2. Newsweek Diagnoses Bush Ill for His 'Pathological Certainty'
3. ABC Panics Over 'Highest Gas Prices Ever'; Skews Oil 'Truth Test'
4. NYT: 'Unclear What Role, If Any, Religion Played' in Ft. Dix Plot
5. 'Top 10 Surprises During the Queen's Visit to the White House'
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts Tuesday night couldn't resist ridiculing the late Jerry Falwell for pointing out how a children's character on a PBS show appeared gay -- though gay rights advocates had earlier made the same observation -- and CBS brought aboard liberal presidential historian Douglas Brinkley who called Falwell "comedy fodder for people," found it relevant that "feminists never liked him," and dismissed him as "a backlash figure" whose "returning to family values was returning to women being in the kitchen."
On ABC's World News, which unlike CBS and NBC did not lead with Falwell's death, Dan Harris asserted: "In the final years of his life Falwell alienated some in his own movement with a series of controversial statements. For example, he said the children's TV character 'Tinky Winky' was a gay role model." CBS's Richard Schlesinger recalled that in later years "Falwell started making embarrassing missteps, denouncing a popular cartoon character as a gay role model." Over on the NBC Nightly News, Bob Faw, who concluded his piece by asserting that "the Reverend Jerry Falwell -- crusader and polarizer -- was 73," raised the PBS show: "In 1999, Falwell was ridiculed when he complained one of the PBS Teletubbies was gay."
But a 1999 Cox News story archived on a gay news Web site, began: "In the flap over whether Tinky Winky the Teletubby is gay, the real news is that the Rev. Jerry Falwell is late to the party." Phil Kloer pointed out that in 1998, the year before Falwell spoke out, "the gay magazine The Advocate presciently wrote that 'PBS is clearly terrified that the same fundamentalists who boycott Disney are going to flip once they get wind of the latest lavender love puppet.'" For gfn.com story: cobrand.gfn.com
The CBS Evening News, which featured a brief interview by Katie Couric of the Reverend Robert Schuller and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, returned to Falwell at the end of the half hour as Couric went to Jeff Greenfield and Douglas Brinkley, the "CBS News analyst" who wrote a book quite favorable to John Kerry, Tour of Duty: John Kerry and the Vietnam War.
Picking up on a point made by Greenfield, Couric asked Brinkley: "And, Doug, he did blame the pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and others for helping to make the September 11th attacks happen. How did that affect his standing, in your view?"
Is President Bush mentally ill? Sharon Begley is a Senior Editor for science at Newsweek, which apparently entitled her to conduct a tired psychoanalysis of President Bush and his state of denial about the war in Iraq, suggested earlier in his life by his comforting his mother as his sister Robin died of leukemia at age three, and his alcohol abuse as an adult. It "could all be dismissed as psychobabble," Begley wrote in the May 21 issue, but she marshaled experts to diagnose him from afar for his "pathological certainty that things are going well."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
In an article titled, "The Truths We Want to Deny," Begley, a longtime Newsweek writer (recently returned to the fold after five years at the Wall Street Journal), overcame the awkwardness of diagnosing mental illness from a distance:
Denying the evidence of your eyes is the most extreme form of the coping mechanism called denial. But denial comes in milder forms as well. Parents refuse to believe their child is on drugs; that baggie under his bed contained oregano. A husband maintains his wife cannot be cheating; those late nights she spends with a friend are purely platonic. A wife denies that her husband is gay; he's just been too tired for sex with her these last few years.
And a president who insists that a war will succeed despite setback after setback? It's risky to put a politician on the couch, but that has not kept President Bush's critics from charging that he is "in a state of denial" about the situation in Iraq, as Sen. Harry Reid said last month. The phrase was the title of Bob Woodward's latest book on the war, and in January, USA Today editorialized that Bush is "in denial about the insurgency that has plunged [Iraq] into civil war."
This could all be dismissed as psychobabble, except for one thing. Psychology researchers, including some who advise politicians, have reached the same conclusion. "I do think there is denial on Bush's part in his running of the war," says Kerry Sulkowicz, clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Medical Center. "He seems unmoved by the extent of the evidence that things are far worse than he believes. The tip-off for denial is perpetual optimism, a pathological certainty that things are going well."
Bush could, of course, know full well that the United States cannot achieve its goals in Iraq. If so, then he is lying not to himself but to us (for reasons scientists would have a field day with, but that's another story). But while it's always risky to psychoanalyze a politician from afar, a few things in his past are consistent with the capacity for denial. When he was 7, his baby sister died of leukemia. Bush, while certainly not denying her death, tried to cheer up his grieving mother, saying everything would be OK. Also, those who abuse alcohol, as Bush has admitted doing, typically need to see the world in black and white in order to stay on the wagon. "It's how they control their addiction," says Sulkowicz. "It reflects an inability or refusal to see shades of gray."
People resort to denial when recognizing that the truth would destroy something they hold dear. In the case of a cheating partner, denial lets you avoid "acknowledging evidence of your own humiliation," says New York psychoanalyst Leon Hoffman. Short of catching a spouse in flagrante delicto, evidence of infidelity is usually ambiguous.
END of Excerpt
This is an obvious entry point for Begley to write about Hillary Clinton and her remarkable capacity for denial about a cheating spouse, but somehow, Begley can't seem to be bipartisan with her amateur diagnoses. Begley even suggested partisanship in closing as she hailed John F. Kennedy for admitting his Cuban fiasco:
In their new book, "Mistakes Were Made," psychologists Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson argue that self-justification and denial arise from the dissonance between believing you're competent, and making a mistake, which clashes with that image. Solution: deny the mistake. Similarly, if a political leader believes himself competent and wise, and a decision has disastrous consequences, the only way to reconcile self-image with failure is to deny the failure. As Tavris and Aronson write, a president who believes "he has the truth becomes impervious to self-correction." He blinds himself to information that might make him doubt his decision. There are exceptions, however. When the Bay of Pigs proved to be a fiasco, JFK said responsibility was "mine and mine alone." No denial there.
For Begley's article: www.msnbc.msn.com
Matching Monday's World News on ABC, Tuesday's Good Morning America forwarded the canard about the "highest gas prices ever," when, adjusted for inflation, they are lower than in 1981. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer and reporter Claire Shipman hyperbolically investigated "soaring" gas prices, and after noting that oil companies have been publically presenting their explanations, Sawyer wondered, "But are they true? We put them to the truth test." To prove the oil companies are dissembling, ABC featured a soundbite from Gulf Oil President Joe Petrowski's May 14 interview with CNN in which he, Sawyer asserted, blamed refineries. Shipman then maintained that "what you didn't hear those CEOs talk about is those refineries, and the people who own them, are reaping windfall profits right now because of the higher prices." In fact, Petrowski said exactly that in a portion of the CNN American Morning interview not played by ABC: "It is refining profits that are at absolute record levels. Normally, a refining margin to turn the crude into refined products is between 15 and 20 cents a gallon" but now "those margins are at absolute all-time record levels to a degree that's 80 cents a gallon."
[This item is based on a Tuesday posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer asserted on the May 15 GMA: "And all day yesterday, executives from Gulf and Shell for 24 hours have been giving the reason. They blame refineries. Listen"
Correspondent Claire Shipman, as she began her segment, proceded to claim that "what you didn't hear those CEOs talk about is those refineries, and the people who own them, are reaping windfall profits right now because of the higher prices."
Apparently, Sawyer and Shipman must not have listened to the entire CNN segment, because Petrowski, the Gulf executive, said exactly that in his interview with American Morning:
Joe Petrowski: "It is refining profits that are at absolute record levels. Normally, a refining margin to turn the crude into refined products is between 15 and 20 cents a gallon."
But GMA didn't air that portion.
Earlier, Sawyer referred to how "gas prices reach the record" and an on-screen graphic declared: "Highest Gas Prices Ever: Are Americans Being Lied To?"
The May 15 CyberAlert recounted: As another summer driving season approaches, media outlets cannot resist again hyping dire stories about the supposed "record high" price of a gallon of gas when, adjusted for inflation, the current $3.10 average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is still lower than in 1981. ABC was out front Monday night with the fallacious reporting. World News anchor Charles Gibson teased up top, "Record prices: Gasoline across the nation hits an all-time high, a record price, before the summer even begins." With "Record High" on screen, Gibson relied on new numbers from the Energy Information Administration as he introduced the subsequent story by asserting that "a gallon of gas has never been more expensive than right now. The government announced this afternoon that the average price of regular gas is $3.10 a gallon." Reporter John Berman also cited the "record high" price before marveling at how demand is rising: "Despite the agony, for the most part, we haven't changed our actions. Demand for gas is actually up one percent from this time last year..."
After Shipman's comments about oil executives, she claimed that the problem might have been fixed with "a little more advance planning":
Shipman: "And there's a serious sense that this problem could have been solved with a little more advance planning. The problem this year is what's between crude oil, and the consumer. The refineries, 149 of them across the country, turning oil into gasoline. Already, in 2007, a fifth of them suffered serious breakdowns, everything from fires to equipment failures, to, in one case. a squirrel who sabotaged a refinery control room. Those breakdowns, together with the time consuming switch over from winter to summer fuel and increased demand, have created a perfect storm, according to refinery executives."
However, Shipman waited until the end of the segment to discuss the real problem with oil refineries: Nobody is building new ones. It was at this point that she also admitted there isn't a quick solution to this problem. That fact, however, might not be as sexy as talking about "truth tests" and wondering if the oil companies are lying to the American public: "The solution, make refineries bigger or build new ones. But oil companies face countless restrictions and no one wants a new refinery in their own backyard."
Finally, Sawyer, in on last stab at class warfare, ended the report by actually mentioning a proposed gas boycott that has been circulating the Internet. The GMA co-host helpfully called the plan a "diesel protest" and asserted, "a lot of consumers have decided they're going to fight back." ABC went so far as to feature an excerpt of the e-mail onscreen: "It has been calculated that if everyone in the United States did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day and all at the same time, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles."
Of course, Sawyer provided some cover by quickly noting, "economists say it rarely works 'cause people fill up the day before or the day after and don't really save the gas."
A transcript of the May 15 segment. 7am tease from Diane Sawyer: "And, news for the road. As gas prices reach the record, oil companies give their reasons. But are they true? We put them to the truth test."
At 7:11am, the ABC graphic: "Highest Gas Prices Ever: Are Americans Being Lied to?"
Diane Sawyer: "And now we turn to gasoline prices in this country. And those soaring prices they are! Gas now at $3.10 a gallon, the highest ever, up a whopping 94 cents in the last 15 weeks alone. And all day yesterday, executives from Gulf and Shell for 24 hours have been giving the reason. They blame refineries. Listen."
Claire Shipman: "Good morning, Diane. Let me tell you, with prices like these, people are looking for answers. And here's what we found. Those CEOs are right on one count: There are huge problems with the nation's refineries right now, huge bottle necks there. But what you didn't hear those CEOs talk about is those refineries, and the people who own them are reaping windfall profits right now because of the higher prices. And there's a serious sense that this problem could have been solved with a little more advance planning. The problem this year is what's between crude oil, and the consumer. The refineries, 149 of them across the country turning oil into gasoline. Already, in 2007, a fifth of them suffered serious breakdowns, everything from fires to equipment failures, to, in one case. a squirrel who sabotaged a refinery control room. Those breakdowns together with the time consuming switch over from winter to summer fuel and increased demand have created a perfect storm, according to refinery executives."
An E-mail appeared on screen while Diane closed the segment (but not read aloud): "'It has been calculated that if everyone in the United States did not purchase a drop of gasoline for one day and all at the same time, the oil companies would choke on their stockpiles.' -- Chain e-mail proposing National 'Gas Out' day."
"Unclear What Role, If Any, Religion Played" in Fort Dix Six Terror Plot? In the face of clear evidence, New York Times reporter Alan Feuer claimed in a Monday story: "It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning."
Reporter Alan Feuer, who last May gave respectable coverage to a convention of "Bush-caused-9-11" conspiracy nuts (see: www.timeswatch.org ), went to enormous (and erroneous) pains Monday to soft-pedal the Muslim beliefs of the Fort Dix terrorist plotters in "Two Mosques Are Shaken by Ties to a Terror Plot." See: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/14/nyregion/14mosque.html
"It is unclear what role, if any, religion played in the attack Mr. Shnewer and the five other men are charged with planning. (The sixth suspect, Agron Abdullahu, had no apparent connection with Al-Aqsa or the South Jersey Islamic Center.) The authorities have described the suspects as Islamic extremists, but the lengthy criminal complaint summarizing the F.B.I.'s 15-month undercover investigation of the group does not mention where -- or how often -- they prayed. Certainly there is no evidence that they picked up radical ideas at either mosque." Of course not.
[This item is adapted from a Monday posting, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
In contrast to the Times' uninformative, politically correct take, the New York Post had a complete story with details on the suspects' radical Islamic beliefs.
"When the teen and another employee went into a back room and began the conversion of the tape, they saw a group of bearded men wearing 'fundamentalist attire' and shooting 'big, f-ing guns,' the teen later told co-workers.
The paper showed that while it does not put terror threats against the U.S. at the top of its priority list, it at least remains sleepless in its dedication to stomping out the hint of a possibility of a shadow of a backlash against Muslims in America:
Jones didn't add the quote Tatar gave the Newark Star-Ledger about the terror charges against his son, which may have made Tatar appear less sympathetic: "It's persecution, religious persecution. Nothing more." Check: www.newhouse.com
From the Late Show Newsletter for the week of May 14, "an exclusive un-aired Top Ten for newsletter subscribers," the "Top Ten Surprises During Queen Elizabeth the Second's Visit to the White House." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Main course was something Cheney shot on the lawn
9. President kept asking her if she knows Simon from "American Idol"
8. Instead of white tie and tails, Bush wore his Spider-man costume
7. She never took off her iPod
6. Upon hearing, "The Queen has arrived," Bush said, "McGreevey's here?"
5. While patting down the Queen, security found a box cutter
4. Kept asking to see where Bill and Monica got freaky
3. Festivities included a game of "Sexy Charades"
2. President Bush asked for an interpreter
1. Dinner interrupted when Hillary arrived to measure for new drapes
-- Brent Baker