for you, Mr. Prime Minister, to not have greater authority sooner?"
Maliki, through translator: "I wouldn't say it's frustrating. We found that security forces have to be able to respond quickly because we are facing groups that require security forces that are ready to strike at the terrorists 24 hours a day. Thank you very much."
Couric, over video of Maliki getting up from sofa and shaking Couric's hand as she rose from the corner of a coffee table: "As for reports that the Baker commission will soon recommend major U.S. troop withdrawals, the Prime Minister said President Bush had not brought it up and that any pullback would require dialogue between the two countries."

Olbermann Hits Gingrich's 'Fascist' 'Assault'
on First Amendment

On Thursday's Countdown, two days after comparing Newt Gingrich's ideas on free speech and anti-terrorism measures to Naziism, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann aimed his latest "Special Comment" rant at the former House Speaker over a speech he gave at the Nackey S. Loeb First Amendment award dinner, discussed in a New Hampshire Union Leader article, during which Gingrich had talked about restricting some free speech rights for those who incite terrorism. Olbermann used a number of charged words and phrases in hitting Gingrich, including "fascism," "barbarism" and "delusions of grandeur." He also referred to Gingrich as a "dangerous creature" and compared Gingrich to an "arsonist giving the keynote address at a convention of firefighters."

Accusing Gingrich of "exploiting" terrorism to pursue the presidency, the Countdown host quoted a line from The Manchurian Candidate referring to Angela Lansbury's character who planned to seize power while "waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom."

Olbermann concluded by proclaiming that he is "thankful" not to be with Gingrich in "that dark place" where "the way to save America is to destroy America." Olbermann: "What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America is to destroy America. I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place. And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it, and that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea lurks there, and what a cynical mind, and that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate."

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

MSNBC's posted transcript where video should soon be added: www.msnbc.msn.com

Below is a complete transcript of relevant portions of the November 30 Countdown show, including several of the plugs leading up to the "Special Comment":

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "Desperate House losers: The right wing goes ape[beep] and [beep] itself because Danny DiVito calls the President numb [beep] on television. That's all you guys got left? Not that there isn't the germ of fascism in that. Newt Gingrich's speech to the Free Speech Dinner about restricting free speech, and his dreams of 'seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be President, it will happen.' 'Special Comment' tonight on Gingrich's bid to exploit terror in order to restrict freedom and somehow sweep himself up into the White House."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:12pm: "There is absolutely no excuse for Newt Gingrich's bid to curb free speech, especially on the Internet, especially with a new leak tonight of an uncorroborated al-Qaeda threat against, bingo, the Web sites of the stock market and the banking industry. A 'Special Comment' ahead."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:36pm: "A reminder tonight that there is a reason the Orca's nickname is 'killer whale' as a trainer is dragged underwater by one of the massive animals right in front of a startled crowd. Speaking of dangerous creatures, Newt Gingrich and his call to somehow curb the First Amendment in order to fight terrorists. A 'Special Comment' on that ahead."

...

Olbermann, during commercial break at 8:40pm: "It's a television cliche, but animals do attack. A killer whale going after his trainer, an alligator biting a Florida man, and Newt Gingrich trying to take a bite out of every American's freedom of speech. That's ahead. This is Countdown."

...

Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:47pm: "Also tonight, using the imagery of an American city under assault, he has launched an assault on the First Amendment, part of his dream of being compelled in some way to take the presidency. My 'Special Comment' on Newt Gingrich next."

...

Olbermann: "And finally tonight, as promised, a 'Special Comment' about free speech, failed speakers and the delusions of grandeur. 'This is a serious long-term war,' the man at the podium cried, 'and it will inevitably lead us to want to know what is said in every suspect place in the country.'
"Some in the audience must have thought they were hearing an arsonist give the keynote address at a convention of firefighters. This was the annual Loeb First Amendment Dinner in Manchester, NH, a public cherishing of freedom of speech, in the state with the two-fisted motto 'Live Free Or Die.' And the arsonist at the microphone, the former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was insisting that we must attach an 'on-off button' to free speech. He offered the time-tested excuse trotted out by our demagogues since even before the Republic was founded: widespread death of Americans in America, possibly at the hands of Americans. But updated now to include terrorists using the Internet for recruitment. End result, quote, 'losing a city.'
"The colonial English defended their repression with words like these. And so did the slave states. And so did the policemen who shot strikers. And so did Lindbergh's America First crowd. And so did those who interned Japanese-Americans. And so did those behind the Red Scare. And so did Nixon's plumbers. The genuine proportion of the threat is always irrelevant. The fear the threat is exploited to create becomes the only reality.
"'We will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find,' Mr. Gingrich continued about terrorists, formerly communists, formerly hippies, formerly Fifth Columnists, formerly anarchists, formerly Redcoats, 'to break up their capacity to use the Internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech.'
"Mr. Gingrich, the British 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1770s. The pro-slavery leaders 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1850s. The FBI and the CIA 'broke up our capacity to use free speech' in the 1960s. It is within those groups where you would have found your kindred spirits, Mr. Gingrich. Those who had no faith in freedom, no faith in this country, and, ultimately, no faith even in the strength of their own ideas, to stand up on their own legs without having the playing field tilted entirely to their benefit.
"How convenient it is that we are told just today that the government has warned the stock markets and U.S. banks that it has learned of an al-Qaeda threat to penetrate and destroy their Web sites. That learning followed immediately by a statement from Homeland Security that there is no corroboration of the threat. 'It will lead us to learn,' Gingrich had continued in New Hampshire, 'how to close down every Web site that is dangerous, and it will lead us to a very severe approach to people who advocate the killing of Americans and advocate the use of nuclear and biological weapons.'
"That we have always had 'a very severe approach' to these people is insufficient for Mr. Gingrich's ends. He wants to somehow ban the idea, even though everyone who has ever protested a movie or a piece of music or a book has learned the same lesson: Try to suppress it, and you only validate it. Make it illegal, and you make it the subject of curiosity. Say it cannot be said, and it will instead be screamed.
"And on top of the thundering danger in his eagerness to sell out freedom of speech, there is a sadder sound still, the tinny crash of a garbage can lid on a sidewalk. Whatever dreams of Internet censorship float like a miasma in Mr. Gingrich's personal swamp, whatever hopes he has of an Iron Firewall, the simple fact is, technically they won't work. As of tomorrow, they will have been defeated by a free computer download.
"Mere hours after Gingrich's speech in New Hampshire, the University of Toronto announced it had come up with a program called Psiphon to liberate those in countries in which the Internet is regulated, places like China and Iran, where political ideas are so barren, and political leaders so desperate that they put up computer firewalls to keep thought and freedom out.
"The Psiphon device is a relay of sorts that can surreptitiously link a computer user in an imprisoned country with another computer user in a free country. The Chinese think their wall still works, yet the ideas -- good ideas, bad ideas, indifferent ideas -- pass through that wall anyway, the same way the Soviet bloc was defeated by the images of Western material bounty.
"If your hopes of thought control can be defeated, Mr. Gingrich, merely by one computer whiz staying up an extra half an hour and devising a new 'firewall hop,' what is all this apocalyptic hyperbole for?
"'I further think,' you said in Manchester, 'we should propose a Geneva convention for fighting terrorism, which makes very clear that those who would fight outside the rules of law, those who would use weapons of mass destruction, and those who would target civilians, are in fact subject to a totally different set of rules that allow us to protect civilization by defeating barbarism.' Well, Mr. Gingrich, what is more 'massively destructive' than trying to get us to give you our freedom? And what is someone seeking to hamstring the First Amendment doing, if not 'fighting outside the rules of law'? And what is the suppression of knowledge and freedom, if not 'barbarism'?
"The explanation, of course, is in one last quote from Mr. Gingrich from New Hampshire and another quote from him from last week. 'I want to suggest to you,' he said about these Internet restrictions, 'that we right now should be impaneling people to look seriously at a level of supervision that we would never dream of if it weren't for the scale of the threat.' And who should those 'impaneled' people be? Funny I should ask, isn't it, Mr. Gingrich?
"'I am not "running" for President,' you told a reporter from Fortune Magazine. 'I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be President, it will happen.'
"Newt Gingrich sees in terrorism, not something to be exterminated, but something to be exploited. It is his golden opportunity, isn't it? 'Rallying a nation,' you might say, 'to hysteria, to sweep us up into the White House with powers that will make martial law seem like anarchy.' That, of course, is from the original version of the movie The Manchurian Candidate '€" the chilling words of Angela Lansbury's character, as she first promises to sell her country out to the Chinese and Russians, then reveals she will double-cross them and keep all the power herself, waving the flag every time she subjugates another freedom.
"Within the frame of our experience as a free and freely argumentative people, it is almost impossible to conceive that there are those among us who might approach the kind of animal wildness of fiction like The Manchurian Candidate, those who would willingly transform our beloved country into something false and terrible. Who among us can look into our own histories, or those of our ancestors who struggled to get here, or who struggled to get freedom after they were forced here, and not tear up when we read Frederick Douglass' words from a century and a half ago?: 'Freedom must take the day.' Who among us can look to our collective history and not see its turning points -- like the Civil War, like Watergate, like the Revolution itself '€" in which the right idea defeated the wrong idea on the battlefield that is the marketplace of ideas?
"But apparently there are some of us who cannot see that the only future for America is one that cherishes the freedoms we won in the past, an America in which we vanquish bad ideas with better ideas, in which we fight for liberty by having more liberty, and not less.
"'I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be President, it will happen.' What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America is to destroy America. I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place. And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it, and that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea lurks there, and what a cynical mind, and that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate. Good night and good luck."

For Disputing 'Civil War,' Olbermann
Tags Bozell 'Worst in World'

On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Countdown made Brent Bozell, President of the Media Research Center, the "winner" of his nightly "Worst Person in the World." Bozell's offense? Asserting that "probably a hundred Generals in the field in Iraq would disagree" with describing the situation in Iraq as a "civil war." Olbermann demanded: "Okay, name them. We're waiting." But seconds before Olbermann had inadvertently made Bozell's case as he recalled how "in August and September alone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace and General Abizaid and General Casey all admitted that at minimum, Iraq could be headed to civil war." Yes, "could" be "headed" for civil war, but not in one.

And, for someone who propounds to be such a stickler for accuracy (on Tuesday he ridiculed FNC for dropping one letter from his name: newsbusters.org ), Olbermann flubbed a basic fact. Just as he did the last time he denounced Bozell as the "worst" (November 3 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2006/cyb20061103.asp#3 ), Olbermann called the Media Research Center the Media Research "Council."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Olbermann's November 30 slam in full:
"Tonight's winner, the inimitable Bozo himself, Brent Bozell, creator of the self-described Media Research Council. Even though in August and September alone, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Pace, and General Abizaid and General Casey all admitted that at minimum, Iraq could be headed to civil war, Bozell said of the decision to call it a civil war quote, 'probably a hundred Generals in the field in Iraq would disagree.' Okay, name them. We're waiting. Make it easier: Just name twenty five. Brent Bozell, today's Worst Person in the World!"

During Christmas Decoration Tour, CBS
Hits Mrs. Bush About Iraq

For the second consecutive year, CBS seized upon the opportunity to view the White House Christmas decorations to ambush First Lady Laura Bush with questions about Iraq. However, when CBS interviewed First Lady and Senator-elect Hillary Clinton in 2000, Jane Clayson ignored policy questions and instead highlighted Mrs. Clinton's accomplishments and inquired about Mrs. Clinton's favorite Christmas traditions.

On Thursday's Early Show, co-host Hannah Storm portrayed Iraq as hopeless and was dismayed that U.S. troops are not being withdrawn: "And can you offer them words of comfort and hope as I think many of them were hoping that perhaps with the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that maybe we would begin a gradual pullout of troops but yet, once again we hear today that our troops will be there indefinitely."

[This item, by Michael Rule, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Mrs. Bush retorted that the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, the "blue ribbon commission" led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, have not yet been submitted, and she noted that the group's report is just one piece of information on which the President will rely:
"Well, we don't have the recommendations from the Iraq Study Group. Those have not been submitted to the President, we don't really know what's in those, yet. But the President will weigh what comes in those recommendations, along with the recommendations of his generals, and the recommendations of the government of Iraq, the duly elected government of Iraq, I might add. Over 70 percent of Iraqis turned out to vote. That's more than Americans turned out to vote. And I think it's very, very important that we do whatever we can to help Iraq build a stable government there. It will make a huge difference in the Middle East and in this very volatile part of the world. So I'm glad that we're going to stand with the Iraqis. I hope that this meeting that the President had with Maliki, which seemed to be a very substantive meeting, will be the first of many discussions of ways we can work together to make sure the violence is reduced."

That exchange came exactly one year after CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante, again while viewing the White House Christmas decorations, asserted President Bush had no plan and was the subject of much criticism: "Let me ask you this, your husband today is giving a major speech about Iraq to prove that he has a plan, because he has been so criticized by many people because the war keeps dragging on, and of course that means there are troops away for Christmas, first of all does it bother you when he's criticized the way he has been?"

Plante's inquiry mirrored the treatment Mrs. Bush received from ABC's Jessica Yellin last year. See the December 1, 2005 CyberAlert item, "ABC Exploits Christmas Decorations Tour to Hit First Lady on Iraq," online at: www.mrc.org

Compare those questions to some of the ones then Senator-elect Hillary Clinton received in 2000 from CBS's Jane Clayson: "It's nice to be there. You've been very busy lately, obviously -- Senator-elect today, First Lady and an author. How do you keep it all straight, Mrs. Clinton?"

Clayson also inquired about how the Clinton's celebrate Christmas: "Can you describe some of the images that we're seeing and tell us what Christmas has been like for the Clintons in the White House?"

It is fair to ask, which Storm did, what the First Lady's thoughts are for members of the armed services deployed overseas and their families. But if CBS wants to ask a First Lady about policy, why would they pick on Laura Bush and give Hillary Clinton a pass? After all, Laura Bush is not involved in shaping policy, where as Hillary Clinton was not only a Senator-elect, but was part of an administration that advertised two Clinton's for the price of one.

Kudos to NBC for Acknowledging Unfulfilled
Hurricane Forecasts

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams ended his newscast from Amman Thursday night with "a confession." Williams acknowledged: "We got something wrong. It wasn't just us. It was everyone in the news media and the folks in the federal government who are supposed to be the experts at predicting hurricanes. You may recall the dire predictions." Williams showed a clip from May of himself worrying about whether New Orleans was "ready" for another hurricane. He then reminded viewers of how the forecast was for "between eight and 10 hurricanes and half of those would be major, we were told, meaning at least Category 3."

Williams pointed out: "Well, the season officially ended today back home, and we are happy to report, what did happen, turns out, wasn't even close. There were only nine named storms, not 16 of them. Five hurricanes, none of them making landfall in the U.S. And only two of the storms, Gordon and Helene, were strong enough to be called anything close to major."

Now, will other journalists -- who eagerly hyped the dire forecasts for the first hurricane season after Katrina -- follow Williams' lead?

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

Dan Gainor of the MRC's Business & Media Institute penned a commentary this week, "Hurricane Hype Clouds Warming Debate: Despite wild weather predictions and warnings about global warming, media must watch quiet season blow by," with a look back at some of the media hype: www.businessandmedia.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the recognition by Williams at the end of the November 30 NBC Nightly News from Amman, Jordan:
"Finally tonight, we have a confession. We got something wrong. It wasn't just us. It was everyone in the news media and the folks in the federal government who are supposed to be the experts at predicting hurricanes. You may recall the dire predictions. It was earlier this year, the night of May 31st. We were broadcasting from New Orleans that night on the eve of the 2006 Atlantic storm season. And this is how we opened the broadcast that night."
Williams, from outside in New Orleans on May 31: "Good evening, and we are indeed back in New Orleans tonight because this is the eve of the start of the 2006 hurricane season. Along the way, we hope to answer the question: Are they ready for another one?"
Williams, back on live: "Well, the point was our country just couldn't afford another awful hurricane season. And the predictions, you'll recall, were dire. According to those government forecasters, as many as 16 different named storms were potentially headed our way -- between eight and 10 hurricanes and half of those would be major, we were told, meaning at least Category 3. Well, the season officially ended today back home, and we are happy to report, what did happen, turns out, wasn't even close. There were only nine named storms, not 16 of them. Five hurricanes, none of them making landfall in the U.S. And only two of the storms, Gordon and Helene, were strong enough to be called anything close to major. The reason, those forecasters say, the El Nino effect, a warming of ocean waters that makes a big difference in all that tropical storm activity. And for the record, by the way, long-term forecasting is an inexact science. And those forecasters are there when it counts and when we need them. Besides, it gave us something to talk about for just a moment other than this very troubled part of the world."

-- Brent Baker