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NBC Condemns Coulter, But ABC Finds Offenders Beyond Just Coulter --6/8/2006


1. NBC Condemns Coulter, But ABC Finds Offenders Beyond Just Coulter
At a time when left-wing Bush-haters regularly call the President a "liar" and a killer, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night pegged stories to the controversy over Ann Coulter's criticism of the very political 9/11 widows, with NBC anchor Brian Williams adding a nice touch by harkening back to Joe McCarthy as he promised a look at "why some are now asking, 'Have you no shame?'" But while the NBC Nightly News focused solely on Coulter, on ABC's World News Tonight Jake Tapper suggested "our democracy has always been messy and vulgar" and he cited some anti-Bush slams. The opening teaser from Williams: "And is it crossing the line? A conservative author's attack on 9/11 widows. This time, has the debate in this country just gone too far?" Williams set up the last story of his newscast by pleading: "Just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line." Reporter Mike Taibbi turned to the media's favorite conservative-basher, David Gergen, to answer whether Coulter had "gone too far?" AUDIO&VIDEO

2. CBS Touts Dem Takeover of House Seat, But Silent After GOP Win
On Tuesday, the day of the election in California's 50th Congressional District to replace imprisoned Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the CBS Evening News ran a story touting a potential Democratic takeover of the seat as reporter Jerry Bowen described the race "as a referendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican President, whose popularity is sinking." But after the Republican won, the newscast was silent about it Wednesday night. In fact, the morning after the vote, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer declared on The Early Show that despite the win by Republican Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby, the 49 to 45 percent victory is "a warning shot for Republicans." Schieffer had set up CBS's Tuesday night story: "Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of Congress from the Republicans this year, and they're looking to a special election tonight for a sign that they may be right." Jerry Bowen trumpeted how "when disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes, no one predicted what just may happen today as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold pick his replacement: That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, could emerge the winner." AUDIO&VIDEO

3. MSNBC Chief Rick Kaplan Leaves, FOB Had Hailed Rather's Accuracy
Rick Kaplan and MSNBC announced his departure Wednesday from the least-watched cable news network where he had toiled as its President since February of 2004. Kaplan has a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton and hostility to conservatives -- as well as admiration for Dan Rather combined with condescension for conservative critics of Rather -- during his career with ABC News, CNN and MSNBC. The AP's David Bauder on Wednesday night noted "speculation" that Kaplan "might be a candidate to run Good Morning America" now that the ABC show's Executive Producer, Ben Sherwood, "announced five days ago he was stepping down." AUDIO&VIDEO


NBC Condemns Coulter, But ABC Finds Offenders
Beyond Just Coulter

At a time when left-wing Bush-haters regularly call the President a "liar" and a killer, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night pegged stories to the controversy over Ann Coulter's criticism of the very political 9/11 widows, with NBC anchor Brian Williams adding a nice touch by harkening back to Joe McCarthy as he promised a look at "why some are now asking, 'Have you no shame?'" But while the NBC Nightly News focused solely on Coulter, on ABC's World News Tonight Jake Tapper suggested "our democracy has always been messy and vulgar" and he cited some anti-Bush slams.

The opening teaser from Williams: "And is it crossing the line? A conservative author's attack on 9/11 widows. This time, has the debate in this country just gone too far?" Williams set up the last story of his newscast by pleading: "Just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line." Reporter Mike Taibbi turned to the media's favorite conservative-basher, David Gergen, to answer whether Coulter had "gone too far?"

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson cited the "uproar" over Coulter, but conceded "there is a lot of what passes for commentary these days on both sides of the political spectrum that many people find despicable." Tapper cited how the New York State Comptroller referred to putting "a bullet between the President's eyes" and how Harry Belafonte charged that Bush is "no better" than Osama bin Laden.

On Wednesday's Countdown on MSNBC, Keith Olbermann devoted a segment to his lecture about the "shameless" Coulter.

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

For a full transcript of the Tuesday Today show exchange, about the 9/11 widows, between Coulter and Matt Lauer which fueled the current media upset, with an audio/video clip, as well as for a rundown of examples of how, as Coulter contended, the networks promoted and frequently showcased the most vocal and anti-Bush widows, check the June 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org


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More See & Hear the Bias

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning for the Wednesday, June 7 stories against the video:

# NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams, in opening teaser: "And is it crossing the line? A conservative author's attack on 9/11 widows. This time, has the debate in this country just gone too far?"

Williams, before a commercial break: "And later, perhaps you've watched it unfold this week on TV. Why is one controversial conservative author attacking the widows of 9/11? Why some are now asking, 'Have you no shame?'"

Williams, before another commercial break: "We'll take another break here. When we come back after a break, did civility in this country just a take a turn for the worse?"

Williams set up the eventual story: "Tonight we're going to go off the air with a report on civility in American life. The explosion in our media, our deafening national noise level and our changing mores have made this a much different era in America than the one our parents grew up in. And just when you think it seems like there are no limits on anything, someone comes along and makes a comment that goes over the line. The line that is shared by just about everybody because some things, it turns out, are still sacred. The story tonight from NBC's Mike Taibbi."

Mike Taibbi: "Conservative pundit Ann Coulter was front-page news today [picture of front page of New York Daily News "Coulter the Cruel"] for what she's written about some 9/11 widows, that 'These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities,' and for what she said about them to the Today show's Matt Lauer."
Matt Lauer, on Tuesday's Today: "If you lose a husband, you no longer have the right to have a political point-of-view?"
Ann Coulter on Today: "No, but don't use the fact that you lost a husband as the basis for your being able to talk about it."
Taibbi: "Coulter was on the Today show to push her latest anti-liberal book."
Coulter on Today: "There's an important book that comes out today."
Taibbi: "Already an Amazon.com bestseller. But the interview kept returning to Coulter's attacks on the 9/11 widows. She called them 'harpies' and wondered whether their husbands had been planning to divorce them. From a statement from four of the widows, 'there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive,' 'no happiness in telling our children that their fathers were never coming home again. We adored these men and miss them every day.' Coulter says she believes everything she says and writes. But had she gone too far? Former White House advisor David Gergen:"
David Gergen: "It's the ugliness of the charge that she's making, the ugliness of the words that she's using that are drawing attention to her. But it's almost as if she's a figure in a circus. And you're saying, 'Oh, my God, can you believe that?'"
Taibbi: "Still, the tempest was a trigger for a red-blue debate today on MSNBC, with criticism for Coulter from both sides. A conservative radio voice:"
Dom Giordano, radio talk show host on WPHT in Philadelphia: "I think it was shameful what she said, Chris, but I do think that these widows have attacked President Bush."
Taibbi: "And a liberal counter-voice."
Sam Greenfield, radio talk show host on WWRL in New York City: "I think she's a sad, pathetic unhappy person."
Taibbi: "All the fallout from a television exchange."
Coulter to Lauer on Tuesday's Today: "You're getting testy with me."
Lauer: "No, no, I'm just, I think it's a, I think it's-"
Taibbi concluded: "Likely to be remembered well beyond the impact of some ill-tempered sentences in print. Mike Taibbi, NBC News, New York."


# ABC's World News Tonight. Charles Gibson's tease: "War of Words: When a best-selling author accuses 9/11 widows of enjoying their husbands' deaths, has a line been crossed? Or is now all fair in political warfare?"

Gibson introduced the second segment piece: "We are going to take 'A Closer Look' at questions that many people are asking today. When does political commentary go too far? And what has happened to civility? One conservative commentator, Ann Coulter is her name, has triggered an uproar by attacking, in very raw terms, many of the 9/11 widows. But there is a lot of what passes for commentary these days on both sides of the political spectrum that many people find despicable. Here's Jake Tapper, our senior national correspondent."

Jake Tapper: "In her new book, best-selling author Ann Coulter calls the 9/11 widows 'self-obsessed' and charges they act 'as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them.' 'I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much,' she writes about the widows whom she calls the 'Witches of East Brunswick.' 'How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies?'"
Unidentified woman at a bookstore: "So the 9/11 widows are witches and harpies?"
Ann Coulter at the bookstore: "Uh, yes."
Tapper: "The response has been forceful. 'We have been slandered,' five of the 9/11 widows wrote in a statement. 'Contrary to Ms. Coulter's statements, there was no joy in watching men that we loved burn alive.' Senator Hillary Clinton called Coulter's remarks 'vicious' and 'mean-spirited.' But Coulter's tone also bothers conservatives."
David Hogberg, The American Spectator: "It crosses the line into incivility and stuff that's nasty when she refers to them as 'self-obsessed' or 'enjoying their husbands' deaths.'"
Tapper: "Coulter today remained undeterred."
Coulter at bookstore, to FNC's Sean Hannity, for interview which aired later on Hannity & Colmes: "They're cutting campaign commercials for Kerry, but we can't respond because their husbands died. No, I've had it with this liberal infallibility, and I think a lot of Americans are seething with anger that we can't respond."
Tapper: "Incivility, at some level, is nothing new. This month, the Democratic New York state comptroller said this at a commencement address:"
Audio of New York Comptroller Alan Hevesi (D-NY): "The man who, how do I phrase this diplomatically, will put a bullet between the President's eyes if he could get away with it."
Tapper: "He later apologized. But heated comments fill the book stores and the air waves."
Wolf Blitzer, CNN's The Situation Room, January 25: "Are you saying that President Bush is worse than Osama bin Laden?"
Harry Belafonte on the CNN show: "I'm saying that he's no better."
George Will, ABC News: "Television is the survival of the briefest. And the way to get maximum wallop into the minimum amount of time is to ratchet up the rhetoric."
Tapper: "Such rhetoric drove partisans in the past to call President Andrew Jackson's mother a prostitute. Our democracy has always been messy and vulgar. In the Capitol in the 1850s, one South Carolina Congressman beat a Senator nearly to death."
Will: "So, by those standards, our problems today are rather tame."
Tapper concluded over video of Coulter signing books: "Tame historically, but critics call it an unseemly attempt to sell books at the expense of 9/11 widows. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington."

CBS Touts Dem Takeover of House Seat,
But Silent After GOP Win

On Tuesday, the day of the election in California's 50th Congressional District to replace imprisoned Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham, the CBS Evening News ran a story touting a potential Democratic takeover of the seat as reporter Jerry Bowen described the race "as a referendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican President, whose popularity is sinking." But after the Republican won, the newscast was silent about it Wednesday night. In fact, the morning after the vote, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer declared on The Early Show that despite the win by Republican Brian Bilbray over Democrat Francine Busby, the 49 to 45 percent victory is "a warning shot for Republicans." Busby, however, got just one point more of the district's vote than did John Kerry in 2004.
Schieffer had set up CBS's Tuesday night story about the San Diego County race: "Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of Congress from the Republicans this year, and they're looking to a special election tonight for a sign that they may be right." Jerry Bowen trumpeted how "when disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes, no one predicted what just may happen today as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold pick his replacement: That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, could emerge the winner."

Instead finding some time on Wednesday to inform viewers of the results of what Bowen had framed as a "referendum" on an unpopular President, the June 7 CBS Evening News led with the Marine Commandant's comments on Haditha and Schieffer managed to squeeze in short items on the same-sex marriage vote in the Senate and how the population of New Orleans has shifted to fewer blacks and more whites since Katrina, before a profile of Dallas Mavericks basketball team owner Mark Cuban.

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

The NBC Nightly News didn't mention the California race on Tuesday or Wednesday and ABC's World News Tonight provided a brief item Wednesday night, though the newscast did not match CBS with a Tuesday preview story. On the June 7 World News Tonight, anchor Charles Gibson read this short item:
"There was a significant congressional election yesterday in San Diego. A Republican won a congressional race with national implications. Democrats said Brian Bilbray's narrow victory in a solidly Republican district shows the GOP faces trouble this fall, but Republicans said all that counts is that they won."

The transcript of the Tuesday, June 6 CBS Evening News story on the day of the election:

Bob Schieffer: "Democrats believe they have a chance to take back control of Congress from the Republicans this year, and they're looking to a special election tonight for a sign that they may be right. It is an election in the 50th Congressional District in Southern California to fill the remaining seven months of Duke Cunningham's term. Here's Jerry Bowen."

Jerry Bowen checked in from California: "When disgraced Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham went off to prison for taking millions of dollars in bribes, no one predicted what just may happen today as voters in this 25-year-long Republican stronghold pick his replacement."
Francine Busby, Democratic candidate: "People are just dissatisfied."
Bowen: "That a Democrat, local school board member Francine Busby, could emerge the winner."
Busby, waving at cars: "Thank you."
Carl Luna, Mesa College: "It's a sign that the party has some trouble right now. If Francine Busby wins this, it means Karl Rove better start paying more attention to party politics and less to looming indictments."
Bowen: "It's a race that's seen as a referendum on both the Republican Congress and the Republican President, whose popularity is sinking. Recent polls show Busby even or slightly ahead of former Republican Congressman, turned lobbyist, Brian Bilbray."
Brian Bilbray, Republican candidate: "This is a marathon, not a sprint."
Luna: "It doesn't help in this day and age if you're running as a former incumbent and a lobbyist. That's like running as a used car salesman."
Bowen: "The contest has filled local air waves with not just negative but nasty TV ads from both sides. The National Republican Congressional Committee has spent more than $4.5 million in an effort to keep the seat. Vice President Cheney flew in to raise even more."
Vice President Dick Cheney, from May: "I'm proud to join you in supporting Brian's campaign."
Bowen: "Democrat Busby campaigned on the corruption issue. Bilbray took a stand for tougher immigration laws."
Bilbray: "Illegal immigration is the issue."
Bowen: "Which may convince conservatives to turn out despite their differences with him on things like stem cell research and abortion rights, which he favors."
Unidentified man: "He's doing what will get him votes."
Bowen concluded: "And there is a lot at stake here. But the fact remains this race would not even be close were it not for voter discontent triggered by Duke Cunningham, the imprisoned ex-Congressman who could never say no to a bribe."

On Wednesday's Early Show, the MRC's Scott Whitlock noticed, Bob Schieffer forwarded the post-election Democratic spin.

Co-host Hannah Storm introduced her June 7 session with Schieffer: "Well, as you've heard, eight states held primaries on Tuesday but most of the focus was on a special congressional election in California, the 50th district. Some thought this might be an indicator for what to expect in the upcoming midterm elections. And as we reported Republican Brian Bilbray narrowly edged out Democrat Francine Busby to fill the House seat vacated by imprisoned Republican Congressman Randy 'Duke'


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More See & Hear the Bias

Cunningham, who was involved in a huge scandal. Bob Schieffer is anchor of the CBS Evening News and host of Face the Nation. And he got up early for us this morning. Good morning."
Schieffer: "Proud to be here."
Storm: "Well, Democrats were hoping to get that seat. That district has been described as ruby red. But they came pretty close. What do you make of the election?"
Schieffer: "Well, I think it just shows that there's a lot of turmoil out there. No, the Democrats didn't win. But I mean, in that particular district, it would be, if a Democrat got elected, it would be like George Wallace winning a seat in Harlem or something like that."
Storm: "Wow!"
Schieffer: "I mean, it just -- there are probably more American eagles just off the endangered species list than there are Democrats in that, in that district. But I think it is still a warning shot for Republicans. I mean, there's just turmoil out there. The political landscape is, you know, just going up and down here. You've got the corruption. You've got this war in Iraq. All of these things. Plus immigration. Which is split up the Republican party. So, who knows what's going to happen? But this has to be a sign to Republicans that they, they might lose the House, I think. I mean, not just, I'm not just saying this, this particular race. But, uh-"
Storm: "A little close for comfort though."
Schieffer: "Yeah. Yeah, it's very, very difficult now, because of the way the districts have been gerrymandered, you have kind of basically an incumbent protection act. These incumbents draw these districts, Republicans and Democrats, to protect themselves. So it's, it's hard for seats to change hands anymore. But I think this is just one more sign that you might see something happen this time."
Storm: "Well, I don't know if you saw Tom DeLay's comments in a USA Today interview this morning. Of course, he's resigning on Friday. But he said his Republican colleagues are guilty of, he said, panic, depression and woe-is-me'ism. Now, there's going to lose control in November if they don't change their attitudes. Do you think it's all that bad?"
Schieffer: "Well, I'm not sure there are very many Republicans that are going to pay much attention to what Tom Delay has to say. I don't think Tom DeLay has brought much to the table for Republicans this time around. But you know, some of what he says is, I just go back to what I say, there's just a lot of unease out there among voters."
Storm: "You mentioned this corruption issue. And in this 50th congressional district, of course a huge corruption scandal. But still the Democrats couldn't take the seat. And now DeLay is out of the way, so perhaps the Democrats lose a target there. Is this culture of corruption, is this something that's resonating with voters, this language we've been hearing from Democrats?"
Schieffer: "Most of the surveys would suggest that it is. I think what the, what the corruption plays to is also incompetence. You know, we saw government at every level during Katrina just sort of fall dead. You've got that out there. People will forgive politicians of everything but incompetence. I mean, you think of all the mayors who didn't get reelected because they didn't get the snow plows out and then the snows came."
Storm: "Right. Sure."
Schieffer: "So I think you have that playing along and people see the corruption as part of that. So I think that's part of the unease."...

MSNBC Chief Rick Kaplan Leaves, FOB Had
Hailed Rather's Accuracy

Rick Kaplan and MSNBC announced his departure Wednesday from the least-watched cable news network where he had toiled as its President since February of 2004. Kaplan has a long record of friendly relations with former President Bill Clinton and hostility to conservatives -- as well as admiration for Dan Rather combined with condescension for conservative critics of Rather -- during his career with ABC News, CNN and


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MSNBC. The AP's David Bauder on Wednesday night noted "speculation" that Kaplan "might be a candidate to run Good Morning America" now that the ABC show's Executive Producer, Ben Sherwood, "announced five days ago he was stepping down."

For Bauder's dispatch: news.yahoo.com

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

At the News and Documentary Emmy Awards presented by the National Television Academy at a September 19, 2005 ceremony, which honored Dan Rather, Kaplan asserted that "Dan was meticulously careful to be fair and balanced and accurate" during his career. Kaplan then lashed out: "When did we allow those with questionable agendas to take the lead and convince people of something quite the opposite? It's shameful." Kaplan went so far to declare that Rather's "legacy" is "the gold standard journalists today have struggled to live up to."

A video clip of those remarks, in Real and Windows Media formats, will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. But in the meantime, check the October 4 CyberAlert (scroll down to the lower clip linked by the screen shot of Kaplan): www.mrc.org

A "Friend of Bill" (FOB), who ran CNN from 1997 to 2000, after a multi-decade career with ABC News, re-joined ABC News in 2003 as Senior Vice President, the number two slot he held until shortly before jumping to MSNBC in early 2004.

While serving as President of CNN, Kaplan played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore. When he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992 he advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight he blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast.

For a thorough and lengthy rundown of Kaplan's pro-Clinton, pro-liberal and anti-conservative activities over the years at ABC and CNN, see the June 10, 2003 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

During a May 16, 1999 commencement address Kaplan delivered at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, while President of CNN, he complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements. For a 45 kbps low quality streaming Real video clip (about two minutes) of some of what Kaplan told the students, check the August 31, 2000 MRC CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

(On Thursday morning the MRC's Michael Gibbons may be able to move the video clip to this page.)

Here's a hunk of Kaplan's 1999 commencement address which matches the video:
"In the past eighteen months, we have seen a Congress damage itself in the shameless partisanship of the House. We have seen a Senate run from the light to debate the future of a President in secret. The independent counsel law seems destined to die but Ken Starr is still around and many believe still putting


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obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation. And then there is the President, who if not guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors, well, it may have been because our Founding Fathers never thought a President would get caught acting in such a manner.

"Is there a lesson here? We have learned more about perjury and fidelity in the presidency of Andrew Johnson than I ever thought imaginable. Our young children learned more about sex than I may know right now. But if in the wake of this national tragedy, how many of you now believe that with the right connections, you can get away with anything. The President got impeached but he didn't lose his job so did he get away with it? I'm here to tell you that there is always a price to be paid. Not always paid on demand but paid in the end, always.
"As many of you may know, I've been privileged to be a friend of Bill Clinton's for more than twenty years and like many, I had high expectations for his presidency. His intellect and his heart and his drive to help people should have guaranteed his success, his greatness. But as it stands now, when history writes this President's story, his accomplishments, while noteworthy, even extraordinary at times, will be listed after an explanation of who Monica Lewinsky was. He kept his office, but at a very high price and I'm only talking about his public life. Well, before it's all over others will pay, I trust, as well. But remember there is always a price. You are not going to be perfect. We all make mistakes."

-- Brent Baker