2. Olbermann Bolsters 'Smackdown' of Spying on 'Our' Phone Calls
3. WPost Publicizes Pro-Military Media Bias Study -- By Grad Student
4. Wash Post: Look Out, Joe Scarborough Thinks Bush Is An Idiot
Friday's morning shows largely preferred the JonBenet Ramsey case over Thursday's federal district court ruling declaring the National Security Agency's terrorist surveillance program to be unconstitutional. NBC's Today and CBS's The Early Show limited their reporting on the issue to brief anchor reads, as did their evening news counterparts (see the August 18 CyberAlert item excerpted below.)
ABC's Good Morning America, however, did devote more than a few seconds on the topic, with ABC's Jessica Yellin reporting from the White House. In her report, Yellin never acknowledged the liberal background of the Carter-appointed Judge Ann Diggs Taylor who, Yellin pointed out, "accuses the President of acting like a king" and says the NSA program "blatantly disregards" the parameters established in the Bill of Rights. Yellin labeled the court's decision a "stinging setback" for President Bush, and highlighted this warning to the President from George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley: "He could be impeached. And people should not be underestimating that. It's true that this Congress does not want to-"
That statement seemed to go a bit to far for Yellin, who appeared skeptical, inserting in her taped piece: "Come on. He's not going to be impeached for this program."
[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The full transcript of Yellin's August 18 report:
News reader Kate Snow: "We begin to, with a major blow to President Bush's war on terror. A judge found wiretapping without a warrant was unconstitutional. The administration is appealing. ABC's Jessica Yellin joins us with more. Good morning, Jessica."
Jessica Yellin: "Good morning, Kate. This is a stinging setback for the President and the way he's defending the nation against terrorists. In this ruling, the federal judge essentially accuses the President of acting like a king and she orders him to stop the program soon. President Bush is passionate about the NSA spy program."
The August 18 CyberAlert recounted: All three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday covered the ruling by a federal judge against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Stemming from a case filed by the ACLU and other plaintiffs, Judge Ann Diggs Taylor, a Detroit-based Carter appointee, found the program to be unconstitutional. Unlike CNN and FNC, which conveyed that the ruling would likely be overturned, none of the network evening newscasts mentioned the liberal credentials of Judge Taylor or the debate over judicial activism and legal weaknesses in the ruling, such as the issue of whether the plaintiffs had standing to file the lawsuit, since the plaintiffs themselves were not found to be the subjects of surveillance. See: www.mediaresearch.org
On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann bolstered the ruling by federal Judge Ann Diggs Taylor against the Bush administration's controversial NSA spying program that involves warrantless monitoring of international phone calls when one participant is a terrorist suspect. Referring to the ruling as a "judicial smackdown" and a "stunning ruling" against the program, Olbermann repeatedly referred to the NSA program as monitoring "our" phone calls or "our" emails. The MSNBC host further contended that since the program was revealed, "anybody who had actually read the Constitution" believed it would eventually be ruled as "patently illegal." Olbermann's guest discussing the topic was liberal law professor Jonathan Turley, who labeled Judge Taylor's ruling as a "very thoughtful opinion," called efforts by conservatives to discredit her as a liberal Carter appointee as "distasteful" and maintained President Bush "could well have committed a federal crime not once, but 30 times."
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann teased the segment, referring to surveillance of "our" phone calls and emails, and mocking the administration's claims that the NSA program had helped stop terrorists: "Unconstitutional: A federal judge in Detroit orders Bush administration eavesdropping on our calls and emails halted immediately. The administration appeals, invoking the purported liquid bomb plot, claiming there is proof the wiretaps stopped terrorists, and the proof is that the administration says it stopped terrorists."
As the Countdown host introduced the show's lead story on the JonBenet Ramsey case, Olbermann previewed the NSA story, again referring to "our" phone calls and emails: "Good evening from Los Angeles. It is not the day's most important news. Clearly, that would be a stunning ruling out of a Michigan court concluding that George Bush and his Attorney General and his National Security Agency violated the Constitution by illegally intercepting our phone calls and our emails."
After two more plugs, Olbermann introduced the segment: "From the moment in December when the New York Times first revealed the existence of the government's secret warrantless surveillance program, nearly anybody who had actually read the Constitution at some point believed that it would be only a matter of time until a court of law ruled such spying to be patently illegal. Our fourth story in the Countdown tonight, the matter of time took just 35 weeks. The Bush administration's first attempt to politicize today's judicial smackdown taking mere minutes."
After Olbermann's opening question to Turley in which he referred to "domestic spying" with "many fangs," during Turley's answer, the liberal law professor brought up the "difficult implication" that President Bush "could well have committed a federal crime not once, but 30 times."
Olbermann finally brought up the fact that Judge Taylor was a Carter appointee as he characterized conservatives as "making hay" out of her history, which ended up serving to queue up Turley to condemn the questioning of Judge Taylor's ideology as "distasteful" and giving his view that her ruling was a "very thoughtful opinion."
Olbermann: "The response to this from the White House, there's nothing of course like claiming you have secret proof that you stopped all sorts of bad things by rewriting the Constitution, but the conservatives are already making hay out of the fact that Judge Taylor was an appointee of President Carter. Where does the case go next legally? And in following it, do we have to follow the personal politics of the judges? Or are there any judges who are just judges anymore?"
Olbermann concluded the segment seeming to show disagreement with the idea that Congress could pass a law that would be constitutional explicitly giving the President the authority to engage in the warrantless NSA surveillance in question. After Turley argued that in order to discredit Judge Taylor's ruling that "you need to show me a statute, you need to show me part of the Constitution," Olbermann chimed in: "And the Constitution, not just a, say, Arlen Specter-sponsored law that would permit this according to the Congress, correct?"
Turley argued that Specter's bill was an "absurd" bill: "Well, if Specter goes forward with that absurd bill that he wrote with Dick Cheney, I would be surprised. I mean, if they actually move this into a secret court after a judge found the President was acting unlawfully, it will be the whitewash of the century."
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the August 17 Countdown show:
Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Unconstitutional: A federal judge in Detroit orders Bush administration eavesdropping on our calls and emails halted immediately. The administration appeals, invoking the purported liquid bomb plot, claiming there is proof the wiretaps stopped terrorists, and the proof is that the administration says it stopped terrorists."
Olbermann, introducing the lead story on JonBenet Ramsey: "Good evening from Los Angeles. It is not the day's most important news. Clearly, that would be a stunning ruling out of a Michigan court concluding that George Bush and his Attorney General and his National Security Agency violated the Constitution by illegally intercepting our phone calls and our emails. We will cover that in depth in a moment...."
Olbermann, before commercial break at 8:12 p.m.: "To the hard news of the day, and it certainly is going down hard at the White House. The Bush administration's warrant-free wiretap program, a federal judge says it has to stop, it has to stop now, analysis on the import of a ruling of unconstitutionality with Jonathan Turley."
Olbermann, during commercial break at 8:13 p.m.: "The federal judge says the Bush administration is breaking the law, warrantless wiretaps illegal, unconstitutional. The White House says it has proof the judge is wrong. The proof's a secret. That's next, this is Countdown."
Olbermann: "From the moment in December when the New York Times first revealed the existence of the government's secret warrantless surveillance program, nearly anybody who had actually read the Constitution at some point believed that it would be only a matter of time until a court of law ruled such spying to be patently illegal. Our fourth story in the Countdown tonight, the matter of time took just 35 weeks. The Bush administration's first attempt to politicize today's judicial smackdown taking mere minutes. Federal Judge Anna Diggs Taylor ruling in Detroit today, becoming the first to strike down the National Security Agency's program, ordering it stopped at once, although how fast that is is yet to be determined, calling it an unconstitutional violation of privacy and free speech rights. Quoting Judge Taylor in her 43-page opinion, 'Plaintiffs have prevailed, and the public interest is clear in this matter. It is the upholding of our Constitution.' Within the hour, though, unnamed senior White House officials pointing out to NBC News, that the ruling comes just one week after the purported London bomb plot in which they claim telephone surveillance was used to gather intelligence. By name, the press secretary, Mr. Snow, also evoking the British arrests in a written statement. Quote, 'Last week America and the world received a stark reminder that terrorists are still plotting to attack our country and kill innocent people. ... We could not disagree more with this ruling.' The Justice Department meanwhile indicating it will do all it can to fight the ruling."
The Washington Post routinely ignores studies of liberal media bias by the Media Research Center and other groups. But you don't even have to have a group or belong to a group to get your research cited in the Post if you find a "pro-war" bias. In Friday's Post, pollster Richard Morin's "Unconvential Wisdom" roundup on page A-2 carried the headline: "Embedded Reporters, Slanted Perspective?" At the end of Morin's item, we learned the researcher is simply a graduate student.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Morin's take on the study:
The use of embedded reporters by major newspapers during the invasion of Iraq produced more personal and human-interest stories about the lives of U.S. soldiers while "downplaying the effects of the invasion on the Iraqi people," according to a Penn State University researcher.
Andrew M. Lindner examined 742 newspaper articles written by 156 journalists from the beginning of the war on March 19, 2003, until President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 1, 2003.
Lindner found that reporters assigned to military units as part of its "embedded journalists" program were responsible for 71 percent of the articles on the front pages of major newspapers and 69 percent of articles inside the main news sections. Far less prominent were articles written by journalists from those same papers who were based in Baghdad or not part of the embedding program.
Only 12 percent of the stories by embedded journalists reported civilian fatalities, compared with half of those written by reporters stationed in Baghdad, reported Lindner, a sociology graduate student who presented his findings last week at the American Sociological Association meeting in Montreal.
END of Excerpt
For Morin's August 18 "Unconventional Wisdom" column: www.washingtonpost.com
Well, MSNBC and Joe Scarborough have clearly figured out how to get their show mentioned in a liberal newspaper. Inside Sunday's Washington Post, reporter Peter Baker wrote an article about conservative disillusionment with Bush on Iraq headlined "Pundits Renounce the President: Among Conservative Voices, Discord." Baker began: "For 10 minutes, the talk show host grilled his guests about whether 'George Bush's mental weakness is damaging America's credibility at home and abroad.' For 10 minutes, the caption across the bottom of the television screen read, 'IS BUSH AN 'IDIOT'?'
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The show aired last Tuesday. Transcript here: www.msnbc.msn.com
Scarborough also paraded this idiot-Bush line in a blog on The Huffington Post: www.huffingtonpost.com
While the country does not want a leader wallowing in the weeds, Scarborough concluded on the segment, "we do need a president who, I think, is intellectually curious."
"And that is a big question," Scarborough said, "whether George W. Bush has the intellectual curiousness -- if that's a word -- to continue leading this country over the next couple of years."
In a later telephone interview, Scarborough said he aired the segment because he kept hearing even fellow Republicans questioning Bush's capacity and leadership, particularly in Iraq. Like others, he said, he supported the war but now thinks it is time to find a way to get out. "A lot of conservatives are saying, 'Enough's enough,' " he said. Asked about the reaction to his program, he said, "The White House is not happy about it."
END of Excerpt
The article also included William F. Buckley's critique of Bush's Iraq policy, along with an interview with current National Review editor Rich Lowry. But the strangest part of the article -- the one that suggests "one of these things is not like the others," is this paragraph:
For Baker's August 20 article: www.washingtonpost.com
-- Brent Baker