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Media Whine About Not Being Alerted to First Lady's Skin Cancer --12/20/2006


1. Media Whine About Not Being Alerted to First Lady's Skin Cancer
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."

2. Jon Stewart: Dem Candidate Does 'Great Job'; Bush an Expletive
On Monday, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show. The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he'll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush: "We've had a President who was the Governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an "[bleeped]."

3. Behar Suggests 'Hitler Type, Like...Rumsfeld' for Person of Year
Just two shows after Joy Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson may have been a victim of conservative evil-doing as she speculated about whether "there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" and contended the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed, "I know what this, that party is capable of," on Monday's The View, Behar quipped, in reference to Time magazine punting on a Person of the Year, that "you have to put like a Hitler type, like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something." The audience at the ABC Daytime show booed and even Rosie O'Donnell distanced herself -- "I wouldn't have put him. That's for sure" -- prompting Behar to backtrack: "What I mean is put somebody who gets a reaction. See the reaction? That's who you put." AUDIO&VIDEO

4. Sean Penn Demands 'Impeach These Bastards' and Insults Limbaugh
Accepting the Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award presented Monday night by PBS's Charlie Rose at a Creative Coalition gala held in New York City, actor Sean Penn went on a rant calling for the impeachment of President Bush and insulting conservatives from Rush Limbuagh to Sean Hannity. In the text of his prepared remarks posted by the Huffington Post hours before he spoke, Penn asserted: "They tell us we lost 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Is that enough? We're about to match it. We're within weeks, if not less, of killing 3,000 Americans in Iraq. I ask Speaker Pelosi, can we put impeachment on the table then?" Turning vulgar, Penn charged: "Look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave." He concluded by pleading: "Let's move forward and swiftly get out of this war in Iraq AND impeach these bastards." Earlier, he derided conservatives for complicity with Bush: "Would they have believed Rush Limbaugh if they'd known he was high as a kite on OxyContin?...Hannity, had they known he was simply a whore to the cause of his pimps -- Murdoch and Ailes?" AUDIO&VIDEO


Media Whine About Not Being Alerted to
First Lady's Skin Cancer

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."

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

In contrast to CBS, which fallowed Axelrod's story with a look at skin cancer from Doctor Jon LaPook, the ABC and NBC evening newscasts skipped the DC press corps' whining and used the disclosure only as a hopping off point to examine the symptoms and treatment of skin cancer. ABC anchor Charles Gibson, for example, set up a medical-based story: "We learned late yesterday that First Lady Laura Bush had a skin cancer tumor removed from her leg last month. She is said to be healing well, but one in five people in the U.S. will develop some form of skin cancer."

On the December 19 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Hume played a montage of clips from the White House press briefing:

Kelly O'Donnell, NBC News: "Tony, can you tell us about Mrs. Bush's skin cancer, how is she doing and how was the decision reached not to disclose this publicly until questions were asked?"
Victoria Jones, Talk Radio News Service: "Which was it, was it that it was medical privacy that was the reason for not informing us, or was it that it was no big deal?"
O'Donnell: "Do you feel any obligation as a person of public status to talk about this?"
Jessica Yellin, ABC News: "Did the White House doctor treat her?"
Kathleen Koch, CNN: "Does the First Lady say she actually does not plan to come out in any way? She could potentially have a great influence on a lot of people's lives, especially young women."
Tony Snow: "You guys are really stretching it. I mean, it is now officially a really slow news day."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the CBS Evening News story:

Katie Couric: "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. Jim Axelrod has the latest."

Jim Axelrod: "It was at last night's White House Hanukkah party when a reporter asked about a bandage on Mrs. Bush's shin. Until then, not a word had been said about the First Lady's skin cancer."
Tony Snow, White House Press Secretary: "And, again, it's no big deal. In this case, it's just not a big deal."
Axelrod: "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."
Dr. Elizabeth Hale, New York University School of Medicine: "There is a very low chance of any serious consequence from a squamous cell cancer confined to the skin."
Axelrod: "The tumor was removed. End of story, says the White House. This was not Nancy Reagan's or Betty Ford's breast cancer, but a smaller, private medical matter, more like the flu, according to Tony Snow."
Snow: "They did local anesthetic, they removed it."
Axelrod: "First Lady's aides say she didn't miss a step, traveling to Asia, and then hosting 24 holiday parties for 12,000 guests in the first few weeks after the procedure."

Jon Stewart: Dem Candidate Does 'Great
Job'; Bush an Expletive

On Monday, the first 2008 Democratic presidential candidate made the (soon to be) required pilgrimage to talk with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central's Daily Show. The liberal comedian lavished considerable praise on Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, while attacking President Bush with a vulgar expletive. Though Stewart tried to cast his comments in a humorous style, one has to ask if, in 2008, he'll be a comedian or simply a high profile booster of the Democratic crop? The Comedy Central host began the interview with typical softballs and then shifted into his standard attack on President Bush: "We've had a President who was the Governor of a state for eight years. The criticism was he didn't have a lot of experience outside of his state and not that he hasn't done a great job but what, what do you bring to the table that's different other than you're not, you know, seemingly an "[bleeped]."

Of course, this is the same show that former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw hailed for having "more facts and more truths told in the first eight minutes...than most political news conferences in Washington." See the December 6 CyberAlert for Brokaw's comments on Hardball: www.mrc.org

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

At the conclusion of a discussion on Iraq, Stewart closed the December 18 interview by openly touting the Democratic candidate:

Vilsack: "They have to, they basically have to make the decision. And I think we should encourage the other countries in the region to participate in reconstruction and frankly we probably didn't do a very good job of building local governance because if the water isn't running, the lights aren't on, the police aren't on the street-"
Stewart: "This is what I'm talking about for you. A guy like you from Iowa, you do a great job of building the infrastructure of that state. It's a small state. It understands the blue collar mentality, ground up kind of stuff. I would think that experience would come in very handy."
Vilsack: "That, together with the fact that-"
Stewart: "You see how I did that for you?"
Vilsack: "Yes, very nice, thank you."
Stewart: "Well, congratulations to you. Welcome to the race. I look forward to seeing you again."
Vilsack: "Shameless plug. TomVilsack08.com. Please."
Stewart: "Is that one of them internets?"
Vilsack: "That's one of those internets."

Will potential conservative GOP presidential candidates such as Governors Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee receive such glowing treatment?

Behar Suggests 'Hitler Type, Like...Rumsfeld'
for Person of Year

Just two shows after Joy Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson may have been a victim of conservative evil-doing as she speculated about whether "there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" and contended the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed, "I know what this, that party is capable of," on Monday's The View, Behar quipped, in reference to Time magazine


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punting on a Person of the Year, that "you have to put like a Hitler type, like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something." The audience at the ABC Daytime show booed and even Rosie O'Donnell distanced herself -- "I wouldn't have put him. That's for sure" -- prompting Behar to backtrack: "What I mean is put somebody who gets a reaction. See the reaction? That's who you put."

Time picked "You" as Person of the Year, with a mirror on the cover.

The December 15 CyberAlert recounted: On Thursday's [December 14] The View, Joy Behar seriously suggested Senator Tim Johnson was the victim of a deliberate act to cause his brain disorder that led to emergency surgery and has left him in critical condition: "Is there such a thing as a man-made stroke? In other words, did someone do this to him?" An astounded Elisabeth Hasselbeck wondered: "Why is everything coming from the liberal perspective a conspiracy?" Behar contended, on the ABC daytime show, that the Republican Party is capable of such a nefarious deed: "I know what this, that party is capable of." For more and an audio/video clip of that exchange: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down the comments in and around Behar's shot at Rumsfeld on the December 18 The View:

Rosie O'Donnell: "Big news this week, first of all, Time magazine, 'Person of the Year,' congratulations, everyone. It's you."
[Hosts take turns saying 'It's you' to each other.]
Joy Behar: "I think it's lame."
O'Donnell: "You think it's lame?"
Behar: "I want to see a face there. I want a face."
O'Donnell: "Well, there's a little mirror on there, and you can look at yourself. Do you know that? They sent it to you with a mirror, which I thought was funny."
Behar: "Do you think anybody cares about it anymore, about the Time magazine 'Person of the Year'?
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Well, they would if they put a person on there."
O'Donnell: "Who would you have put?"
Hasselbeck: "I don't know."
Behar: "You have to put, you have to put like a Hitler type, like you put Donald Rumsfeld there or something, somebody who's like-"
[audience members boo]
O'Donnell: "I wouldn't have put him. That's for sure."
Behar: "What I mean is put somebody who gets a reaction. See the reaction? That's who you put."
O'Donnell: "But is that going to sell the magazine? People walk past the news stand and go, 'Uhhhhh!'"
Behar: "Hitler himself was on Time magazine at one point."
O'Donnell: "When? In the forties? When?"
Behar: "Years and years ago."
O'Donnell: "Seriously?"
Behar: "Yes."
O'Donnell: "He was man of the year?"
Behar: "Yes, 1938 he was on Time magazine's cover because it's very provocative to put someone like that on."

On Tuesday night, MRC President Brent Bozell was a guest on FNC's Hannity & Colmes to discuss Behar's comments. For video of that, check this NewsBusters node: newsbusters.org

Sean Penn Demands 'Impeach These Bastards'
and Insults Limbaugh

Accepting the Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award presented Monday night by PBS's Charlie Rose at a Creative Coalition gala held in New York City, actor Sean Penn went on a rant calling for the impeachment of President Bush and insulting conservatives from Rush Limbuagh to Sean Hannity. In the text of his prepared remarks posted by the Huffington Post hours before he spoke, Penn asserted: "They tell us we lost 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Is that enough? We're about to match it. We're within weeks, if not less, of killing 3,000 Americans in Iraq. I ask Speaker Pelosi, can we put impeachment on the table then?" Turning vulgar, Penn charged: "Look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave." He concluded by pleading: "Let's move forward and swiftly get out of this war in Iraq AND impeach these bastards."

Earlier, he derided conservatives for complicity with Bush: "We know it's not the administration alone, but a culture at large, cloaking itself in self-righteousness, religion, and adolescent hero-dreaming machismo. Would they have believed Rush Limbaugh if they'd known he was high as a kite on OxyContin? Would they have believed the factually impaired Bill O'Reilly if they knew he was massaging his rectum with a loofah while telephonically harassing a staffer? Hannity, had they known he was simply a whore to the cause of his pimps -- Murdoch and Ailes? Or the little bow-tie putz, if they knew all he was seeking was a good laugh from Jon Stewart?"

For ContactMuscic.com's story on Penn's tirade: www.contactmusic.com

The Creative Coalition's home page: www.thecreativecoalition.org

Just a few months ago on CNN Penn made clear his disgust for the Bush administration. The September 15 CyberAlert recounted: Actor Sean Penn, in a taped Larry King Live interview aired Thursday night [September 14] on CNN to promote his new movie, All the King's Men, in which he plays a Huey Long-like character, suggested President Bush may bring fascism to America, charged that Bush has "devastated our


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democracy," insisted Donald Rumsfeld and Bush have done "enormous damage" to "this country and mankind" and claimed the war on terrorism is meant to distract from reality.

Clearly referring to President Bush, a smirking Penn recalled: "Well, in 1932 Huey Long said something very interesting. It was, 'Fascism will come to America, but likely under another name, perhaps anti-fascism.'" Later, Penn fulminated about how "party clowns like Don Rumsfeld could be described as, as far as I'm concerned, except for the enormous damage he's done this country and mankind -- and our President -- and saw that they're getting out there and they're beating this drum, to drown out, as they did in 2002, to drown out other -- in that case it was Enron. Now we have another situation, so it's this war on terror, boom, boom, boom. Drown out the reality of what's really happening." Penn also argued: "No Democrat that doesn't have a plan to get our troops out of Iraq should be voted for."

For more, and video, go to: www.mrc.org

An excerpt from Penn's December 18 philippic, as posted by HuffingtonPost.com:

The Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award. For the purposes of tonight and my own personal enjoyment, I'm going to yield to the notion that I deserve this. And in the spirit of that, tell you that I am very honored to receive it. And for this I thank the Creative Coalition and my friend Charlie Rose. It does seem appropriate to take this opportunity to exercise the right that honors us all -- freedom of speech....

Words may be our most civil weapons of change, when they connect to actions of sacrifice, or good will, but they have no grace or power without bold clarity. So, if you'll bear with me, borrowing a line from Bob Dylan, "Let us not talk falsely now -- the hour is getting late."

Global warming

Massive pollution

Non-stop U.S. war in Iraq

Attacks on civil liberties under the banner of war on terror

Military spending

You and I, U.S. taxpayers, spend 1 1/2 billion dollars on an Iraq-war-'focused' military everyday, while social needs cry out.

Health care

Education

Public transit

Environmental protections

Affordable housing

Job training

Public investment

And, levy building.

We depend largely for information on these issues from media industries, driven by the bottom line to such an extent that the public interest becomes uninteresting.

And should we speak truth, we stand against government efforts to intimidate or legislate in the service of censorship. Whether under the guise of a Patriot Act or any other benevolent-sounding rationale for the age-old game of shutting down dissent by discouraging independent thinking and preventing progressive social change....

Children grow up in our country -- many by the way, under conditions of extreme poverty -- and are told from a very early age "You will be accountable!" "With freedom, comes responsibility!" And so the lecture goes...Democratic and Republican alike. Lie-cheat-steal, and there will be consequences! Theft will be punished. Actions that cause the deaths of others will be severely punished. The message, from leaders in Washington, news media, mom, dad, and church is clear. Criminals MUST be held accountable.

Now, there's been a lot of talk lately on Capitol Hill about how impeachment should be "off the table." We're told that it's time to look ahead -- not back...

Our country has a legal system, not of men and women, but of laws. Why then are we so willing to put inconvenient provisions of the U.S. constitution and federal law "off the table?" Our greatest concern right now should be what to put ON the table. Unless we're going to have one set of laws for the powerful and another set for those who can't afford fancy lawyers, then truth matters to everyone. And accountability is a matter of human and legal principle. If we're going to continue wagging our fingers at the disadvantaged transgressors, then I suggest we be consistent. If truth and accountability can be stretched into sham concepts, we may as well open the gates of all our jails and prisons, where, by the way, there are more people behind bars than any other country in the world. One in every 32 American adults is behind bars, on probation, or on parole as we stand here tonight.

Which is to say that, globally, the United States is number one at demanding accountability and backing up that demand with imprisonment. But, when it comes to our president, vice president, secretary of state, former secretary of defense...this insistence on accountability vanishes. All of a sudden, what's past is prologue. And we're just "forward-looking." But some people can't just look forward. Men and women stationed in Iraq at this moment, under orders of a Commander-in-Chief so sufficiently practiced in the art of deception, that he got vast numbers of American journalists and the most esteemed media outlets of this country, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and PBS to eagerly serve his agenda-building for war. And the process also induced vast numbers of artists and performers (probably even some in this room tonight) to keep quiet and facilitate the push for an invasion in Iraq.

I'm sure many people who I met in Baghdad, both in my trips prior to and during the occupation, now similarly cannot just look forward. With lives so entirely shattered by a violence of occupation -- an ongoing U.S. war effort and the civil war that it has catalyzed. All on the back of a crumbled infrastructure, following eleven years of devastating U.N. sanctions.

And, where is the accountability on behalf of the American dead and wounded, their families, their friends, and the people of the United States who have seen their country become a world pariah. These events have been enabled by people named Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Rice, as they continue to perpetuate a massive fraud on American democracy and decency.

On January 11, 2003, I made an appearance on Larry King's show following my first trip to Iraq. I suggested that every American mother and father sit down with a scrap of paper and pencil and scribble the following words: Dear Mr. and Mrs. So-and-so -- We regret to inform you that your son or daughter so-and-so, was killed in action in Iraq. I then asked that those mothers and fathers complete that letter in whatever way might comfort them should they receive it. When one considers what a bewildered continuation of those words a parent might attempt to write today, it seems inconceivable that this country could've ever bought into this war. Who were those mothers and fathers believing in?! We know it's not the administration alone, but a culture at large, cloaking itself in self-righteousness, religion, and adolescent hero-dreaming machismo. Would they have believed Rush Limbaugh if they'd known he was high as a kite on OxyContin? Would they have believed the factually impaired Bill O'Reilly if they knew he was massaging his rectum with a loofah while telephonically harassing a staffer? Hannity, had they known he was simply a whore to the cause of his pimps -- Murdoch and Ailes? Or the little bow-tie putz, if they knew all he was seeking was a good laugh from Jon Stewart? Maybe our countrymen and women were listening to Ted Haggert while he was whiffing meth and boning a muscle-headed gigolo? Or Mark Foley seeking junior weenis? Joe Lieberman, sitting Shiva? And Toby Keith, singing about how big his boots are?

"Oh, there goes Sean...he had to go and name-call. They say he can't help himself." Or, did I name-call? Maybe I just quickly summed up 7 or 8 little truths. Oh, no, you're right -- I name-called. I said, "putz". I take it back. Or, do I? Did I say "whore?" Pimp? These are questions. But, the real and great questions of conscience and accountability would not loom so ominously -- unanswered or evaded at such tremendous cost -- without our day-to-day failure to insist on genuine accountability. Of course we'd prefer some easy ways to get there. But no easy ways exist. Not a new Congress. Not Barack Obama. And, not John McCain. His courage in North Vietnamese prison makes him a heroic man. His voting record in Congress makes him a damaging public servant. We have gotta stand the fuck up and show the world how powerful are the people in a democracy. That's how we regain our position of example, rather than pariah, to the world at large. And that is how we can begin to put up our chins and allow pride and unification to raise our own quality of life and security.

They tell us we lost 3,000 Americans on 9/11. Is that enough? We're about to match it. We're within weeks, if not less, of killing 3,000 Americans in Iraq. I ask Speaker Pelosi, can we put impeachment on the table then? Without former FEMA chief Mike Brown being held accountable, post Katrina (scapegoat though he may have been) we'd have had the same chaos and neglect when Rita hit Houston. Think about it. And, the same people who trumpet deterrence as a justification for punishment when we speak of "crime and punishment," will boast their positive thinking when dismissing the deterrent qualities of an impeachment proceeding.

What is impeachment? It's not a Democratic versus Republican event. Not if used responsibly. If the House of Representatives votes to impeach this president, is he thrown out of office? No, he is not thrown out of office. That is not what impeachment is. Impeachment is the opportunity to proceed with accountability and give our elected senators, democratic and republican, the power to pursue a thorough investigation. The power to put the truth on the table. Mothers and fathers are losing their kids to horrifying deaths in this war every single day. Horrible deaths. Horrible maimings. Were crimes committed in enlisting the support of our country in this decision to go to war? For the moment we're living the most spineless of scenarios; where the hawks abused impeachment eight years ago, now, the rest of us politely refuse to use it today. Let's give the whistle-blowers cover, let's get the subpoenas out there, and then, one by one, put this administration under oath. And then, if the crimes of "Treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors" are proven, do as Article 2, Section 4 of the United States Constitution provides, and remove "the President, Vice President and...civil officers of the United States" from office. If the Justice Department then sees fit to bunk them up with Jeff Skilling, so be it.

So...look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave. You know, I was listening to Frank Rich this morning, speaking on a book tour. He said he thought impeachment proceedings would amount to a "decadent" sidetrack, while our soldiers were still being killed. I admire Frank Rich. And of course he would be right if impeachment is all we do. But we're Americans. We can do two things at the same time. Yes, let's move forward and swiftly get out of this war in Iraq AND impeach these bastards....

END of Excerpt

For the text in full: www.huffingtonpost.com

-- Brent Baker