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CyberAlert -- 01/09/2002 -- New Moyers PBS Show

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New Moyers PBS Show; Media-Generated Bush "Pakis" Hype; More Engberg Bias; Al Michaels Hit on Begala; ABC: President's Ranch in Scotland

1) While even MSNBC is hiring a conservative host, PBS blithefully continues to program for liberals. Next week PBS will debut a new weekly prime time show hosted by Bill Moyers.

2) The New York Times claimed on Tuesday that President Bush "raised some eyebrows by using the term 'Pakis,'" which is "considered an ethnic slur in Britain." But Reuters inadvertently divulged it was a controversy self-generated by the Washington press corps which kept calling the Pakistani embassy for reaction.

3) Media Reality Check. "Good Riddance to Two-Faced Reality Checks: Hailed As 'Great Journalist' by Dan Rather, Eric Engberg Was Poster Boy for CBS's Worst Liberal Bias." Quotes that weren't in Monday's CyberAlert, plus links to fuller recitations of Engberg's bias.

4) During ABC's Monday Night Football, Al Micheals awarded "a lifetime achievement award" to Clintonista Paul Begala for, as Dennis Miller suggested, "the biggest fake of the year, Paul Begala's last smile."

5) Peter Jennings set up a clip last week: "President Clinton, of course, is on his ranch in Scotland." Actually, President Bush was in a restaurant in Crawford, Texas.

6) "News media mainstream: clueless?" Another column about the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2001: The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Plus, a new page with reprints of other columns and editorials on the awards quotes.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Neighbor Is Hiding Mullah Omar."

Correction: The January 8 CyberAlert cited an October 5, 1992 story by Eric Engberg about Bush campaign ties to the Willie Horton ad. The story actually ran nine days later, on October 14, 1992.


In reaction to FNC giving a prime time hour to liberal CNN veteran Greta van Susteren, MSNBC has hired the conservative Alan Keyes to go up against her at 10pm EST. (He'll start January 21, she in early February.) FNC has been quite successful with programming which appeals to conservatives and CNN's chief, Walter Isaacson, last year tried to reach out to learn why conservatives distrust CNN.

But one network continues to ignore conservatives as it offers programming only a liberal could like: PBS, which will soon launch a new weekly Friday night prime time news show hosted by far-left polemicist Bill Moyers.

At the press tour in Pasadena for TV reporters, PBS also announced another Moyers-hosted special set for April on PCBs in the Hudson River. Moyers betrayed his personal agenda in damning former GE Chairman Jack Welch with faint praise, calling him a "dynamic apologist for" GE.

The new hour-long Moyers show, titled NOW, in all caps, will debut on Friday, January 18 on PBS at 9pm EST/PST following Wall Street Week. "We believe this will be the best night of public affairs television," PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell gushed to USA Today's Bill Keveney.

Keveney's January 8 story described the show: "NOW will make use of the resources of NPR News, reflecting the public TV system's effort to increase collaboration with public radio. The hour-long program will generally consist of a 12- to 15-minute documentary report, a one-on-one interview, NPR contributions and news analysis."

Keveney relayed: "Moyers, however, said the analysis would steer clear of the usual-suspect punditry favored by talk shows that have 'made rhetoric more important than argument.' He said he will seek out analysts not often seen on TV, as he did with a program on Sept. 11 that featured a minister and a professor who has studied the notion of evil."

Previewing an upcoming special, Keveney noted: "In April, the award-winning documentarian will take a literal look downstream in America's First River: Bill Moyers on the Hudson, a two-night look at the historical, cultural and environmental effects and influence of the river.
"Moyers interviewed former General Electric CEO Jack Welch for the documentary, which looks at PCB pollution of the river and what responsibility GE has for cleaning it up. Moyers described the highly regarded executive as 'a vigorous, dynamic apologist for' GE."

For Keveney's story in full, go to:


The New York Times claimed on Tuesday that President Bush "raised some eyebrows by using the term 'Pakis.' It is considered an ethnic slur in Britain, which has a large Pakistani immigrant population." But as James Taranto noted in his "Best of the Web" column, a Reuters dispatch inadvertently divulged it was a controversy self-generated by the Washington press corps.

An excerpt from Taranto's January 8 column:

Yesterday at the White House, President Bush discussed the Indian-Pakistani conflict: "I don't believe the situation is defused yet," he said, "but I do believe there is a way to do so, and we are working hard to convince both the Indians and the Pakis there's a way to deal with their problems without going to war."

The New York Times reports that "Mr. Bush raised some eyebrows by using the term 'Pakis.' It is considered an ethnic slur in Britain, which has a large Pakistani immigrant population."

Well, whose eyebrows exactly did Bush raise? The Times doesn't say. A clue, however, can be found in this Reuters dispatch:

"Asad Hayauddin, spokesman at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said he did not consider what Bush said to be an insult. 'I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was said in passing. In all fairness, I would say it's not a racial slur,' he said.

"He did, however, receive a number of phone calls from reporters seeking the embassy's reaction."

The whole "controversy," in other words, seems to have been an invention of the White House press corps.

END of Excerpt

To read the New York Times story by Todd Purdum, also known as "Mr. Dee Dee Myers," go to:

For Taranto's daily "Best of the Web" columns:


A special Web-links enhanced version of a Media Reality Check by the MRC's Rich Noyes, which was distributed by fax on Tuesday afternoon. The title, "Good Riddance to Two-Faced Reality Checks: Hailed As 'Great Journalist' by Dan Rather, Eric Engberg Was Poster Boy for CBS's Worst Liberal Bias."

Virtually all of this will be fresh material to CyberAlert readers since the Media Reality Check cites historical examples of Engberg's bias, all but one of which did not appear in the January 7 or 8 CyberAlerts.

To access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, go to:

Below is the text of the Media Reality Check, enhanced with links to previous CyberAlerts and MediaWatch articles which provide lengthier quotations of Engberg's reporting. The January 8 CyberAlert:

CBS News has been championing its retiring "Reality Check" correspondent Eric Engberg as the very model of fair reporting. "We will miss his professionalism, his humor, his style, his friendship and his great journalism," mourned anchor Dan Rather on Friday's Evening News. "Engberg's reporting and his approach to journalism reflect many of the virtues of broadcast journalism at its best," gushed editor Dick Meyer, Engberg's former producer, in an online tribute.

[For excerpts from Myer's article:]

As Engberg would scream in his regular Evening News hit jobs on conservatives, "Time out!" The idea that such a thoroughly biased reporter symbolized "journalistic virtues" is a cruel joke on objective scribes everywhere. It was one of Engberg's outrageously slanted stories -- a mid-campaign slam on conservative Steve Forbes's flat tax plan in '96 -- that so disgusted his CBS colleague Bernard Goldberg that he cited it in a Wall Street Journal op-ed as proof that the argument about "liberal bias is so blatantly true that it's hardly worth discussing anymore."

[For a transcript and RealPlayer video of Engberg's flat tax story:]

[For a summary of Goldberg's 1996 Wall Street Journal op-ed on the Engberg piece, go to:]

But it's more than just one skewed story which makes Engberg the poster boy for liberal bias. Engberg used his CBS pulpit to rant against perceived conservative misbehavior while condemning critics of unethical liberals:

-- Before Bill Clinton, there was nothing worse than a President who lied. On the May 4, 1989 CBS Evening News, at the end of the criminal trials stemming from the Iran-contra scandal, Engberg lectured that "secrecy leads to deception...Deception leads to lies. Lies tear apart the rule of law...Could it happen again? Scholars say yes, until Presidents accept the need to compromise with Congress."

-- Covering Clinton's scandals, there was nothing more frightening than a subpoena. "It is now the one invitation in Washington no one wants, a call to testify before Ken Starr's grand jury. It left some near emotional collapse, others raging about police state tactics," he darkly declared on the March 2, 1998 Evening News. "Nearly all of the witnesses, it is safe to say, felt the ominous chill that comes with the arrival of a grand jury subpoena."

[For more on this 1998 story, go to:]

-- According to his friend Dick Meyer, Engberg was "obsessed" with a 1988 TV ad about Michael Dukakis's weekend furlough for murderer Willie Horton, who then went on a crime spree. Four years later -- and less than a month before the next election -- on the Oct. 14, 1992 Evening News, Engberg resurrected his grudge against the ad he claimed "raised questions about racism and dirty politics that still haunt the electoral process like a ghost," adding that, "federal laws may have been violated" if the GOP had coordinated with the ad's independent producer.

[For more on this 1992 diatribe, go to:]

-- When it came to Clinton's dirty campaign dealings -- including proof the President personally reviewed scripts for supposedly "independent" ads -- Engberg chose to beat up on the investigators. He scolded the Senate's oversight committee, declaring on the October 9, 1997 Evening News that "when it comes to sniffing out the breakdown of a system created to police money in politics, this committee...could easily start by setting up a great big mirror."

[For more on this 1997 report, go to:]

-- After the bipartisan Cox commission determined in 1999 that the Chinese had been stealing nuclear secrets right out from under Clinton's nose, Engberg seemed to suggest on the May 27 Evening News that a few H-bombs were nothing to get excited about. "There is a bottom line," he snorted. "Unlike many of the things in the Cox report, there's no argument here. Number of strategic nuclear weapons? U.S., 6,000; China, less than two dozen."

[For more on this 1999 story, refer to:

Now that Engberg's finally gone, CBS viewers will be spared such tendentious factoids. The airwaves feel less biased already.

END Reprint of Media Reality Check


Another hint of conservatism from Al Michaels of ABC Sports. During the last Monday Night Football game of the season, Micheals awarded "a lifetime achievement award" to Clintonista Paul Begala for, as Michael's colleague in the booth, Dennis Miller, suggested, "the biggest fake of the year, Paul Begala's last smile."

This is the third pro-conservative or anti-liberal political comment from Michaels which the MRC has caught in the last two NFL seasons. In November of 2000 Michaels let slip that he considered Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris to be an "American heroine." The week before, Miller had recommended Peggy Noonan for President, leading Michaels to concede her writing gives him "goose bumps."

For details about his Harris comment, plus a RealPlayer video clip of it, go to:

For more about the Noonan exchange, go to:

This past Monday, January 7, the MRC's Tim Jones, who inexplicably decided to watch Monday Night Football instead of a 43rd showing of MSNBC Investigates, noticed the hit on Begala. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson tracked down the exchange which took place just after the beginning of the second quarter of the Minnesota Vikings vs. Baltimore Ravens game in Baltimore. Over matching video clips of pass fakes from the season, this exchange occurred:
Michaels: "Last game of the year. Denny, it's a good time to do some, I think, awards. It's been a wild year, some crazy stuff's happened this season."
Miller: "Yeah, we got the Oscar nods coming up, Al. We have our nominees for the best fake. Let's watch Kordell [Stewart, Pittsburgh Steelers] here. He's really good at it, I thought; Kordell sold that. Kurt Warner [St. Louis Rams], not quite as good, but I think he's a Christian and he's afraid to fake people like that. And then we have the [Miami] Dolphins. Lamar Smith, one of the few guys in the league who can actually receive a fake like that and still get less than three yards in the carry. But the biggest fake of the year, Paul Begala's last smile, as always is the case, Al."
Over a picture on screen of a smiling Begala, Michaels endorsed Miller's sentiment: "Unanimous, a lifetime achievement award, I think."
Miller: "Maybe Paul's here tonight. We're down in his neck of the woods."
Michaels: "There's a television camera -- he might be here."


President Clinton's ranch in Scotland? Catching up on an item from last week, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth located an incident several CyberAlert readers have e-mailed me about: Peter Jennings setting up a clip of President George W. Bush in Crawford as if it were a clip of President Clinton in Scotland.

About 18 minutes into the special ABC 2002 broadcast on December 31, at about 6:48pm EST when ABC was providing a mini World News Tonight-like summary of the day's news, Jennings announced:
"President Clinton, of course, is on his ranch in Scotland, and he talked a little bit about the situation in Afghanistan today, and here's an excerpt from what he had to say."

ABC then played video of George W. Bush shaking hands in a restaurant in Crawford, Texas with patrons in a line waiting to place or pick up an order. Viewers heard Bush saying such things as, "happy new year to you all" and "welcome to Crawford."

Jennings, apparently correcting for how ABC failed to show the correct clip of Bush commenting on Afghanistan, but without correcting his own goof, soon broke in: "He basically said what he's said many times before, is that they're not sure exactly where Osama bin Laden is but they're going to get him and they don't know exactly where Mohammad Omar is, but they're going to try to get him as well. The President still at his ranch. He'll return to Washington, of course, after the new year."

After he makes the trans-Atlantic flight from Clinton's ranch in Scotland?

[Web Update: On January 14 Jennings ended ABC's World News Tonight by acknowledging his goof:
"Just one other thing before we go. As you probably know, some of us do trip over our tongues on occasion without even knowing about it. On New Year's Eve, on a broadcast, I referred to 'President Clinton's ranch in Scotland.' I don't even know where that came from."]


Another column about the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2001: The Fourteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Saturday's Daily Oklahoman carried a second column on the quotes by Patrick B. McGuigan, editorial page editor for the Oklahoma City newspaper and one of the 41 judges for the MRC awards issue.

Under the headline, "News media mainstream: clueless?", McGuigan began his January 5 column:
"For nine years of my life -- every January from 1993 through 2001 -- I pondered the gap between William Jefferson Clinton of Hope (the image manufactured for his 1992 paid media campaign) and Boy Clinton of Hot Springs (the lad from the most 'wide open' town west of the Mississippi and east of Reno). With Clinton's presidency now a fading nightmare, visits to 'Hope and Hot Springs' end.
"I retain annual visits to rarefied climes of liberal bias through the Media Research Center's 'Notable Quotables' -- a competition 'honoring' outrageous examples of mainstream news and commentary...."

To read the rest of the column, go to:

For reprints of other columns and editorials about the awards quotes, including pieces in Investor's Business Daily, the Denver Rocky Mountain News, Columbus Dispatch and Chattanooga Times Free Press, go to a new page set up by the MRC's Mez Djouadi:


From the January 8 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs Your Neighbor Is Hiding Mullah Omar." Copyright 2002 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.

10. In his garage are a 1997 Mazda Protege and a camel
9. His last name is Schmidt -- the mailbox reads "Schmidt/Omar"
8. You turn on CNN and see your house in green night vision
7. Has bumper sticker "Al Qaeda members do it in caves"
6. The place reeks of goat
5. Comes over and asks to borrow a cup of sand
4. Driveway sign reads "Don't even think about parking here" in Pashtu
3. Claims the bearded, turbaned guy you saw is a Swedish exchange student
2. He declared a Jihad against crabgrass
1. His kitty is wearing a burqa

> One more, nearly last, plug for the MRC's "Dishonor Awards" dinner in Washington, DC on Thursday, January 17. For tickets, at $150 per seat, call Sue Engle at (703) 683-9733 ext. 163. Online:
-- Brent Baker

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