2. NBC's Williams Ties Bush's "Kenny boy" Nickname and "Handcuffs"
3. In 2000 CBS Pursued Anti-Cheney Agenda, This Year Pro-Kerry One
4. Looking at Edwards' Qualifications, NBC Shows Bush Flubbing Quiz
5. "John-John" Democratic "Dream Team" Warm Enough to Melt Cameras
6. Couric Pleads with McCain to Accept Offer to Replace Cheney
7. New CNBC Host John McEnroe Tells Conan O'Brien that "Bush Sucks"
8. Pro-U.S. Intervention in Iraq Episode of
JAG to Re-Run on CBS
ABC anchor Ted Koppel added a nefarious twist in reporting on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge's warning that al-Qaeda plans an attack in the U.S. soon to impact the democratic process. The warning led all three broadcast network evening newscasts on Thursday and while CBS anchor John Roberts and NBC anchor Brian Williams played it straight, Koppel stressed how there was "no information on what to expect, precisely where, when or how" and relayed the lack of a change to the threat level "led some critics to wonder out loud why the warning was being issued in the first place. Is the government simply trying to reassure the public that it's on the case or," Koppel asked in implying a larger political agenda to scare the public, "does the information actually serve a greater purpose?"
Koppel's introduction, in full, to the lead story on the July 8 World News Tonight which he anchored from Washington, DC:
In the subsequent story, Pierre Thomas passed along how "Democrats won't say it publicly, but some are suspicious that today's announcement might be politically motivated. Ridge said any such suggestion is ridiculous."
CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts conveyed the same criticism, but without the villainous tone of Koppel:
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams announced at the top of his newscast: "In just a few weeks, big arenas in two big American cities will be filled to capacity with the faithful as the political conventions come to order in New York and Boston. They are meant to be seen and heard as showcases for the men who would be President. But federal officials admitted publicly today they are worried al-Qaeda may see them as big attractive targets among others for a summer attack on the United States. We begin tonight with NBC's Pete Williams at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington for us tonight."
NBC anchor Brian Williams on Thursday night decided to put George W. Bush's "Kenny boy" nickname for Ken Lay and "handcuffs" into the same sentence as he linked the two in announcing that "Ken Lay, the man President Bush used to call 'Kenny boy,' was led away in handcuffs, indicted on a slew of charges, eleven in all including fraud."
Williams set up a July 8 Nightly News story: "Now to the corporate tragedy known as Enron. The sign outside its gleaming headquarters has long since been auctioned off. The money lost by investors is long gone. Today the Chairman and CEO, Ken Lay, the man President Bush used to call 'Kenny boy,' was led away in handcuffs, indicted on a slew of charges, eleven in all including fraud."
On the third night after George W. Bush picked Dick Cheney as his running mate, the CBS Evening News pursued the Al Gore campaign's agenda by trying to prove that Cheney's "rigid conservative" congressional votes "show he's too outside the American mainstream for voters in the year 2000." Four years later, however, on the third night after John Kerry picked John Edwards, the same newscast was not interested in whether Edwards' liberal views might turn off some voters. Instead, on Thursday night they pursued Kerry's agenda as Byron Pitts highlighted supposed "irregularities" in Florida's voting system which hurt minorities.
Pitts pegged his story to Kerry's cry at a rally: "We're sending Jack and Emma Claire down here to help those Republicans in West Palm Beach count those votes. In 2004 not only does every vote in Florida count, but every vote is going to be counted."
Pitts, naturally, didn't bother to point out that Democratic officials controlled the counties in 2000, and still do today, where the worst vote-counting problems occurred.
At one point, Pitts sounded like Kerry's warm-up act: "Election irregularities, the economy and health care are all issues Team Kerry believes will work in their favor in Florida. But the gas that still burns best here: The 2000 recount."
A reprint of a July 28, 2000 CyberAlert item about the Thursday, July 27, 2000 CBS Evening News:
For the fourth straight weeknight the CBS Evening News on Thursday night dedicated a story to rebuking Dick Cheney's House votes, this time referred to as his "rock solid conservative record" and "rigid conservative votes." After Dan Rather questioned whether Cheney is "too outside the American mainstream," reporter Bill Whitaker raised the usual litany of votes against abortion and the ERA, but added a fresh citation of how he "opposed funding for the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts."
Rather opened the July 27 broadcast: "Good evening. Sharp turns and even sharper questions today for the George Bush-Dick Cheney Republican ticket. They faced more questions about their ties to big oil in Texas and Cheney's voting record on key issues during his time in Congress."
Though CBS has been citing them all week, Dan Rather bizarrely introduced the subsequent hit piece by claiming Cheney's votes are "prompting new questions." Rather's intro in full: "Past votes in Congress are prompting new questions about Dick Cheney and whether, as some say, they show he's too outside the American mainstream for voters in the year 2000. CBS's Bill Whitaker has the latest on Bush-Cheney playing offense and defense."
Whitaker gave a lot more time to the Democratic offense against Bush-Cheney than to their defense. Whitaker began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "The Bush campaign expected the new team to be hailed as rock solid and competent. Instead they're dodging a hail of criticism over Dick Cheney's rock solid conservative record."
Of course the media and Whitaker are willing accomplices which have and are creating the reality of the "hail of criticism" by turning liberal opposition research into news stories.
Whitaker continued: "On the CBS Early Show, the VP-select defended his rigid conservative votes as Wyoming's Congressman in the eighties as appropriate to the era of Cold War and budget deficits."
Dick Cheney: "I think you've got to look at decisions based upon the time at which they occurred. I'm happy to talk about basic fundamental principles. I think those have been generally consistent over time."
Whitaker then ran through the same old Gore/Democratic talking points: "It's not his principles but his votes the campaign is being forced to defend. Congressman Cheney consistently voted against abortion rights and the Equal Rights Amendment. Against gun control, even of so-called 'cop killer' armor piercing bullets, or plastic guns that escape metal detectors. He opposed funding for the Clean Water and Endangered Species acts, voted against South Africa's sanctions, even a resolution urging the release of Nelson Mandela. He voted against Head Start, a program Bush now praises."
Dick Cheney, on Wednesday: "I'm sure if I were to go back and look at individual votes, I could probably find some that I might tweak and do a bit differently."
Jesse Jackson: "According to Business Week, the record of Dick Cheney rivals that of Jesse Helms."
Whitaker then gave a few seconds to the Bush-Cheney counterattack: "But Republicans say Democrats who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones and point to Al Gore's voting record in the eighties when he too voted against abortion rights and gun control."
George W. Bush: "Secretary Cheney brought people together and helped win a war. My opponent is somebody who's tearing down and dividing people to create political war."
Whitaker concluded: "The Bush camp launched a counteroffensive defending Cheney, but one staffer said today they have to remind voters the campaign ultimately is not about Cheney but Bush."
END Reprint of previous CyberAlert article
But this year, on the third night after a presidential nominee named his VP choice, CBS decided to promote the agenda of the ticket, not try to discredit it.
Anchor John Roberts set up the July 8 story: "The Democratic ticket of Kerry and Edwards campaigned in the battleground state of Florida today. They vowed that the vote count nightmare there in the last presidential election will not be repeated. But are election irregularities a thing of the past in Florida? Byron Pitts gives you the 'Inside Story.'"
Pitts, in Florida, began: "The so-called Democratic dream team moved through Florida today, but the energy here had an edge to it. Every joke was a jab."
NBC looked Thursday night at how the Kerry campaign is fighting back against the charge that John Edwards is too inexperienced to be Vice President. Reporter Kelly O'Donnell failed to cite any specific examples of Edwards' lack of knowledge, even though during a Democratic primary debate he clearly showed he had no understanding of the Defense of Marriage Act, but she did take the opportunity to play Senator Orrin Hatch's 1999 questioning of George W. Bush's qualifications and to regurgitate "a much-talked about reporter's pop quiz" put to Bush in 1999: "Can you name the President of Chechnya?" Bush: "No. Can you?"
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams introduced the July 8 story which was more of a defense of Edwards than an indictment of him: "When John Kerry picked John Edwards to be his running mate, it took no time at all before Republicans started asking, 'How could this one-term Senator from North Carolina ever be one step away from the presidency?' As NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports tonight, the counterattack is just beginning."
O'Donnell began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Today in Florida, more public bonding [Kerry and Edwards hugging], and more push-back, on the charge that John Edwards, who has held only one public office, may not be qualified for the nation's number two job. Today, it was clear John Kerry has heard the critics."
Gushing over the Kerry/Edwards photo-op of hand-holding and back-slaps amongst their families Wednesday morning on the lawn of Teresa Heinz Kerry's Pennsylvania estate. On CBS's Early Show on Thursday, Thalia Assuras oozed about "a warm family photo of the Kerry/Edwards clans that seemed capable of melting the camera lenses." CBS's Hannah Storm enthused about "the Democrats' dream team." Over on ABC's Good Morning America, Claire Shipman admiringly referred to "the John-John ticket."
Assuras asserted, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, on the July 8 Early Show: "It was a perfect portrait -- smiles all around, hugs and handholding. A warm family photo of the Kerry/Edwards clans that seemed capable of melting the camera lenses."
Hannah Storm introduced a story on their unveiling by adopting the Democratic claim of a "dream team" as a fact: "The Democrats' dream team of John Kerry and John Edwards hits the campaign trail today after facing the first blows in the race for President."
Shipman announced at the top of GMA, the MRC's Jessica Anderson observed: "And in politics, the Kerry-Edwards team campaigning hard, Republicans on the attack. We'll examine this new family portrait, the John-John ticket and the image they want voters to see."
Having failed to convince John McCain to become John Kerry's running mate, on Thursday morning Today's Katie Couric prodded him to accept an offer to replace Dick Cheney. McCain's friends in the media really are determined to see him have more influence over national policy.
During the July 8 interview to discuss the presidential campaign, Couric, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, pressed McCain about replacing Cheney on the GOP ticket: "It seems that there's another rumor about you Senator McCain, circulating around Washington, and that is the possibility that President Bush may drop Dick Cheney from the ticket and in fact ask you if you would be the vice presidential candidate. I know he asked you in 2000. Alfonse D'Amato one of your former Senate colleagues said on Wednesday he, that President Bush could guarantee his re-election if he did that. If he dumped Vice President Cheney in favor of Secretary of State Colin Powell or you. Mr. Cheney is experiencing some negative numbers in the poll, polls, rather. What do you think of that notion? Of, of George Bush picking you?"
When McCain rejected the notion that Bush would dump Cheney, Couric pleaded: "But if he, if he rang you up and said, 'Senator McCain will you join me on the ticket?' you would say?"
McCain demurred again.
"Bush sucks," former tennis star turned CNBC prime time host John McEnroe declared on Thursday's Late Night with Conan O'Brien, a day after he revealed on Wednesday's Today that he recently "registered as a Democrat" because "change has to come."
For his comments on Today, see the July 8 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
This exchange took place on the July 8 Late Night with Conan O'Brien, as transcribed by MRC analyst Geoff Dickens:
Conan O'Brien: "You've probably all these years wanted to interject, you know, other thoughts and opinions while you were at Wimbledon doing color commentary but it wasn't appropriate."
McEnroe's show airs on CNBC weeknights at 10pm and 1am EDT.
Tonight, Friday, CBS will re-run the February 6 episode of JAG which delivered a pro-U.S. intervention in Iraq message in a story line which revolved around a case in which the U.S. was hauled before the International Criminal Court to answer charges about killing innocent civilians in Iraq.
As summarized in the February 10 CyberAlert, a soldier decides that after he saw how Saddam Hussein treated the Iraqi people he realized that he had an "obligation" to be there. The Secretary of the Navy proclaims in court that "ever since our founding America has been the symbol of hope for the world" and "when we fight we don't fight for land or oil or money or to impose our will. We take up arms against violent men who threaten our freedom and the freedom of others."
For a full rundown of the relevant dialogue, which includes a few shots at the French for being unappreciative of U.S. help over the years: www.mediaresearch.org
# Sunday's 60 Minutes will feature a Lesley Stahl interview of John Kerry and John Edwards as well as their wives. The CBS News page plugging the July 11 broadcast: www.cbsnews.com
-- Brent Baker