2. Olbermann Yearns for Ohio Vote Suspicions to Go "Mainstream"
3. GMA Asks "Doesn't Anybody in the White House Know About Google?"
4. NPR Repeatedly Describes Far-Left Islamists as "Conservative"
5. "Top Ten Ways Hussein Celebrated the Anniversary of His Capture"
John McCain, the media's favorite Republican speaks out against a Bush official, and the networks, as usual, hang on his words. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams devoted a Monday news item to how "McCain told the Associated Press today he has, in his words, 'no confidence,' in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld." CBS's Dan Rather built up McCain's resume: "Arizona's Republican Senator and Vietnam War hero, John McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, is stepping up his criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld..."
Brian Williams announced on the December 13 NBC Nightly News: "We have one more note on the subject of Iraq. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain told the Associated Press today he has, in his words, 'no confidence,' in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. McCain's been critical of Rumsfeld's handling of the war, saying more than 100,000 more troops are needed just to secure Iraq."
On Monday's CBS Evening News, Dan Rather trumpeted: "Arizona's Republican Senator and Vietnam War hero, John McCain, a member of the Armed Services Committee in the Senate, is stepping up his criticism of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld's handling of the Iraq War. McCain today said flat out he has, quote, 'no confidence,' in Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld has his supporters, not the least of whom are President Bush and Rumsfeld's old friend and former understudy, Vice President Cheney. And Rumsfeld says he's not leaving."
For the Phoenix-datelined AP story, "McCain Has 'No Confidence' in Rumsfeld," see: story.news.yahoo.com
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann did his best Monday night, on the day the electoral college voted, to hype the relevance of a few minor issues in the count of Ohio's votes cast on election day in November. Olbermann sarcastically claimed that all was going fine in Oho except for "John Kerry's sudden demand that his lawyers get to inspect 92,000 ballots in Ohio in which no vote for President was recorded" and that "two election observers in Green County, Ohio were told that the voting records had been sealed and they could no longer look at them," as if some little issue in one small county outside Dayton has any relevance. Olbermann proceeded to tout how the "Alliance for Democracy" and Jesse Jackson "accused the Republican campaign of, quote, 'high-tech vote stealing,' unquote" and that Michigan Congressman John Conyers convened a hearing in Ohio in which "he said that a series of events in Xenia, Ohio [in Greene County], over the weekend, quote, 'appear to violate Ohio law.'"
Turning to Newsweek's Howard Fineman, Olbermann proposed: "If Secretary of State Blackwell and the Republicans in Ohio do not want to make it look like they have something to hide in that state, they're not doing a good job of that either, are they? I mean, what the Hell is going on in Xenia with Ken Blackwell?"
Olbermann yearned for the supposed scandal, over which he has obsessed, to become "mainstream." He pleaded to Fineman: "For several weeks, the whole thing looked like it's teetered on the edge of being a mainstream political cat fight. Is it going to teeter into that mainstream?" Fineman rationally replied: "I think it's unlikely."
But Fineman proceeded to claim that there are "tens of millions of people -- not just fringe elements -- who have serious doubts about the way our elections are conducted, about whether their votes are counted, about the legitimacy of the system. And that's important to always remember." Olbermann endorsed Fineman's view: "Well said."
Olbermann teased his December 13 Countdown show on MSNBC: "Didn't think the Electoral College vote could change, did you? How John Kerry lost a vote today. How he reinserted himself anew in the Ohio recount. How a Congressman insists laws may have been broken during that recount."
Arriving at his #3 story of the night, Olbermann lectured, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "You may have thought November 2nd was Election Day in this country. In fact, it was today, the day the people who actually elect the President cast their votes in their various state capitols around the nation. Our third story in the Countdown, no big deal, of course, it's a formality -- excepting, of course, John Kerry's sudden demand that his lawyers get to inspect 92,000 ballots in Ohio in which no vote for President was recorded, and that motion to Ohio's supreme court to freeze the electoral vote until after there's a full investigation, and that, as the state begins its recount, two election observers in Green County, Ohio, were told that the voting records had been sealed and they could no longer look at them. Other than that, nothing much."
Olbermann soon added: "Meantime, more than two weeks in the making, what were interestingly described by the Associated Press as 'dissident groups,' finally filed their much-talked about legal contesting of the Ohio vote. Attorney Cliff Arneback of the group calling itself 'Alliance for Democracy,' was joined by the Reverend Jesse Jackson in asking Ohio's supreme court to formally review voting there. And they accused the Republican campaign of, quote, 'high-tech vote stealing,' unquote. Also in Columbus, Michigan Congressman John Conyers convened his second voting forum in the last six days. He and other Congressional Democrats wrote to Ohio Governor Bob Taft, asking him to delay the Electoral College vote until irregularities there had been investigated. Through a spokesman, Taft declined. Conyers also accused Ohio's election officials of attempting to, quote, 'stonewall,' and, quote, 'obstruct,' the recount. And he said that a series of events in Xenia, Ohio, over the weekend, quote, 'appear to violate Ohio law.'..."
Olbermann elaborated on one of his tales: "It saw something strange Friday and Saturday, but accounts diverge widely over what that was. Two election observers from the coincidentally-named Green Party say they were in the middle of inspecting voting records in Xenia on Friday when they were informed that the records had been locked down under the instructions of Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell. Blackwell's press secretary, Carlo LoParo, telling Countdown late today that in the event of a recount, quote, 'all ballots, poll books and poll lists must be sealed to protect the record. Those documents can only be accessed in the presence of all parties involved in the recount through bipartisan election officials -- at least one Democrat and one Republican.' In other words, Green County kicked out the Green Party observers because there were no Republican or Democratic observers in there at the same time. But the Green Party observers say more went wrong the next day. When they returned to the county board of elections on Saturday morning, they found the building unlocked and voting machines and voting records left out in the open. The county says yes, the building was unlocked, but the voter records were safe in a locked room inside the county board of elections building that just happened to have been left unlocked the night after the secretary of state ordered all voting records sealed and secured with the, quote, 'utmost care,' unquote."
Olbermann: "And speaking of utmost care, that would seem to describe the approach of 2004's Democratic presidential nominee who, when he has appeared in the Ohio voting irregularities saga, has done so in the manner of a cross between Gadot and a stealth bomber. Senator John Kerry got back in it last night when his election lawyers in Ohio wrote to each of the 88 county board of elections asking to see 92,000 very curious ballots. Those 92,000 ballots registered no vote for President -- not Kerry, not Bush, not Michael Badnarik, not Michael Parupka (sp?), not 'Heywood Djacuddleme.' Kerry's attorney, Donald McTeague, says a visual inspection of those ballots is allowed under state law, the idea being the tabulating equipment might have missed presidential votes on the ballot the first time through. ..."
Olbermann then brought aboard his guest for the segment: "All of which calls for another edition of 'What the Hell is going on in Ohio?' and I'm pleased to be joined again by Howard Fineman."
Olbermann's pressed Fineman, who appeared from Washington, DC: "If Secretary of State Blackwell and the Republicans in Ohio do not want to make it look like they have something to hide in that state, they're not doing a good job of that either, are they? I mean, what the Hell is going on in Xenia with Ken Blackwell?"
Earlier in the hour, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, Olbermann had displayed how his fascination with conspiracy theories is so great he was even willing to suggest Bush was a victim of one from the left. During a discussion of the Bernard Kerik mess, Olbermann proposed to Wall Street Journal reporter John Harwood:
Cheap shot of the morning. In a Good Morning America story on Monday about Bernard Kerik withdrawing his nomination for Secretary of Homeland Security, Claire Shipman decided to feature this quip from "humorist" Andy Borowitz: "Well, just as all this stuff came out about Bernard Kerik, I was thinking doesn't anybody in the White House know about Google?" Co-host Charles Gibson then used Borowitz's quip as the basis of a question for Shipman: "Let me take that question to you. Doesn't anybody at the White House know about Google? I mean, this stuff was all so easily learned. Why didn't the White House know about this? Who's at fault for letting it get this far?" Shipman agreed: "Well, it's true, it's an embarrassment for the White House. They clearly weren't doing their fact-checking..." Of course, since ABC didn't immediately report on Kerik's problems when his nomination was announced, it could also be asked: "Doesn't anybody at ABC News know about Google?"
Shipman checked in from Washington, DC with her December 13 piece for GMA observed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson: "Well, Charlie, Kerik right now stands to give up much more than the job of Homeland Security boss. The former New York police commissioner turned American icon almost seemed to be leading a double life. On the one hand, average Joe, New York tough guy, but clearly somebody addicted to flying much higher than he could afford. The implosion was bound to come for the brash, hard-charging Kerik -- his nanny problem was the least of it."
When it comes to ideological labeling, the media standard is to presume that the bad guys are the conservatives or the ones on the right. How else to explain "hard right" and "conservative" communists when communism is on the far left? NPR delivered another example on Monday when reporter Ivan Watson repeatedly asserted on Morning Edition that in Iran, though fundamentalist Islamism is on the left, not right, it is the "conservatives" who obstruct reform of that nation's theocratic, dictatorial status quo.
[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]
Early in his story looking ahead to May's Iranian presidential election, Watson recounted the failures and frustrations of the incumbent president, Mohammed Khatami, whom he called "the champion of Iran's reform movement." In so doing, he continually, almost comically, posited conservatives as enemies of liberty in Iran (labels in ALL CAPS):
Watson described the "relatively moderate" Hashemi Rafsanjani as "foremost among the so-called CONSERVATIVE pragmatists" who may run for president, but soon noted that "two other possible CONSERVATIVE candidates" are advisers to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
To illustrate the sort of policies with which these supposed conservatives might be associated, Watson related that a certain ayatollah, "one of the regime's most powerful hardline ideologues," is "calling for the reinstatement of Iran's revolutionary courts...During the Islamic revolution 25 years ago, these tribunals ordered counterrevolutionaries to be shot or hung from construction cranes." And, in case part of his audience still didn't quite grasp that conservatives are the bad guys in his tale, Watson helpfully added, "Analysts say any new CONSERVATIVE government is likely to further crack down on political dissent."
Toward the end of his piece, Watson did somewhat undermine himself when he soundbited University of Maine professor Bahman Baktiari, who remarked that no matter who wins Iran's presidency, a Khomeini-like government will not emerge, in part because no Iranian regime can "control the growing pro-Americanism among the population." Baktiari's comment probably reminded at least a few listeners who had found Watson's thesis persuasive that the current U.S. President is a deeply committed, forceful advocate of a democratic Iran -- and, yes, a conservative.
From the December 13 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Ways Saddam Hussein Celebrated the Anniversary of His Capture." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Had a heartwarming reunion with the guy who deloused him.
9. Put his name in for that homeland security opening.
8. Ordered one of Carvel's delicious fudgy the goat cakes.
7. Rehearsed for his role as Fezziwig in prison production of "A Christmas Carol."
6. Same as every Monday: "CSI: Miami" and frozen pizza bagels.
5. Pampered his beard with VO5 Hot Oil Treatment.
4. Asked guards if he could stay up late to catch Ashanti on Letterman.
3. Counted his blessings that he ain't Bernard Kerik.
2. Waited 13 hours for visit from Uday and Qusay.
1. Compared notes with Martha on life in the joint.