CyberAlert -- 12/13/2001 -- Still Smarting Over Gore Loss
Still Smarting Over Gore Loss; Clift Has Come to Walker's Defense; Rate Cut Will Be "Crushing" for Retirees; Goldberg Cited MRC
1) Dan Rather again bemoaned how the Supreme Court's Bush vs. Gore decision, "in effect, gave the hotly disputed presidential election to George W. Bush." But unlike a year earlier, he refrained from impugning the justices in the majority as "politically and ideologically motivated."
2) Interviewing Bush and Gore lawyers from the Florida fight, NBC's Katie Couric scolded Gore's lawyer for not asking for a statewide recount, pressed Bush's lawyer about whether there was "something implicitly unfair" in Katherine Harris supporting Bush while overseeing the election, and she raised with both guests how Laurence Tribe accused the court of doing "a rotten job."
3) MSNBC's Brian Williams and ABC's Chris Bury marveled at how the Bush administration could plan to release a video providing evidence of Osama bin Laden's complicity in terrorism after asking the networks not to play video bin Laden produced which they feared could send messages to operatives.
4) For the defense of John Walker, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift. She argued he's not guilty of treason since "when he first went to Afghanistan, that was way before September 11, there was no thought that he would be taking up arms against the American government." Clift counseled: "There are lots of defenses here a good lawyer can pursue."
6) For the second time, NBC's Today has picked a liberal product regulator for a Democratic President as its consumer reporter. USA Today reported that Ann Brown, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the Clinton administration, has joined the Today reporting team.
>>> Latest Notable Quotables, the
MRC's bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes
humorous, quotes in the liberal media, is now online thanks to the MRC's
Kristina Sewell and Mez Djouadi. Amongst the quote headings in the
December 10 edition: "Painting Israel as the Aggressor";
"Needed: Anti-Ashcroft Education"; "Why Not Blame Rumsfeld?";
"Homegrown Few = Al Qaeda"; "Bush, Unelected Thug";
"Real Threat: Tax Cuts"; "No Dissent From Clinton
Policies" and "Not the Answer Bryant Wanted." To read all
of the quotes, go to:
A year after the Supreme Court ruling in Bush vs. Gore, Dan Rather again bemoaned how the court's decision, "in effect, gave the hotly disputed presidential election to George W. Bush." But unlike a year earlier, he refrained from impugning the justices in the majority as "politically and ideologically motivated."
Rather announced on the December 12 CBS Evening News: "It was one year ago tonight that the U.S. Supreme Court stopped vote recounts in Florida and, in effect, gave the hotly disputed presidential election to George W. Bush. Today the U.S. House approved an election reform bill that includes money to upgrade voting equipment and sets minimum standards for what constitutes a vote. The bill now goes to the Senate."
A day short of a year earlier Rather opened his December 13, 2000 show: "Good evening. Texas Governor George Bush tonight will assume the mantle and the honor of President-elect. This comes 24 hours after a sharply split and, some say, politically and ideologically motivated U.S. Supreme Court ended Vice President Gore's contest of the Florida election and, in effect, handed the presidency to Bush."
NBC's Katie Couric marked the first anniversary of the Bush vs. Gore Supreme Court decision by displaying disappointment in the Florida strategy employed by the Gore team while demanding the Bush side defend its tactics and the role of Katherine Harris.
Interviewing Bush Florida fight attorney Ben Ginsburg and Gore lawyer David Boies on the December 12 Today, Couric characterized the Gore campaign as "a little more academic, a little more professorial, the Bush campaign a little take-no-prisoners," scolded Boies for not asking for a statewide recount, pressed Ginsburg about whether there was "something implicitly unfair" about Harris supporting Bush while overseeing the election, and she raised with both guests how Laurence Tribe accused the court of doing "a rotten job."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd took down examples of
Couric's line of questioning. After inquiring of Boies if he had any
regrets and what he would have done differently, and asking Ginsburg what
was the key to his victory, she relayed the complaint that the Gore team
was too nice, asking Boies:
Couric followed up: "What about the Gore camp, do you think it was a little too, academic in its approach?"
Couric next asked: "Do you wish that you had asked for a statewide recount? A lot of observers questioned why you didn't rather than ask for counties that you thought that there would be a change in a hand count."
Turning to Ginsburg, she castigated Florida's Secretary of State: "Let's talk about Katherine Harris for a second. She was a co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the state of Florida and yet she was in charge of this whole process. Is there something implicitly unfair about that arrangement, Ben?"
Ginsburg pointed out that's how the system works in every state.
Couric then set up Boies: "Real quickly, national standards, are they desperately needed?"
She concluded by making both guests react to a charge leveled by a liberal law professor. To Ginsberg: "Laurence Tribe. We heard him say the Supreme Court did a rotten job. You disagree, I'm sure." To Boies: "Supreme Court: rotten job?"
Apparently Couric is unaware of anyone in the legal community who is pleased by how the Supreme Court performed.
Though there is an obvious difference between being concerned about how Osama bin Laden could use videos he produces to send messages to operatives and uncovering a video which provides evidence of his complicity in terrorism, a few media figures have marveled at how the Bush administration could release the latter type of video after asking the networks not to play the former.
Monday night, December 10, on MSNBC's News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, Williams ruminated to Hisham Melhem of the As-Safir newspaper: "Mr. Melhem, as a journalist, does this put the news media in a strange role? Remember the Bush White House called the networks and said really we can't force you, but please be careful, be judicious, in how you air these tapes from al-Jazeera. Now it would be the White House handing the tape, in effect, to the news media."
Later, Chris Bury cheekily opened ABC's Nightline: "Exactly two months ago, the President's national security advisor asked the networks not to broadcast Osama bin Laden videotapes. They were propaganda, she warned, that might also contain hidden messages. But now the White House itself may soon release a bin Laden video. The reason, of course, is that this one helps make the President's case. In the view of the White House, the video discovered two weeks ago in Afghanistan is a smoking gun. In it bin Laden apparently acknowledges for the first time he had advance knowledge the September 11th attacks were coming."
There's a bit more to it than making "the President's case." It may make the case for the entire civilized world.
If John Walker, the American who joined the Taliban, ever needs a star witness to defend him, he can count on Newsweek's Eleanor Clift. Monday night on FNC she argued he's not guilty of treason since "when he first went to Afghanistan, that was way before September 11, there was no thought that he would be taking up arms against the American government." She suggested we "sign him up for the CIA. I mean he's probably the only person who speaks Pashtun."
Putting legal procedure ahead of facts, Clift counseled: "There are lots of defenses here a good lawyer can pursue and we don't know the facts behind this."
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught her
comments on Monday night on FNC's 10pm EST show, War on Terrorism. Asked
by host Jon Scott if Walker should be "facing treason charges,"
Clift asserted on the December 10 show:
Scott pointed out: "Eleanor, what about
the fact that the CIA agent, Mike Spann, was murdered in that prison
uprising not long after he questioned this guy, and this guy gave him
absolutely no help? I mean, he didn't say-"
Clift soon emphasized again: "He joined the Taliban, he fought in Kashmir. He didn't go over there, I don't believe, with the intention of betraying the American government. There are a lot more serious problems connected with this war than this young man."
There are a lot more serious problems with American journalism than Eleanor Clift, but that doesn't mean we should ignore her.
Stressing the downside. ABC's Peter Jennings plugging a story on the December 11 World News Tonight: "When we come back we'll go on to some of the other news today: The Federal Reserve cuts interest rates again. We'll report tonight on the crushing effect this will have on some retirements."
The subsequent story looked at how the lower Fed rate means retirees will earn less from interest.
Jennings' negative spin reminded me of a
classic example of how reporters can always find a way to emphasize the
down side whether an economic indicator is going up or down. A September
1990 examination, in the MRC's MediaWatch, of reporting by then-CBS
Evening News reporter Ray Brady, discovered:
For the second time, NBC's Today has picked a liberal product regulator for a Democratic President as its consumer reporter. USA Today reported on Tuesday that Ann Brown, Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission for the Clinton administration, has joined the Today reporting team just months after she ended exclusive appearances on the show to promote herself and her regulatory agenda, exclusive appearances which ABC and CBS considered improper.
Brown follows in the footsteps of the late Betty Furness, who left NBC in 1992 after 16 years. Before the CPSC was created, she filled a similar role for President Johnson as Special Assistant to the President for consumer affairs.
An excerpt from Peter Johnson's December 11 "Inside TV" story:
....Brown, who resigned Nov. 1 from the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission and now runs a non-profit consumer safety group in Washington, D.C., says she has a contract to do 12 consumer stories a year....
"I would liken it to the head of a missile program at the Air Force going to work for Lockheed Martin," says Steve Friedman, producer of CBS' The Early Show. "You might see it almost as a quid pro quo, if you will, in past life and present life."
ABC Good Morning America producer Shelley Ross says, "I find it curious that after three years of giving Today exclusive coverage of many stories and exclusive appearances, that as soon as she decides to leave government, she goes on the Today payroll."
Told of the criticism Monday, Brown said, "If I were going to work for Mattel toys, that might be appropriate. But becoming a reporter like any other reporter, I don't see that as a problem."
Brown says that with certain product recalls, the only difference between what Today and other programs got was that Today featured an exclusive appearance by Brown herself -- at Today's request. This, Brown says, after years of having to beg the media for coverage.
But the other morning shows, Brown says, were always given all the information and props to report their own recall stories.
Ross says that, on several occasions, the commission "made it difficult" for GMA to get access to props to explain a recall. "A government agency cannot pick and choose whose viewers can be safe."
In February 1999, GMA co-anchor Diane Sawyer complained about the agency's refusal to give GMA pictures of a recalled baby stroller and crib mattress....
END of Excerpt
For Johnson's story in full, go to:
Good Morning America and Early Show producers may complain about Brown's link to a particular agenda, but how is she any more politically motivated than George Stephanopoulos or Bryant Gumbel? As Brown contended, she's "becoming a reporter like any other reporter."
In his new book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg credited the MRC with tracking liberal media bias. He devoted a whole chapter to quotes from Notable Quotables while also citing CyberAlert.
MRC intern Donald Goodman typed in the first few paragraphs of chapter 12, "Liberal Hate Speech." Goldberg wrote:
If arrogance were a crime, there wouldn't be enough jail cells in the entire United States to hold all the people in TV news.
A network correspondent told me that once, but when he found out I was writing a book he got amnesia. Not only couldn't he remember ever saying such a subversive thing, but if by some insane chance he had -- which he hadn't, of course -- he didn't want any credit for it.
Except that when network news correspondents are afraid to say even something as harmless as that out loud, there's not much chance they'll take on more serious problems, which then leaves the field wide open to idiots like me or, more ominously, to the real pros...the conservative media watchdogs that monitor every second of network news in order to document every single example of liberal bias, real or imagined.
Such an organization is the Media Research Center, based in Alexandria, Virginia, right outside Washington, D.C. Every month or so MRC mails a newsletter to reporters and anchors and other sages in the big-time national media. "Notable Quotables," they call it, is chockfull of "the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media." They also put out a daily report online called CyberAlert, which MRC says tracks media bias.
You'd think this exposure, before your own colleagues no less, might cause a certain amount of embarrassment, especially when the example of bias is especially egregious. Dream on. Network correspondents don't embarrass easily.
It's easy to dismiss "Notable Quotables," because professional liberal bashers compile it. But the right-wing scoundrels at the Media Research Center have come up with some good stuff. What follows are some of the more noteworthy examples, from the last ten years or so, of how journalists on the Left see the world....
END of Excerpt
The book, published by Regnery, is available
From the December 12 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Excuses of the American Taliban Guy." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "Terrorist training camps look a lot nicer in the
#4 sounds like an excuse submitted by Eleanor Clift. -- Brent Baker