2. Stephanopoulos Defends Muslim Exclusion as Response to Smears
3. NBC's Today Features NYT Columnist Pushing $1 a Gallon Gas Tax
4. NY Times: Dishonest Swift Boat Vet Charges 'Undermined' in 2004
5. NBC News President Capus: Olbermann 'Speaks Truth to Power'
6. Join Limbaugh and Bozell in Thursday 'Web-A-Thon' for Troops
7. 'Top Ten Things Overheard on Clinton's First Day Back at Work'
On Tuesday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer confronted Dick Morris about anti-Obama rhetoric in his new book as the Today co-host seemed disturbed by the political consultant's use of terms like "dangerously radical" to describe the Democratic presidential nominee. Lauer asked Morris if he was "fearmongering," and probed: "Are you trying to scare people here?" Lauer then echoed an Obama campaign theme as he pondered that a lot of the "enthusiasm" for Obama is because "he's telling people he's gonna move away from exactly that kind of politics."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The following is the full interview as it occurred on the Tuesday, June 24 Today show on NBC:
MATT LAUER: Dick Morris is a veteran political warrior. The former Clinton aide turned Clinton nemesis, is out with a new book with the longest title we have ever seen. It's called, Fleeced: How Barack Obama, Media Mockery of Terrorist Threats, Liberals Who Want to Kill Talk Radio, The Do-Nothing Congress, Companies That Help Iran, And Washington Lobbyists For Foreign Governments Are Scamming Us...And What To Do About It. Phew! Dick Morris, good morning. That's a mouthful.
Former top Democratic aide-turned ABC journalist George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday spun Barack Obama's repeated exclusions of Muslims as a way to "combat this issue" that he is a follower of Islam. Reacting to a question by Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts about Muslim voters feeling snubbed by the Democratic presidential candidate, Stephanopoulos admitted that the campaign is distancing itself from anything Islamic.
He then justified the maneuver: "What the Obama campaign makes no apologies for, though, is trying to combat this issue that's really running around e-mail chains all across the country that Barack Obama is a Muslim. He is not." Stephanopoulos continued: "And they feel that they have to take every possible step they can to combat these rumors." In other words, the fact that the Obama campaign excluded two Muslim women from a campaign rally last week is an understandable reaction for someone trying to "combat rumors?"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Stephanopoulos and Roberts actually minimized the extent that Obama has attempted to separate himself from anything related to Islam. While Roberts referenced the June 24 piece in the New York Times on the subject, neither journalist mentioned that the only Muslim member of Congress said in the Times piece that he experienced a similar example of rejection back in December of 2007. (Representative Keith Ellison claims that he offered to speak on behalf of Obama at a Mosque in Iowa, but was rebuffed by the campaign.) See the New York Times article: www.nytimes.com
Instead, Stephanopoulos spent more time focusing on how Obama will combat future appeals to racism by the GOP: "Senator Obama will shine a light on [racially tinged appeals] all the time, call out Republicans whenever he senses they're playing the race card."
Finally, Roberts appeared to channel the conspiracy theories of Keith Olbermann in her opening question. She speculated on comments by top John McCain aide Charlie Black that a terrorist attack would help the Republican's campaign, wondering if the statement was part of some sort of good cop/bad cop routine: "Almost immediately, we had apologies from McCain and Charlie Black, but is this the kind of thing that a campaign puts out there on purpose and then retracts?" This was too much for even Stephanopoulos. He retorted, "Oh, no way. Not on this one, Robin."
A transcript of the June 24 segment, which aired at 7:07am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: And now for the bottom line, we go to Washington and talk with our chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. All right, George. Almost immediately, we had apologies from McCain and Charlie Black, but is this the kind of thing that a campaign puts out there on purpose and then retracts?
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Oh, no way. Not on this one, Robin. In fact, the McCain campaign is tearing their hair out over this this morning. Now, it is true, as Jake pointed out in his piece, that the fight against al Qaeda is one of the clearer issues where John McCain has an advantage, a clear advantage over, over Senator Obama. But a lot of observers, Democrats and Republicans alike, agree that a terrorist attack could end up benefiting John McCain. But this is the kind of thing you just can't say. It's too crude. It's too insensitive, and the bigger problem for the McCain campaign right now is that they can't seem to avoid what one aide called these unforced errors. They were trying to drive home a message on energy policy yesterday. This got in the way. This clouded it. They're trying to tighten control of the message to stop these unforced errors but they haven't been able to do it yet.
NBC's Today show handed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman a platform, on Tuesday's show, to rail against President Bush's "incoherent mess" of an energy policy, and demand a $1 per gallon gas tax, as well as a $4.50 price floor on gas. Today co-host Meredith Vieira spurred on Friedman as she recited the most inflammatory passages from his Sunday column: "Well in this column on Sunday, you don't hold back. You refer to the President as our 'addict-in-chief.' You say his energy plan is, 'Get more addicted to oil.' You go on to say: 'It is hard for me to find the words to express what a massive, fraudulent, pathetic excuse for an energy policy this is.' What is it, Tom that, you find so offensive in his energy plan?"
Friedman answered: "What is his energy plan? Let's remember, Meredith, that on the morning of 9/12, right after 9/11, gasoline in this country was $1.60 a gallon, between $1.60 and $1.80. A lot of people like myself, at the time, said we need to have a gasoline tax, a $1.00 gallon phased in over a year, year-and-a-half that will stimulate the kind of innovation and investment in alternatives so we won't be dependent on people who have drawn a bull's eye on our back. What did the President do? He told us to go shopping. So, we basically have an energy policy that Gal Luft has described, I think very accurately as the 'sum of all lobbies.' The ethanol lobby is strong, let's do a little ethanol! The coal lobby is strong, don't want to have a carbon tax. So it's actually a complete, incoherent mess. That has resulted where we are."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org]
The following is the full interview as it occurred on the June 24 Today show:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: So is America addicted to foreign oil? "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman says the answer is definitely yes. And in his column on Sunday, he put much of the blame on President Bush. He is also writing about energy policy in his upcoming book Hot, Flat, and Crowded due out in September. Thomas Friedman, good morning to you.
[On screen headline: "'Addict-In-Chief,' Friedman Blasts Bush On Oil."]
THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Good morning.
New York Times reporter Kate Zernike again portrayed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth as sleazy liars: "Extensive news media accounts undermined the Swift boat charges in 2004." Sunday's Times featured a Vietnam flashback, not to 1969, but 2004, as Zernike once again reported for duty in defense of John Kerry in the former presidential candidate's Ahab-like quest for revenge against the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, whose questioning of his Vietnam War citations wounded him in the 2004 campaign.
The background: Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens issued a challenge last November -- $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Sen. John Kerry. A group of Kerry's crewmates from Vietnam have sent a package to Pickens (and apparently to certain media outlets as well) that includes a 12-page letter and a 42-page attachment of Kerry's Navy records.
Zernike wrote it up as "Veterans Rebut Swift Boat Charges Against Kerry -- Say Their Service Was 'Tarnished.'" Neither Zernike nor any other media outlet have so far named those veterans or provide any other details as to the contents of the package.
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
In the past, Zernike has fought alongside Kerry against the Swift Boat Vets, and her Sunday piece was of the same caliber, portraying Kerry's Vietnam-era allies as a loyal Band of Brothers and his (more numerous) Vietnam-era opponents as sleazy liars whose charges have been "undermined." Previous TimesWatch look at a 2006 Zernike story: www.timeswatch.org
An excerpt from Zernike's June 22 story:
For most people, "Swift boat" has become a political verb, a synonym for the kind of attack that helped destroy the presidential campaign of Senator John Kerry in 2004.
But for a group of Vietnam veterans at the center of the attacks, it is still a fresh fight.
On Friday, the group, who served with Mr. Kerry in Vietnam, sent a letter to T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire Texas oilman who helped finance the 2004 attack advertisements, taking him up on a challenge he issued last November: that he would give $1 million to anyone who could disprove a single charge the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth made against Mr. Kerry.
The letter-writers served alongside Mr. Kerry during the events that the Swift boat group insisted he had embellished or made up to win his military decorations....
In a 12-page letter -- with a 42-page attachment of military records to support their case -- they rebut not one but several of the accusations of the Swift boat group.
The veterans offer to go through Mr. Kerry's record and the video with Mr. Pickens "page by page, frame by frame." And they demand an apology, to them "and to the American people."
Of course, none of this is new. Extensive news media accounts undermined the Swift boat charges in 2004, pointing out that some of the Swift boat critics had written statements in Vietnam lauding Mr. Kerry for extraordinary bravery in the incidents they later said he made up. One critic had himself received a medal for heroism during a hail of gunfire he later claimed Mr. Kerry had concocted to win his third Purple Heart.
But that did not blunt the political impact....
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.nytimes.com
A Los Angeles Times blog post sheds a little more light, noting the package focuses not on all the questions surrounding two of Kerry's three Purple Hearts and his Bronze Star, but on an incident in which Kerry's fleet was ambushed on the Bay Hap River (the "teenager in a loincloth" event), an action for which Kerry was awarded the Silver Star:
The 15-page letter and 42 pages of Navy reports and other documentation focus principally on a 1969 engagement in which three boats under Kerry's supervision counterattacked after an ambush on a tributary of the Bay Hap River.
Kerry won a Silver Star for his actions, but critics contended he had exaggerated the incident and his own heroism. In this week's response, Kerry's crew offers details, after-action reports and the medal citation to prove that Kerry led with valor.
As case expert Tom Maguire noted, regarding the events leading to Kerry's Silver Star, the Swift Boat Vets were simply pointing out discrepancies between Kerry's medal citation and Kerry's own recount of the event. Check: www.timeswatch.org
Peter Boyer's profile of Keith Olbermann in the June 23 New Yorker magazine, "One Angry Man," contained a bunch of noteworthy revelations, such as:
# Olbermann wanted to be more vulgar in his "shut the hell up" insult of President Bush than TV allows. Boyer on Olbermann's May 14 "Special Comment" rant: "Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to 'shut the hell up'?" Answer: "Because I can't say, 'Shut the f**k up.'"
# A focus group for CNN found "audiences didn't like him." Shortly after Olbermann returned to CNN in 2003, "Griffin ran into an old colleague at CNN, who told him that that network had considered hiring Olbermann, but focus-group tests showed that audiences didn't like him." (In fact, Olbermann did fill-in work for CNN in late 2001 through 2002. See screen shot, in posted CyberAlert, from January 24, 2002.)
# After Olbermann delivered his first Special Comment in August of 2006 denigrating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a "quack" pushing "fascism," Boyer learned: "His bosses loved it. 'I think we're onto something,' the President of NBC News, Steve Capus, told me. 'That's what we keep hearing from the audience, more and more, is that they appreciate that we have people who are actually speaking truth to power...'" Olbermann wrote his diatribe after "downing 'a couple of screwdrivers'" while waiting for a plane at LAX.
# Concern MSNBC's opinionated coverage could taint NBC News: "'Listen, it's a strain,' says Tom Brokaw, the longtime anchor of Nightly News, who remains an active and revered figure at NBC. 'And it's under constant examination. There's dialogue going on behind the scenes all the time. It's not perfectly sorted out.'"
# The chief of CBS and two successive Presidents of CBS News met with Olbermann about taking the CBS Evening News anchor chair.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Matching excerpts from Boyer's piece, (plus a flashback to Olbermann on CNN back in 2002 when he, in a preview of what was to come on MSNBC, suggested America faces a "greater danger" from the "backlash" against lawyers for al Qaeda operatives than from the terrorists themselves and analogized the attitude toward those being held in Guantanamo Bay to the "blacklist" against the left in the 1950s.)
# He sat down at his computer and began to write. After an hour, he had the first draft of a lacerating indictment of Bush, a twelve-minute-long (eighteen pages in teleprompter script) j 'accuse, addressed personally to the President.
"Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created includes '€˜cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives'?" Olbermann wrote. "They are those in -- or formerly in -- your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes."
The denunciation hit the high notes of the most fevered antiwar rhetoric, accusing Bush (he of the "addled brain"), his alleged puppet master ("the American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney"), and the "tragically know-it-all minions," "sycophants," and "mental dwarves" who serve them in the Administration of perpetrating a "panoramic and murderous deceit" on America and the world. Intelligence was faked, W.M.D.s were imagined, Iraq was laid waste, and American freedoms were trashed....
At MSNBC, the feedback was slightly more cautious. Olbermann's original script identified the "cold-blooded killers" as everyone at the Pentagon and in the Bush Cabinet; when a colleague noted that that would include such relative moderates as Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Olbermann modified the line. Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC ("Phil thinks he's my boss," Olbermann says), raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to "shut the hell up"?
"Because I can't say, '€˜Shut the fuck up,' that's why, frankly," Olbermann responded. The line stayed in....
Full rundown of Olbermann's May 14 ranting, see "Olbermann Accuses Bush of 'Murderous Deceit,' 'Shut the Hell Up,'" online at: www.mrc.org
Once again, Olbermann left a job unhappily, returning to sportscasting at Fox Sports. He was subsequently fired, and the remainder of his contract was paid off. ("I fired him," Rupert Murdoch said recently. "He's crazy.")
But Phil Griffin continued to admire Olbermann's on-air talents, and helped to bring him back to MSNBC in 2003, to do a new show called "Countdown." Shortly afterward, Griffin ran into an old colleague at CNN, who told him that that network had considered hiring Olbermann, but focus-group tests showed that audiences didn't like him. "I can honestly tell you it shook me up a little bit," Griffin recalls. "But we knew what we were getting."...
His bosses loved it. "I think we're onto something," the president of NBC News, Steve Capus, told me. "That's what we keep hearing from the audience, more and more, is that they appreciate that we have people who are actually speaking truth to power, or being transparent in their own personal viewpoints." That's another way of saying that liberals, after many failed attempts, seem finally to have found their own Bill O'Reilly. Fox News still dominates the cable competition, and MSNBC over all continues to lag behind second-place CNN. O'Reilly's audience is more than twice as big as Olbermann's, which airs in the same prime-time period. But Olbermann's ratings grew by nearly seventy-five per cent the year he began doing Special Comments, and the show is making money, a rare hit in MSNBC's twelve-year run. "All of a sudden, he took off," Griffin says. "In ways that MSNBC never had a show take off."...
For the CyberAlert post on that August 30, 2006 invective: "Olbermann Blasts Rumsfeld as a 'Quack' Pushing 'Fascism,'" see: www.mrc.org
After Rather's unhappy departure from CBS, the network's president, Leslie Moonves, said that he wanted to blow up the "Evening News"'€"by which he meant, he later explained, that he wanted to do away with the program's outmoded "broadcast of record" posture, and its accompanying burden of summarizing the world in twenty-two minutes each night. Moonves and Andrew Heyward, then the president of CBS News, held a secret meeting with Olbermann at his apartment, and asked how he would approach the "Evening News" job. Olbermann, who was nearing the end of his contract at MSNBC, said he thought that it was a waste for networks to spend so much money on their anchors, when they shared so much airtime with field correspondents. Olbermann said that he would, of course, be less freewheeling than he had been at "Countdown," and that he would redirect the broadcast incrementally, beginning with a three-minute block at the end of each newscast to which he would apply his personal touch. "Maybe in a year's time, after you've given me those three minutes to sort of reprogram, maybe I'll get four or five," Olbermann says now. "You don't go in for the full revolution. You do not come on and do 'Naked News.' "
The meeting ended, and Heyward was not convinced that Olbermann was the right choice for an institution where even the use of music in a news report, let alone voice impersonations by the anchor, is strictly forbidden. But soon afterward Heyward was replaced as news-division president by the head of CBS Sports, Sean McManus, who agreed to a second meeting with Olbermann, at CBS News headquarters on West Fifty-seventh Street....
"Listen, it's a strain," says Tom Brokaw, the longtime anchor of "Nightly News," who remains an active and revered figure at NBC. "And it's under constant examination. There's dialogue going on behind the scenes all the time. It's not perfectly sorted out."...
END of Excerpt
For the piece in the June 23 issue of the New Yorker magazine: www.newyorker.com
Keith Olbermann is back in fine form at CNN, suggesting America faces a "greater danger" from the "backlash" against lawyers for al Qaeda operatives than from the terrorists themselves and analogizing the attitude toward those being held in Guantanamo Bay to the "blacklist" against the left in the 1950s.
Olbermann, who on MSNBC in 1998 suggested Ken Starr was acting like a "persecutor" and reminded him "facially" of Heinrich Himmler, is filling in this week as host of CNN's The Point aired at 8:30pm EST. Stanley Cohen, Gerry Spence and Robert Shapiro, lawyers who have defended unpopular criminals, were Olbermann's guests in his first segment on Thursday night, January 24.
After Cohen said he would represent John Walker Lindh, Shapiro insisted he would not and Spence explained he only would if he believed he could give his client his best effort, Olbermann presented this convoluted premise to Spence:
"Mr. Spence, let me bring this to the question of representation. There was a column in what we might call a New York newspaper that today trashed the former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for getting involved in that issue of how the detainees in Guantanamo Bay are being treated. Are we in greater danger from the John Walker Lindhs of this world or from the backlash against them and towards those who would serve as their attorneys?"
Olbermann's logic bewildered Spence: "Well, I don't understand quite the question. You're, you ought to, could you give it a little more simple so, simpler so that both this poor country lawyer and your audience could understand what you want me the talk about?"
Olbermann tried again with the same liberal premise about intolerance of lawyers being more dangerous than mass murdering terrorists: "Are we in more danger from Americans who have fought with the Taliban or allegedly have done so, or from people who criticize attorneys for defending them?"
Next, Olbermann delivered a tribute to the "courage" of lawyers who take on unpopular clients: "Mr. Shapiro, based on your own experience in the controversy that surrounded your handling of the O.J. Simpson case and your representation of Mr. Simpson, does it take a courage above and beyond to step into a situation like this where the client has so much stacked against him going in just from the media and from the supposed public perception?"
Returning to his theme of high-profile lawyers as the victims, Olbermann inquired, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Mr. Cohen, I guess same, similar kind of question as I just asked Mr. Shapiro, recalling your time with the Hamas leader, is it going to be personally scary for those who represent John Walker Lindh at this point because of the potential for public vilification of them, let alone him?"
Olbermann soon served up this compact compilation of liberal hysteria: "Mr. Shapiro, in the '€˜50s we had a blacklist against many on the left politically. In the '€˜40s, we had Americans of Japanese descent interned at race tracks in California. In the '€˜20s, we had the Palmer Raids. You can go all the way back to the Alien and Sedition Act in 1800. Are you worried that we might be entering that kind of period of time again in the case of Walker Lindh and the case of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, even the ones in American jails of Arab descent, at this moment?"
Yes, the United States has been a dangerous place in which to live since 1800. Wonder if it was okay with Olbermann in the 1790s?
In 1999 Olbermann was a finalist in the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" category of the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: The Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Media Bias," for this question to then-Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren on the August 18, 1998 Big Show with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC:
"Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?"
END of Reprint
Video of Olbermann on Starr as Himmler: www.mrc.org
January 25, 2002 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
There are over 180,000 U.S. troops serving bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan and each of them are owed a great deal of gratitude for their service and sacrifice. In a first of its kind Web-A-Thon to raise funds to send the largest shipment of care packages in history to our troops abroad, Move America Forward will Web-cast "From the Front Lines" via streaming video at www.ustream.tv on Thursday, June 26 from 4 PM to midnight EDT (3 PM to 11 PM CDT, 1 PM to 9 PM PDT).
The Media Research Center is sponsoring the 5 to 6 PM EDT hour. Founder and President L. Brent Bozell will be interviewed at the top of the hour, around 5:05 PM EDT. Direct address for the live Web-cast: www.ustream.tv
Hosted by Melanie Morgan and Michelle Malkin, guests will include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin and Monica Crowley. Move America Forward's page on the eight-hour event: www.moveamericaforward.org
Tune in to help make "From the Front Lines" a stunning success and a huge morale boost to our troops serving overseas. If you cannot join us on the 26th, you can still participate in this landmark event afterward by ordering goodies and gifts for troops overseas: www.thecampaignstore.com
From the June 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard on Hillary Clinton's First Day Back at Work." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Nice of you to show up"
9. "Did you win?"
8. "We chipped in for a welcome back pantsuit"
7. "Should I take the Madame President nameplate off your door?"
6. "Hillary's choking another superdelegate"
5. "On the bright side, you can once again partake in endless debates about agricultural subsidies"
4. "Senator Clinton, please stop throwing wads of paper at Senator Obama's head"
3. "I can't believe your shrill message of fear didn't resonate"
2. "Please stop taunting her, Senator Kerry"
1. "We'll begin as soon as Senator Craig returns from the restroom"
-- Brent Baker