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MSNBC Smears Limbaugh with 'Phony Soldiers' Distortion --10/1/2007


1. MSNBC Smears Limbaugh with 'Phony Soldiers' Distortion
All day Friday, even after Rush Limbaugh corrected the misinformation, MSNBC promoted a story fed to them by the far-left Media Matters about how Rush Limbaugh had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war "phony soldiers." Limbaugh opened his noon EDT radio show on Friday by explaining how he was referring not to any real soldier but a phony one, notably Jesse MacBeth, who became a hero to the left when he recounted how his Army unit murdered innocent Iraqis. In fact, he hadn't even completed basic training. Nonetheless, MSNBC headlined a 4pm EDT segment "'PHONY SOLDIERS' INSULT; Rush Limbaugh: U.S. Troops Who Oppose Iraq War are 'Phony.'" At the top of the next hour, Chris Matthews teased Hardball: "Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says veterans who support withdrawing the troops are 'phony soldiers.' Those are his words." Then at 8pm EDT, with "Limbaugh Bashes Vets for Withdrawal" on screen, and briefly "...Phony Soldiers..." over video of Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann teased Countdown: "Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote: Servicemen protesting the war are quote, 'phony soldiers.'"

2. Sore Loser: With No Thomas Interview, NBC Features Anita Hill
CBS's 60 Minutes got the first interview with Clarence Thomas on the occasion of the release of his memoir and ABC's Good Morning America is in line for the morning show exclusive interview with him to air multiple days this week, thus leaving NBC News out of the mix. So, the losing network decided to resurrect Anita Hill. Anchor Lester Holt teased Sunday's NBC Nightly News: "Her story. Justice Clarence Thomas speaks out, and tonight so does the woman who nearly derailed his confirmation. My exclusive interview with Anita Hill." Though Hill's charges against Thomas look pretty tame through the later revelations of Bill Clinton's actions with women, Holt depicted them as "charges of crude sexual advances" and "shocking allegations." Also, without any mention of the left-wing activists with whom Hill colluded, Holt sympathetically described her as "a reluctant witness."

3. Steph on Clinton: 'Philanthropist Who Happened to Be President'
ABC's George Stephanopoulos put on a sycophantic display in his pre-taped interview on Sunday's This Week with his former boss, ex-President Bill Clinton. Holding up the magazine as the two sat in a room at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, Stephanopoulos touted "this great story in The Atlantic this month about your philanthropy" which "says you're basically re-inventing philanthropy" and, quoting the author, "'history may remember Bill Clinton as the philanthropist who happened to be President.' You okay with that?" The ever humble Clinton insisted: "I'll have to live a very long time to have as positive an impact on as many people in the United States and around the world in my after life as I did as President." Next, Stephanopoulos oozed that the 1991 campaign slogan of "buy one, get one free" with Bill and Hillary is now "about as resonant as ever" with Hillary and Bill. As Clinton chuckled, Stephanopoulos wondered: "Is it more true now than it was then?" In the previous segment, Stephanopoulos was a bit less celebratory about GOP prospects, asking in-studio guest Newt Gingrich: "How much are you worried that, you know, this year, 2008, is shaping up to be another 1964 for the Republican Party?"

4. ABC Lobbies for Liberal Legislation on Time Off; Touts '08 Dem
On Friday's Good Morning America, for the fourth time this year, the ABC program skewered America for not being generous with paid leave and openly lobbied viewers to support a Democratic, big government initiative. After lumping the U.S. in with countries such as Liberia and Lesotho, as being one of only five countries that don't provide paid maternity leave, GMA contributor Tory Johnson appeared with Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd to promote his legislation. "First and most important is to make your voice heard, Johnson exclaimed. Openly advocating this government expansion, she added, "On the GMA Web site, we have links to all the Senator's and Congressmen's offices. Call them. E-mail them. Let them know where you stand."

5. Field Charges that Anti-War Comment Caused Fox to Bleep Her
Actress Sally Field charged, on Friday's Good Morning America, that Fox censored, as part of some pro-war agenda, her Emmy night remark that "if mothers ruled the world, there would be no Goddamned wars." According to the Flying Nun star, "when it has to do with war at all on Fox, I think they all ran around like a bunch of chickens and started pulling wires, you know, 'Get her off the air!'" Of course, the actual reason her comments were edited was because Fox feared being fined by the FCC for her use of "Goddamned." Other edits that night included a profanity and Ray Romano's use of the word "screwing." In fact, Fox allowed several conservative-slamming, non-vulgar jokes to air unimpeded. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer again indicated that the TV star's edited anti-war tirade at the September 16 Emmys was simply no big deal. Sawyer dismissively observed: "Again, we were saying at the time, everybody in Canada heard the whole thing, sat at home and watched it." Agreeing with the implication of American provincialism, the Brothers and Sisters star noted, "And in London. A friend of mine in London." Sawyer added that the cultured British must have been "thinking probably nothing much of it."

6. NBC Gives Springsteen Platform for Litany of Liberal Complaints
Giving a live concert on the Friday Today show, Bruce Springsteen didn't just sing but railed against the past six years of George W. Bush's administration. Although he didn't mention Bush by name, the outspoken liberal rocker didn't need to connect the dots as he hit just about every complaint leftists have charged against the current administration. During his talk-up before his performance of "Living In the Future," Springsteen yelled about "rendition," "illegal wiretapping," "voter suppression," "an attack on the Constitution," "the neglect" of New Orleans and "the loss of our best young men and women in a tragic war."


MSNBC Smears Limbaugh with 'Phony Soldiers'
Distortion

All day Friday, even after Rush Limbaugh corrected the misinformation, MSNBC promoted a story fed to them by the far-left Media Matters about how Rush Limbaugh had called military personnel who served in Iraq and oppose the war "phony soldiers." Limbaugh opened his noon EDT radio show on Friday by explaining how he was referring not to any real soldier but a phony one, notably Jesse MacBeth, who became a hero to the left when he recounted how his Army unit murdered innocent Iraqis. In fact, he hadn't even completed basic training.

Nonetheless, MSNBC headlined a 4pm EDT segment "'PHONY SOLDIERS' INSULT; Rush Limbaugh: U.S. Troops Who Oppose Iraq War are 'Phony.'" Anchor Tamron Hall asserted: "Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh never served in the armed forces, so when he made the following comments about Iraq War veterans who return home to oppose the war, it set off a firestorm of outrage." Hall ran a clip of Limbaugh saying it is Democrats who need to apologize for insulting the troops, but failed to relay Limbaugh's explanation of who he said was "phony." Pairing it with MoveOn's "General Betray Us" ad, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs called it "stupid talk" and suggested those in the military "would like people who don't know what they're talking about to just shut up."

At the top of the next hour, Chris Matthews teased Hardball: "Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says veterans who support withdrawing the troops are 'phony soldiers.' Those are his words." A guest charged Limbaugh "didn't go to Vietnam because he had a bump on his butt. So, I mean, this guy's a draft-dodger." Then at 8pm EDT, with "Limbaugh Bashes Vets for Withdrawal" on screen, and briefly "...Phony Soldiers..." over video of Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann teased Countdown: "Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote: Servicemen protesting the war are quote, 'phony soldiers.'"

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

On his September 26 radio program, a caller asserted that the media "never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media." Limbaugh interjected: "The phony soldiers." After the call, Limbaugh proceeded to recount:

Here is a Morning Update that we did recently, talking about fake soldiers. This is a story of who the left props up as heroes. They have their celebrities and one of them was Army Ranger Jesse MacBeth. Now, he was a "corporal" I say in quotes. Twenty-three years old. What made Jesse MacBeth a hero to the anti-war crowd wasn't his Purple Heart; it wasn't his being affiliated with post-traumatic stress disorder from tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. No. What made Jesse Macbeth, Army Ranger, a hero to the left was his courage, in their view, off the battlefield, without regard to consequences. He told the world the abuses he had witnessed in Iraq, American soldiers killing unarmed civilians, hundreds of men, women, even children. In one gruesome account, translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet, Army Ranger Jesse Macbeth describes the horrors this way:

"We would burn their bodies. We would hang their bodies from the rafters in the mosque." Now, recently, Jesse Macbeth, poster boy for the anti-war left, had his day in court. And you know what? He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record. He was in the Army. Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse Macbeth isn't an Army Ranger, never was. He isn't a corporal, never was. He never won the Purple Heart, and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen. You probably haven't even heard about this. And, if you have, you haven't heard much about it. This doesn't fit the narrative and the template in the Drive-By Media and the Democrat Party as to who is a genuine war hero...

END of Excerpt

At worst, who Limbaugh meant by "phony soldiers" was unclear and so any story should, at the very least, include Limbaugh's explanation and not just presume the hostile spin from a far-left group is a newsworthy take that cannot be contradicted in multi-minute segments with plenty of time to better inform viewers. But that's what MSNBC did Friday.

The above Limbaugh transcript is from an excellent rundown of the situation, "NEXT STOP: RUSHVILLE; Mainstream Media's Smear Train Chugs Along," by Brian Maloney on his RadioEqualizer blog. Maloney began:

Not content to wait until Bill O'Reilly's hoped- for demise, the George Soros-funded Media Matters/mainstream media smear machine has added a second target: Rush Limbaugh.

And this time, the distortion of words may actually be more severe than in O'Reilly's case.

Now, Media Matters has twisted and edited Rush's words in a way that makes it appear he's insulting the troops. They've taken the false idea that he called anti-war soldiers "phony troops" and spread it across the Internet. Even the White House fell for it. But Limbaugh said nothing of the sort....

END of Excerpt

For the RadioEqualizer blog post in full: radioequalizer.blogspot.com

Under "The Anatomy of a Smear: 'Phony Soldiers' Is a Phony Story," Limbaugh's Web site features a transcript, and YouTube video, of his Friday show opening with a detailed explanation of what he said Thursday and how liberals have deliberately distorted it. For the YouTube video: www.youtube.com

For the full transcript of Limbaugh's Friday remarks: www.rushlimbaugh.com

Michelle Malkin's site has more on Jesse MacBeth: michellemalkin.com

ABC's World News, in a September 24 story on what anchor Charles Gibson described using the same "phony" term as Limbaugh, looked at "phony heroes" -- those passing themselves off as Iraq war veterans. Reporter Brian Ross noted:
"The authorities say the most disturbing case involves this man: 23-year-old Jesse MacBeth. In a YouTube video seen around the world, MacBeth became a rallying point for anti-war groups as he talked of the purple heart he received in Iraq and described how he and other U.S. Army Rangers killed innocent civilians at a Baghdad mosque. It was a complete fabrication."

[For more on ABC's story, see the Sunday night RadioEqualizer posting, "TWO DAYS EARLIER...ABC's 'Phony Vets': Same Language, Context As Rush," online at: radioequalizer.blogspot.com ]

Now, highlights from MSNBC's Friday afternoon and evening (September 28) doing the bidding of the far-left effort by Media Matters to impugn and discredit the leading voice of conservatives:

# MSNBC Live at about 4:12pm EDT (transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth who corrected the closed-captioning against the video):

TAMRON HALL: Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh never served in the armed forces, so when he made the following comments about Iraq War veterans who return home to oppose the war, it set off a firestorm of outrage. Take a listen.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: It's not possible intellectually to follow these people. CALLER: No, it's not, and what's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They like to pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media. LIMBAUGH: The phony soldiers.

HALL: MSNBC wanted to hear Mr. Limbaugh's side of the story, but he declined our invitation. Instead, he offered this on the show today. Here's a quote: "If anybody owes anybody an apology, the entire Democrat party, from Hillary Clinton on down, owes the U.S. military an apology. They owe me an apology, and they owe the American people an apology -- and are they owed massive defeat in 2008! They are irresponsible, they are dishonest, they are incompetent, and they pose a great threat to this country -- as evidenced by this small little episode."
HALL: To talk more about that episode, U.S. Army Colonel Jack Jacobs, who's an MSNBC military analyst, is here with us to talk about this. So, Colonel Jacobs, it's interesting, of course, MoveOn.Org, heavy criticism, even taken up issue on the Congress floor about their "General Betray Us" ad. Is it different when you criticize a general as MoveOn.Org did as when you compare to Rush Limbaugh's comments about soldiers?
Retired Colonel JACK JACOBS, MSNBC military analyst: Well, stupid talk is stupid talk no matter who it comes from and who it's talking about. You know, when I was in Vietnam, we looked back at the states and saw all the turmoil in the streets, the yelling and screaming in Congress, complaints and moaning and groaning on television, and we didn't pay any attention to any of that stuff. We had lots more important things to do like taking care of each other and completing the mission. Whether you're for the war or against the war, it's really quite irrelevant.
HALL: So it does not affect the morale of troops because you often hear people say, oh, they can hear what's going on here, and it affects the way they feel out there.
JACOBS: Well, they do hear what's going on, you know. With technology being the way it is, with all the information that's going out to the battlefield and coming back from the battlefield, there's a huge, so they can hear, everybody out there can hear everything that goes on back in the United States, including stuff like this and MoveOn.Org and so on. But they're not paying any attention to it.
HALL: How are troops who come out and, lately have come out against the war, how are they treated and perceived by other personnel in the military?
JACOBS: Well, it's interesting. You know, it's a free country. You can say anything you want to anytime you want to. And that includes soldiers, as well, but it's an interesting thing about war. Emotions that are forged in the crucible of combat are extremely tough indeed. And most of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, they like to think about their comrades, about taking care of their comrades, and it's going to be very, very difficult to get them to say anything bad about their comrades and what they do. They can oppose the war and think that we've done a bad job, we didn't use enough resources, we should have gone in with more troops, should never have gone in in the first place. They can think and say all those things, but at the end of the day, they're going to keep faith with the troops who are back there fighting.
HALL: But without some of their insight, we would not be able to know the other side. Of course, my father was in the Army for 35 years. He follows the line, I know. He's master sergeant. But without insight from the troops, you have all of these people on the outside who have never served chiming in giving their opinion.
JACOBS: Well, you raise a very significant question. It's really a good thing that we, we ought to pay as much attention as we possibly can to people who have the experience, including the generals who have come out and said, look, we did this all wrong, and we the generals should have paid more attention to it and said more at the time, and pay no attention to people, for example, like Rush Limbaugh and the people at MoveOn.Org who have no military experience at all.
HALL: So from the people who have the military experience, are you thinking that they want MoveOn.Org, Rush Limbaugh, both sides just to shut up at some point?
JACOBS: Yeah, I think if you were to distill it down to its irreducible minimum, I think soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines would like people who don't know what they're talking about to just shut up.
HALL: All right, thank you very much, Colonel Jacobs. Always good to talk to you. Love that frank talk that you give me.


# Hardball, live at 5pm EDT and re-run at 7pm EDT:

TEASE FROM CHRIS MATTHEWS: Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh says veterans who support withdrawing the troops are "phony soldiers." Those are his words...

PLUG FROM MATTHEWS FOR THE UPCOMING SEGMENT: And later, is it unpatriotic for a veteran of the Iraq war to criticize the war? Rush Limbaugh thinks it is.
In the subsequent segment with two guests (Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org and Buzz Patterson of Move America Forward), neither of whom corrected Matthews' characterization of Limbaugh's comment, Matthews displayed on screen, as audio played, the same excerpt the network did an hour earlier:

RUSH LIMBAUGH: It's not possible intellectually to follow these people.
CALLER: No, it's not. And what's really funny is they never talk to real soldiers. They pull these soldiers that come up out of the blue and spout to the media.
RUSH: The phony soldiers.

From the discussion which followed:

SOLTZ (TOP GUY IN THE SCREEN SHOT) TRASHED LIMBAUGH: Invite me on the show brother, because I want to have a one-on-one discussion about how our service is phony when this is a guy that, you know, didn't go to Vietnam because he had a bump on his butt. So, I mean, this guy's a draft-dodger...


# Countdown, live at 8pm EDT, re-run at 12am EDT Saturday morning:

With "Limbaugh Bashes Vets for Withdrawal" on Screen, and Briefly "...Phony Soldiers..." over Video of Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann teased:
Comedian Rush Limbaugh tries to back out of his quote: Servicemen protesting the war are quote "phony soldiers."
RUSH LIMBAUGH: I never said what you think I said
OLBERMANN: Not only did he, now he said something similar about the Congressman and Vietnam vet Jack Murtha.

OLBERMANN SOON CONTENDED: Limbaugh now trying to claim that his tirade referred to just one phony soldier, Jesse MacBeth who falsely claimed to be an Army Ranger and veteran of the Iraq war. That re-write might have a better chance of passing the smell test had Mr. Limbaugh's original 'phony soldiers' comment -- still plural at that point -- not come nearly two minutes before he ever mentioned MacBeth on yesterday's radio show. Limbaugh making things worse for himself today by adding Congressman John Murtha, a decorated Vietnam vet, to his list of 'phony soldiers' -- now back to being plural.
AUDIO OF LIMBAUGH: How about Jack Murtha blanketly accepting the notion that Marines at Haditha engaged in wanton murder of innocent children and civilians?

But Olbermann left out Limbaugh's very next sentence, the one by coincidence MSNBC's 4pm EDT hour featured, that made clear he was reacting to demands that he apologize by arguing that liberals need to apologize for their insults of the troops: "If anybody owes anybody an apology, the entire Democrat Party, from Hillary Clinton on down, owes the U.S. military an apology. They owe me an apology, and they owe the American people an apology -- and they are owed massive defeat in 2008!"

Sore Loser: With No Thomas Interview,
NBC Features Anita Hill

CBS's 60 Minutes got the first interview with Clarence Thomas on the occasion of the release of his memoir and ABC's Good Morning America is in line for the morning show exclusive interview with him to air multiple days this week, thus leaving NBC News out of the mix. So, the losing network decided to resurrect Anita Hill. Anchor Lester Holt teased Sunday's NBC Nightly News: "Her story. Justice Clarence Thomas speaks out, and tonight so does the woman who nearly derailed his confirmation. My exclusive interview with Anita Hill." Though Hill's charges against Thomas look pretty tame through the later revelations of Bill Clinton's actions with women, Holt depicted them as "charges of crude sexual advances" and "shocking allegations." Also, without any mention of the left-wing activists with whom Hill colluded, Holt sympathetically described her as "a reluctant witness."

Hill declared of Thomas: "I don't think he's been a particularly convincing justice." Holt concluded by forwarding her political agenda: "Anita Hill believes at the time of the Senate hearings, she was judged against the backdrop of both black and female stereotypes. And as a direct result, she has become an outspoken advocate of issues of gender and racial equality."

In contrast, previewing her GMA interviews with Thomas, on Sunday's World News Jan Crawford Greenburg characterized Thomas as the one "maligned" in the hearings:
"The first Monday of October is always kind of a momentous day, but it's going to be overshadowed by these memoirs that really trace the course of a fascinating life of one of the most complex, divisive figures in modern life going through his bitter 1991 confirmation hearings. We sat down with him for nearly seven hours over the course of four days. Incredible, revealing, powerful interviews of a really maligned and misunderstood justice."

To his credit, Holt did at least introduce his piece on Hill by relaying Thomas's less than glowing assessment of Hill as a "left winger" and a "mediocre employee."

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

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the September 30 NBC Nightly News story:

LESTER HOLT: The man known as the quietest justice on the Supreme Court is now speaking out. Clarence Thomas has a new book coming out tomorrow, My Grandfather's Son. In it, it's clear he has not forgotten his bruising confirmation battle and the charges of crude sexual advances leveled by his former employee Anita Hill. As we reported here last night, Thomas describes Hill in his book as a "left winger" and a "mediocre employee." He writes "she was touchy and apt to overreact."
Tonight, her story. Anita Hill was a reluctant witness 16 years ago. Her shocking allegations gave Thomas' confirmation hearings the confrontational tone of a trial. After Thomas was confirmed to the court, Hill returned to private life as a law professor. I spoke with her recently about the Thomas memoir and the hearings that transfixed the nation.
ANITA HILL: I was portrayed as crazy. I was portrayed as someone with an axe to grind. I was portrayed as someone who was in love with Clarence Thomas.
HOLT: Today Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University just outside Boston.
HOLT TO HILL: Are you still recognized on the streets?
HILL: Yes, I'm recognized on the streets, in funny ways, in funny places where I wouldn't have expected.
HOLT: She says she has never fully put the episode behind her.
HOLT TO HILL: Clarence Thomas has an autobiography coming out soon. Are you bracing yourself for that?
HILL: He has made clear that he thought that the confirmation hearing really was an attempt by politicians, really, to crucify him or the high-tech lynching of Clarence Thomas. So I can't imagine that there will be new things coming out in this biography, autobiography, that I have not heard or that he hasn't even himself said before.
HOLT: Hill says she hasn't had any personal contact with Thomas since the hearings. And her professional assessment of him is carefully measured.
HOLT TO HILL: What kind of justice do you think he's been?
HILL: I don't pretend to be objective about Clarence Thomas as a justice, and I would be dishonest if I said I am objective. But from my reading of the cases, I don't think he's been a particularly convincing justice.
HOLT: As she moves forward, Hill is also looking back. She received over 20,000 letters in the months after the hearing, letters she now wants to revisit.
HILL: I'm going to go back and look at what those letters say about where we were as a society then and hopefully what they say about how we can move forward.
HOLT: And looking back, Anita Hill believes at the time of the Senate hearings, she was judged against the backdrop of both black and female stereotypes. And as a direct result, she has become an outspoken advocate of issues of gender and racial equality.

Steph on Clinton: 'Philanthropist Who
Happened to Be President'

ABC's George Stephanopoulos put on a sycophantic display in his pre-taped interview on Sunday's This Week with his former boss, ex-President Bill Clinton. Holding up the magazine as the two sat in a room at the Clinton Global Initiative meeting, Stephanopoulos touted "this great story in The Atlantic this month about your philanthropy" which "says you're basically re-inventing philanthropy" and, quoting the author, "'history may remember Bill Clinton as the philanthropist who happened to be President.' You okay with that?" The ever humble Clinton insisted: "I'll have to live a very long time to have as positive an impact on as many people in the United States and around the world in my after life as I did as President." Next, Stephanopoulos oozed that the 1991 campaign slogan of "buy one, get one free" with Bill and Hillary is now "about as resonant as ever" with Hillary and Bill. As Clinton chuckled, Stephanopoulos wondered: "Is it more true now than it was then?"

In the previous segment, Stephanopoulos was a bit less celebratory about GOP prospects, asking in-studio guest Newt Gingrich: "How much are you worried that, you know, this year, 2008, is shaping up to be another 1964 for the Republican Party?" (Gingrich replied he sees it more like 1976 with the Republican coming close but unable to close the gap with Hillary Clinton.) NBC's Tim Russert, who also ran on Meet the Press a taped segment with Bill Clinton, was nearly as fawning as Stephanopoulos, posing such obsequious questions as: "What would your role be? What would you be called? You're not First Lady, would it be First Man? How does that work?" But, unlike Stephanopoulos, he also gently challenged Clinton about conflicts of interest if his wife were to win: "Shouldn't, to avoid any perception problem, donors to your library or to your foundation, be made public?"

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

Stephanopoulos failed to identify the author of the fawning article in the October issue of The Atlantic magazine, "'This Is Not Charity'" with the subhead: "How Bill Clinton, Ira Magaziner, and a team of management consultants are creating new markets, reinventing philanthropy -- and trying to save the world." A brief excerpt online: www.theatlantic.com

The piece was written by Jonathan Rauch of the Brookings Institution: www.brookings.edu

From the September 30 This Week, some of the questions to Bill Clinton from George Stephanopoulos:

There was this great story in The Atlantic this month about your philanthropy, the CGI [Clinton Global Initiative] and your other activities at the foundation. And the author says you're basically re-inventing philanthropy, or trying to re-invent philanthropy by, as you talked about with the Duke Power example, putting the profit motive into delivering public services. What's the future of that?
[Clinton]
He writes that "as a result of this, history may remember Bill Clinton as the philanthropist who happened to be President." You okay with that?
CLINTON: I doubt that. I'm okay with it if it happens, but I doubt it. I'll have to live a very long time to have as positive an impact on as many people in the United States and around the world in my after life as I did as President....
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're also back on the campaign trail now, and a phrase from 1991 is about as resonant as ever.
BILL CLINTON IN 1991: I always say that my slogan might well be "buy one, get one free."
CLINTON: chuckles
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it more true now than it was then?

....

STEPHANOPOULOS: If Hillary wins, do you want an office in the West Wing?

ABC Lobbies for Liberal Legislation on
Time Off; Touts '08 Dem

On Friday's Good Morning America, for the fourth time this year, the ABC program skewered America for not being generous with paid leave and openly lobbied viewers to support a Democratic, big government initiative. After lumping the U.S. in with countries such as Liberia and Lesotho, as being one of only five countries that don't provide paid maternity leave, GMA contributor Tory Johnson appeared with Democratic presidential candidate Chris Dodd to promote his legislation.

"First and most important is to make your voice heard, Johnson exclaimed. Openly advocating this government expansion, she added, "On the GMA Web site, we have links to all the Senator's and Congressmen's offices. Call them. E-mail them. Let them know where you stand." Would GMA promote legislation for family friendly television that a Republican presidential candidate was sponsoring? Also, there was almost no mention of the expensive cost of providing eight weeks of paid maternity leave and how that would effect the U.S. taxpayer. Instead, co-host Robin Roberts mentioned that unpaid leave is already available and wondered, "What's stopping the government from making the law truly family friendly?" Johnson alternatively described paid leave as "government's relief" and "great benefits" without much consideration of where these "benefits" are coming from. See GMA political links: abcnews.go.com

Roberts did ask a solitary question about cost to Senator Dodd, but most of the coverage had an Orwellian tone to it. The ABC graphic proclaimed: "Take Control of Your Life: Can Government do More?" So, take control of your life by handing over power and responsibility to the government?

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Early in the segment, Roberts began by bashing the United States in comparison to the rest of the world. She wondered: "Did you know that among 173 countries surveyed, there are only five countries without a national maternity leave? Lesotho, Swaziland, New Guinea, Liberia and the U.S." Then, she announced that Johnson had been sent to D.C. to "get answers about why Washington is not doing more to help working families." In her next sentence, Roberts mentioned the example of a working mother who is taking 12 weeks of leave. So, America does have a "national maternity leave" program, just not paid leave.

As noted earlier, this is the fourth time in 2007 that GMA has bashed America in relation to paid time off. In June, GMA correspondent David Wright alleged that "the U.S. doesn't make it easy" for working parents and the same references to Liberia and Swaziland were trotted out. Elizabeth Vargas advocated for paid maternity leave in February. Two months later, in April, the program touted Denmark's generous welfare system. For more, see this CyberAlert from February: www.mrc.org

And NewsBusters from April: newsbusters.org

Finally, Friday's segment, yet again, provided no context on the difference between the United States and Swaziland. In discussing the June report on leave, a CyberAlert observed some of the distinctions that reporter David Wright left out:

The linkage of America to these countries is, perhaps, intended to provoke gasps in the audience. But Mr. Wright left out important differences in quality of life, such as the fact that Swaziland has 40 percent unemployment, almost 70 percent of the country lives in poverty and has a per capita GDP of only $5,200. (Comparatively, the U.S. is at $44,000.)

For the June 22 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

So, America, unlike Swaziland, must be doing something right.

A transcript of the September 28 segment, which aired at 7:40am:

Tory Johnson: "Hi, it's Tory Johnson on Capitol Hill with a super group of women taking control of workplace politics. And we all want to say Good Morning America!"
Sawyer: "We hear you loud and clear. The final stop on this week's 'take control of your life' tour, headed to Capitol Hill to ask tough questions about the issue of family leave. Did you know that among 173 countries surveyed there are only five countries without a national maternity leave? Lesotho, Swaziland, New Guinea, Liberia and the U.S. So we sent workplace contributor Tory Johnson to the capitol to get answers about why Washington is not doing more to help working families. Single working mom Tracy Reed gave birth just three weeks ago. And thanks to the Family and Medical Leave Act, she entitled to 12 week of maternity leave from her government job. The problem, those 12 weeks are unpaid. And as Tracy told our Tory Johnson, she's struggling just to get by."
ABC Graphic: "Take Control of Your Life: Can Government do More?"
Tracy Reed, working mom on maternity leave: "It's hard to be at home on unpaid leave. My loving family and friends, they've been keeping us afloat."
Roberts: "Debra Ness is one of many trying to expand the benefits for working women like Tracy Ness."
Debra Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Family: "We really need as a nation to face this challenge because our workplace policies are out of sync with the realities of working families' lives."
Roberts: "There are paid leave proposals in Congress right now. So, what's stopping the government from making the law truly family friendly? Tory Johnson went to Washington to get some answers from Labor Department official Victoria Lipnic."
Johnson: "Is it troubling that so many people can't take advantage of the great benefits?"
Victoria Lipnic, Assistant Secretary, U.S. Dept. of Labor: "Well, certainly if you are a family who cannot, yeah, that's, you're in difficult circumstances."
Johnson: "As far back as 2000, the Department of Labor's own report showed that nearly 78 percent of those would wanted leave and had to pass it up said it was because they simply could not afford it."
Johnson: "What is the solution for a mother who has a new baby and her only option is to take unpaid leave or to take no time?"
Lipnic: "Again, you know, very difficult situation. It takes a lot of effort on the part of people like myself and all the policymakers."
Johnson: "So no timetable. There's no time frame?"
Lipnic: "I couldn't give you a time frame on it. It takes a long time to, you know, get people who are genuinely interested in trying to solve these issues."
Johnson: "Doesn't that sound like a lot of rhetoric to someone who is that mother or father at home who needs help?"
Lipnic: "Sure, it could. But it's also the reality that we are trying."
Roberts: "A reality that is forcing many working families like Tracy Reed into debt."
Reed: "It's a short amount of time, but it's a long time to be without money."

Roberts: "And for more, joining us live from right there, the Russell Senate Caucus Room, Tory Johnson and a wonderful group of working moms looking for answers. Plus, we have a very special guest next to her. That is Senator Chris Dodd. He is the sponsor of the Family Leave Insurance Act and, of course, a candidate for Democratic nomination for president. Good morning to you all. And Senator Dodd, I know you have been very passionate about this in recent years for many years now. And we saw Tory asking, going into the Labor Department and asking some tough questions. But they, they don't make the laws. They enforce the laws. So why isn't Congress moving a little faster on this issue?"
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT): "Well, it's a difficult answer to give. We've been very slow on it. I authored the original Family and Medical Leave Act. That took me seven years. I went through three presidents and two vetoes before I could finally enact it in 1993. So, we've been slow to move on these issues. 168 countries in the world, only four countries don't provide family medical leave. Three of them are very poor struggling countries and the United States. So we've now had family medical leave, but as you pointed out, it's unpaid leave. And for almost 78 percent, 80 percent of families out there who couldn't take this because they couldn't afford to do it. So, paid leave is what I have introduced, a paid leave program. And we think that could make a huge difference for families in this country. We ought to catch up with the rest of the world on this issue."
Roberts: "As you said, you introduced this plan back in June, I believe. Eight weeks of paid leave. Of course, many people want to know, all right, how much is it going to cost and who's going to foot the bill here?"
Dodd: "It's a shared cost here between employers, employees, and the federal government. And it's just a minor cost actually when you spread it out that way. It's not borne by any one group, employers or employees. And people say, well, that can be expensive. Well, my answer to that is it's very expensive not to do this. You heard already from families who pay an awful cost here when they have a family crisis. You shouldn't have to choose between the family you love and the job that you need. So many families with both parents working today, the pressures are incredible on them. So, this bill is long overdue. And I'm pleased to announce that Ted Stevens, a Republican here in the Senate is my co-sponsor. We have bipartisan support to begin this and I hope we can attract more support in the coming days."
Roberts: "You can't see this, Senator Dodd, but a lot of moms behind you, nodding along in agreement to what you are saying. Tory, now, it is obvious the frustration from Senator Dodd and others there trying to get things done. But if you're a family and you can't wait what can you do now?"
Johnson: "There are a few things that you can do. First and most important is to make your voice heard. Let the presidential candidates know the issues that matter to you. On the GMA website, we have links to all the senators and congressmen's offices. Call them. E-mail them. Let them know where you stand. You can also talk to your state and find out what's happening there. California was the first state to pass a leave act and others could be following suit. And most importantly, talk to your employer. Sometimes we can't wait for the government's relief to come. And so you want to talk to your boss right now. Many times if your boss knows that your need is just temporary, they're willing to work with you. So, be creative about creating a win-win and avoiding a lose-lose. So, if you say, "Work with me. Maybe you can give me alternative work, prorated pay. Give me an advance on vacation time that I haven't yet accrued, just for this temporary time, you'll help me and you won't lose me either.'"
Roberts: "Now you have Senator Dodd along nodding along with you."
Dodd: "Absolutely. I love that."
Johnson: "And these women, too. They're going to make their voices heard."
Roberts: "All right. That is the pledge all week long. Senator Dodd, thank you so much. Tory and all the women there, have a great weekend. We certainly do appreciate it."

Field Charges that Anti-War Comment Caused
Fox to Bleep Her

Actress Sally Field charged, on Friday's Good Morning America, that Fox censored, as part of some pro-war agenda, her Emmy night remark that "if mothers ruled the world, there would be no Goddamned wars." According to the Flying Nun star, "when it has to do with war at all on Fox, I think they all ran around like a bunch of chickens and started pulling wires, you know, 'Get her off the air!'" Of course, the actual reason her comments were edited was because Fox feared being fined by the FCC for her use of "Goddamned." Other edits that night included a profanity and Ray Romano's use of the word "screwing." In fact, Fox allowed several conservative-slamming, non-vulgar jokes to air unimpeded.

GMA co-host Diane Sawyer again indicated that the TV star's edited anti-war tirade at the September 16 Emmys was simply no big deal. Sawyer dismissively observed: "Again, we were saying at the time, everybody in Canada heard the whole thing, sat at home and watched it." Agreeing with the implication of American provincialism, the Brothers and Sisters star noted, "And in London. A friend of mine in London." Sawyer added that the cultured British must have been "thinking probably nothing much of it."

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

Field also indicated that she was unaware that particular expletive would cause any problems: "I probably wanted to say 'damned.' You know, the truth is, I thought 'God' and the word 'damned' after it was acceptable."

On September 18, two days after the Emmy awards, Good Morning America repeatedly touted the superiority of the Canadians, who saw the event unedited. Sawyer condescendingly asked viewers: "How do you really feel about TV censorship? Emmy viewers in Canada heard everything Sally Field said about war." Later that morning, she followed up by wondering: "Do Americans want the reality?" See the September 19 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

For more on the comment from Field at the Emmy Awards, check the September 17 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

A transcript of the September 28 segment, which aired at 8:16am:

Diane Sawyer: "She's considered one of the great actors in any medium, be it movies, television. In fact she has two Oscar, three Emmys. And as we all know, her third Emmy was won just last Sunday night for playing Nora Walker on ABC's Brothers and Sisters, amidst some bit of explosion around it. Brothers and Sisters begins its second season, we should say, this Sunday night. Joining us is Sally field. It's great to have you. So good to see you."
Sally Field: "Hi, Diane."
Sawyer: "So, I want to know what you were hearing and seeing when you were on stage at the Emmy giving your acceptance award."
Field: "Yeah."
Sawyer: "And we at home heard this'€""
[Clip from Emmys, Field: "Especially the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait, wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm's way and from war. I am proud to be one of those women. And let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no G'€"(Muted)"]
Sawyer: "There was music. And music came up."
Field: "Yep."
Sawyer: "What did you see? Did you know you had been bleeped?"
Field: "No, I didn't know I had been bleeped. I, you know, the whole thing was sort of a surreal experience. When I, when I mentioned the word war even though it wasn't about war, I really, if I said to myself, if I win, I really owe this to my role and what Nora Walker has gone through. And that really is, I felt, I needed to pay homage to mothers all over the world."
Sawyer: "So you weren't making a statement about this war, you were talking about all wars?"
Field: "Most especially, most especially to mothers who send their children off into combat zones into danger, into harm's way. And the minute I said war, and, you know, to danger, harm's way, and war, the room absolutely erupted in this, like, roar of noise. And I kind of went, 'Whoa, I wasn't expecting that.' And I wanted to say, 'If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any war.' And after the roar happened, I got heated. Which, grrr! And I made the mistake of putting a 'God' in front of the 'damned.' And, but basically, I feel if anything on Earth God would damn, it would be war. But I guess for whatever reason, they decided that 'God' and 'damned' together was not acceptable and-"
Sawyer: "You wish you hadn't said it though?"
Field: "Do I?"
Sawyer: "You're saying you made the mistake of putting the word in?"
Field: "I probably wanted to say 'damned.' You know, the truth is, I thought 'God' and the word 'damned' after it was acceptable."
Sawyer: "I love the sort of waving you're doing here."
Field: "I know to put it together too closely or too heatedly or when it has to do with war at all on Fox, I think they all ran around like a bunch of chickens and started pulling wires, you know, 'Get her off the air!'"
Sawyer: "How many seconds delay? We don't know how many seconds they had to go in and interrupt you."
Field: "When I went backstage afterward, everyone said then, do you know, they took you off? You were bleeped? I went, 'Oh, well.' Maybe that was good."
Sawyer: "Again, we were saying at the time, everybody in Canada heard the whole thing, sat at home and watched it."
Field: "And in London. A friend of mine in London."
Sawyer: "Thinking probably nothing much of it. Are ceremonies the right place to say things? You say you felt you had to for Nora Walker?"
Field: "Well, I think in this case because I, my role is about that. My role is quintessentially a mother and quintessentially a mother who's sending her child to war."
Sawyer: "And also a mother who is always engaged with a daughter who doesn't agree with her. Let's play one clip from Brothers and Sisters."
[Brief clip from Brothers and Sisters]
Sawyer: "And again, Justin is your son going off to war."
Field: "Yeah. He's going off to war. It's something very contemporary in this country and all over the world. There are combat zones everywhere and mothers stand and send their children off and wait for them to come home. So, my speech was in playing homage to that bravery."
Sawyer: "You're in your new season, second season."
Field: "Only the second season. Seems like eight."
Field: "No, I lived every night with you, I watch it. Are you tired? This is hard work."
Sawyer: "Yeah, I'm tired actually. I was saying to you, oh, my lord, just coming, I worked very late and then got on the plane, came here, and then, you know, I'm on L.A. time and got up to come here this morning, thought, I'm almost borderline too old to be doing this anymore."
Sawyer: "Not so."
Field: "Oh."
Sawyer: "If you're too old what does that make me?"
Field: "Oh, don't even go there. We can't lose you. So we're all fine."
Sawyer: "You're very kind."
Field: "We're just fine."
Sawyer: "You are very sweet. And it is wonderful to see what you do. This, this emotion that is packed into that Sunday night. The new season of Brothers & Sisters, 10:00 P.M. And 9:00 P.M. Central on ABC."

NBC Gives Springsteen Platform for Litany
of Liberal Complaints

Giving a live concert on the Friday Today show, Bruce Springsteen didn't just sing but railed against the past six years of George W. Bush's administration. Although he didn't mention Bush by name, the outspoken liberal rocker didn't need to connect the dots as he hit just about every complaint leftists have charged against the current administration. During his talk-up before his performance of "Living In the Future," Springsteen yelled about "rendition," "illegal wiretapping," "voter suppression," "an attack on the Constitution," "the neglect" of New Orleans and "the loss of our best young men and women in a tragic war."

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The Today show cast of Matt Lauer, Meredith Vieira, Ann Curry and Meet the Press host Tim Russert listened intently as Springsteen let loose the following invective during the 8:30am half-hour of the September 28 Today:
"This is a song called 'Living In the Future,' but it's really about what's happening now, right now. It's kind of about how the things that we love about America: the cheeseburgers, french fries, the Yankees batting in Boston, the Bill of Rights, v-twin motorcycles, Tim Russert's haircut, trans fats and Jersey shore...
We love all those things in the way that the womenfolk love on Matt Lauer. That's right. But over the past six years we've had to add to the American picture: rendition, illegal wiretapping, voter suppression, no habeas corpus, the neglect of our great city New Orleans and the people, an attack on the Constitution and the loss of our best young men and women in a tragic war. And this is a song about things that shouldn't happen here, happening here. And so right now we plan to do something about it, we plan to sing about it. I know it's early but it's late so come and join us."

-- Brent Baker