Moran: Bush "Dodged" Query; O'Donnell Errs, Yet Corrects Bush --10/29/2003
2. Hume Notes Some Things Media Skipped Over at Anti-War Protest
Newsweek Devotes a Page to Partial-Birth, a One-Sided One
4. Reagan Friend Merv Griffin Blasts CBS for "Cowardly Act"
5. Ted Danson: George W. Bush a Drinker, Clark "Inspires Hope"
Reporting on President George W. Bush's late morning press conference, on Tuesday night ABC's Terry Moran highlighted how he "dodged a reporter's follow-up" question about whether "you promise a year from now that you will have reduced the number of troops in Iraq?" NBC's Norah O'Donnell stressed how Bush "used the word 'danger' or 'dangerous' 17 times to describe Iraq." While Moran accepted Bush's explanation that the "Mission Accomplished" banner was produced by sailors on the ship, O'Donnell, who herself used an incorrect combat death number in a question she posed, corrected Bush: "Tonight, a senior White House official acknowledged that while the Navy requested the sign, the White House produced it."
CNN's John King, on NewsNight, also pointed out how officials later corrected Bush while the CBS Evening News held itself to a brief item read by anchor John Roberts with a clip of Bush.
More on the October 28 ABC and NBC stories on Bush's press conference held earlier in the day in the Rose Garden:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Terry Moran began from the White House: "One day after another wave of violence rocked Baghdad, the President used this press conference to argue that the costs to the U.S. in Iraq, in lives and dollars, are worth it."
Moran concluded by noting that Bush's main goal in holding the press conference was to convince the public that progress is being made in Iraq and that the U.S. must see it through despite the violence.
-- NBC Nightly News. Norah O'Donnell began her piece, which also ran on CNBC's The News with Brian Williams: "It was a defiant President Bush in the Rose Garden today, sending a message: The U.S. will stay the course in Iraq despite the growing number of U.S. casualties and terror attacks."
At the press conference, O'Donnell had posed this loaded question: "Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, 'Mission Accomplished.' At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?"
But O'Donnell should be checking her own facts too. As of the time she spoke, 113 U.S. soldiers had been killed in combat in Iraq since May 1, the other 100-plus she cited were those who died outside of combat, such as because of accidents or illness. See (a PDF updated with two new unfortunate deaths since O'Donnell spoke): www.defenselink.mil
Picking up on a CyberAlert item and an article on Salon.com, on Tuesday night FNC's Brit Hume informed viewers of his Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC how "we are just now finding out some things about this past weekend's anti-war protest in Washington that the mass media did not include its accounts."
Hume began his October 27 "Grapevine" segment: "We are just now finding out some things about this past weekend's anti-war protest in Washington that the mass media did not include its accounts. One speaker, a rap musician, chanted 'F--- Bush,' but he chose to use the full four-letter word. The crowd then chanted the same.
The October 28 CyberAlert reported: Sunday's Washington Post story on the latest "anti-war" protest organized by some very far-left groups ignored the more incendiary comments from the officially-sanctioned speakers on the stage and tried to portray an image of a group of average people next door coming together along with concerned relatives of those deployed in Iraq, as opposed to a bunch of hateful political activists. From the stage, to the delight of the crowd which joined in, a rapper yelled: "F*** George Bush!" But the Post ignored that and saw only how "the demonstrators represented a diverse mix of dissent, from suburban high school students to gray-haired retirees, from fathers pushing their children in strollers to Muslim American college students shouting through bullhorns..." See: www.mediaresearch.org
Newsweek was the only news magazine to devote a page this week to the partial-birth abortion ban passed last week by the Senate and sent to the President's desk, but it offered a strange take on the victory, quoting four abortion advocates who feel it will never pass Supreme Court muster, but only Senator Bill Frist on the pro-life side. Frist's quote describing the procedure as "barbaric" and "brutal" was the closest Newsweek came to reporting the medical realities.
[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, submitted this article for inclusion in CyberAlert.]
True to form, Newsweek loaded up the story, in its November 3 issue, with martial metaphors, as if the pro-life side was packing heat. The story's headline read: "A Firefight Over Abortion." Reporter Debra Rosenberg suggested the vote "has set off one of the fiercest political clashes since Roe v. Wade," and concluded the story by noting that if the ban doesn't get judicial approval, it could become "just another skirmish in the abortion wars."
The story began from the perspective of a Nebraska abortionist: "For Dr. Leroy Carhart, last week was deja vu all over again. When Nebraska passed a ban on so-called partial-birth abortion in 1997, Carhart challenged it in court, contending the law was so vague it could restrict nearly all abortions after the first trimester." Dr. Carhart promised to litigate again: "There's no way that I can't refight this," he said.
Rosenberg struggled to get around the basic definition of partial-birth abortion by quoting the bill: "The measure bars 'an overt act' that 'will kill the partially delivered living fetus.'" She also quoted Frist declaring victory: "We have just outlawed a procedure that is barbaric, that is brutal, that is offensive to our moral sensibilities and that is out of the mainstream of the ethical practice of medicine today."
From then on, Rosenberg used only abortion advocates to explain how the ban would not have much political impact: "Though the ban is clearly a major public-relations setback for abortion rights, its real effect is less clear." She then quoted Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, NARAL leader Kate Michelman, and "Emory legal historian" David Garrow. Rosenberg did not explain that Garrow is liberal or the author of the book, "Liberty and Sexuality," which is described in a Publishers Weekly review on Amazon.com as showing "how the courage and initiative of ordinary women and men made a crucial difference in establishing that right [to abortion]."
The Newsweek story is online at: www.msnbc.com
The partial-birth ban is not mentioned in the November 3 U.S. News. Time carried a brief article by Viveca Novak. It agreed with Newsweek that the ban is likely to be judicially crumbled, but its only quote came from Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee. See it at: www.time.com
Veteran television host and producer Merv Griffin, a long-time friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, appeared Tuesday night on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann and used the opportunity to blast CBS for "the most cowardly thing I've ever heard" over the reported tone and content of CBS's upcoming mini-series, The Reagans. "It's a cowardly act," he charged, asking: "Is that what the 'C' stands for in CBS?"
Griffin, the owner of the Beverly Hilton who created the Wheel of Fortune game show after many years as host of his own daytime Merv Griffin Show, relayed how Nancy Reagan feels "hurt" by the distorted portrayal.
Griffin laid into CBS for denigrating the Reagans when they "can't fight back" since Ronald Reagan is "on his deathbed" and Nancy Reagan is taking care of him all day. An angry Griffin asserted:
But MSNBC delivered a cowardly act itself. As Griffin spoke, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, on-screen text, below some historic video of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, read: "30 Members of Reagan Admin. Spent Time in Prison."
That was the fourth an final information line MSNBC placed on screen toward the start of Griffin's appearance by satellite from California. The previous three:
And then in what to MSNBC is one of the four most important and/or interesting facts about Reagan, beneath video of Ronald and Nancy descending plane stairs, viewers were treated to: "30 Members of Reagan Admin. Spent Time in Prison"
If MSNBC ever goes 24-7 with "Time & Again" and "Headliners and Legends," maybe Olbermann's producer could get a job writing screenplays for CBS.
The Reagans is scheduled to air on CBS on Sunday, November 16 and Tuesday, November 18.
Olbermann set up the October 28 segment:
How about being accurate?
Olbermann introduced Griffin: "Joining us now to assess just how meaningful that discourse might be is Merv Griffin, long-time host of his own successful nightly talk show, even more successful television producer, and personal friend to the Reagans."
Olbermann's first question with a cryptic reference to the DrudgeReport.com: "Let me start with your involvement in this. It was reported on an Internet site that Nancy Reagan had asked friends of hers in Hollywood, yourself included, to intervene with CBS in hopes of preventing or editing this miniseries. Is that true?"
Olbermann suggested conservative critics consider it a conspiracy: "We live in a time of assumed conspiracy, especially politically. Do you think, as many of the critics of the CBS series have suggested, that this is some kind of left-wing media revenge, or is it the oldest of entertainment conspiracies, something to make more money with?"
Olbermann's third and last query: "Let me ask you one final question about this, Mr. Griffin. Although we discussed it briefly before, can you synopsize or just give me a feeling of how Mrs. Reagan has reacted to you about the advance publicity for this series?"
For a picture of Griffin and a look at all his work, from television production to now owning luxury hotels in Beverly Hills, Scottsdale, Arizona and Galway, Ireland, see: www.merv.com
To skip the musical intro: www.merv.com
CBS President Les Moonves will be interviewed tonight, Wednesday, on CNBC's Topic A with Tina Brown airing at 10pm and 1am EST.
New York Post columnist Liz Smith on Tuesday quoted Moonves as saying, in the pre-taped session with Brown, that less than three weeks from the broadcast date CBS is still adjusting the final cut, a situation this near to the air date which suggests CBS is reacting to the controversy: "We've looked at the rough cut, there are things we like...there are things we don't like...there are things we think go too far. So there are some edits being made trying to present a more fair picture of the Reagans."
Previous CyberAlert items on the CBS movie:
-- From the October 22 CyberAlert: CBS's upcoming The Reagans mini-series starring James Brolin, aka Mr. Barbra Streisand, as Ronald Reagan, looks to be so slanted against Reagan from the left that even the New York Times has taken notice. In an October 21 story, Times reporter Jim Rutenberg revealed: "As snippets about the television movie circulate in Washington and Los Angeles, friends and relatives of the ailing Mr. Reagan are expressing growing concern that this deconstruction of his presidency is shot through a liberal lens, exaggerating his foibles and giving short shrift to his accomplishments."
For more on that as well as the liberal political orientation of the producers and screenwriter, see: www.mediaresearch.org
Actor Ted Danson, who when last interviewed on a CBS show a couple of weeks ago admitted that though he is a founder of the American Oceans Campaign, he has "relieved" himself in the ocean, on Tuesday's Early Show praised Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark as he denigrated President Bush: "Instead of, you know, hiring the guy you want to go out and have a beer with like we did last time, I think having somebody who genuinely looks like he could lead us in a, he inspires hope in a very fearful time."
Danson's reference to George W. Bush as a guy people wanted to "have a beer with" befuddled CBS host Harry Smith, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, since, as Smith pointed out, Bush "doesn't drink." Unswayed by the factual correction, Danson plowed forward: "Good point. But nevertheless, people wanted to go have a beer with him and so we hired him."
After Danson expressed support for Clark, who hails from the same state, Arkansas, as does his wife, Mary Steenburgen, Smith wondered: "We're not doing this so much in a political sense, but I'm just interested in you as you look at this group of nine people. Why him [Clark] as opposed to anybody else?"
Yes, there you have the shallowness of a Hollywood liberal exposed.
As revealed in the October 15 CyberAlert, Danson, a founder of the American Oceans Campaign, a group which since merged with Oceana, an advocacy organization on whose Board of Directors he sits and which has a campaign devoted to stopping cruise ships from discharging sewage into the ocean, admitted to Craig Kilborn that he has relieved himself in the ocean. For his admission to Kilborn and links to Danson's ocean group: www.mediaresearch.org
For his page on CBS's page for Becker: www.cbs.com
-- Brent Baker