MSNBC and CNN Lionize "Rock Star" Obama, See a Future President --7/28/2004
2. Matthews: "Goose-Stepping Through the World," Cleland Canards
3. Ron Reagan Speech Touted as "Powerful," Claims Also Questioned
4. Boosting a Convention Theme, CBS Touts Stem Cell Work in China
5. CBS Shows Photo of George W. Bush "With a Dukakis-Like Grin"
6. ABC & CBS Skip Kerry's "Un-American," But Brokaw Confronts Her
7. Some Reporters Point Out Liberal Views of Kennedy and Obama
8. Woodruff Hits GOP's "Intolerance" & Lack of "Musical Diversity"
9. CyberAlerts Annoy Brokaw Who Blasts Brent Bozell's "Newsletter"
MSNBC's on-air crew on Tuesday night lionized Democratic convention keynote speaker Barack Obama, though CNN's Jeff Greenfield ("one of the really great keynote speeches of the last quarter century") and Time's Joe Klein, on CNN, also praised his performance. "He is the best argument for the American dream that's around in politics," oozed Newsweek's Howard Fineman on MSNBC before Andrea Mitchell celebrated how "Obama is a rock star!" Chris Matthews insisted that he'd "just seen the first black President."
Greenfield soon explained: "Barack Obama showed why people see him as a genuine comer. Because he was reaching beyond the Democratic base to say, look, you know, there were conservative values like not wasting government money, like studying hard, like responsibility. Very Clintonian themes that can be embraced by an African-American candidate for Senate from Illinois that resonate elsewhere."
Later, during the 11pm EDT NewsNight slot, Klein reminisced: "I was watching and still thinking about Mario Cuomo's address the night before, which, I gotta say was the last keynote before this one tonight that made any impression on me at all."
Some of MSNBC's Tuesday night hype for Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama, as observed by the MRC's Geoff Dickens:
-- During the 9pm EDT hour, Newsweek's Howard Fineman enthused: "He's a great story for the party. There are two establishments here. This Democratic Party establishment. Howard Dean didn't win, John Kerry did, an insider. The Republicans have their establishment. Obama represents something from outside the system but has yet succeeded."
-- Following Obama's speech, in the 10pm EDT hour, Matthews gushed: "I have to tell ya a little chill in my, in my legs now. That is an amazing moment in history right there. It is really an amazing moment. A keynoter like I've never heard." Matthews soon parroted Dick Gephardt: "A star is born."
-- In the 11pm EDT hour, Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "I think the real breakout tonight is Obama. I mean Teresa is a fascinating story but Obama is a rock star!"
-- Matthews added moments later: "Maybe I'm a romantic and I was rooting for, for Colin Powell who turned out to be a little less important politically than I thought he might be in his career. More of a soldier in the last situation we all know about. But I've just seen the first black President there. The reason I say that is because, because I think the immigrant experience combined with the, with the African background combined with the incredible education, combined with his beautiful speech, not every politician gets help from a speech. But that speech was a piece of work!"
MSNBC's Chris Matthews seemingly raised a Nazi comparison to U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan as he asserted that "I don't think we like to be the people goose-stepping through the world." At another point on Tuesday night, Matthews delivered the usual liberal canards about the Max Cleland race in Georgia as he told the former Senator: "Teresa Kerry told us the other night that one of the reasons she switched parties was watching the Republicans tear into your war record, a fabulous war record and sacrifice and accused you of not being patriotic." Matthews wanted to know if Cleland shared the worry that the Republicans could do to Kerry "exactly what they did to you and just rip him apart?"
As if the wife of the Democratic candidate for President would have otherwise remained a member of the opposing party.
-- Matthews' Nazi reference came in reaction to this 8:30pm EDT half hour rant from Keith Olbermann: "Clearly there's a balance between the two things if you look at it in, in the total text of the, of the American history I think Chris. That, that we go back and forth from wanting to dominate the world and, and, and if not dominate than certainly lead it with, with us making most of the suggestions. Compared to that point that you exact-, you make so well that we, that, that we want to be part, that we want to be liked, that we want to be perhaps team captain but not necessarily the world's policemen. Because of course coming with being the world's policemen you have to be the world's landlord and being the world's landlord means you gotta go fix the world's backed up toilet in the middle of the night."
-- After Howard Dean's speech, at about 9:18pm EDT from MSNBC's outdoor Fanueil Hall location, Matthews interviewed former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, who lost his re-election bid. Matthews informed him, as if the tale were not common knowledge: "Teresa Heinz-Kerry said that one of the reasons she became a Democrat not so long ago, just a few years ago, even though she was married to a Democratic [sic] Senator was the way that the Republican Party treated Max Cleland, the Senator from Georgia in that election in which they took the Senate seat away from him. Did you know that? Teresa Kerry told us the other night that one of the reasons she switched parties was watching the Republicans tear into your war record, a fabulous war record and sacrifice and accused you of not being patriotic."
Matthews asked: "What was the vote that they said represented a betrayal? Wasn't it having to do with labor rights and, and federal employment? That kind of thing?...You wanted to keep those civil service jobs."
As if unionizing more people is some kind of noble cause.
Matthews worried: "Well you've been there, you've been in the line-of-fire politically as well as in the war and you paid in both cases. Let me ask you about what could happen this fall and we're getting on it fast. Suppose they say, they take pictures of John, they've already been doing it. Tapes on television of John Kerry saying, 'I voted for the $87 billion for the military in the occupation of Iraq before I voted against it.' Couldn't they do to him exactly what they did to you and just rip him apart?"
As to how the Republicans supposedly questioned Cleland's patriotism, the MRC's Clay Waters pointed out Tuesday on TimesWatch.org in critiquing a New York Times article: "The commercial from Cleland's Republican opponent (now Senator) Saxby Chambliss did no such thing. Over montage of four photographs, one each of bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, two others of the U.S. military, a narrator reads: 'As America faces terrorists and extremist dictators, Max Cleland runs television ads claiming he has the courage to lead.' That's hardly 'linking him to Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.'" For a link to where you can watch the ad: www.timeswatch.org
Ron Reagan's speech, denouncing the Bush administration's embryonic stem cell research policy, earned some media praise with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell championing it as a "compelling" and "powerful statement from a Reagan," but several interview segments during Tuesday night coverage challenged his assumptions. Also on MSNBC, for instance, floor reporter Campbell Brown pressed Congresswoman Diana Degette: "How does Senator John Kerry square his support for additional stem cell research with his stated belief that life begins at conception?" Later, Tom Brokaw sat down with Reagan and played devil's advocate with him and even noted how it can still be done with private funding, a point echoed on FNC by Bill Kristol. FNC's Sean Hannity brought aboard Michael Reagan who criticized his brother.
-- In the 10pm EDT hour, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell asserted: "Well one of the things he didn't do is make false claims for Alzheimer's. He was absolutely, he didn't mention it because as he would be the first to tell you Alzheimer's is one of the few diseases that it is not proving yet to be helpful for. So he was absolutely honest in his scientific explanation. And I thought it was compelling but also, of course, there was that moment when he said, you know, 'we can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance between true compassion and mere ideology.' That's a powerful statement from a Reagan."
-- An hour later, Tom Brokaw sat down with Ron Reagan, an MSNBC analyst who co-anchors their 12-2am EDT shift. Brokaw's questions, as recounted by the MRC's Geoff Dickens:
# "The evidence so far is that stem cell research, at the moment, at this stage of the research would have no effect on Alzheimer's. But was it your father's illness that got you interested in this issue?"
Over on FNC, as tracked by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, at about 10:15 pm EDT, analyst Bill Kristol observed: "You wouldn't know from the speech, of course, that embryonic stem cell research is legal in the United States, and the Bush administration doesn't propose to make it illegal...."
About 45 minutes earlier, under the Hannity and Colmes banner, Sean Hannity had interviewed Michael Reagan about his brother:
Hannity: "Is he being used, your brother, by the Democratic Party, in your view?"
The CBS and NBC evening newscasts on Tuesday night matched a Democratic theme of the night showcasing Ron Reagan, decrying the Bush administration's ban on the use of federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. CBS held up communist China with its forced abortion policies, though CBS naturally didn't mention that, as a moral leader. "A treatment using cells from an aborted fetus is just too controversial in today's politically charged climate," Barry Petersen lamented from China where, he touted, "it's now showing results with some paralyzed patients." Petersen relayed the view of an ALS patient: "To him, it's a medical miracle he says other Americans can have, but only if they're willing to leave America to find it."
The NBC Nightly News showcased an "In Their Own Words" segment from Irving Weissmann, a professor at Stanford University who, Brokaw stated, "believes valuable information is being lost in a game of politics." Weissmann denounced the "ideological ban" and charged that "to the extent that you might be involved in advising or enforcing or voting for such a ban, that is, a ban criminalizing this kind of research, you're responsible for the lives that would be lost."
In another story, NBC's Robert Bazell trumpeted how "researchers say stem cells from embryos could help with many diseases," but, to his credit, Bazell pointed out that "when it comes to Alzheimer's, the story is different. Experts like Dr. Michael Shelanski of Columbia University say using stem cells to replace damaged brain cells is not the key to curing this disease."
Neither CBS nor NBC pointed out how there is no "ban" on embryonic stem cell research. Just that it can't be done through federal funding.
Dan Rather set up the CBS Evening News segment, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Another featured speaker here at the Democratic convention tonight is the son of a Republican President. Ron Reagan Jr. is a strong advocate of controversial stem cell and related research, which President Bush and others oppose as, quote, 'unethical.' Actual experiments are limited, but they are under way on some seriously ill patients. CBS's Barry Petersen reports where, and he has the results tonight."
Petersen began: "Ben Byer has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's destroying his body's muscles. For Ben, the first thing that started to fail: His vocal chords."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw set up the multi-story segment: "NBC News 'In Depth' tonight, stem cell research. A thorny issue that we'll be hearing a lot about from the podium here in Boston tonight and throughout the campaign. Advocates say that stem cells, especially those obtained from embryos, may hold the key to reversing diseases such as Parkinson's and maybe even some day Alzheimer's. But opponents of abortion are strongly against using embryonic stem cells. Dr. Irving Weissmann, a professor at Stanford University, is one of the pioneers of stem cell research. He believes valuable information is being lost in a game of politics. Tonight, Dr. Weissmann in his own words."
Next, NBC ran the Bazell story.
George W. Bush's "Dukakis-like grin"? Relaying the spin of the Kerry campaign in the wake of the photo showing John Kerry on all fours while wearing an aqua protective suit which surrounded his face as he crawled out of a space shuttle hatch at NASA, on Tuesday's CBS Evening News Byron Pitts asserted that the Bush campaign compared it to the 1988 photo of Michael Dukakis riding in a tank, and then highlighted how the Kerry campaign was "quick to point to a photo of President Bush in goggles with a Dukakis-like grin."
On screen, CBS displayed a file photo of Bush, with a thumbs-up, wearing goggles and headphones in what appeared to be a military visit, but not his landing on the aircraft carrier. Seconds before, CBS had shown the picture of Dukakis who was, unlike Bush, grinning with his teeth visible.
On the July 27 CBS Evening News, Pitts reported, over matching photos: "In a week, when every image matters, the Bush/Cheney campaign wasted little time poking fun at pictures of Senator Kerry in a protective suit as he toured the Kennedy Space Center in Florida yesterday. They compared it to a photo-op of another presidential candidate: Michael Dukakis riding in a tank in 1988. That image helped cripple his campaign. But Kerry's aides insisted this get-up was required by NASA and they were just as quick to point to a photo of President Bush in goggles with a Dukakis-like grin."
"It's all politics at its pettiest," Pitts conceded, but that didn't inhibit him from publicizing the pettiness.
For the photo of Kerry in the protective suit on a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday: story.news.yahoo.com
ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather on Tuesday night, during interviews with Teresa Heinz Kerry, again treated sympathetically her confrontation with Pittsburgh Tribune Review editorial page editor Colin McNickle, sticking to how she told him to "shove it" and ignoring both how she denied what she really said and her incendiary charge that her husband's opponents "sometimes" display "un-American traits." But NBC's Tom Brokaw actually confronted her with her own words: "Let's be absolutely clear about this. Did you use the phrase 'un-American traits'?" Heinz Kerry conceded: "Un-Pennsylvanian and sometimes un-American traits." Brokaw pressed her: "And what did you mean?"
In contrast, Rather treated her as the heroic one: "When she confronted what she considers to be a politically-opposed editorial writer from a Pennsylvania newspaper Sunday night, she says she was defending her honor." CBS then played a clip of Heinz Kerry telling McNickle: "You said something I didn't say. Now shove it." But for the second night in a row, CBS failed to play the clip of her using the term "un-American."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings set up a discussion with her which took place in ABC's off the floor mini-studio: "Most of Teresa Heinz Kerry's public appearances are unscripted. And her off-the-cuff remarks often raise a few eyebrows. It doesn't seem to bother her."
Jennings asked her: "You have said on many occasions that you're not afraid of making mistakes. I wonder if now you find that you have to work hard not to offend?"
McNickle had asked her about to whom she was referring in saying "un-American activity" and Heinz Kerry's contention is that was a misquote since she cited "un-American traits" and that's what prompted her to tell McNickle to "shove it." But that doesn't alter the fact that she used the term "un-American."
For Tuesday's CBS Evening News, Rather talked to Heinz Kery as the two stood in the CBS News booth. After a clip from Hillary Clinton about how First Ladies must rise to the challenge, Rather asserted: "Teresa Heinz Kerry is rising to that challenge in her own way."
NBC's Tom Brokaw, however, challenged Heinz Kerry with her own words. Brokaw noted: "She has a style that's causing her some grief this week over a dust-up with a reporter who she told to 'shove it' after using the phrase 'un-American' in talking about Pennsylvania politics."
Whatever that means.
Memo to Tom Brokaw, re #9 below, CyberAlert notes both your biased reporting and your journalism which deserves plaudits.
Earlier CyberAlert items on the media's avoidance of Kerry's "un-American" accusation:
July 27 CyberAlert Afternoon Edition: www.mrc.org
July 27 CyberAlert Morning Edition: www.mrc.org
July 26 CyberAlert Afternoon Edition: www.mrc.org
Liberals acknowledged. Some network reporters on Tuesday night actually pointed out the liberal views of Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama.
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings teased how "the party's most famous liberal, and proud of it, Senator Kennedy, will take on the President."
The program ended with a profile of keynoter Obama by ABC reporter Dean Reynolds, who noted: "Obama says he's trying to run a positive campaign with liberal positions."
-- CBS Evening News. In a profile of Obama, Cynthia Bowers championed him: "He calls himself 'the skinny kid with big ears,' but at 42, Barack Obama is taking on rock star status at this convention, as he is poised to become only the third black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction." But she also labeled him: "Obama has never hidden a decidedly liberal platform which was strongly anti-war before that position had popular support."
-- CNN prime time coverage, as monitored by the MRC's Ken Shepherd. Just before 8pm EDT, the CNN crew discussed Ted Kennedy's upcoming speech:
# Judy Woodruff: "He is, Ted Kennedy beloved among these Democrats. He's known as Mr. Liberal by the Republicans, but he is John Kerry's senior senator from the state of Massachusetts."
# John King, from the floor: "Senator Kennedy, of course, one of the prominent liberals, perhaps the premiere liberal now in the party, rivaled maybe by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton right now....The joke in the Bush campaign is that Senator Kennedy is the conservative senator from Massachusetts and that John Kerry is even more liberal, Wolf."
# Jeff Greenfield: "He's certainly not the voice of centrist moderate Democrats. He is the last liberal lion. He's been in the Senate longer than anyone except Robert Byrd I believe."
Weirdest historical recollection/criticism of a musical genre of the day: CNN's Judy Woodruff contended on Tuesday's Inside Politics that "convention tunes" sometimes "provide a fitting soundtrack to a bigger story" and at the 1992 Republican Convention, which "came to symbolize closed-door intolerance," the music "was all country all the time, hardly a portrait of musical diversity."
The MRC's Jessica Anderson caught this comment from Woodruff delivered on the July 27 Inside Politics aired from 3-4:30pm EDT:
Only for liberals and journalists did the 1992 convention come to "symbolize closed-door intolerance."
But it sounds like Woodruff is pretty intolerant of country music.
These MRC CyberAlerts really annoy NBC anchor Tom Brokaw and ABC's Peter Jennings is worried that the "noise" about media bias being made by conservatives has "had an effect in the corporate suites." On Sunday, at a forum on media coverage of the presidential campaign, held by the Shorenstein Center for Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University's JFK School of Government, Brokaw blasted MRC President Brent Bozell by name: "There are organized interest groups out there. There's a guy by the name of Brent Bozell, who makes a living at, you know, taking us on every night. He's well-organized, he's got a constituency, he's got a newsletter. He can hit a button and we'll hear from him."
C-SPAN2 on Tuesday morning ran a tape of the July 25 session, which took advantage of the Democratic convention across the Charles River in Boston, to hold the forum which featured ABC's Peter Jennings, NBC's Tom Brokaw, PBS's Jim Lehrer, CBS's Dan Rather and CNN's Judy Woodruff.
Jennings reported that on media bias "I hear more about conservative concern than I did in the past," and he illustrated that by choosing an anecdote which portrayed media critics as a bunch of rude wackos as he recounted how on the plane trip to Boston a guy denounced him: "America hater! Leave the country immediately."
MRC intern Mary Fisher took down Brokaw's comments, which were prompted by Alex Jones, a former New York Times reporter who is now Director of the Shorenstein Center, who suggested to Brokaw: "It seems to me that one of the things that you have to tell, that would be very illuminating, is just what kind of political pressure and ideological pressure you're under as you go about putting your news reports together?"
Brokaw replied: "Well, Alex I think the pressure has always been there. I mean the sixties were a very emotional time of a great deal of pressure. The first story that I covered, and Dan was in the thick of it more than I was on a national bases, was the civil rights story. You can't imagine the pressures that came to the networks then. They didn't have the same mechanics that they do now, it's just much more efficient. And they're able to hit a switch in effect and the newsroom is flooded with not just telephone calls, but especially with e-mails. I can't remember a time in the newsroom, however, in which we said we better back off because we don't want to trigger that. What often happens is that if we prepare a story we all look at each other and say somebody better be monitoring the e-mails tonight because they're coming in. And we look at them the next day and I make a point a deliberate point of not wading through all the e-mails. I've got kind of an editor of the e-mails who will say, 'you should look at these or these,' or 'this was the tone' or whatever because I believe that it would have, at some point, an effect on me and I'm trying to build a barrier. And by the way, it's left to right across the spectrum.
Humorously, just as Brokaw was referring to how "there are organized interest groups out there," C-SPAN cut to a brief shot of Al Franken in the audience.
(This isn't the first time Brokaw has complained about the MRC and the constant drumbeat delivered by CyberAlerts. The January 9 CyberAlert relayed: Tom Brokaw can't escape the MRC -- and that annoys him. In an interview in the latest edition of the Columbia Journalism Review magazine, Brokaw denied he's guilty of any liberal bias and seemed to be referring to the MRC's CyberAlert as he called the constant drumbeat of criticism from the MRC "a little wearying" since the MRC's "fine legal points" are "everywhere every day." He charged that "most of the cases" of liberal bias complaints "are pretty flimsily made," but Brokaw had no problem seeing bias on FNC: "It's a lively, right-of-center opinionated all-news channel." See: www.mediaresearch.org)
At Sunday's Harvard forum, Jennings picked up on Brokaw's concern about the impact of pressure from conservatives: "I think there is this anxiety in the newsroom and I think it comes in part from the corporate suite. I think that the rise, not merely of, the presence of conservative opinion in the country, but the related noise being made in the media by conservative voices these days. I think it's had an effect in the corporate suites. And I think it worries people...I hear more about conservative concern than I did in the past.
One wonders what changes at ABC News, which disturb Jennings, were the result of corporate decisions influenced by complaints from conservatives.
For an article in the Harvard Gazette, the university administration's newspaper, on the forum -- with photos: www.news.harvard.edu
The MRC's Rich Noyes first heard of Brokaw's reference to the MRC and Bozell from a July 26 Boston Globe story in which Mark Jurkowitz reported on the forum: "Brokaw, referring to the president of the conservative watchdog organization, the Media Research Center, said conservatives 'feel they have to go to war against the networks every day.'" For that article in full: www.boston.com
-- Brent Baker, with the night/overnight team of Geoff Dickens, Brad Wilmouth and Ken Shepherd; plus Mez Djouadi on the early morning posting shift