2. ABC Runs Kerry's Point By Point Retort to New Bush TV Ad
3. NBC Relays Kerry on "Attack Squads" Out to "Destroy People"
4. Will CBS Bring Balance This Sunday to "American Voices" Series?
5. Nets Skate Over Liberal & Media Background of Accused Iraq Spy
More complaining on Thursday from the networks about the inappropriateness of the Bush campaign using fleeting images from 9/11 in some of its campaign TV ads. But in a column the same day, the Washington Post's liberal David Broder undermined the claims of Bush's left-wing critics that Bush looks bad compared to FDR who did not exploit World War II for political gain. Recalling how President Roosevelt didn't even attend the Democratic convention in 1944 as he gave his acceptance address from a Navy base, Broder concluded: "Bush is a piker compared with FDR when it comes to wrapping himself in the mantle of commander in chief."
FNC's Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment on Thursday night, highlighted Broder's discovery, but the other networks did not as they instead used the production of new Bush ads and Bush's attendance at a 9/11 memorial ceremony as an excuse to repeat criticism of Bush for putting Ground Zero images in ads released last week.
Setting up a story on Bush's new TV ads, World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson Thursday night on ABC noted how "in suburban New York today, President Bush helped break ground for a 9/11 memorial. The President made no remarks at the somber ceremony, but he did say earlier the lesson of 9/11 is to deal with threats before they fully materialize." Gibson asserted: "The President, as you probably know, used scenes from Ground Zero in his first campaign ads that were broadcast. That ignited a debate about whether it's appropriate to use such images in an election campaign."
More like it excited journalists eager to publicize attacks from a small group of liberals related to 9/11 victims and a pro-Kerry union.
After noting Bush's release of a new ad (see item #2 below), Tom Brokaw intoned on the March 11 NBC Nightly News: "The President today also shrugged off critics who've complained that he's politicizing the September 11th attacks, appearing today at a groundbreaking at a 9/11 memorial in suburban New York. The Bush campaign is using an image of the World Trade Center in another television ad. A spokesmen says that ad will not be pulled."
In the morning on NBC's Today, MRC analyst Geoff Dickens observed, news reader Ann Curry previewed Bush's appearance, at the groundbreaking for the memorial, by reminding viewers of criticism over his TV ads: "More fallout expected today from President Bush's re-election ads that feature images from 9/11. Family members of some of the victims of the World Trade Center attacks say they will protest the President's attendance at a groundbreaking ceremony for a 9/11 memorial on New York's Long Island."
Curry during another news update: "Today President Bush will attend the groundbreaking for a 9/11 memorial in a New York suburb. Some family members of World Trade Center victims say that they will protest the visit after one of the President's re-election ads showed images of the destroyed towers. On Wednesday President Bush defended his economic record in a crucial swing through the state of Ohio."
Meanwhile, liberal Washington Post reporter/columnist David Broder undermined the premise that the Bush campaign had somehow politicized a war when liberal hero FDR never did so. An excerpt from Broder's March 11 column:
....But is it, as supporters of John Kerry and other critics suggest, wrong for Republicans to convert the emotions of that national tragedy into grist for a political campaign?
To answer that question, I went back, with help from Washington Post researcher Brian Faler, to 1944, when Franklin D. Roosevelt, almost three years after Pearl Harbor, was running for reelection. What you learn from such an exercise is that Bush is a piker compared with FDR when it comes to wrapping himself in the mantle of commander in chief.
Item: FDR did not go to the Democratic convention in Chicago where he was nominated for a fourth term. A few days before it opened, he sent a letter to the chairman of the Democratic Party explaining his availability for the nomination. And what an explanation!
"All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River, to avoid public responsibilities and to avoid also the publicity which in our democracy follows every step of the nation's chief executive."
But, he wrote, "every one of our sons serving in this war has officers from whom he takes his orders. Such officers have superior officers. The President is the Commander in Chief, and he, too, has his superior officer -- the people of the United States....If the people command me to continue in this office and in this war, I have as little right to withdraw as the soldier has to leave his post in the line."
Item: Roosevelt delivered his acceptance speech to the convention by radio from where? From the San Diego Naval Station, because, he said, "The war waits for no elections. Decisions must be made, plans must be laid, strategy must be carried out."
Item: If FDR's politicizing of his wartime role seems blatant, what does one say of the main speakers at the convention? Keynoter Robert Kerr, then governor of Oklahoma, declared that "the Republican Party...had no program, in the dangerous years preceding Pearl Harbor, to prevent war or to meet it if it came. Most of the Republican members of the national Congress fought every constructive move designed to prepare our country in case of war."
So much for bipartisanship!
Item: Kerr was restraint personified compared with the convention's permanent chairman, Sen. Samuel Jackson of Indiana. As he contemplated the possibility of a Republican victory, he was moved to ask: "How many battleships would a Democratic defeat be worth to Tojo? How many Nazi legions would it be worth to Hitler? ...We must not allow the American ballot box to be made Hitler's secret weapon."
If you accept President Bush's premise that this nation is at war with terrorism, then you have to applaud the restraint his campaign has shown so far in exploiting the attack that began that war....
END of Excerpt
For Broder's column in full: www.washingtonpost.com
ABC on Thursday night previewed a new Bush campaign ad by having George Stephanopoulos play most of it as he relayed the Kerry camp's retort to each item. To the ad's assertion that John Kerry will "raise taxes by at least $900 billion" in order "to pay for new government spending," Stephanopoulos acknowledged that Kerry's "health care plan would cost almost $900 billion, and he hasn't spelled out how he's going to pay for it." Yet Stephanopoulos marveled at how "the Bush ad jumps to the conclusion that only tax increases can fill the gap."
Over on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw reported: "The Bush-Cheney campaign is out tonight with its first ad attacking Kerry by name. The new ad, which will begin airing tomorrow in 18 battleground states, calls Kerry quote, 'wrong on taxes, wrong on defense.' A radio version of the ad will also run in select markets."
Back to ABC's World News Tonight on Thursday, anchor Charles Gibson noted how the Bush campaign had "launched a new round of ads that attack John Kerry for the first time -- by name. With that story, ABC's George Stephanopoulos."
Stephanopoulos, in Washington, DC, began by playing the opening of the ad:
Let's see if ABC and Stephanopoulos give equal time and weight to the Bush team's retort to points made in that ad.
The ad Stephanopoulos critiqued is called "100 Days" and can be viewed at: www.georgewbush.com
For a page of "Ad Facts" supporting the claims made in it: www.georgewbush.com
Of the three broadcast network evening shows on Thursday, only the NBC Nightly News picked up on John Kerry's refusal to apologize for charging on Wednesday that the Bush administration is "the most crooked, lying group I have ever seen." Far from painting Kerry as the one who made a baseless allegation about criminal conduct, Tom Brokaw highlighted how Kerry "lit into what he called 'Republican attack squads' specializing in 'trying to destroy people.'"
Brokaw set up a clip of Kerry standing in front of a group of Senators in a U.S. Capitol hallway: "Senator John Kerry, taking heat from Republicans for comments he made yesterday, today lit into what he called 'Republican attack squads' specializing in 'trying to destroy people.' Yesterday a wireless mike that Kerry was wearing picked up his comment that his opponents are quote, 'the most crooked, lying group I have ever seen.' And Kerry won't take that back."
This Sunday, in the third installment of its "American Voices" series, will the CBS Evening News manage to find either a Democrat who voted for Al Gore but who is now disillusioned with John Kerry because he's too liberal, or a voter who is conservative across the board and, if upset at Bush, critical of him from the right?
Back on Sunday, February 29, the CBS Evening News launched the new series with a story about a 50-something "Republican" couple in Ohio who are disillusioned by President Bush over his tax cuts, how he "lied" about Iraq and how he's focusing on gay marriage when there are "a million domestic problems" that are more pressing.
Reporter Gretchen Carlson relayed how "they say they are fiscal conservatives. Both voted for George Bush in the last election. And both are disappointed with the direction he has taken the country." The wife complained: "I can't believe that we can actually run a war in Iraq and have tax cuts, it doesn't make any sense." Carlson proceeded to note how they "both fault the administration's handling of the war in Iraq and the war on terror" with the wife declaring in Dennis Kucinich fashion: "I think we were lied to." But that wasn't all. "Both have lost faith in the President's ability to solve the country's problems," Carlson noted before the wife complained about Bush's concern for gay marriage.
For a full rundown of the story: www.mediaresearch.org
A week later, for the Sunday, March 7 CBS Evening News, Mika Brzezinski found a 60-something Florida couple who identified themselves as conservative and support Bush on invading Iraq, but they want government action to lower prescription drug prices and oppose Bush on gay marriage and abortion. Brzezinski turned that into a positive about how they are "independent." She touted: "A conservative couple with a strong independent streak, the Tweedies believe there are certain areas where the government should back off." The husband elaborated: "The government getting involved in somebody's personal decision, okay, whether it be gay marriage or whether it be abortion or whatever, that is a personal decision."
More libertarian-oriented conservatives may be okay with gay marriage, but it's hard to be a conservative and not pro-life given in that case there's an innocent life to protect and that's something even libertarians agree is a legitimate government responsibility -- the protection of life and liberty.
Brzezinski began her March 7 story with a soundbite from Terry Tweedie: "I'm a registered independent but basically have been leaning towards the Republican Party for the last few years."
Let's see who they find to profile this Sunday.
(Or maybe not. Having written this item, I checked the TV schedule and noticed there will be no CBS Evening News this Sunday, at least not in the Eastern and Central time zones, to make way for a 6pm EST CBS Sports show with the announcement of which 64 college basketball teams will make the NCAA tournament. But maybe I can catch whatever they do on Up to the Minute on Monday morning.)
Susan Lindauer, a former reporter for U.S. News & World Report, whose byline appeared over some 1991 stories about the "Air Sununu" scandal, was arrested and arraigned in federal court in Baltimore on Thursday, charged with various counts related to working for and accepting payments from the Saddam Hussein regime, in violation of working with a terrorist state. In the late 1980s and early 1990s she worked for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Fortune before jumping to U.S. News in 1990 and then, by 1993, moving into a career as Press Secretary to a series of liberal Democrats: Then Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Ron Wyden of Oregon, Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois and, briefly in 2002, for California Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.
But while CNN and FNC stories noted her specific journalistic associations and how she toiled for years for Democrats, the CBS and NBC stories on Thursday night skated over both parts of the resume, despite the fact that AP stories fully outlined her background, with NBC not even alluding to her Democratic connections, though both networks made sure to mention how she's a "distant cousin" of White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card.
ABC's World News Tonight did not mention the arrest of the resident of Takoma Park, Maryland, a city which has declared itself a "nuclear-free zone."
On Thursday's CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts referred vaguely to how she "worked at various times for four members of Congress." Reporter Jim Stewart noted: "A former journalist who briefly worked as a speechwriter for Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, Lindauer comes from a political family. Her father once ran for Governor of Alaska. White House Chief-of-Staff Andrew Card is a distant cousin." (Stewart also passed along how her neighbors said she was a "klutz" as one recalled how "she couldn't even turn on her lawnmower last year.")
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw announced: "An American woman is being accused tonight of conspiring to act as an agent for Saddam Hussein's intelligence service. Susan Lindauer, who describes herself as an anti-war activist, is a former journalist. She's also the second cousin of White House Chief-of-Staff Andy Card. She was arrested today at her home outside of Washington, DC. Prosecutors say she went to Baghdad and then returned to the United States on Iraq's behalf to try to persuade administration officials not to go to war. For her part she says she is innocent."
The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to Lindauer's role in covering the controversy over President George H.W. Bush's Chief-of-Staff supposedly mixing personal business and vacation time in with official trips for which he got free plane rides on government aircraft. Using Nexis, I tracked down these two 1991 U.S. News stories which carried Lindauer's byline:
-- May 6, 1991 edition, "The flights of Air Sununu: The White House chief of staff mixed politics and playtime on some of his 'official' trips." The byline: "By Kenneth T. Walsh; Stephen J. Hedges; Susan Lindauer; Missy Daniel."
It began: "When George Bush learned about John Sununu's aerial joy riding, he was distressed. Bush never realized, advisers say, that his chief of staff had been jetting around the country so often and had mixed together so many official, personal and political trips, mostly at taxpayer expense. Then came damage control, as congressional Democrats launched investigations of the more than $ 615,000 worth of travel by Sununu since he became White House chief of staff. Bush ordered a review of White House travel policy. 'I want our administration to be above even the perception of impropriety,' a piqued president declared. But the damage was done. Sununu was no longer the president's problem solver. He was, at least temporarily, his problem child..."
-- May 13, 1991 edition, "Sununu's final days among the jet set: A crackdown begins as new questions arise." The byline: "By Kenneth T. Walsh; Stephen J. Hedges; Susan Lindauer; Missy Daniel."
It began: "When two aides showed up five minutes late to a 7:30 a.m. senior-staff meeting last week, White House Chief of Staff John Sununu glowered in mock anger. 'I guess,' he announced, 'they must've just landed.' The wisecrack prompted nervous laughter, but many of President Bush's advisers were not amused. They feared that the chief of staff's cavalier attitude only invited more scrutiny of his taxpayer subsidized personal and political air travel -- and that of other administration figures..."
These pages feature pictures of Lindauer as she left the courthouse in Baltimore on Thursday:
-- Brent Baker