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Matthews Rebukes Bush for Being Out of Touch with Matt Damon --12/21/2006


1. Matthews Rebukes Bush for Being Out of Touch with Matt Damon
On Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and David Shuster derided President for not being in touch with the views of a left-wing Hollywood actor -- Matt Damon, whom Matthews hailed as "prophetic." At his Wednesday morning news conference, Bush noted how "a recent report on retail sales shows a strong beginning to the holiday shopping season across the country" and added: "I encourage you all to go shopping more." Matthews scolded: "I wonder if he's in touch with the critics out there, like Matt Damon, the actor, who was on this program Monday, who actually mocked the President, he ridiculed the President for saying to the people of America, 'Don't share the burden of our fighting forces over there, go have a good time and go shopping.'" Contrasting Bush's remark with Damon's comment on Monday's Hardball, Shuster insisted "the timing was simply unbelievable" and contended "a lot of people, I think, are going to suggest" Bush's remark "was a mistake." Matthews then chastised Bush for "saying go out and spend your money and have fun when people are dying over there."

2. Miklaszewski Puts Nefarious Spin on Bush Urging Larger Military
As if political tradeoffs and deal-making isn't how politics works every day in the nation's capital, on Wednesday night NBC News Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski delivered a nefarious take on President Bush's willingness to increase the size of the military, at least the Army and Marine Corps. Picking up on Bush's comments during his morning news conference, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted how "a lot of Generals have been asking for this for a long time, as recently as last week on Capitol Hill." Miklaszewski, however, stressed how "some military officials are highly suspicious of the President's sudden turnaround on the issue" since "they believe that he's dangling that offer out there in an effort to buy the military's support for the option to surge additional American troops into Iraq -- as if it's some kind of tradeoff." Those military leaders "that we're talking to," Miklaszewski relayed, "still oppose a surge, they still believe it won't work and will put more Americans at risk."

3. CBS Hypes 'Fallout' from 'Secretive' WH Hiding Cancer from Media
As detailed in Wednesday's CyberAlert, the Tuesday CBS Evening News framed the story of Laura Bush's skin cancer around how the White House didn't reveal it rather than the cancer itself, and Wednesday's Early Show continued this theme. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen asserted that Tony Snow got his "Christmas goose cooked" by downplaying the story, and Early Show co-host Rene Syler opened the segment by noting the "fallout" from the fact that "the White House felt the need to keep it secret for so long." Chen used the incident to imply a wider pattern: "What other health secrets is the White House hiding?" Chen, recognizing the media's over-zealousness, also suggested the First Lady could have avoided this whole controversy, if only she had worn pants instead of a skirt: "And he [Tony Snow] never even got to the other burning question, why didn't the First Lady just put on pants?"

4. Olbermann Won't Support MRC, So We're Counting on Your Donation
Support CyberAlert and the work of the MRC with a tax-deductible year-end donation. We can provide CyberAlerts -- as well as all of the MRC's publications and sites -- as free services only because of the thousands of concerned conservatives who support the MRC financially each year and make possible the unique research operation behind the MRC's ongoing efforts to document, expose and neutralize liberal media bias. Please consider a donation and demonstrate that CyberAlert readers are committed to the MRC's mission and value the products we provide and the impact of the evidence we gather. If you contribute $100 or more, we will send you a complimentary copy of the Ann Coulter book of your choice -- Godless: The Church of Liberalism or How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).

5. Late Show's "Top Ten Holiday Traditions at the White House"
From the Late Show Newsletter, the "Top Ten Holiday Traditions at the White House."


Matthews Rebukes Bush for Being Out of
Touch with Matt Damon

On Wednesday's Hardball, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and David Shuster derided President for not being in touch with the views of a left-wing Hollywood actor -- Matt Damon, whom Matthews hailed as "prophetic." At his Wednesday morning news conference, Bush noted how "a recent report on retail sales shows a strong beginning to the holiday shopping season across the country" and added: "I encourage you all to go shopping more." Matthews scolded: "I wonder if he's in touch with the critics out there, like Matt Damon, the actor, who was on this program Monday, who actually mocked the President, he ridiculed the President for saying to the people of America, 'Don't share the burden of our fighting forces over there, go have a good time and go shopping.'" Contrasting Bush's remark with Damon's comment on Monday's Hardball, Shuster insisted "the timing was simply unbelievable" and contended "a lot of people, I think, are going to suggest" Bush's remark "was a mistake." Matthews then chastised Bush for "saying go out and spend your money and have fun when people are dying over there."

Monday's pre-taped Hardball, with Damon and Robert DeNiro at George Mason University as part of the Hardball "College Tour," wll re-run on Friday night.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the exchange near the top of the December 20 Hardball:

Chris Matthews: "I think there are two big news items in the President's presentation today in this last press conference. One is he's not really sure we're going to send more troops into Baghdad. He's skeptical to that to some extent. But this other comment you started with, with the President saying we should go out there and shop more. I mean, I wonder if he's in touch with the critics out there, like Matt Damon, the actor, who was on this program Monday, who actually mocked the President, he ridiculed the President for saying to the people of America, 'Don't share the burden of our fighting forces over there, go have a good time and go shopping.'"
David Shuster: "Well, and the timing was simply unbelievable. And, in fact, let's play those two clips -- first, Matt Damon, and then, President Bush -- back to back."
Matt Damon, actor, on Monday's Hardball: "To me, that's what bothers me the most about the state we're in right now is I don't feel that there's a shared consciousness and a shared sense of sacrifice, and we have these young men and women who are fighting a war in our name, and our President tells us to go shopping."
George W. Bush: "I encourage you all to go shopping more."
Shuster: "Again, I mean, the timing there is unbelievable. And, of course, what Matt Damon is getting at is a sense of sacrifice. The President's supporters are going to say, 'Wait a second, the President was talking about the economy.' But at the same time, at a news conference, Chris, and these were prepared remarks when the President made this comment about going shopping, a news conference to try to take control of the storyline from Iraq. And to have that get in there, a lot of people, I think, are going to suggest that was a mistake."
Matthews: "I guess in fairness to the President, I don't think he realizes how that sounds a bit cavalier at a time people are sacrificing, we're about to lose as many soldiers over there as we lost on 9/11. It's Christmas time, the holiday season, not a good time to be saying go out and spend your money and have fun when people are dying over there. Anyway, Matt Damon turns out to be, I guess, prophetic about what the President's been saying because it wasn't until today I heard him say go shopping as some sort of national call to arms."

Miklaszewski Puts Nefarious Spin on Bush
Urging Larger Military

As if political tradeoffs and deal-making isn't how politics works every day in the nation's capital, on Wednesday night NBC News Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski delivered a nefarious take on President Bush's willingness to increase the size of the military, at least the Army and Marine Corps. Picking up on Bush's comments during his morning news conference, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted how "a lot of Generals have been asking for this for a long time, as recently as last week on Capitol Hill."

Miklaszewski, however, stressed how "some military officials are highly suspicious of the President's sudden turnaround on the issue" since "they believe that he's dangling that offer out there in an effort to buy the military's support for the option to surge additional American troops into Iraq -- as if it's some kind of tradeoff." Those military leaders "that we're talking to," Miklaszewski relayed, "still oppose a surge, they still believe it won't work and will put more Americans at risk." He concluded: "As one senior military official put it today, it'll be like throwing kerosene on a fire." It may be unwise to "surge" troops, but a President giving in one area to get what he wants in another is hardly unusual. Normally the press corps laud such "compromise."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Neither ABC's World News or the CBS Evening News matched Miklaszewski's framing of the increased military size story.

The exchange between Williams and Miklaszewski on the December 20 NBC Nightly News:

Brian Williams: "The President's decision to push for this expansion of the U.S. military has caught a few people at the Pentagon by surprise. We turn on our Pentagon correspondent, Jim Miklaszewski. And Jim, a lot of Generals have been asking for this for a long time, as recently as last week on Capitol Hill."
Jim Miklaszewski, at the Pentagon: "That's exactly right, Brian. But some military officials are highly suspicious of the President's sudden turnaround on the issue. They believe that he's dangling that offer out there in an effort to buy the military's support for the option to surge additional American troops into Iraq -- as if it's some kind of tradeoff: You throw in 30,000 more American troops into Baghdad now in exchange for an overall larger force four to five years down the road. But many military leaders, that we're talking to, still oppose a surge, they still believe it won't work and will put more Americans at risk. As one senior military official put it today, it'll be like throwing kerosene on a fire, Brian."

CBS Hypes 'Fallout' from 'Secretive'
WH Hiding Cancer from Media

As detailed in Wednesday's CyberAlert, the Tuesday CBS Evening News framed the story of Laura Bush's skin cancer around how the White House didn't reveal it rather than the cancer itself, and Wednesday's Early Show continued this theme. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen asserted that Tony Snow got his "Christmas goose cooked" by downplaying the story, and Early Show co-host Rene Syler opened the segment by noting the "fallout" from the fact that "the White House felt the need to keep it secret for so long." Chen used the incident to imply a wider pattern: "What other health secrets is the White House hiding?" Chen, recognizing the media's over-zealousness, also suggested the First Lady could have avoided this whole controversy, if only she had worn pants instead of a skirt: "And he [Tony Snow] never even got to the other burning question, why didn't the First Lady just put on pants?"

[This item is adopted from a Wednesday posting, by Michael Rule, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The December 20 CyberAlert recounted: Reminiscent of the high dudgeon Washington press corps reaction after a few hours passed before they were notified of Vice President Cheney's hunting accident, on Tuesday some reporters denounced the White House for failing to publicly announce how last month First Lady Laura Bush had a skin cancer growth removed from one of her legs. On FNC, Brit Hume played a montage from the daily briefing showing how journalists "demanded to know why they hadn't been told earlier." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, for instance, asked "how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?" And she challenged White House Press Secretary Tony Snow: "Do you feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?"
On the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric framed the story not around the cancer but around how the White House didn't reveal it: "Laura Bush has been treated for skin cancer, and today she and others in the administration were defending her decision to try to keep that story out of the press." CBS reporter Jim Axelrod at least noted the lack of threat to the First Lady's health: "In October, Mrs. Bush noticed a sore that wouldn't heal. A biopsy confirmed squamous cell carcinoma, among the most common and treatable skin cancers." See: www.mrc.org

The transcript of the December 20 Early Show segment:

Rene Syler: "And more fallout over First Lady Laura Bush's recent skin cancer surgery. Some want to know why the White House felt the need to keep it a secret for so long. CBS News correspondent Joie Chen reports."

Joie Chen: "To hear the White House tell it, it was no more significant than a little holiday party chit-chat. That's where the story started, at the President's Hanukkah celebration. A sharp eyed reporter detected a band-aid on the First Lady's leg. The response, yes, the First Lady had a squamous cell carcinoma, a very common skin cancer, and had it removed. Those who make it their business to know pressed the President's spokesman."
Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary: "Just not a big deal."
Joie Chen: "But as a cable TV veteran himself, Snow knows full well downplaying anything around here is a sure way to get your Christmas goose cooked. The reporters wouldn't give. Why wouldn't you tell us, they asked."
Tony Snow: "She's got the same right to medical privacy that you do."
Joie Chen: "Why isn't she talking?"
Tony Snow: "She's a private citizen, and the fact is, she is entitled to her medical privacy."
Joie Chen: "What other health secrets is the White House hiding?"
Tony Snow: "She's also had colds; she's had the flu; she's had stomach aches."
Joie Chen: "Clearly Snow was sick of the whole thing."
Tony Snow: "You guys are really stretching it."
Joie Chen: "And he never even got to the other burning question, why didn't the first lady just put on pants? For 'The Early Show,' Joie Chen, CBS News, the White House."

Rene Syler: "And the First Lady's Press Secretary says Mrs. Bush is doing just fine, and that no other procedures are expected at this point."

Olbermann Won't Support MRC, So We're
Counting on Your Donation

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Late Show's "Top Ten Holiday Traditions
at the White House"

From this week's e-mailed Late Show Newsletter from the Late Show with David Letterman, "an exclusive un-aired Top Ten for newsletter subscribers," the "Top Ten Holiday Traditions at the White House." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Making festive decorations out of unread intelligence memos

9. Halliburton charges 1.9 billion dollars to put up the tree

8. NSA performs illegal wiretaps to find out what people are getting the president

7. Tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent of elves

6. Clinton stops by to determine which interns belong on the "naughty" list

5. Roasting Iraqi study group report over an open fire

4. Attempting to out-chug the twins

3. Trying to find three wise men in Congress, am I right, people?

2. Democrats send over a holiday assortment of tainted Taco Bell chalupas

1. Cheney guns down old guy dressed as Santa


# Tom Brokaw will be a guest Thursday night on the Late Show with David Letterman to promote his December 26 NBC News special on immigration, Tom Brokaw Reports: In the Shadow of the American Dream.

-- Brent Baker