2. Reminds Olbermann of How U.S. Fled Vietnam in Helicopters
3. Stress Bush's Low Approval, Bury Bush Rebound Against Kerry
4. 60 Minutes Plugs Moore's Film with Excerpt of Classroom Scene
Good riddance to Paul Bremer. From Baghdad on Monday's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings asserted that following the turnover of sovereignty in Iraq, "some people will miss" Bremer, the U.S. administrator for the Coalition Provisional Authority, but "many will not." ABC reporter Jim Sciutto soon noted how Bremer "said he was proud of what's been accomplished, but he leaves behind a country with more than 50 percent unemployment and a crumbling infrastructure." As opposed to the great shape in which Saddam Hussein left the nation?
Jennings provided a brief time line rundown of the day's historic events. Over video of Bremer climbing up airplane steps as he prepared to leave Iraq, Jennings intoned: "And then, the man who had controlled Iraq for 14 months, climbed on board a U.S. military transport and headed home. Some people will miss him. Many will not."
In a subsequent story on Iraqi public reaction to the turnover, Sciutto relayed how "what we heard were nearly unanimous expressions of hope." But over video of Bremer on a TV in café, followed by a shot of a big dirty puddle in a broken down street, Sciutto got in a whack at Bremer: "In a farewell address broadcast throughout Iraq, outgoing administrator Paul Bremer said he was proud of what's been accomplished, but he leaves behind a country with more than 50 percent unemployment and a crumbling infrastructure."
The quiet and orderly transfer of authority in Iraq from U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer to Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi reminded MSNBC's Keith Olbermann of...the U.S. pulling out of Vietnam in panic with helicopters taking off packed with fleeing people. On his program Countdown, Olbermann suggested to Washington Post reporter Robin Wright that "the behind-the-doors kind of thing and the immediate exit of Ambassador Bremer today, might look a little like the helicopters taking off out of Vietnam in 1975." Wright rejected the comparison.
Olbermann proposed to Wright, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "If Secretary Rumsfeld could analogize the attacks of the insurgency to the Tet offensive, I guess I can ask this question, tapping into your story in the Post today, does anybody fear that in Iraq, where symbolism is so important or throughout the Middle East where it's so important, that the nature of the handover today, just the behind-the-doors kind of thing and the immediate exit of Ambassador Bremer today, might look a little like the helicopters taking off out of Vietnam in 1975? Would there be Iraqi democrats or Iraqi insurgents who might see it that way?"
Wright, who penned a Monday Washington Post story headlined, "Iraq Occupation Erodes Bush Doctrine," rejected Olbermann's comparison.
Burying the good head-to-head polling news for Bush. "Poll: Bush Running Even With Kerry," announced the headline over an AP story about a new New York Times/CBS News poll which found that since May John Kerry's lead over President Bush had shrunk from 8 points to a statistically even one point edge for Kerry, 45 to 44 percent, with Bush ahead by 43 to 42 percent when Ralph Nader is added. Online, CBSNews.com headlined its article, "Poll: White House Race Tightens Up." But that's not how the New York Times or CBS Evening News played the survey.
The June 29 New York Times headline: "Bush's Rating Falls to Its Lowest Point, New Survey Finds." Up top, Times reporters Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder reported how Bush's approval rating stood at 42 percent. Not until the 11th paragraph did they get to the head-to-head preference numbers.
The dour lead paragraph of the Times story: "President Bush's job approval rating has fallen to the lowest level of his presidency, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. The poll found Americans stiffening their opposition to the Iraq war, worried that the invasion could invite domestic terrorist attacks and skeptical about whether the White House has been fully truthful about the war or about abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison." For the Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
Contrast that with how the AP led its June 28 evening dispatch: "President Bush has pulled back into a tie with Democrat John Kerry in a CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday, apparently boosted by increasing optimism about the economy." For the un-bylined AP article in full: story.news.yahoo.com
On Monday's CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts matched the Times in stressing Bush's low approval rating before getting to the head-to-head numbers. (Note that Roberts labeled Bush's 42 percent approval rating "close to an all-time low" since CBS's May poll had it at 41 percent.)
Roberts relayed on the June 28 newscast: "Most Americans still approve of the President's handling of war on terror, but in a new CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight his overall job approval is 42 percent. That's close to his all-time low. 57 percent say the country is heading in the wrong direction. But that is an eight-point improvement since last month [now at 65 percent.] In the race for the White House, Democrat John Kerry leads President Bush by just one point now among registered voters. Last month Kerry had an eight-point lead."
Back on the Monday night, May 24, CBS Evening News, Dan Rather began the show with Kerry's big lead: "With the election just over five months away, President Bush is trying to stop his major slide in the polls before it's too late. A CBS News poll out tonight finds his job approval rating at an all-time low of 41 percent [52 percent disapprove]. And Democratic challenger John Kerry has now opened an eight-point lead among registered voters. One big reason for the Bush slide, a growing perception that Iraq is out of control and headed in the wrong direction with faulty planning and strategy...."
Online, the CBSNews.com story posted on Monday, "Poll: White House Race Tightens Up," was a lot more upbeat for Bush than was Roberts on air. Its lead:
CBS's 60 Minutes on Sunday promoted Michael Moore's Bush-bashing movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, by airing a nearly minute-long excerpt of one of its most disparaging sequences about President Bush, showing him sitting in the classroom for seven minutes on 9-11. Setting up a re-run of a 2003 profile of Moore, 60 Minutes ran a 55 second excerpt from Moore's new movie, complete with Moore's derogatory narration: "Not knowing what to do, with no one telling him what to do, and no Secret Service rushing in to take him to safety, Mr. Bush just sat there and continued to read My Pet Goat with the children. Nearly seven minutes past with nobody doing anything."
CBS's focus on that sequence matched what ABC did for Moore last week. The June 23 CyberAlert recounted: ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday spent about seven minutes showcasing how Michael Moore's Bush-bashing movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, highlights how after President Bush was informed a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, he stayed in front of elementary school kids for another seven minutes. "Was valuable time wasted?" asked Charlie Gibson at the top of the June 22 show. Diane Sawyer imparted great meaning to the time passage: "It was seven minutes in the life of a President, seven minutes in the history of the nation, it's seven minutes a lot of people are using as a kind of Rorschach test." Following a taped piece by Jake Tapper on the seven minutes showcased by Moore, complete with a clock on screen, George Stephanopoulos told Sawyer that Moore's use of the incident to denigrate and mock Bush was "not fair," but he maintained that "those seven minutes are painful to watch." See: www.mediaresearch.org
(Meanwhile, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, that at least six times on Monday's Today, NBC hosts hyped the box office success of Moore's movie. Campbell Brown trumpeted: "Michael Moore's controversial documentary slamming the Bush administration over Iraq breaks box office records. And we'll have much more on a big weekend for Fahrenheit 9/11." Matt Lauer echoed how "Fahrenheit 9/11 breaks records at the box office.")
Introducing the third segment on Sunday's 60 Minutes, Bob Simon asked: "What will be the biggest summer blockbuster? Too early to say, but we can easily predict the most controversial film. It's called Fahrenheit 9/11. It's the latest movie by professional provocateur Michael Moore and it's a take-no-prisoners indictment of the Bush administration. It won the top award at this Spring's Cannes Film Festival but ran into trouble in the States when the Walt Disney Company refused to release it. It opened this weekend, putting Moore's blistering commentary about President Bush in theaters across the country."
CBS then aired a clip of the movie, with Michael Moore narrating his film, over video of a limo pulling up to a school: "When informed of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, where terrorists had struck just eight years prior, Mr. Bush decided to go ahead with his photo opportunity. [Bush walking into classroom, Bush sitting in classroom] When the second plane hit the tower [plodding piano music starts over video of Card walking up to Bush] his Chief-of-Staff entered the classroom and told Mr. Bush 'the nation is under attack.' [slow piano music continues over video of Bush in chair] Not knowing what to do, with no one telling him what to do, and no Secret Service rushing in to take him to safety, Mr. Bush just sat there and continued to read My Pet Goat with the children. [elapsed time video with time on screen: "9:05," "9:07," "9:09"] Nearly seven minutes past with nobody doing anything [video of Ari Fleischer with "9:11" on screen, back to Bush with "9:12" on screen]."
Back on camera, Simon set up the re-run: "Michael Moore's last film, Bowling for Columbine, won an Oscar for 'Best Documentary.' As we reported last year, Moore's success makes many uncomfortable in these patriotic times, because his films suggest that America is taking a wrong turn. Bowling for Columbine poses a question: Why do so many Americans kill each other with guns?"
For 60 Minutes' online version of the Moore profile re-aired on June 27: www.cbsnews.com
-- Campbell Brown plugging the show: "Plus Michael Moore's controversial documentary slamming the Bush administration over Iraq breaks box office records. And we'll have much more on a big weekend for Fahrenheit 9/11. "
-- Matt Lauer in another plug: "Still ahead on a Monday morning, Michael Moore's controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 breaks records at the box office."
-- Brown: "And Matt also ahead a record breaking weekend for a man very critical of the President's actions in Iraq, Michael Moore. His documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 debuted at the top of the box office this weekend. A first for a documentary. We'll hear from Moore in this half hour."
-- During segment with Newsweek's Howard Fineman about the handover in Iraqi:
-- Another teaser from Brown: "And up next a record breaking weekend for another critic of the war in Iraq, filmmaker Michael Moore. We'll hear what he has to say about the success of Fahrenheit 9/11."
-- Finally, the promised piece on Moore. Lauer: "Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 is red hot at the box office, taking in nearly $22 million in its opening weekends. The question remains whether Moore's movie will influence anyone come November. Here's NBC's Mark Mullen."
Today didn't let anything dampen its parade for Moore. But on MSNBC's Countdown on Monday night, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, after Keith Olbermann relayed the box office numbers, former Democratic Senate staffer Lawrence O'Donnell, who has served as a consultant and actor (as President Bartlet's father) on The West Wing and who is now a regular on the McLaughlin Group, inserted a little perspective on the numbers:
-- Brent Baker