NBC Discredits GOP Ad as Racist, Condemns Limbaugh's Slap at Fox --10/25/2006
2. NYT Public Editor: Wrong to Expose Terrorist Surveillance Program
3. CNN's Lothian: Romney's Presidential Bid Appeals to 'Far Right'
4. Rosie O'Donnell: U.S. Patriot Act 'Very Similar' to South Africa
5. "Top Ten Questions to Ask Before Voting for Schwarzenegger"
Mitchell moved to Limbaugh: "Take a look at what Rush Limbaugh is saying about Michael J. Fox, the actor who suffers from Parkinson's disease and is campaigning for Democrats who support stem cell research. Limbaugh said Fox was acting, exploiting his illness, when he taped this ad for the Democratic Senate candidate in Maryland." Viewers saw a clip of Limbaugh: "He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act." But Mitchell ignored how Fox was injecting politics into medical research funding policy, how Fox has admitted going off his meds in order to look worse and that Limbaugh was also criticizing Fox's anti-Talent ad in Missouri in which Fox made the distorted claim that "Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." Plus, it's worth noting that Fox was a lot more steady in a clip of him responding to Limbaugh.
[This item was posted, with video, Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio clip, of Mitchell's hit on Limbaugh with two clips of Fox in different conditions -- see screen shots below -- go to: newsbusters.org ]
In contrast, in a story on ABC's World News focusing on the Fox ads, Jake Tapper played the more insidious Fox ad and noted how "the Talent campaign called the Fox ad 'false' since Senator Talent supports stem cell research that doesn't involve destroying a human embryo. Rush Limbaugh went much further, actually suggesting Fox was acting." Tapper played audio of Limbaugh: "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act." Tapper clarified: "After listeners contacted Limbaugh to say it was no act, the radio host apologized."
You Tube video of the Missouri ad: www.youtube.com
[Update: Wednesday's Today show re-ran the Mitchell story after Matt Lauer opened the program: "Good morning, politics getting personal. With the high stakes midterm elections just two weeks away Michael J. Fox mocked by Rush Limbaugh and a Tennessee senate candidate accused of partying with Playboy playmates. How did it all get so ugly?"]
Wednesday's Washington Post fronts a snarky story on Limbaugh on its "Style" section: "Rush Limbaugh On the Offensive Against Ad With Michael J. Fox." Reporter David Montgomery began: "Possibly worse than making fun of someone's disability is saying that it's imaginary. That is not to mock someone's body, but to challenge a person's guts, integrity, sanity." See: www.washingtonpost.com
...[E]mbryonic stem cell research is currently legal and completely unrestricted in both Maryland and Missouri....They bring forth people who they think are victims for the purposes of exploiting them, and when you bring forth -- for example, if you're talking about embryonic stem cell research, and you want to convey the notion that the Republicans are opposed to it, and in effect they're for people having Parkinson's Disease. Make no mistake that's what the intent is.
Then you bring forth a person who's suffering the disease, and you illustrate the disease and the ravages and the suffering on TV to create sympathy and infallibility, because you're not supposed to be able to attack somebody or criticize somebody in any way or in any regard if they suffer from the disease. It's considered cold-hearted and cruel. What's happening here is that Michael Fox has entered the political arena with his attack, which includes false information about Senator Talent and Michael Steele in Maryland. That's fair game, and I am not going to follow the script that says we're not allowed to comment on the things said by participants, "victims," what have you, that the Democrats put forth as infallible in the middle of a political campaign.
I would argue that Mr. Fox is damaging what has traditionally been a bipartisan effort at addressing and curing illnesses, and that is the primary point here. Democrats are politicizing diseases and illnesses. The Breck Girl, John Edwards, promising, if John Kerry is elected, that Christopher Reeve and others with spinal paralysis would walk, when there's no such is evidence that any research into embryonic stem cells will create any immediate cure toward anything. It is irresponsible to mislead victims of people suffering from these horrible diseases in such a fashion. But that's exactly what has happened.
That's what the Democrats are doing, politicizing diseases and illnesses, damaging what has traditionally been a bipartisan effort at addressing and curing illnesses, and the same time they claim if you don't embrace their political and cultural agenda, then you're for Parkinson's disease, and you are for spinal paralysis....
I did some research today, and I found his book that was published. It's 'Lucky Man,' 2002, but he admits in the book that before Senate subcommittee on appropriations I think in 1999, September of 1999, he did not take his medication for the purposes of having the ravages and the horrors of Parkinson's disease illustrated, which was what he has done in the commercials that are running for Claire McCaskill and Jim Talent....
END of Excerpt
That transcript is online at: www.rushlimbaugh.com
Indeed, in his book Fox recalled: "I had made a deliberate choice to appear before the subcommittee without medication. It seemed to me that this occasion demanded that my testimony about the effects of the disease, and the urgency we as a community were feeling, be seen as well as heard. For people who had never observed me in this kind of shape, the transformation must have been startling." For the book text: www.michaeljfox.org
Taking on the ad for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill, in which Fox declares that "Senator Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope," National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez observed that the ad "pulls on voters' heartstrings and serves up an unfair and disingenuous message" about a Missouri ballot initiative which opponents believe will allow cloning. An excerpt from her October 23 posting:
In a commercial drowning in false hope and overhype, Michael J. Fox, Claire McCaskill, and their funders don't mention that stem-cell research -- including embryo-destroying research -- is already legal and happening not just in Missouri but across the U.S. What they also don't tell you is that in creating a constitutional right to human cloning, the Missouri amendment is more radical than anything even the United Nations is currently willing to do. The commercial also doesn't mention that there are some real potential drawbacks to jumping into embryonic-stem-cell research for Parkinson's patients. Embryonic-stem-cell research is not the panacea its advocates would have you believe.
END of Excerpt
For the Lopez piece: article.nationalreview.com
# NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams: "And now to 'Decision 2006,' and with two weeks to go before this election, things are decidedly getting personal. Negative campaign ads on both sides are all over the airwaves if you haven't noticed already. Tonight some are saying that one commercial in particular in one very close Senate race has now crossed a racial line. We get the story from NBC News correspondent Andrea Mitchell."
Andrea Mitchell: "Tennessee Democrat Harold Ford could become the first African-American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction. But crossing that color barrier may not be easy. Watch this Republican ad for his opponent."
Jake Tapper: "Michael J. Fox has been an impassioned advocate for years-"
The lead story for the June 23 New York Times exposed a U.S. terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transfers ("Bank Data Sifted In Secret By U.S. to Block Terror"). On Sunday, the paper's "Public Editor," fancy Times talk for ombudsman, retracted his previous defense of his paper's publication of details of the SWIFT program. Barney Calame wrote: "My July 2 column strongly supported The Times's decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it's a close call now, as it was then, I don't think the article should have been published."
A reprint of a Monday item, by Clay Waters, on the MRC's TimesWatch site:
The June 23 New York Times article began: "Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials."
The surveillance of transactions by the Belgian global banking cooperative, known as SWIFT, is back in the news because the Times' Public Editor, Barney Calame, has changed his mind and now thinks the paper should not have run the story that exposed and possibly sabotaged the successful anti-terror program.
For such a reliable corporate yes-man, this required some guts. But there it is, albeit buried at the bottom of Calame's Sunday column and not referenced in the less-than-riveting headline: "Can 'Magazines' of the Times Subsidize News Coverage?"
The admission comes instead under an uninformative subhead, "Banking Data: A Mea Culpa," in which he retracts his previous defense of his paper's publication of details of the SWIFT program.
Back on July 2, Calame wrote: "My close look convinced me that Bill Keller, the executive editor, was correct in deciding that Times readers deserved to read about the banking-data surveillance program. And the growing indications that this and other financial monitoring operations were hardly a secret to the terrorist world minimizes the possibility that the article made America less safe."
Now, here's Calame on October 22: "My July 2 column strongly supported The Times's decision to publish its June 23 article on a once-secret banking-data surveillance program. After pondering for several months, I have decided I was off base. There were reasons to publish the controversial article, but they were slightly outweighed by two factors to which I gave too little emphasis. While it's a close call now, as it was then, I don't think the article should have been published."
Calame actually credits his critics for changing his mind on the "secrecy" point: "In addition, I became embarrassed by the how-secret-is-it issue, although that isn't a cause of my altered conclusion. My original support for the article rested heavily on the fact that so many people already knew about the program that serious terrorists also must have been aware of it. But critical, and clever, readers were quick to point to a contradiction: the Times article and headline had both emphasized that a 'secret' program was being exposed."
Indeed, after controversy exploded, several Times' editors and reporters (including Calame) disingenuously backtracked, claiming that the "secret" program wasn't really a secret at all, but old news terrorists already knew about -- which of course is why the paper called it "secret" in the headline and in the text.
Blogger Tom Maguire is ambivalent about Calame's turnabout:
"Well, I suppose we should acknowledge Mr. Calame's grace in admitting his error, and before the election to boot. And keep in mind, the decision to publish was not his to make. That said, this flip-flop will annoy folks on the other side of this debate without mollifying cranks such as me. I would guess that Mr. Calame's lonely job just got a little lonelier."
Other Times critics are puzzling over Calame's immature justification for his initial knee-jerk defense of the Times: "What kept me from seeing these matters more clearly earlier in what admittedly was a close call? I fear I allowed the vicious criticism of The Times by the Bush administration to trigger my instinctive affinity for the underdog and enduring faith in a free press -- two traits that I warned readers about in my first column."
Law professor-blogger Eugene Volokh wonders where precisely the "vicious" attack is: "Could readers please point me to the Administration statements that the editor seems to be referring to as 'vicious criticism[s]'? I would genuinely like to be informed about this, since it might provide a better referent for what 'vicious' means in political discourse (for instance, for deciding whether particular New York Times columns critical of the Administration are themselves 'vicious criticism[s]')."
Michelle Malkin has a round-up of "vicious" criticism of the Times from Bush and Vice President Cheney and comes away underwhelmed: michellemalkin.com
END of Reprint
For the article as posted on TimesWatch.org, with links: www.timeswatch.org
As posted on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, where you can add your comments: newsbusters.org
For more New York Times bias, visit TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org
CNN reporter Dan Lothian resorted, not for the first time, to a classic example of liberal bias on Monday's American Morning when, in a piece on Republican Governor Mitt Romney's potential White House run, he applied an extremist political label: "Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney seems to be carving out his base by appealing, political experts say, to the far right."
[This item is adopted from a Monday posting by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Co-host Miles O'Brien had set up the October 23 profile: "Now, on the Republican side of the race for the White House, Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney thinking hard about that. American Morning's Dan Lothian looking at that potential run. Dan, good morning."
A few seconds later, Lothian continued his "far right" angle:
All candidates position themselves and play to their respective bases. But the media rarely slaps a "far left" label on a Democratic candidate. Will Barack Obama be appealing to the far left when he runs for President? Perhaps not. Obama, who in his first year as a Senator, landed a score of eight from the American Conservative Union, was recently labeled a "centrist" by the Associated Press: newsbusters.org
Lothian concluded his piece, which aired at 7:16am EDT, by chatting with American Morning co-host Miles O'Brien. This gave the CNN reporter one last chance to reiterate the scary news: Romney is appealing to conservatives.
O'Brien: "Still kind of scratching my head, Dan, about a conservative guy from Massachusetts coming to the fore as a presidential candidate. Bit of a contradiction there on the face of it at least."
"Far right" is a phrase that Lothian apparently enjoys, as this is not the first time he's used it. The August 14, 2003 CyberAlert noted that Lothian uttered those words on August 13th 2003, in a CNN story about California's special gubernatorial election:
As mentioned earlier, Barack Obama will likely run for President. Numerous media outlets have interviewed him, in relation to a new book he's written, yet the questions are almost uniformly fawning and friendly. Two programs that did talk with the Illinois Senator, CNN's American Morning and NBC's Today, failed to describe his voting record as liberal, and they also neglected to ask whether Obama would attempt to appeal to his party's left-wing base. Apparently only conservatives such as Romney have to worry about scary sounding groups like the "far right."
Rosie O'Donnell took another vicious swipe at the Bush administration and its efforts to combat terrorism during Tuesday's The View. Liberal actor Tim Robbins appeared on the program to promote his latest film, Catch a Fire, set in apartheid-era South Africa. In the film, Robbins portrays a white police officer who tortures a black South African man, wrongfully accused of sabotage of an oil refinery. While discussing the film and his character, co-host Rosie O'Donnell equated the brutal tactics used against the people of South Africa by its own government with the Patriot Act: "They were seeking out terrorists, which is what they called the people in South Africa who actually lived there, who were the majority. The blacks in South Africa, who were trying to fight for their own civil rights, were called terrorists and the government was allowed to arrest them at will and interrogate them, no matter what they did, just on the suspicion. Very similar today to what we have in the United States, thanks to the Patriot Act."
[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Web site for the movie: www.catchafiremovie.com
Elisabeth Hasselbeck briefly defended the anti-terror legislation, before being cut off by Robbins and O'Donnell, who went on to compare further "similarities" between South Africa under apartheid and President Bush's America:
Elisabeth Hasselbeck: "Well, and the Patriot Act, I'm sorry, protects us. But that's a whole different story, but this-"
From the October 24 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions to Ask Yourself Before Voting for Schwarzenegger." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Do I feel comfortable having a governor who oils his chest?"
9. "Have I thoroughly considered Stallone, Van Damme and Seagal?"
8. "Is 'Come on, it'll be funny' a good reason to vote for someone?"
7. "Has he done enough to make California a laughingstock?"
6. "How can I be sure he'll be just as Schwarzeneggy this time around?"
5. "Can I bench-press more today than I could three years ago?"
4. "What would Predator do?"
3. "Will he cut taxes on steroids?"
2. "He won't embarrass us, will he?" [video of Schwarzenegger dancing with a woman in a bikini]
1. "Have I lost my mind?"
-- Brent Baker