Mag Editor: Media "Want Kerry to Win," Cover: "Sunshine Boys" --7/12/2004
2. Stahl Gushes and Giggles with the Kerry and Edwards Couples
3. Carlson Equates Goldberg's Sexual Crudity with Limbaugh's Quips
4. Olbermann and
NY Times Praise FNC-Bashing "Outfoxed" Film
Recognition of the obvious. The media "wants Kerry to win" and so "they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic" and "there's going to be this glow about" them, Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, "The Sunshine Boys?" Inside, an article carrying Thomas' byline contrasted how "Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine." The cover story touted how Kerry and Edwards "became a buddy-buddy act, hugging and whispering like Starsky and Hutch after consuming the evidence."
Newsweek's competitor, Time, also gushed about the Democratic ticket, dubbing them, in the headline over their story, "The Gleam Team."
Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz also realized the media's championing of the Democratic ticket and made it a focus of his Sunday Reliable Sources show on CNN. The on screen topic cues: "Edwards Lovefest?" and "Media's Dream Team."
Kurtz's Washington Post on Sunday well illustrated the media's infatuation with Kerry and Edwards. "Kerry Vows to Restore 'Truth' to Presidency," announced a July 11 front page headline. Inside, on page A-8, a headline declared: "Kerry, Edwards Revel in Brotherhood of Campaign." The subhead: "Energy, Enthusiasm Infectious as Democrats Take Message to Battleground States."
For the front page story by Jim VandeHei and Dan Balz: www.washingtonpost.com
The week's Newsweek, dated July 19, certainly backs up Thomas' contention. Over a smiling picture on the cover of Kerry and Edwards, Newsweek ever hopefully asks: "The Sunshine Boys?" To see the cover: www.msnbc.msn.com
Inside, at least in the Web-posted version, the headline reads: "Warming Up Kerry." The subhead: "Blue skies: Their energy was infectious, but their numbers barely moved. Can Kerry-Edwards convert smiles into votes against Team Bush? Game on." Howard Fineman and Richard Wolffe asserted at one point:
Whatever that means.
For the article in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
"The Boyish Wonder" is the headline over a story on which Thomas shared a byline with Susannah Meadows and Arian Campo-Flores. The subhead: "Happy warrior: He was no superstar. But John Edwards's determination and ability to read the defense took him to the top." The trio began the laudatory piece:
For the second Newsweek story in full: www.msnbc.msn.com
CBS's Lesley Stahl seemed as enthusiastic on Sunday's 60 Minutes for the Kerry/Edwards ticket as were Teresa and John Kerry and Elizabeth and John Edwards as the two couples and Stahl all giggled and laughed about how well everyone was getting along. Stahl prompted them to explain what they were laughing about as they campaigned together and posed such tough questions as: "How, do you think, the honeymoon is going?" Mrs. Edwards snickered: "I think we need to start looking for Silver Anniversary gifts. This is a marriage that's working."
Stahl began her session with John Kerry and John Edwards, which was taped on Saturday in North Carolina, by enthusing to Kerry about how "you seem so pumped up since you chose Senator Edwards as your running mate. You're looser. Do you think that his energy is rubbing off on you?"
Later, when the wives joined their husbands, Stahl cued up this toughie for Mrs. Kerry: "Teresa, I want to ask you something that's a little delicate. How do you take all of the jokes about Senator Kerry's charisma or, as they say, lack of it?"
In between, while she did bring up the Bush/Cheney charge that Edwards is inexperienced and that Kerry is a flip-flopper, she gave the duo plenty of time to turn the tables on Bush and she soon chose a liberal issue to press, trying three times to get Kerry to concede that his vote for the Iraq war was a "mistake."
Not once did Stahl broach the ideology of the two candidates, an omission impossible to imagine in any interview with a Republican ticket.
But Stahl did raise the far-left Ron Reagan Jr. as some kind of authoritative moral figure as she cued up Kerry and Edwards with his attack on President Bush: "Ron Reagan Jr. was very critical of President Bush invoking religion when it comes to policy, particularly in the war in Iraq. He said something like he felt that Bush was justifying the war in Iraq by citing God. And he said that is what Osama bin Laden does and he said that there's no place for that. What do you think of that?"
Kerry replied: "Abraham Lincoln wisely avoided trying to invoke God on the side of the North or assist the South, but prayed that he was on God's side. I think that that's the lesson that John and I would bring to this. We are both people of deep faith."
On the question of Edwards' experience level, Kerry retorted: "I've seen people be President. I've worked with Presidents. I understand talent and ability. I also know that this man is eight years older than Jack Kennedy was when he became President of the United States. He is more qualified, more prepared in national affairs and national issues than George Bush was when he became President. He is ready. And I chose him because he's ready."
On whether Kerry is a flip-flopper, Edwards offered this non-sequitur: "A flip-flopper? You gotta be kidding me. I mean, a guy who put his life on the line for the men who served with him in Vietnam every day? Ask them what he's made of. Ask them what kind of backbone and courage he has."
After Mrs. Kerry "sang" some "getting to know you" lyrics and proclaimed that everyone was laughing along the campaign trail, Stahl responded: "She makes it sound like they're on a double date -- not in the midst of a campaign where charges and counter-charges are flying back and forth every day. One of the Republican attack lines is that you all are all mega-millionaires who are running on economic populism."
John Kerry fired back: "Is this coming from millionaire George Bush? And millionaire Dick Cheney? And millionaire Rumsfeld? And all the rest. This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard in my life." Teresa Kerry, who inherited much of her wealth, argued: "I find it un-American for people to criticize someone and say they're not deserved for any position whether because they have too much or too little, or because they're black or they're white. That's un-American."
Without any retort from Stahl, Elizabeth Edwards trumpeted: "I just want to say one thing and this is that these two men voted against tax cuts that would have benefited them. Isn't that what we want? A leader who looks at the greater good instead of what simply what benefits the people himself, or the people in his own class for their donors or whatever else you're looking at? These men did what was right for all Americans and it seems to me that's an enormous test of character -- whether you're willing to step out and do something against your own self interest."
Stahl ended with the above-quoted question to Mrs. Kerry: "Teresa, I want to ask you something that's a little delicate. How do you take all of the jokes about Senator Kerry's charisma or, as they say, lack of it." Elizabeth Edwards responded that "he had enough charisma to get this incredible woman to marry him, so he can't be completely out of charisma."
John Kerry got the last word: "I don't worry about it very much. I don't really worry about it. You know, I remember when people wrote about John Kerry's charisma. I mean, I got elected four times. I won the nomination."
Stahl chimed in: "So there, right?" Kerry echoed her: "So there."
CBSNews.com has posted video clips of the interview and a rough transcript which has most of what the four interviewees said, but virtually none of what Stahl said: www.cbsnews.com
Rush Limbaugh just as awful as Whoopi Goldberg? Time magazine veteran Margaret Carlson, on CNN's Capital Gang on Saturday night, equated the vulgar sexual crudity of Whoopi Goldberg and the hateful anti-Bush invective of other performers at a Thursday fundraiser for the Kerry/Edwards campaign, with how Rush Limbaugh "calls John Kerry 'a gigolo,' calls Hillary Clinton 'testicle lockbox.'" Carlson complained that Limbaugh "hasn't been repudiated" for saying such "awful things."
Of course, one difference is that ten minutes after Limbaugh gets off the air George W. Bush doesn't praise everything Limbaugh has just said, as Kerry did following the performances at his event when he boasted of how "every performer tonight" has "conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country." That would include Goldberg's references to the President's last name and her "bush," as in urging voters to "keep Bush where it belongs and not in the White House." At the event, John Mellancamp sang of President Bush that "he's just another cheap thug that sacrifices young lives," and Chevy Chase castigated Bush as "venal." Meryl Streep asked: "I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our President's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad?" Paul Newman described Bush's tax cuts as "criminal" and Jessica Lange denounced Bush's "regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence."
I don't recall Limbaugh ever going into crude sexual comments to denounce a liberal and one wonders from where Carlson got her two two-word quotes from Limbaugh and in what context they were made.
On the July 10 Capital Gang the fundariser at Radio City Music Hall came up briefly. Carlson claimed that Kerry didn't even watch the performers as she asserted that "some performers said things that were, that were off-color. Don't need to defend Whoopi Goldberg. I don't like her, in particular, and I don't think what she said -- and I imagine Kerry didn't know what she said. He was probably on the phone somewhere. But you know, Rush Limbaugh says things that -- Dick Cheney goes on that program -- that I don't think Republicans subscribe to. He calls John Kerry 'a gigolo,' calls Hillary Clinton 'testicle lockbox,' I mean, awful things, and hasn't been repudiated. But if I were Kerry, I would have repudiated Whoopi Goldberg's remarks, but I don't think their values are bad because of it."
A Saturday CyberAlert documented coverage of the July 8 Democratic fundraiser:
-- Broadcast network journalists initially didn't see anything newsworthy in the vulgar and hateful anti-Bush remarks made Thursday night by celebrities at a big Radio City Music Hall fundraising event for the Kerry/Edwards campaign, even though Kerry boasted afterward about how "every performer tonight" has "conveyed to you the heart and soul of our country." Despite the fact that the Friday New York Post and New York Times quoted the comments and how while holding a wine bottle Whoopi Goldberg made crude sexual references about the President's last name and her "bush," CBS's Early Show on Friday didn't mention the fundraiser, on ABC's GMA Claire Shipman simply trumpeted how "John Kerry took the stage last night at Radio City Music Hall for a star-studded fundraiser and raised a whopping $7 million," and a full story on NBC's Today managed to avoid mentioning any of the crudity or hate speech. Only after the Bush campaign complained about the "star-studded hate-fest" did the networks catch up in the evening, but some still resisted. "The Note" from the ABC News political unit noticed the media's lack of interest and suggested that if, at a Bush campaign event, a bunch of country singing stars attacked a President in such personal terms "it's pretty likely that the press would be in high dudgeon."
-- CNN's NewsNight on Friday ignored the Kerry fundraiser and the crude and hateful anti-Bush remarks made at it, and anchor Aaron Brown, in his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment, criticized the Washington Times for putting the story on its Saturday front page. But maybe it's Brown's news judgment that should be in question since his favorite newspaper, the New York Times, also put the controversy on its front page on Saturday, "Campaigns Battle on Values and Celebrity Barbs," as did the Washington Post and Boston Globe.
-- A compilation of the anti-Bush tirades and insults made before, during and after the Thursday night Radio City Music Hall fundraiser. Whoopi Goldberg urged voters to "keep Bush where it belongs and not in the White House," John Mellancamp sang of President Bush that "he's just another cheap thug that sacrifices young lives," and Chevy Chase castigated Bush as "venal," admitted he's "frightened by Bush," and insulted Bush: "This guy's as bright as an egg timer." Meryl Streep asked: "I wondered which of the megaton bombs Jesus, our President's personal savior, would have personally dropped on the sleeping families of Baghdad?" Paul Newman described Bush's tax cuts as "criminal" and Jessica Lange denounced Bush's "regime of deceit, hypocrisy and belligerence."
For all three items, plus one more on Kerry versus Bush poll coverage, scroll back to late Saturday afternoon in your in-box, or go to: www.mediaresearch.org
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and the New York Times jumped to promote a new left-wing film, "Outfoxed," which bashes the Fox News Channel and it owner, Rupert Murdoch. Olbermann brought aboard his Friday show the filmmaker, Robert Greenwald, and Olbermann proceeded to highlight how a dying British playwright once suggested his last wish would be to kill Murdoch and then Olbermann, who never seems to last very long in any job as he bounces amongst the TV networks (from ESPN to MSNBC to CNN to Fox Sports back to CNN and back again to MSNBC), complained that Murdoch fired him from Fox Sports because he had reported something Murdoch didn't want disclosed. Greenwald insisted people are "afraid" to cross Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes since "Roger Ailes is Tony Soprano." Then on Sunday, the New York Times Magazine featured a laudatory lead story on Greenwald's effort, though the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz found the film packed with distortions.
While the writer of the Times magazine piece treated the straight-to-DVD movie to be released this week as an expose of the terrible right-wing and Republican agenda of the Fox News Channel, the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz found that the film lacks any balance. "'Outfoxed' Attacks Conservative Bias with Liberal Bias," read the jump-page headline to Kurtz's July 11 story. Kurtz maintained: "But Greenwald, whose last movie was 'Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the Iraq War,' makes no effort at fairness or balance himself. Not only did he avoid contacting Fox, and indulge in some misleading editing, but the film also features a parade of the network's liberal detractors -- including Al Franken, Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders, the group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and out-of-the-closet liberal columnist Walter Cronkite."
Times writer Boynton, who is Director of the graduate magazine journalism program at New York University, admiringly conveyed in his July 11 article: "The film is an obsessively researched expose of the ways in which Fox News, as Greenwald sees it, distorts its coverage to serve the conservative political agenda of its owner, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. It features interviews with former Fox employees, leaked policy memos written by Fox executives and extensive footage from Fox News, which Greenwald is using without the network's permission. The result is an unwavering argument against Fox News that combines the leftist partisan vigor of a Michael Moore film with the sober tone and delivery of a PBS special. A large portion of the film's $300,000 budget came in the form of contributions in the range of $80,000 from both MoveOn and the Center for American Progress, the liberal policy organization founded by John Podesta, the former chief of staff for Bill Clinton; Greenwald, who is not looking to earn any money from the project, provided the rest."
Boynton found the film convincing: "It is not exactly earth-shattering, of course, to learn that Fox is more conservative than other news networks. What Outfoxed does is detail the specific ways, both onscreen and behind the scenes, in which the network's conservatism shapes its news and opinion programs. The most stinging blow that Outfoxed delivers to Fox's 'fair and balanced' claim comes in a segment of the film on the daily memos apparently sent to the entire Fox news operation by John Moody, Fox News's senior vice president for news and editorial. The memos, which Greenwald says were provided by two unnamed employees at the network, set the agenda for how events will be covered. One memo, thought to have been circulated at Fox in April, instructs employees how to report on the increasing number of American fatalities in Iraq: 'Do not fall into the easy trap of mourning the loss of U.S. lives,' it reads. Another memo outlines the approach to covering the United States military's siege on Falluja: 'It won't be long before some people start to decry the use of 'excessive force,' it says. 'We won't be among that group.' A third, on the 9/11 Commission, is equally firm: 'The fact that former Clinton and both former and current Bush administration officials are testifying gives it a certain tension, but this is not 'what did he know and when did he know it' stuff,' it cautions. 'Do not turn this into Watergate."
They sound to me like reasonable precautions to avoid falling into the liberal bias delivered by all the other networks, something that will never be a subject of a New York Times Magazine story.
For Boynton's article: www.nytimes.com
On the page for the Times Magazine the newspaper has posted this question: "Is Fox News 'fair and balanced'?" As of a few hours ago, after I voted "yes," the results stood at: Yes: 12% No: 88%
That says a lot about the audience for the Times Web site.
For the online poll: www.nytimes.com
Back to Kurtz, his July 11 Post "Style" section article, "Tilting at the Right, Leaning to the Left: Robert Greenwald's 'Outfoxed' Has Its Own Slant on Balance," documented some of Greenwald's distortions. An excerpt:
....The case made by Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes -- that his network covers the other side of arguments often minimized by the liberal news establishment -- is largely dismissed by that establishment. Greenwald, for one, says he doesn't believe the media are liberal....
"Outfoxed" accuses Fox of blurring the line between news coverage and the high-decibel opinions of its commentators and hosts, especially Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity (who each night counts the days "until George W. Bush is reelected"). But the movie follows a similar path, melding rapid-fire clips of anchors with pundits and guests -- who are, after all, booked for their opinions -- to illustrate that Fox takes the Republican side of every issue.
A scene aiming to illustrate that Fox anchors and commentators constantly use "some people say" as a way of injecting an editorial slant includes the phrase being uttered during an interview with Washington Post Managing Editor Steve Coll.
Another montage features the line "Presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry was scaring old people as usual with the predictable Democratic line." That was conservative host Cal Thomas, not an anchor, talking. And when various shows were debating the question of whether John Kerry seems French, John Gibson -- another conservative host -- greeted viewers: "Or as John Kerry would say, bonjour."
But "straight" anchors do it too. Neil Cavuto, Fox's managing editor for business news, who has contributed money to Bush, is shown in the movie saying: "Assuming that the unthinkable happens and Senator Kerry becomes president..."
A former California reporter, Jon DuPre, says in the film: "Any ad-lib that made the Democrats look stupid or made the Republicans look smart would get an 'attaboy,' a pat on the back, a wink and a nod." He says he was suspended because on Ronald Reagan's birthday, "apparently my live shots weren't celebratory enough." Fox says DuPre was never suspended but was transferred for being weak at live coverage.
In a rare rebuttal, Murdoch is seen in the movie saying, "There is diversity of opinion on Fox News. We have many liberals there," naming Alan Colmes and Greta Van Susteren.
Greenwald says he culled the Fox clips from more than eight hours of tapes submitted by 10 volunteers recruited by MoveOn, who found patterns in the network's coverage.
"It's not that they never present the other point of view," Greenwald says of Fox. "It's that they present, a percentage of the time, one point of view." While he considered including some of the non-conservative voices on Fox, he says, "it's a film. At times you make the decision -- that's not so interesting."
Greenwald does highlight instances in which anchors put plenty of topspin on the ball. David Asman, teasing an upcoming segment with the headline "Jobs Killer?," said: "John Kerry's plan to bring millions of jobs back to America, well, someone here says, watch out! Kerry's plan will end up killing more jobs instead."
Still, some of the editing in the movie is questionable. In a montage involving criticism of Kerry's tax policies, political correspondent Carl Cameron is shown saying: "If you want to destroy jobs in this country, you raise taxes." Left on the cutting-room floor is that Cameron was quoting Commerce Secretary Don Evans.
During the debate over former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, a Fox anchor is seen in the movie calling his book "an appalling act of profiteering" -- but he was quoting Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. Fox hosts criticizing Clarke are mixed in with such administration officials as Condoleezza Rice and Scott McClellan, who were saying the same things on other networks. A split-screen debate on Fox between conservative Rich Lowry and liberal Ellen Ratner used only Lowry in the movie....
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's article in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com
Olbermann highlighted, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "I have a piece of tape I want to play, and I don't know if you ever seen this, but there was a great British TV playwright named Dennis Potter, and he had been a great newspaper journalist for a while and worked for Murdoch, and he wrote 'Pennies from Heaven' and 'The Singing Detective,' and a lot of great stuff. And, I guess, 10 years ago, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. They gave him three months to live, and he did this remarkable TV interview with a British arts journalist named Melvin Bragg, and Murdoch's name came up in a startling way. Here's the tape."
Olbermann is every bit as biased as liberals see anyone at FNC.
-- Brent Baker