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NBC Features Leftist on Katrina/Race: Bush 'Clueless Patrician' --8/29/2006


1. NBC Features Leftist on Katrina/Race: Bush 'Clueless Patrician'
Looking back at Katrina a year later, NBC's Brian Williams decided to raise the issue of race and to showcase as his sole expert, on both Monday's NBC Nightly News and a prime time special, left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Williams, from New Orleans, set up his Nightly News segment by arguing the disaster "destroyed" a lot and "it exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country." Dyson, a regular on Bill Maher's HBO show and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, declared: "The people in New Orleans were left behind long before the vicious winds and violent waters of Hurricane Katrina came along to wash them away." Williams asked: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?" Dyson retorted: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians..." Williams followed up: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?"

2. Matthews: Will GOP Play "Ethnic Factor" and Use "Scare Tactics"?
Over the weekend on NBC's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Matthews and his media panel predicted the House would fall to the Democrats, prompting Matthews to wonder what sort of "scare tactic" Republicans would employ in the upcoming midterms. Matthews asked Time's Michael Duffy if the Republicans were "gonna bring in the ethnic factor" as they did in "the dirty old days" of the 1990s when they warned that "most of these ranking members, these about to chairmen, are African-Americans?" Then later in the program Matthews honored the media's Katrina coverage by highlighting this exaggerated report from an NBC cameraman: "Dead people around the walls of the Convention Center laying in the middle of the street."

3. BBC: Katrina Shows U.S. Has Too Many Blacks 'At Bottom of Pile'
It seems everyone's going to be getting in on the Katrina-exposed-racism extravaganza this week. Looking through Thursday night's BBC World rebroadcast that's shown locally here on PBS station WETA, MRC's Michelle Humphrey found something weird. As reporter Jim Fish narrated a story on racial cohesion in Britain and France, he then took a jolting turn to a one-sentence condemnation of America: "And in the most renowned melting pot society of all, the United States, Hurricane Katrina exposed the grim reality that far too many black people remain at the bottom of the pile, too often ignored and cut off from the American Dream."

4. Liberals Much More Positive Than Conservatives Toward Couric
Katie Couric, who will take over as anchor of the CBS Evening News in a week, is seen much more positively by liberals than conservatives and, asked by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, to say what word they most associate with Couric, "liberal" was the second most cited in the survey released on Thursday. "Biased" also came up on the list. While conservative Republicans are split 30 percent to 30 percent on giving Couric a positive versus negative evaluation, those more liberal are much more upbeat on her. Liberal Democrats assessed her more positively than negatively by a 30 point margin, 46 to 16 percent. Self-described conservative and moderate Democrats had an even greater positive margin of 36 percent, 45 to 9 percent. Moderate and liberal Republicans were the most favorable toward Couric, 55 percent positive compared to a piddling 11 percent with a negative view, a margin of 44 percentage points.

5. Read It Here First: WashTimes Highlights MRC Immigration Study
You read it here first. "Biased TV messages" reads the headline over a Tuesday editorial in the Washington Times about a new MRC study, "Election In the Streets: How the Broadcast Networks Promote Illegal Immigration." The study was posted Monday on the MRC's home page and a Monday afternoon CyberAlert Special distributed the text of its "Executive Summary." The August 29 editorial began: "Every time we think we have seen the worst in media bias, we come across studies like the Media Research Center's new report on the Big Three's immigration coverage."


NBC Features Leftist on Katrina/Race:
Bush 'Clueless Patrician'

Looking back at Katrina a year later, NBC's Brian Williams decided to raise the issue of race and to showcase as his sole expert, on both Monday's NBC Nightly News and a prime time special, left-wing professor Michael Eric Dyson, author of Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. Williams, from New Orleans, set up his Nightly News segment by arguing the disaster "destroyed" a lot and "it exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country." Dyson, a regular on Bill Maher's HBO show and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, declared: "The people in New Orleans were left behind long before the vicious winds and violent waters of Hurricane Katrina came along to wash them away."

Williams asked: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?" Dyson retorted: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians, number one. Number two, inadvertently, let's be honest, she was right at a certain level..." Williams followed up: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?"

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

(A flavor of Dyson's radicalism: In 2005, Dyson asserted about Bill Cosby: "None of us want our children to be murderers or thieves. But Cosby never acknowledges that most poor blacks don't have a choice about these things.")

Dyson's own Web site: www.michaelericdyson.com

Setting up another taped segment with Dyson which aired during an 8pm EDT prime time special hosted by Williams, Katrina: The Long Road Back, Williams re-played a clip of his December 12, 2005 session with President Bush, aboard Air Force One, for NBC Nightly News:
"After the tragedy, I heard someone ask rhetorically, 'What if this had been Nantucket, Massachusetts, or Inner Harbor Baltimore or Chicago or Houston?' Are you convinced the response would have been the same? Was there any social or class or race aspect to the response?"

Bush replied in the answer shown in December and again on Monday night: "Somebody I heard -- you know, a couple of people you know said, 'Bush didn't respond because of race, because he's a racist' or alleged that. That is absolutely wrong. And I reject that. Frankly, that's the kind of thing that -- you can call me anything you want -- but do not call me a racist."

For more on that interview, check my December 13 CyberAlert item, "Williams Hits Bush with Charge of Racism Behind Katrina Response," at: www.mrc.org

Now, a transcript of the August 28 NBC Nightly News story provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, who corrected the closed-captioning against the video:

Michael Eric Dyson Brian Williams set up the pre-taped session: "Back here in New Orleans tonight, the water that came through this neighborhood a year ago destroyed a lot. It exposed a lot, too, including, some say, the dicey issues of race and class in our country. Why didn't certain people leave? Who did get out? Was any of this in any way intentional? Tough questions that we took to a man who teaches in the ivy league. Michael Eric Dyson is a professor of African-American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote the book on Katrina and race."
Professor Michael Dyson, University of Pennsylvania: "The people in New Orleans were left behind long before the vicious winds and violent waters of Hurricane Katrina came along to wash them away."
Williams: "Two reasons, among the many reasons people didn't leave: government checks."
Dyson: "Right."
Williams: "That affects black folk, white folk. That's a poor folk question."
Dyson: "Sure, no doubt."
Williams: "That's a classism question."
Dyson: "Absolutely."
Williams: "And transportation. Ditto."
Dyson: "Yeah."
Williams: "What was your reaction when Barbara Bush said they're really better off?"
Dyson: "Yeah, I'm a Christian minister man, so I always try to give love as the first response. But I'll tell you, when Barbara Bush said that, it reinforced the reputation of the Bushes as clueless patricians, number one. Number two, inadvertently, let's be honest, she was right at a certain level. Here's how she was right. That many of the people who were washed away were washed into better climates, better circumstances than they had before. That's a tragedy. You mean living in the Superdome or living in the Astrodome or living in a displaced geography that you had nothing to do with, you didn't grow up in, is better than where you were? For many people, yes. So even though she was right, she was right for the wrong reasons."
Williams: "Were they robbed of their dignity by the government?"
Dyson: "I think that what it reminded us is that the dignity was lost, the gracefulness of their eloquent embodiment as members of a New Orleans society that has given us so much jazz, gumbo, the way in which they walk, the beauty of the language, the lilt and cadence of their articulation. So when we lose New Orleans, we lose more than those poor black people. We lose ways of life, perspectives, jazz, gumbo, ya-ya, institutions of improvisation. That's what's lost. There is no question that the people who suffered there were failed by their government. I mean, one woman hollered I am an American, this is America. A black woman draped in a flag, I am an American. And it reminded us that so many of these people are not part of e pluribus unum, out of many one."
Williams: "It brought back a lot of emotions, but mostly those faces."
Dyson: "Well, the reality is that all poor black people have had in history is the right to tell the truth about their lives and to bear witness to the spirit that sustains them in the face of incredible odds. What those poor black people know when they go to church and bow down on their knees to pray to a God that they believe is there because if they don't believe, they'll do all heinous manners of acts, create havoc in their lives and others. So they must believe in God defensively to stop murder and suicide, to stop the hand that will slit their own throat. These people believe mightily in a God who delivers. These poor black people believed that God will be able to settle the matter."

Last year, the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out in a comment added to the NewsBusters posting, MRC President Brent Bozell exposed how Michael Eric Dyson thinks as he put out his book-length attack on Bill Cosby. Blacks are helpless victims, even when they're victimizers:
"Author Michael Eric Dyson has gone after him with a full-length book asking 'Is Bill Cosby Right?' His subtitle answers the question: 'Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?' He claims Cosby represents a snooty 'Afristocracy' of black professionals denouncing the 'Ghettocracy' of single mothers and inner-city gangsters. Dyson complained there's 'nothing like a formerly poor black multimillionaire bashing poor blacks to lend credence to the ancient assaults they've endured from the dominant culture.'
"I wonder if Mr. Dyson has lost his mind. In an interview on his book with the New York Times Magazine, he suggested that 'None of us want our children to be murderers or thieves. But Cosby never acknowledges that most poor blacks don't have a choice about these things.' Don't have a choice? If this is not the most perfectly pathetic example of excuse-making, I don't know what is."

For Bozell's July 1, 2005 column: www.mrc.org

Matthews: Will GOP Play "Ethnic Factor"
and Use "Scare Tactics"?

Chris Matthews Over the weekend on NBC's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, Matthews and his media panel predicted the House would fall to the Democrats, prompting Matthews to wonder what sort of "scare tactic" Republicans would employ in the upcoming midterms. Matthews asked Time's Michael Duffy if the Republicans were "gonna bring in the ethnic factor" as they did in "the dirty old days" of the 1990s when they warned that "most of these ranking members, these about to chairmen, are African-Americans?" Then later in the program Matthews honored the media's Katrina coverage by highlighting this exaggerated report from an NBC cameraman: "Dead people around the walls of the Convention Center laying in the middle of the street."

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

Matthews and the panel began the August 27 show discussing the inevitability of the Democrats retaking Congress and what Republicans would stoop to, to prevent the takeover which led to this exchange between Matthews and Duffy:

Matthews: "But are they gonna bring in the ethnic factor? In the dirty old days, like five or 10 years ago, we had a situation like that and the Republicans were warning, most of these ranking members, these about to chairmen, are African-Americans. They go after [John] Conyers, who is a bit far out, politically. But they'll use the ethnic factor, or won't they? It's a tough question, isn't it?"
Michael Duffy, Time magazine: "Late. Late. There's a, Lee Atwater used to say this: '€˜You can play a race card late, and only once.' But I think in an election that's gonna be close, and they have chambers up for grabs, you said the good old days were, the bad old days were over? I don't think so."

At the top of the show Matthews teased his final commentary on the one year anniversary of Katrina proclaiming: "My thoughts on the Katrina anniversary. How reporters made their bones while a president lost his cred." Yet Matthews honored those reporters by highlighting this credibility-challenged report from an NBC colleague:
"Some images are so powerful, so searing, that they'll be forever burned in our memories. The horror of 9/11 was one of them. That a symbol of American reach could be so easily destroyed reminded us of how vulnerable we are to a world full of suicidal hate.
"The horror of Hurricane Katrina, families struggling to survive, reminded us of something very different: The lines of race and class that divide us remain stark and clear. If 9/11 pulled us together, Katrina showed us very much apart. Until something snapped, collapsing the distance that normally separates the television 'us' from the television 'them.' The reporters, the men and women who waded through the floodwaters to tell the stories of those left behind, went beyond just the facts; they gave voice to the outrage. Brian Williams of NBC, Jean Meserve and Anderson Cooper of CNN, Shepard Smith of FOX News, they all told us what we needed to hear. But it was someone normally behind the scenes, an NBC cameraman, Tony Zumbado, who said it best."
Tony Zumbado, a year ago: "You would never, never imagine what you saw in the Convention Center in New Orleans. The sanitation was unbelievable. The stench in there, it was unbelievable. Dead people around the walls of the Convention Center laying in the middle of the street."
Matthews: "And so Americans came together in their outrage, outrage at the suffering of those families trapped in the Ninth Ward and elsewhere in the Gulf Coast. And outrage at a government that failed right when we needed it most. The images we saw on screen were more than just images. They were an indictment of the indifference and the gross negligence of those charged to protect us. It's not about journalists expressing political opinions, it's about showing up, getting the story, and telling it to the public."

In fact, claims like those from Zumbado, which NBC re-played in its Monday night prime time special, proved much exaggerated. Check "Myth-Making in New Orleans" in the December/January American Journalism Review: www.ajr.org

BBC: Katrina Shows U.S. Has Too Many
Blacks 'At Bottom of Pile'

It seems everyone's going to be getting in on the Katrina-exposed-racism extravaganza this week. Looking through Thursday night's BBC World rebroadcast that's shown locally here on PBS station WETA, MRC's Michelle Humphrey found something weird. As reporter Jim Fish narrated a story on racial cohesion in Britain and France, he then took a jolting turn to a one-sentence condemnation of America: "And in the most renowned melting pot society of all, the United States, Hurricane Katrina exposed the grim reality that far too many black people remain at the bottom of the pile, too often ignored and cut off from the American Dream."

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

From the desperate-looking scenes of limping and napping black Americans, Fish shifted his August 24 story back to jaunty, colorful video of kids jumping on a "moon bounce" in Britain, saying by contrast, "Societies like Britain are not facing disintegration, but Britain's experience is a warning that differences of religion, color, or class are not to be glossed over or ignored, but need careful and sustained attention."

Liberals Much More Positive Than Conservatives
Toward Couric

Katie Couric Katie Couric, who will take over as anchor of the CBS Evening News in a week, is seen much more positively by liberals than conservatives and, asked by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, to say what word they most associate with Couric, "liberal" was the second most cited in the survey released on Thursday. "Biased" also came up on the list. While conservative Republicans are split 30 percent to 30 percent on giving Couric a positive versus negative evaluation, those more liberal are much more upbeat on her. Liberal Democrats assessed her more positively than negatively by a 30 point margin, 46 to 16 percent. Self-described conservative and moderate Democrats had an even greater positive margin of 36 percent, 45 to 9 percent. Moderate and liberal Republicans were the most favorable toward Couric, 55 percent positive compared to a piddling 11 percent with a negative view, a margin of 44 percentage points.

The Pew survey matches what Gallup discovered in a poll released in early August which found a 17 point approval gap for Couric between Democrats and Republicans: 68 percent vs. 51 percent. For more about the Gallup poll, see the August 9 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

The Pew report, released August 24, on assessments of the three broadcast network evening newscast anchors, "Katie Couric: Perky and Cute, But Smart, Informed and Liberal, Too," relayed:
"While Katie Couric is more widely known, she also receives more negatively-toned responses than do Williams or Gibson. These include some who describe Couric as liberal or biased, and others who say she is bad, annoying, overrated or that they just don't like her."

Pew's summary also conveyed: "Conservative Republicans were significantly more likely to offer a negative assessment of the former Today Show host. In fact, just as many conservative Republicans offered a negative description of Couric as a positive one [30 percent], most frequently the impression that Couric is liberal and biased. Democrats and independents, by comparison, had far more positive than negative things to say about her, and moderate and liberal Republicans were particularly favorable, with a 55% majority offering positive impressions."

For Pew's summary in full with some tables: people-press.org


# Today, Tuesday, the MRC will be releasing a Special Report, compiled by Rich Noyes, with dozens of examples of Couric's left-wing bias over the past 16 years, illustrated with 15 audio/video clips. As a CyberAlert subscriber/reader, you can get early access to the compilation, "Meet the Real Katie Couric: CBS's New Star Adores Liberals, Scolds Conservatives -- And Thinks America Should Be More Like France," by going to: www.mrc.org

Couric starts one week from today: Tuesday, September 5.

Read It Here First: WashTimes Highlights
MRC Immigration Study

You read it here first. "Biased TV messages" reads the headline over a Tuesday editorial in the Washington Times about a new MRC study by our Tim Graham, "Election In the Streets: How the Broadcast Networks Promote Illegal Immigration." The study was posted Monday on the MRC's home page and a Monday afternoon CyberAlert Special distributed the text of its "Executive Summary."

To read the editorial online: www.washingtontimes.com

The text of the August 29 editorial:

Every time we think we have seen the worst in media bias, we come across studies like the Media Research Center's new report on the Big Three's immigration coverage. The center's director of media analysis, Tim Graham, confirms conservatives' worst fears about ABC, CBS and NBC, as they recklessly go about their efforts to depict an America that simply doesn't exist.
Mr. Graham and analysts reviewed 309 immigration stories from March 24 to May 31, or roughly the period between the first major immigration rally and passage of the Senate's amnesty bill. The report found that in contrast to the networks' universal agreement that the rallies were historic and represented a "Vietnam-era" movement, collectively they mentioned just 16 nationwide polls that "might include the opinion of the non-protesters."

Occasionally, the networks simply ignored polls that disagreed with their pro-illegal immigrant framework. For instance, CBS never cited its poll findings that 87 percent (April 6-9) or 89 percent (May 4-8) of Americans said that the problem of illegal immigration was "very serious" or "somewhat serious." NBC never cited its poll finding that 71 percent would be "more likely" to vote for a candidate "who favors tighter controls on illegal immigration." While touting a Time magazine poll showing 79 percent of Americans in favor of a guest-worker program, none of the Big Three mentioned the poll's finding that only 12 percent of respondents said the demonstrators made them more likely to endorse a guest-worker program, compared to 35 percent who said the protests made them more likely to favor laws to "make it crime" to enter or work in the country.

During the study period, advocates of amnesty and guest-worker programs drew 504 soundbites on the network news shows, compared to just 257 for those arguing for tighter border security. On the night of one large demonstration on April 10, the count on all three networks was 43-2 in favor of the protesters. On the large May 1 nationwide rally, it was 62-8.

When labeling groups and individuals, network reporters used the term "conservative" 89 times and "liberal" only three times. NBC never used "liberal" in its coverage, despite using "conservative" 45 times. On May 1, NBC's Nightly News quoted one Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a rally organizer, without noting her membership in International ANSWER, a Communist organization. Similarly, a March 24 ABC story identified Teodoro Maus as a "community leader" without telling viewers he was Mexico's consul general in Atlanta from 1998 to 2001.

It's no wonder cable networks like Fox News and programs like CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" continue to attract viewers at the Big Three's expense. Congress especially should take the Media Research Center's report to heart and remember that network news is more like state-run TV in an authoritarian state than it's like objective news -- at least when it comes to reporting conservative opinion.

END of Reprint of editorial


Links to the MRC study:

The "Executive Summary" online: www.mrc.org

For the full report in HTML format, with pictures: www.mrc.org

And for the PDF of the printed version: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker