2. Jennings on Ashcroft: One of the "Most Divisive Public Figures"
3. CBS's Storm Cues Up Graham's Spin, Skips His Bizarre Claims
4. Lauer Presses Actor Gary Sinise to Confirm Poor Morale in Iraq
5. CBS Complains About Effort
to End Buying Drugs from Canada
6. "Top Ten Things to Remember When Packing and Shipping Yourself"
Walter Cronkite, appearing on Wednesday's Larry King Live on CNN, declared that he thinks "we were misled" by the Bush administration about the Iraqi threat. Cronkite contended "it's a question seriously of whether that was deliberately done or whether it was just their vocabulary got ahead of their thinking."
The performance at the Tuesday night debate of the field of left-wing presidential candidates pleased Cronkite, who thought Howard Dean "did quite well." Cronkite added: "I thought that really all of them did fairly well last night. I was impressed with the field. It was perhaps better than some people thought it might be."
But he thinks Bush can be beaten since "no matter how the trickle-down theory works with the tax cut finally reaching the people in the lower levels, even if that shows some effect, it's not going to be enough to wipe out the memories of this long period of unemployment among so many people. And not just unemployment, but a depression."
A "depression"? Of course, as all but journalists know, those in the "lower levels" already paid no income taxes or, if they did, directly received the biggest tax cuts in the Bush plan, removing many more of them completely from the tax rolls.
Cronkite's comments in full context as uttered on the September 10 Larry King Live broadcast this week from New York City, instead of King's usual Los Angeles studio:
-- King on Iraq: "Do you think this is a mistake or do you think we were misled?"
-- King: "What do you make of the story of the day, Governor Dean of Vermont, former Governor?"
-- King: "Do you believe the President is beatable?"
Peter Jennings confusing the liberal elite of New York City with the feelings of "the country"? Interviewing Attorney General John Ashcroft, on Wednesday's World News Tonight Jennings relayed how he asked Ashcroft "if he was uncomfortable being thought of as one of the country's most divisive public figures?" Jennings followed up: "Do you think these portraits of you abusing power, seeking power, relentlessly exercising individual power are caricatures?"
Jennings devoted most of the interview, which was taped on Tuesday, to the Patriot Act and to pressing Ashcroft to defend the detention, as an "enemy combatant," of accused dirty bomb plotter Jose Padilla and why he is not allowed to see a lawyer.
On the Patriot Act: "An unlikely combination, an alliance, almost, of your best allies, and some of your most profound critics, think the Patriot Act has gone too far already."
On Padilla: "I'd like to talk a little bit about Jose Padilla. He's an American citizen, born in the Bronx, picked up in Chicago, held in an American prison, and now he is neither charged, nor allowed to see a lawyer. Why not? It seems the most basic of American instincts."
After a couple of follow-ups on Padilla, Jennings set up another interview excerpt: "I asked the Attorney General if he was uncomfortable being thought of as one of the country's most divisive public figures."
ABCNews.com has posted a roughly accurate transcript of the interview as shown on the September 10 World News Tonight, but the transcript left out this exchange which aired:
Jennings: "When things get rough for you in this job, does your faith make a great deal of difference to you?"
For the posted transcript: abcnews.go.com
CBS's Early Show on Wednesday continued its string of softball interviews with harsh Bush critics. Senator Bob Graham, a democratic presidential candidate, was asked what would have amounted to tough questions -- if the guest had been a Republican -- such as: "How much has the war on Iraq hurt the war against al-Qaeda?" and: "Looking at potentially a $150 billion price tag for Iraq. The budget for the Department of Homeland Security is just $28 billion. How has domestic security suffered?"
But to Graham, they were little more than prompts for one of his standard campaign lines. MRC analyst Brian Boyd captured highlights of Early Show co-host Hannah Storm's easy sit-down with the Democratic Senator from Florida, an interview in which she cued up his polemical points as she avoided asking him about two recent controversial remarks in which he bizarrely forecast "bridges falling into the Mississippi River, with schools tumbling in on children" and emphatically affirmed his belief that President Bush "intentionally misled the American people" on Iraq.
[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, drafted this item for CyberAlert.]
CNN-veteran Storm began like a press secretary's dream: "One man with a lot to say on the war on terrorism is Democratic presidential candidate and Florida Senator Bob Graham. Good morning, Senator...Spent ten years on the Senate Intelligence Committee, you have called Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Forgotten. How much has the war in Iraq hurt the war against al Qaeda?"
Storm then added the notion that fighting in Iraq automatically compromises security at home: "Looking at potentially a $150 billion price tag for Iraq. The budget for the Department of Homeland Security is just $28 billion. How has domestic security suffered?" It didn't occur to CBS that maybe preparing for an attack against the homeland is logically less costly than launching a military campaign abroad and rebuilding the liberated country.
The CBS star's third question was the most informational and newsworthy: "Senator Graham, I want to ask you about a story in the news this morning about this gentleman shipping himself from New York to Dallas. You have been very critical of airport security. How much of a concern should cargo security be at this point?"
CBS posed no question connected to Tuesday night's debate or Graham's take on opponents in the Democratic primaries. Storm could have raised Graham's strange take, on the Eastern blackout, in the September 4 debate in Albuquerque: "We got a wake-up call a couple of weeks ago when our electric system went down. The same thing could have happened with bridges falling into the Mississippi River, with schools tumbling in on children." On Tuesday night, during the FNC/Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate, former NBC News reporter Ed Gordon asked Graham: "In your heart, do you believe that the President intentionally misled the American people?" Graham emphatically affirmed: "Yes."
But the presidential candidate labeling the President a liar didn't interest Storm.
Instead, Storm concluded with another press release question, promoting Graham's upcoming speech: "Senator, you are going to give a presentation tomorrow to the Council on Foreign Relations entitled '9/11 Two Years Later: Are We Safer?' Quickly, what is your answer going to be, yes or no?"
Previous CyberAlert items on the Early Show this week:
-- Contrasting approaches to Condoleezza Rice versus Howard Dean: www.mediaresearch.org
NBC's Matt Lauer on Wednesday morning went fishing for proof that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are demoralized, asking actor Gary Sinise, who recently traveled to Iraq as part of a USO tour, to confirm "a lot of reports" about how "there's frustration, that they're concerned about their deployment. Of course they become targets. Things are not going as planned. Did you get a sense that there was a morale issue?"
Sinise disappointed Lauer, relaying how those he saw "were ecstatic...they were really, really grateful, very, very appreciative that we were there."
Lauer set up the September 10 segment with Sinise, as observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "One of Gary Sinise's best known roles is that of Vietnam veteran Lieutenant Dan in the Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump. And recently he mingled with some real U.S. troops during USO tour that took him to Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Italy and Germany. Sinise is also starring in a new film coming out next month called the Human Stain with Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman. Gary Sinise, good to have you back, welcome. Tell me about the USO trip. You called them, right? And you said what can I do to help?"
For a picture of Sinise and a rundown of his career, check his Internet Movie Database page: us.imdb.com
Dan Rather on Wednesday night framed a story on prescription drugs around the assumptions of liberal advocates. He argued that since a "growing numbers of Americans...are struggling to pay the high cost of prescription drugs, many have stopped waiting for the government to help and are taking action on their own" by buying their drugs from Canada. But, Rather warned, "the Bush administration, through the FDA, is now taking action to stop them."
CBS's Cynthia Bowers subsequently characterized a liberal group, which is a leading proponent of a greater federal role in regulating and paying for health care, simply as "consumer advocates."
Rather introduced the story on the September 10 CBS Evening News: "Growing numbers of Americans, especially seniors, are struggling to pay the high cost of prescription drugs. Many have stopped waiting for the government to help and are taking action on their own. They're importing drugs from Canada. But CBS's Cynthia Bowers reports tonight the Bush administration, through the FDA, is now taking action to stop them."
Bowers, from Chicago, proceeded to focus on two potential victims of the new Bush policy, two older women who buy drugs from Canada, and gave a soundbite to Minnesota Republican Congressman Gil Gutknecht who favors drug importation from Canada.
Bowers, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, obscured the true identity of a liberal group: "FDA officials say they can't condone the sale of medicine that may be unsafe. But consumer advocates say the motive is money for the drug makers."
Without profits, Loeser wouldn't have any prescriptions to complain about.
From the September 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things to Remember When Packing and Shipping Yourself." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. Clearly mark box "Handle with care -- dumb guy inside"
9. Make sure you're delivered to a Fed Ex location near a hospital
8. Bring a pen to sign for yourself when you get there
7. The "Etc." in "Mail Boxes Etc." stands for shipping live human beings in crates
6. Traveling in box still more comfortable than flying America West
5. Styrofoam peanuts not as tasty as real peanuts
4. It's quicker and cheaper to fax yourself
3. Headset rental is not available in the airplane's cargo hold
2. TiVo "Queer Eye"
1. Be prepared to endure headlines like "Jackass In The Box"
# Tonight at 9pm EDT/PDT, Showtime will re-air its DC 9-11: A Time of Crises "docudrama" about the Bush White House in the days after September 11th, 2001. For more about the movie, see two previous CyberAlert items on it and on negative journalistic reaction to its "too pro-Bush" portrayal: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker