Katie Couric: I'm Not Biased, But My Viewers Are -- and So Is FNC --9/5/2006
2. Stephanopoulos: 'Not Responsible' to Say You'll Never Raise Taxes
3. Weekly Standard Lists 'Plamegate Hall of Shame,' Mostly the Press
4. Olbermann and Scarborough Hit Plamegate from Opposite Directions
5. WPost Plays Up 'Macaca' Again, Not Webb Mocking Allen on Vietnam
6. Video Treat: Dan Rather Singing 'The Wreck of the Old 97'
Asked at the Aspen Institute's "Ideas Festival" in early July -- but just broadcast Saturday night on C-SPAN -- about the charge of liberal bias, incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was condescendingly dismissive. She blamed her viewers, calling it a "Rorschach test" which demonstrated how "oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you're not reflecting their point of view or you're asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy." Later in the July 5 session, however, she presumed FNC does have a bias: "You have Fox which espouses a particular point of view."
Couric will take the CBS anchor chair tonight, Tuesday.
Bob Schieffer appeared alongside Couric at the Colorado forum hosted by Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, the former CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time magazine. Schieffer contended that "the press is like a draft army. It generally reflects the society that it comes from" and insisted: "I know some reporters who have very hard-right views and some who have hard-left views." I'd like to learn which journalists he considers "hard-right." Schieffer also forwarded another common argument in rejection of liberal bias: "The greatest defense against charges of bias is accuracy." In fact, a story can be accurate and yet still reflect a biased agenda.
[This item was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Also noteworthy: The session took place just a few days after the New York Times broke the story about how the U.S. was monitoring the international financial transactions of terrorists and Isaacson, a veteran executive at CNN and Time magazine, said he wouldn't have run it: "I would not have printed it if I had been the editor."
Bio of Isaacson: www.aspeninstitute.org
Walter Isaacson: "CBS had a bad reputation for being far too liberal. I've known y'all for a long time. I don't know your politics at all, but what do you think of the liberal charge, that the mainstream media, or how it affects you all as journalists?"
At some point in the coming week, C-SPAN will post streaming Real video of this September 2 broadcast: www.c-span.org
In an "On the Trail" segment from Rhode Island on Sunday's This Week, ABC's George Stephanopoulos lectured Stephen Laffey, the Republican primary challenger to incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee, about taking a pledge to not raise federal income taxes: "If the deficit continued to grow, it's not responsible to say you're never going to raise taxes." When Laffey pointed out how Ronald Reagan's tax cuts "worked very well," Stephanopoulos retorted: "Ronald Reagan also increased taxes." After Laffey touted the benefits of the Bush tax cuts, an exasperated Stephanopoulos resignedly concluded: "So it's 'read my lips,' you're never going to vote to raise taxes?"
Stephanopoulos also spent time with the liberal Chafee, whom he ludicrously described as a "centrist" facing "a conservative challenge." But Stephanopoulos undermined his label when he forwarded how Laffey says "that you're a typical tax and spend liberal" and outlined Chafee's voting record: "You voted against President Bush on tax cuts, on prescription drugs, on the Iraq war, on stem cells, on gay marriage. You didn't even vote for him. Don't you have more in common with Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton than with President Bush?"
[This item was posted Sunday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The tax cut discussion between Stephanopoulos and Laffey taped at a Cranston, Rhode Island restaurant and played back on the September 3 This Week with George Stephanopoulos:
Stephanopoulos: "What about the specific points he [Chafee] makes on taxes. You say you're not going to raise taxes, you're not going to vote for tax increase in the Senate, yet as Mayor of Cranston you did raise taxes."
The editorial in the September 11 edition of The Weekly Standard, written by Fred Barnes and posted on Saturday, contended now that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, not part of the pro-Iraq war White House cabal, has been identified as who told Bob Woodward and Bob Novak about how Joe Wilson was married to a CIA staffer, "the hoax lingered for three years and is only now being fully exposed for what it was." Barnes asserted "the rogues' gallery of those who acted badly in the CIA 'leak' case turns out to be different from what the media led us to expect. Note that we put the word 'leak' in quotation marks, because it's clear now there was no leak at all, just idle talk, and certainly no smear campaign." Barnes suggested "a few apologies are called for, notably by [Colin] Powell and Armitage, but also by the press. A correction -- perhaps the longest and most overdue in the history of journalism -- is in order."
Barnes recited the misdeeds of Armitage, Powell, Patrick Fitzgerald, the Ashcroft Justice Department and Joseph Wilson before getting to his main target, the media, "especially" the Washington Post and New York Times, which "relied heavily on Wilson's reckless and unfounded charges to wage journalistic jihad against the White House and Bush political adviser Karl Rove. Reporters and columnists, based on little more than Joe Wilson's harrumphing, bought the line that the White House 'leaked' Plame's name to discredit her husband." Barnes argued that "the Plamegate Hall of Shame consists of favorites of the Washington elite and the mainstream press. The reaction, therefore, has been zero outrage and minimal coverage. The appropriate step for the press would be to investigate and then report in detail how it got the story so wrong."
[This item was posted Saturday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Barnes also laid out his case during the panel session on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC.
And Fox News Sunday, unlike ABC's This Week, devoted a panel segment to the collapse of Plamegate and Brit Hume echoed Barnes' condemnation of "leading members of the news media who continued to take Joe Wilson's charges seriously, even after they had been discredited by the Senate intelligence committee and others, and who have stayed on this story believing there was something there all this time until now."
Last week, in a September 4 Newsweek article, "The Man Who Said Too Much," Michael Isikoff, recounting what he and co-author David Corn of the far-left The Nation magazine wrote in their new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, reported:
For the Newsweek article: www.msnbc.msn.com
A Friday Washington Post editorial, "End of an Affair: It turns out that the person who exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame was not out to punish her husband," decided that "one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue."
The Post concluded: "[I]t now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously."
For the September 1 Washington Post editorial: www.washingtonpost.com
The rogues' gallery of those who acted badly in the CIA "leak" case turns out to be different from what the media led us to expect. Note that we put the word "leak" in quotation marks, because it's clear now there was no leak at all, just idle talk, and certainly no smear campaign against Joseph Wilson for criticizing President Bush's Iraq policy. It's as if a giant hoax were perpetrated on the country--by the media, by partisan opponents of the Bush administration, even by several Bush subordinates who betrayed the president and their White House colleagues. The hoax lingered for three years and is only now being fully exposed for what it was....
The media -- especially the Washington Post and New York Times -- relied heavily on Wilson's reckless and unfounded charges to wage journalistic jihad against the White House and Bush political adviser Karl Rove. Reporters and columnists, based on little more than Joe Wilson's harrumphing, bought the line that the White House "leaked" Plame's name to discredit her husband. In an editorial last January, the New York Times said the issue in the case "was whether the White House was using this information in an attempt to silence Mrs. Wilson's husband, a critic of the Iraq invasion, and in doing so violated a federal law against unmasking a covert operative." The paper's answer was yes.
So instead of Cheney or Rove or Libby, the perennial targets of media wrath, the Plamegate Hall of Shame consists of favorites of the Washington elite and the mainstream press. The reaction, therefore, has been zero outrage and minimal coverage. The appropriate step for the press would be to investigate and then report in detail how it got the story so wrong, just as the New York Times and other media did when they reported incorrectly that WMD were in Saddam's arsenal in Iraq. Don't hold your breath for this.
Not everyone got the story wrong. The Senate Intelligence Committee questioned Wilson under oath. It found that, contrary to his claims, his wife had indeed arranged for the CIA to send him to Niger in 2002. It found that his findings had not, contrary to Wilson's claim, circulated at the highest levels of the administration. And Bush's 16 words in the State of the Union to the effect that British intelligence believed Saddam had sought uranium in Africa -- words Wilson insisted were fictitious -- had been twice confirmed as true by none other than the British government.
Worse, Wilson failed in the single reason for his trip to Niger: to ferret out the truth about whether Iraq had sought uranium there. Wilson said no, dismissing a visit by Iraqis in 1999. But journalist Christopher Hitchens learned the trade mission was led by an important Iraqi nuclear diplomat. And uranium, of course, was the only thing Niger had to trade.
The fascination in Washington with the idea of a White House conspiracy to ruin Plame's career and punish Wilson never made sense. If there had been one, it had to be the most passive conspiracy in history. The suspected mastermind was Rove, the Bush political adviser. But all Rove did was to acknowledge off-handedly to two reporters that he'd heard that Wilson's wife, whose name he didn't know, was a CIA employee. And the two reporters were more likely to agree with Wilson about the war in Iraq than with the Bush administration. The conspiracy charge, the Post rightly concluded, was "untrue."
A few diehards in the media have tried to keep the conspiracy notion alive. Michael Isikoff of Newsweek asserts that what Armitage did and what Rove did were separate, and thus a White House smear campaign could still have gone on. Yes, but it didn't. Jeff Greenfield of CNN recalled a Post story in September 2003 that said "two top White House officials" had contacted six reporters "and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife." But the Post itself has in effect repudiated this dubious story.
What's left to do? Fitzgerald, in decency, should terminate his probe immediately. And he should abandon the perjury prosecution of Libby, the former Cheney aide. Libby's foggy memory was no worse than that of Armitage, who forgot for two years to tell Fitzgerald he'd talked to the Post's Woodward but isn't being prosecuted. Last but not least, a few apologies are called for, notably by Powell and Armitage, but also by the press. A correction -- perhaps the longest and most overdue in the history of journalism -- is in order.
END of Excerpt
For the editorial in its entirety in the September 11 edition: www.weeklystandard.com
For the remainder of the article: www.nytimes.com
On Friday night, MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Joe Scarborough featured opposite takes on a Friday Washington Post editorial (see item #3 above) proclaiming that the recent revelation that former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was the original leaker of Valerie Plame's identity discredits Joe Wilson's accusations about a White House conspiracy to punish him by ruining his wife's career. On his Countdown show, Olbermann slammed the Washington Post for its "startling conclusions" and attacked the logic of the Post's reasoning. On Scarborough Country, Scarborough hit the New York Times and other media, including "left-leaning TV hosts," for not following the Post's lead and correcting its "character assassination" of the Bush team. Scarborough also delved into the inaccuracy of some of Wilson's claims about his trip to Niger and whether it really contradicted Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium. And while Scarborough presented some balance on his show by allowing one of his two guests to defend Wilson (Rachel Sklar after Wilson critic Christopher Hitchens), Olbermann followed his normal routine of choosing guests who will bolster his anti-Bush views, this time in the form of Wilson/Plame attorney Melanie Sloan.
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After referring to the Washington Post's "curious conclusion" during his Countdown show's teaser, Olbermann, who has in the past referred to Wilson and other administration critics as "whistleblowers," later plugged the segment by referring back to the "good times" when the Post supported government employees who "dared to reveal important information."
Olbermann: "Remember when the Washington Post used to support government employees who dared to reveal important information? Ah, good times."
As he introduced the segment, the Countdown host labeled as "startling" the Post editorial's conclusions that the charge of an "orchestrated leak" of Valerie Plame's identity was untrue, and that Wilson was himself responsible for his wife's identity being leaked by drawing attention to himself and attracting scrutiny.
Olbermann quoted the Post's conclusions and mocked the reasoning behind them: "Today, the Washington Post editorial page draws two startling conclusions from this. One, 'It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue.' If you took Logic 101, you'd know it not only does not follow, it doesn't even hang out with. Armitage's supposed inadvertance might send the orchestra home, but it has no impact on the obvious opportunity the White House seized to discredit Wilson via his wife. But even more shocking, perhaps, the Post's second conclusion the real person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson, not even Dennis the Menace's neighbor, that would have made more sense, Joe Wilson."
Olbermann soon brought aboard the attorney of Wilson and Plame, Melanie Sloan, for a one-sided interview to argue that the editorial was "completely inaccurate" as she defended Wilson and Plame.
By contrast, Scarborough admonished the media and "left-leaning TV hosts" for their "character assassination of messieurs Bush, Rove and Cheney," and pointed out that the New York Times had run "39 front-page stories [on the Plame leak] that are false and zero front-page stories that clarify the situation."
Scarborough's segment gave the bulk of its time to Wilson critic Christopher Hitchens of Vanity Fair to make the case against Wilson, although Scarborough did leave some time for the Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar, who was held over from an earlier segment on a controversial movie depicting Bush's assassination, to make an anti-Bush, pro-Wilson argument.
Scarborough and Hitchens also delved into the inaccuracy of some of Wilson's claims about his trip to Niger and whether it really contradicted Bush's State of the Union claims about Iraq's efforts to acquire uranium.
For a complete transcript of the segments from the September 1 Countdown and Scarborough Country, go to the NewsBusters version of this item linked above.
The Washington Post is at it yet again. Almost a month after Senator George Allen said "Macaca," it was back on the top of the front page of the Metro section again Sunday, with another happy-days-for-Democrats headline: "'Macaca Moment' Marks a Shift in Momentum: Allen's Gaffe, Demographic Changes Give Webb a Boost." Reporter Michael D. Shear is clearly dedicated to making this nonsense word into the defining moment of Sen. Allen's entire political career: "Allen's 'macaca moment' -- a term that has rapidly become part of America's political lexicon -- has breathed new life into Webb, a former Republican and Vietnam war hero who worked for Ronald Reagan."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Forget the macaca "moment" -- the Post has tried to turn this into Macaca Month. Inside the Metro section, the headline was "Allen's Slip May Have Improved Webb's Chances." Before the jump, Shear brought in political prognosticator Stuart Rothenberg:
Once you get past the early happy talk on the front page (and face it, some readers jump off right there), Shear presented a more conventional article including Allen's advantages of money and incumbency, as well as how it may be problem that Webb is not a "fiery antiwar activist" like Ned Lamont in Connecticut. (As always, the Post seems allergic to identify the Ned Lamonts of the world as "liberals.") But some of the recent campaign happenings get skipped over. While the Post has a photo inside of Webb campaigning at Robinson High School in Fairfax County Saturday, Shear omitted what delighted the liberal blog Not Larry Sabato, ( notlarrysabato.typepad.com ) Webb's crack about Allen's lack of Vietnam service:
Shear apparently doesn't find it newsworthy that the Party of Draft-Dodging Bill Clinton feels free to knock Allen's lack of service. (Webb was born in 1946, like Clinton. Allen was born in 1952.)
For the September 3 Washington Post story: www.washingtonpost.com
The video will only remain on the MRC home page until a little after 9am EDT on Tuesday, when it will be added to the posted version of this item, but in the meantime to watch it go to the NewsBusters node for it where you can play a Real or Windows Media video, as well as MP3 audio clip: newsbusters.org
Web page about the song, with the accurate lyrics: www.blueridgeinstitute.org
-- Brent Baker