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MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Denies Anti-Palin Media Bias --2/24/2009


1. MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Denies Anti-Palin Media Bias
During the Monday 12PM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O'Donnell interviewed conservative film maker John Ziegler, creator of Media Malpractice, a documentary on media bias against Sarah Palin, and denied any such bias: "Well, let me ask you, you called the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family a, quote, 'media assassination, one of the greatest public injustices of our time.' Is that a little strong? Are you and her a little thin-skinned?" Ziegler responded by pointing out O'Donnell's own anti-Palin bias: "The evidence is overwhelming. It's continuing today. I mean, just a few weeks ago, Norah, you incorrectly stated on the air Sarah Palin called Barack Obama a terrorist during the campaign."

2. Defensive Matt Lauer Forced to Admit Sarah Palin Not an Idiot
Confronted by Sarah Palin documentarian John Ziegler on Monday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer was forced to admit that the media perception of the Alaska Governor as an "idiot" was "a lie." However, Lauer displayed some disbelief that the media heavily pushed that line during the campaign as he professed: "I don't think that everybody in the media ran out saying, 'Sarah Palin is an idiot.'" Ziegler got the confession from Lauer, while promoting his film Media Malpractice: "Is it not a lie that she's an idiot? You know it Matt." Lauer: "Of course it's a lie." When it came to contrasting Palin's coverage with then vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden, Lauer insisted, "Joe Biden has been lampooned by, by members of the media." After Ziegler pointed out the media just merely laughed off Biden gaffes, he then urged Lauer to "Come clean," and "Be the A-Rod of the media!" on liberal bias.

3. Matthews Calls Limbaugh and Republicans 'Trolls Under the Bridge'
What's with Chris Matthews' fixation with comparing Republicans to trolls? Back in September he called then-presidential candidate John McCain "troll-like" after one of his debate performances, and then over the weekend, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, he applied the monstrous term to Republicans in the following intro to his show: "And finally trolls under the bridge. Is that what Washington Republicans have become? Gremlins hiding along the pathway, nipping at the Democrats. And are Republican governors saying, 'That's not my job.'" A little later, going to a break, Matthews teased the upcoming segment with video of Rush Limbaugh, with an on-screen headline reading: "Trolls Under The Bridge."

4. Networks Presume Obama's Tax Hike Will Increase Revenue
ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected -- have been rising year-by-year. So will a tax hike, from 35 to 39.6 percent, really increase the amount the wealthiest pay, or will they find ways to avoid reporting income and thus the government will see little, if any, additional revenue -- to say nothing about the wisdom of alerting investors during an economic downturn that their tax rate will soon jump? Monday night, CBS's Chip Reid reported: "Most of the savings would come from winding down the war in Iraq, ending the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year and cutting spending." Jake Tapper, also Monday night, on ABC: "Another source of revenue being proposed -- allowing the Bush tax cuts for a family earning over $250,000 a year to expire in 2011, increasing that tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent."

5. CBS's Smith 'Wept Openly' Over Sean Penn's Performance in Milk
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith played a clip of himself talking to left-wing actor Sean Penn following the Oscars Sunday night: "In a night full of first-time winners, Sean Penn took home his second Oscar as best actor for his emotional performance as slain gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk in Milk. I caught up with him and other big winners at the Governor's Ball." During the interview, Smith admitted to Penn: "As I sat watching the film, seems to happen to me more rare these days, but I wept openly during several scenes in the film because it really is a film about a civil rights movement." On December 10, Smith interviewed Penn's Milk co-star, James Franco, and called the film "a must-see."


MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell Denies Anti-Palin
Media Bias

During the Monday 12PM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Norah O'Donnell interviewed conservative film maker John Ziegler, creator of Media Malpractice, a documentary on media bias against Sarah Palin, and denied any such bias: "Well, let me ask you, you called the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family a, quote, 'media assassination, one of the greatest public injustices of our time.' Is that a little strong? Are you and her a little thin-skinned?" Ziegler responded by pointing out O'Donnell's own anti-Palin bias: "The evidence is overwhelming. It's continuing today. I mean, just a few weeks ago, Norah, you incorrectly stated on the air Sarah Palin called Barack Obama a terrorist during the campaign."

The January 30 CyberAlert reported on O'Donnell's smear of Palin: www.mrc.org

[This item, by Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

O'Donnell criticized part of Ziegler's documentary: "Let me ask you, in your documentary you cite examples of media bias by Saturday Night Live, that that's media bias. Aren't those comedians?...How's that media bias?" Ziegler explained: "Poll after poll shows that more people get their news from comedy shows because the line between entertainment and news, as this network has shown time and time again, has virtually evaporated...MSNBC used to be a news organization, now it's an advocacy organization, and SNL is actually thought to be a news organization."

Later, Ziegler argued: "You don't think that Tina Fey had a major impact on that past -- in this past election?...Tina Fey clips were used by news organizations constantly. Andrea Mitchell made a habit out of using SNL clips in her Nightly News stories as if they were news." O'Donnell concluded the segment by declaring: "We are equal opportunity when it comes to Democrats or Republicans. We play the SNL clips that make fun of them here on MSNBC..." Ziegler replied: "Really? I'd like to see a study on that, in fact."

In fact, on September 29, MSNBC played an SNL clip mocking Palin seven times between 6AM and 12 noon. Meanwhile, on November 2, MSNBC failed to give any air time to an SNL clip mocking MSNBC host Keith Olbermann. That same day, the network replayed a clip of John McCain's appearance on the show poking fun at himself a total of eleven times. See the September 30 CyberAlert on MSNBC coverage of the Palin SNL skit: www.mrc.org

See the November 4 CyberAlert on a lack of MSNBC coverage of the Olbermann SNL skit: www.mrc.org

Here is the full transcript of O'Donnell's February 23 exchange with Ziegler:

12:53PM SEGMENT:
SARAH PALIN: We were quite insulated and isolated from what was going on in the world of the media. We would catch snippets here and there, either on the campaign bus or looking at a headline in a newspaper as we walked by, and would see some coverage that way but we were quite isolated, really, from what was being said about our candidacy in -- in the media.
NORAH O'DONNELL: That was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaking out in a new documentary called 'Media Malpractice,' it examines claims Palin was mistreated by the mainstream media on the campaign trail, while Barack Obama was given special treatment. John Ziegler is the film maker behind this documentary and joins us now. John, good to see you. Thanks so much for joining us.
JOHN ZIEGLER: Thank you, Norah, and thank you so much for your setup piece on the Today show this morning, which will be great fodder for my next film 'Media Malpractice 2: The Sequel.'
O'DONNELL: [Laughs] Very well, John. Well, let me ask you, you called the treatment of Sarah Palin and her family a, quote, 'media assassination, one of the greatest public injustices of our time.' Is that a little strong? Are you and her a little thin-skinned?
ZIEGLER: Well, I think you'd have to watch the documentary to find out, because I think the proof shows exactly what I'm saying is true. The evidence is overwhelming. It's continuing today. I mean, just a few weeks ago, Norah, you incorrectly stated on the air Sarah Palin called Barack Obama a terrorist during the campaign and instead of getting fired, you get picked to do the setup piece for the exclusive interview on the Today show. So, I think that shows the nature of the news media and the sign of our times.
O'DONNELL: Let me ask you, in your documentary you cite examples of media bias by Saturday Night Live, that that's media bias. Aren't those comedians?
ZIEGLER: Well first-
O'DONNELL: How's that media bias?
ZIEGLER: Well, first of all, again I'd urge people to watch the documentary, which you can get at howobamagotelected.com, and we'll be showing screenings across the country as well, and so the context of those SNL clips is incredibly important. Poll after poll shows that more people get their news from comedy shows because the line between entertainment and news, as this network has shown time and time again, has virtually evaporated. There is no, necessarily, credibility in an alleged news organizations, like the former MSNBC used to be a news organization, now it's an advocacy organization, and SNL is actually thought to be a news organization. There were many episodes -- in fact, one involving Joe Biden's 'international test' comments, in which you got more credible information about what Joe Biden said from SNL than you did from NBC Nightly News. So the lines really have evaporated and I think it's very much appropriate to include those in a documentary about the media.
O'DONNELL: John, you're a man who watches words very carefully, that's part of your business. You just said, and I quote, '€˜SNL is thought to be a news agency.' Do you want to stand by that?
ZIEGLER: If you listen to what I said, Norah, and, again, just to remind you, Sarah Palin never did say that Barack Obama was a terrorist, if we're worried about words, but the reality is that people are stupid, and a lot of people do think that Bill Maher, or Jon Stewart, or the Colbert Report, or SNL actually is real news information and, frankly, it's becoming more and more difficult to argue with those people because news has completely disintegrated in this day and age and this network is a prime example of that.
O'DONNELL: I guess that's the difference between us, John, I don't think that they think it's news. I think people are smart enough, actually that when they watch comedy-
ZIEGLER: You don't think that Tina Fey had a major impact on that past -- in this past election?
O'DONNELL: Oh, I think she had an impact but I think people understand-
ZIEGLER: You think?
O'DONNELL: -that it's a parody. I think-
ZIEGLER: Really?
O'DONNELL: Oh yeah, I don't think people are stupid, I actually think people are smart.
ZIEGLER: Well, here's the difference, though -- here's the difference, though, Norah-
O'DONNELL: It's cartoons, yeah-
ZIEGLER: Tina Fey clips were used by news organizations constantly. Andrea Mitchell made a habit out of using SNL clips in her Nightly News stories as if they were news. So talk to Andrea Mitchell about whether or not SNL is, in fact, a news source or not. Some of them more gratuitous and had absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter and were simply just used as shots at Sarah Palin or John McCain. The same was not done against Joe Biden, and certainly not against Barack Obama. We've seen what happened to The New York Post when you even come close to joking about anything that has anything remotely to do with Democrats. The reality is it's a double standard and my documentary proves it, you can find out more about it at howobamagotelected.com.
O'DONNELL: We are equal opportunity when it comes to Democrats or Republicans. We play the SNL clips that make fun of them here on MSNBC, because we love-
ZIEGLER: Really? I'd like to see a study on that, in fact.
O'DONNELL: John Ziegler, good to see you, buddy. Take care.
ZIEGLER: Thanks, Norah.

Defensive Matt Lauer Forced to Admit
Sarah Palin Not an Idiot

Confronted by Sarah Palin documentarian John Ziegler on Monday's Today show, NBC's Matt Lauer was forced to admit that the media perception of the Alaska Governor as an "idiot" was "a lie." However, Lauer displayed some disbelief that the media heavily pushed that line during the campaign as he professed: "I don't think that everybody in the media ran out saying, 'Sarah Palin is an idiot.'" Ziegler got the confession from Lauer, while promoting his film Media Malpractice, in the following exchange as aired during the 7:30 am half hour of the February 23 Today show:

JOHN ZIEGLER: Oh wait a minute I, I urged people and I urge you Matt because you've been up to Wasilla. You, you know Sarah Palin. You know that this is a lie that she's some sort of an idiot or a moron.
MATT LAUER: No, no, no. Okay but that's, but that's an extreme state-
ZIEGLER: You know it! Tell, tell America right now what you know.
LAUER: That's an extreme, that's an extreme statement. I'm just asking you-
ZIEGLER: You-
LAUER: -when she-
ZIEGLER: Is it not a lie that she's an idiot? You know it Matt.
LAUER: Of course it's a lie. Nobody, it's-, yeah.
ZIEGLER: It's a lie? So you're acknowledging that the media perception of her is a lie?
LAUER: No wait a second. I don't think, I don't think that everybody in the media ran out saying, "Sarah Palin is an idiot."
ZIEGLER: Really?

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

When it came to contrasting Palin's coverage with then vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden, Lauer insisted, "Joe Biden has been lampooned by, by members of the media." After Ziegler pointed out the media just merely laughed off Biden gaffes, he then urged Lauer to "Come clean," and "Be the A-Rod of the media!" on liberal bias as seen in this exchange:

LAUER: Well I'm just saying did you think any of the questions were unfair? Or were, are they questions that would fall in line with what you would want someone seeking the second highest elected office in the land to answer?
ZIEGLER: I am all for rigorous questioning, however it should be the same for Barack Obama as it is for Sarah Palin. And what happened with Sarah Palin was the answers that she gave were treated in a completely different fashion than similar bad answers given by Joe Biden or by Barack Obama.
LAUER: But Joe Biden has been lampooned by, by members of the media-
ZIEGLER: Not-
LAUER: -and comedy shows-
ZIEGLER: Not even close-
LAUER: -and-
ZIEGLER: Not even close to what happened to Sarah Palin.
LAUER: There's a lot, a lot of sketch comedy has been done on him putting his foot in his mouth, a lot.
ZIEGLER: It's all in, in, it's all about a joke. "Isn't he funny? There's nothing, it's all harmless." The reality is everything about Sarah Palin-, we did a poll, which you can see at MediaMalpracticeMovie.com, scientific poll proving that voters knew all the bad information about Sarah Palin because people like you repeated it constantly, over and over, even though you know, since you've been to her home that it's a lie that she's some sort of a moron. You know it. Come clean. Be the A-Rod of the media!
LAUER: I, I, I, I think, I think, I think your-
ZIEGLER: Come clean Matt! You can do this, right now, in front of America.
LAUER: I think, well, let me, if I were the A-Rod of the media I'd give you half the truth. But I think, I, I think that, I think that your making it personal with me is not gonna work in this particular situation. But let me ask you this question. In, in what we see in this documentary, if she decides to continue in national politics is, is her stance gonna help or hurt her?

Matthews Calls Limbaugh and Republicans
'Trolls Under the Bridge'

What's with Chris Matthews' fixation with comparing Republicans to trolls? Back in September he called then-presidential candidate John McCain "troll-like" after one of his debate performances, and then over the weekend, on the syndicated Chris Matthews Show, he applied the monstrous term to Republicans in the following intro to his show: "And finally trolls under the bridge. Is that what Washington Republicans have become? Gremlins hiding along the pathway, nipping at the Democrats. And are Republican governors saying, 'That's not my job.'"

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

A little later, going to a break, Matthews teased the upcoming segment with video of Rush Limbaugh, with an on-screen headline reading: "Trolls Under The Bridge."

MATTHEWS: Anyway when we come back Rush Limbaugh wants Barack Obama to fail. He's honest about it. Are Republicans letting Limbaugh speak for them?

At the opening of the segment Matthews drew guffaws from guest panelist Norah O'Donnell of NBC when he mocked Limbaugh again:

MATTHEWS: Welcome back. That was Saturday Night Live's take on the Republicans these days. They're not sure what to do about Obama's popularity. One guy, Rush Limbaugh, says just pray for failure.
RUSH LIMBAUGH: I've been listening to Barack Obama for a year-and-a-half. I know what his politics are. I know what his plans are, as he has stated them. I don't want them to succeed.
MATTHEWS: He always talks like he's had a really big breakfast.
NORAH O'DONNELL, NBC NEWS: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

To read about Matthews calling McCain "troll-like," during the presidential campaign, see: www.mrc.org

Networks Presume Obama's Tax Hike Will
Increase Revenue

ABC, CBS and NBC reporters over the past two days have relayed how the Obama administration proposes to cut the annual federal deficit from $1.3 trillion to $533 billion in four years by cutting spending on the war in Iraq and raising the income tax rate for those earning more than $250,000. Not considered: How since the Bush tax cuts the revenue paid by the richest -- and their share of total income taxes collected -- have been rising year-by-year. So will a tax hike, from 35 to 39.6 percent, really increase the amount the wealthiest pay, or will they find ways to avoid reporting income and thus the government will see little, if any, additional revenue -- to say nothing about the wisdom of alerting investors during an economic downturn that their tax rate will soon jump?

Monday night, CBS's Chip Reid reported: "Most of the savings would come from winding down the war in Iraq, ending the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year and cutting spending." Jake Tapper, also Monday night, on ABC: "Another source of revenue being proposed -- allowing the Bush tax cuts for a family earning over $250,000 a year to expire in 2011, increasing that tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent."

On Sunday's NBC Nightly News, Chuck Todd explained how the Obama advisors plan to cut the deficit by more than half: "They believe they can do it because of two big changes: The Iraq war, winding that down, the cost of that obviously goes down; and then getting rid of those Bush tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans. That will bring in more revenue."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

For 2006, it took an Adjusted Gross Income of $153,542 to be in the to five percent of earners and an AGI or $388,806 or more to be in the top one percent.

A Tax Foundation report from last July listed revenue trends in what the IRS has collected:

Total revenue received from the top one percent:

2003: $256 billion

2004: $307

2005: $368

2006: $408

Share of total income taxes collected which were paid by the top one percent:

2003: 34.27%

2004: 36.89%

2005: 39.38%

2006: 39.89%

Looks like the richest are already pay more each year. Let's hope future coverage, as Obama unveils his actual budget plan, explores the topic.

Tax Foundation's report: www.taxfoundation.org

CBS's Smith 'Wept Openly' Over Sean Penn's
Performance in Milk

On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith played a clip of himself talking to left-wing actor Sean Penn following the Oscars Sunday night: "In a night full of first-time winners, Sean Penn took home his second Oscar as best actor for his emotional performance as slain gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk in Milk. I caught up with him and other big winners at the Governor's Ball." During the interview, Smith admitted to Penn: "As I sat watching the film, seems to happen to me more rare these days, but I wept openly during several scenes in the film because it really is a film about a civil rights movement." On December 10, Smith interviewed Penn's Milk co-star, James Franco, and called the film "a must-see."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Earlier in the broadcast, a clip was played of Penn describing his feeling's about the Oscar win during a press conference after the award show: "That means a lot to myself and to everybody involved, not only in the movie, but to anybody who believes in equal rights for other human beings." However, no clip was played of Penn's actual acceptance speech, in which he declared: "I think it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect, and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that way of support. We've got to have equal rights for everyone."

-- Brent Baker