Johnson-McNamara Phone Call Reminds NBC's Brian Williams of Iraq --5/3/2004
2. Clift Frets Kerry Doubted as "Bush Gets Away With Lying" on WMD
3. Time's Duffy Has Absolutely No Interest in Pursuing Gorelick
4. Fox to Feature What Those Killed in Iraq "Accomplished There"
5. New Liberal Group Hopes to Be "As influential as the MRC"
Vietnam on his mind. On Friday's NBC Nightly News, after declaring that the "Mission Accomplished" sign behind President Bush a year ago on the aircraft carrier "is one image that won't go away," as if he and the media have nothing to do with that, anchor Brian Williams played audio from a newly-released 1966 phone conversation between Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson and suggested that it "may remind some of the current situation in Iraq, even though what you're about to hear has to do, of course, with Vietnam."
Williams announced on the April 30 show: "Tonight there has been another release of tapes from the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, who recorded hundreds of hours of his telephone conversations in the Oval Office, his residence and his Texas ranch. One conversation released today between LBJ and his Defense Secretary, Robert McNamara, from June of 1966, may remind some of the current situation in Iraq, even though what you're about to hear has to do, of course, with Vietnam."
Then, with text at the bottom of the screen over black and white still shots of McNamara and Johnson, as well as some Vietnam video, viewers heard an excerpt from the conversation released by the Johnson Library.
McNamara: "It's just so typical, Mr. President. It's a relatively small enemy force. We think we're, we're taking a heavy toll out of them, but it just scares me to see what we're doing there. We're taking 6,000 U.S. soldiers with God knows how many airplanes and helicopters and fire power and going after a bunch of half-starved beggars and 2,000 at most, and probably less than that. And this is what's going on in the south. And it's a great danger. And it's not a certainty, but it's a danger we need to look at, is, is that--that they can keep that up almost indefinitely."
Back on camera, Williams reminded his audience: "By the way, today marks 29 years exactly since the government of South Vietnam surrendered to the north."
Newsweek's Eleanor Clift declared on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend that "it's five student deferments for Mr. Cheney, versus three Purple Hearts for Kerry" and she fretted that the Bush-Cheney people are "trying to turn" Kerry's Vietnam medals controversy "into some kind of character deficit while Bush gets away with lying about weapons of mass destruction and taking us into a not necessary war."
Clift contended: "Ultimately it's five student deferments for Mr. Cheney, versus three Purple Hearts for Kerry. I think bottom line he wins on this. But the Bush-Cheney attack machine, they're doing the same thing to Kerry that they did to Gore. They're taking ribbons or medals, 'oh he doesn't know which,' and they're trying to turn it into some kind of character deficit while Bush gets away with lying about weapons of mass destruction and taking us into a not necessary war."
On Jamie Gorelick, the Washington press corps, which is normally energized by any effort by a Republican administration to suppress information, sees Attorney General John Ashcroft as the one who should be chided for releasing memos which show how U.S. Attorneys in 1995 were upset by how guidelines written by then-Deputy Attorney General Gorelick, preventing the CIA from informing domestic agencies about terrorists inside the U.S., went beyond what was legally required and hamstrung efforts to prevent terrorism. Gorelick is now on the 9-11 Commission.
At the start of President Bush's meeting with the commission on Thursday, he reportedly expressed his disappointment with the release of the documents embarrassing to Gorelick.
Friday night on PBS's Washington Week, Michael Duffy, Time magazine's Washington Bureau Chief, expressed disdain for Ashcroft's efforts to reveal information as Duffy failed to event tell viewers what Ashcroft uncovered: "The day before Bush and Cheney met with the commission, he put another document on the Web site. And this was sort of just kind of sticking it in her face, and even the Bush administration, the White House said the next day that's just, they had no business doing that." Showing no interest in pursuing the matter, Duffy characterized the memos as "off the point" and lamented how they are "still on the Web site."
The Friday, April 30 CyberAlert recounted: On Wednesday, the Justice Department released memos showing that in 1995 U.S. Attorneys objected to Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick's guidelines about barring the CIA from sharing information related to terrorists inside the U.S. But not a syllable aired about the subject Wednesday night on the ABC, CBS, CNN, CNBC or NBC evening newscasts, and all the morning shows avoided the topic on Thursday morning. On Thursday night, in the wake of the White House rebuking Justice for posting the documents, ABC, CNN, CNBC and NBC all ran brief mentions of that, but none let viewers in on what the memos revealed. CBS didn't utter a word about Gorelick, but like NBC, found time to highlight how Paul Bremer hit the administration, back in February of 2001, for being inattentive to terrorism. And Dan Rather sermonized about how "it was only under pressure that President Bush finally agreed to the formation of the independent commission and only under pressure that he finally appeared before it today -- under his ground rules, on his ground." Of ABC, CBS and NBC, only ABC's Terry Moran pointed out how two commissioners walked out early.
For details about all of that, as well as for links to earlier CyberAlert items about media avoidance of questions about Gorelick: www.mediaresearch.org
Friday night on PBS, New York Times reporter Linda Greenhouse proposed: "One thing that was strange this week was this back and forth between the White House and the Justice Department, the White House telling the Justice Department to back off on accusing Jamie Gorelick of having set policy in motion that was harmful to national security. What was that all, why aren't they playing out of the same play book there?"
So, is he advocating the suppression of a set of government documents? What happened to the much-vaunted "people's right to know"?
Fox News Sunday to go Nightline one better. In reaction to Nightline's Friday night recitation of the names of every serviceman killed in Iraq, which Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace regretted had failed to provide "a context of what they went halfway around the world to do," the next edition of his show, he announced Sunday, will feature "a list of what we've accomplished there through the blood, sweat and, yes, lives of our military. We think the point is not just that those hundreds of troops died but what they died for."
Wrapping up a panel discussion on the May 2 Fox News Sunday about the April 30 Nightline in which Ted Koppel read the names of those killed in Iraq, as matching pictures appeared on screen, Wallace announced:
For details about what Koppel did and said Friday night, see the Saturday, May 1 CyberAlert: "Koppel Denies He's Against War, But Lectures on Sharing Its Cost." It's at: www.mediaresearch.org
Fox News Sunday home page: www.foxnews.com
The influence earned by the MRC is the model for a new liberal group which will monitor the so-called conservative media. A New York Times story on Monday by Jim Rutenberg, on how David Brock "will start a new Internet site this week that he says will monitor the conservative media and correct erroneous assertions in real time," relayed how Brock hopes to emulate the MRC: "Mr. Brock said he hoped his new project could be as influential as the Media Research Center, a conservative media monitoring group run by L. Brent Bozell III that frequently calls attention to what it calls examples of liberal bias in the news media. Its findings often become subjects for conservative radio and cable talk shows."
An excerpt from "New Internet Site Turns Critical Eyes and Ears to the Right," a May 3 Business section story by Rutenberg:
David Brock, the former right-wing journalist turned liberal, describes himself as once having been a rather large cog in the machinery of the conservative media....
With more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals, Mr. Brock will start a new Internet site this week that he says will monitor the conservative media and correct erroneous assertions in real time.
The site, called Media Matters, was devised as part of a larger media apparatus being built by liberals to combat what they say is the overwhelming influence of conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.
Mr. Brock's project was developed with help from the newly formed Center for American Progress, the policy group headed by John D. Podesta, the former Clinton chief of staff. And Mr. Brock said he hoped it could help provide fodder for fledgling liberal radio talk shows being started across the country, including those of the comedians Al Franken and Janeane Garofalo.
For Mr. Brock, 41, the project is yet another considerable step in his public evolution from conservative muckraker to liberal activist. That evolution began after Mr. Brock began publicly apologizing in the late 1990's for reporting that brutally criticized Anita F. Hill and a report that Arkansas state troopers had helped Bill Clinton procure paramours when he was the governor of Arkansas, the veracity of which he is no longer sure....
Mr. Brock said he hoped his new project could be as influential as the Media Research Center, a conservative media monitoring group run by L. Brent Bozell III that frequently calls attention to what it calls examples of liberal bias in the news media. Its findings often become subjects for conservative radio and cable talk shows.
Mr. Brock argued that such monitoring groups have helped build the conservative media's influence, in part by making mainstream journalists toe a more conservative line by convincing them that they are liberally biased.
"The right wing in this country has dominated the debate over liberal bias," Mr. Brock said during an interview Friday. "By dominating that debate, my belief is they've moved the media itself to the right and therefore they've moved American politics to the right."
He added, "I wanted to create an institution to combat what they're doing."...
In Mr. Brock's new K Street offices on Friday morning, a team of nearly a half-dozen researchers, overseen by Katie Barge, who last worked for the opposition research arm of Senator John Edwards's presidential campaign, sat before a bank of computers and televisions in a room that was otherwise dark.
Some of the researchers wore headphones as they scanned episodes of cable news programs stored on digital recording devices, among them "Hannity & Colmes" on Fox News Channel, "Dennis Miller" on CNBC and "Scarborough Country" on MSNBC. Two researchers have been assigned to cover Mr. Limbaugh, whose program they will regularly transcribe....
While Mr. Bozell did not argue with Mr. Brock's assertion that his group opened the door to greater influence for more conservative outlets, he did not agree with his central premise that conservative commentators had made the mainstream media more conservative.
"I don't think we have pushed the mainstream media to the right," Mr. Bozell said. "I think what we have done is to neutralize their credibility, and every survey in the world shows that the public doesn't believe that these reporters are objective."
But, he said, Mr. Brock's new venture would have greater problems than that. "The problem is that David Brock is a certified liar," he said. "He will forever have a credibility problem. One doesn't know what to believe in David Brock."...
Among Mr. Brock's donors is Leo Hindery Jr., the former cable magnate; Susie Tompkins Buell, who is co-founder of the fashion company Esprit and is close to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Ms. Buell's husband Mark; and James C. Hormel, a San Francisco philanthropist whose appointment as ambassador to Luxembourg was delayed for a year and a half in the late 1990's by conservative lawmakers protesting what they called his promotion of a "gay lifestyle."...
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
# Speaking of those who think the media are biased to the right, Janeane Garofalo is the scheduled guest on tonight's (Monday) Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central. Bob Woodward is scheduled to appear Tuesday night on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
-- Brent Baker