Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on FNC's 'Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

NBC Finds "Nation Impressed" by Bush Speech, ABC Disagrees -- 01/30/2003 CyberAlert


1. NBC Finds "Nation Impressed" by Bush Speech, ABC Disagrees
Peter Jennings versus reality. NBC Nightly News ended Wednesday night with a piece by Jim Avila on how a Gallup poll taken after President Bush's State of the Union address "shows a nation impressed. Before, only 47 percent believed President Bush made a convincing case for military action. After, 67 [percent] supported an attack." But Jennings refused to concede Bush had any such success. He asserted that beforehand "the country was divided" on "what to do about Iraq" and after it, though 63 percent back taking on Iraq military, "we found that people had not changed their minds in significant numbers."

2. Ruing "Delay" in New Prescription Drug Entitlement
Assuming more and bigger government is desirable, Joie Chen wrapped up a January 29 CBS Evening News story by lamenting "yet another delay for seniors in need of prescription drug care."

3. GMA's Line-up: Aziz, Daschle and Stephanopoulos
Morning after coverage of the State of the Union: The line-up of those ABC's Good Morning America interviewed: Tariq Aziz, Tom Daschle and George Stephanopoulos. And NBC's Today offered this reaction from a supposedly typical Iraqi, a man in a suit who declared in English: "I say to Mr. Bush, keep your nose out of our, out of our affairs."

4. Matthews: Bush Sounding Like "a Sadistic Murderer"
Bush sounding like "a sadistic murderer"? After the State of the Union address, MSNBC's Chris Matthews scolded Bush for how he suggested terrorists have been hunted down and murdered: "I'm afraid that's the President at his least attractive. That kind of, I don't know, college, fraternity master." When Donna Brazile said she liked Bush's attitude, Matthews mocked her: "You like the sadistic murderer?" Earlier, Matthews admonished Brazile for making fun of how House Majority Leader Tom DeLay once owned a pest control company.

5. Shales Chides Bush for "Sop to the Far Right" on Abortion
Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales thought "Bush did well for the most part," but asserted the State of the Union address was marred by "a sop to the far right, a call for an end to 'partial-birth abortions,'" yet far more than the "far right" oppose the procedure. A Gallup poll determined 70 percent back a law to bar it.

6. Newsweek Editor Guarded Against Any "Rightward Deviationism"
A tribute in this week's Newsweek to Sarah Pettit, the magazine's arts editor since 1999 who sadly lost her battle with lymphoma at age 36, recalled how "at the morning editorial meetings, she'd be protesting any rightward deviationism in Newsweek's political coverage."

7. Investor's Business Daily Picks Up MRC Tax Cut Coverage Study
MRC in the News. Wednesday's Investor's Business Daily featured an editorial running down the findings of the MRC study by Rich Noyes documenting the anti-tax cut slant of ABC, CBS and NBC evening show coverage of Bush's plan.

8. Miller Delivers Zingers Against Penn, the French & ACLU
On Wednesday's Tonight Show on NBC Dennis Miller delivered some zingers against opponents of taking on Saddam Hussein militarily. He made fun of Sean Penn, the French, the ACLU and the French again.


NBC Finds "Nation Impressed" by Bush Speech,
ABC Disagrees

Peter Jennings versus reality. NBC Nightly News ended Wednesday night with a piece by Jim Avila on how a Gallup poll taken after President Bush's State of the Union address "shows a nation impressed. Before, only 47 percent believed President Bush made a convincing case for military action. After, 67 [percent] supported an attack."

But ABC's Peter Jennings refused to concede Bush had any such success. On World News Tonight he asserted that "we knew going into the speech that the country was divided on many issues, including what to do about Iraq" and after it "we found that people had not changed their minds in significant numbers."

Tom Brokaw set up the January 29 NBC Nightly News look at public reaction: "Nothing focuses the attention of a nation as a prospect of war. And for weeks now, the United States has been engaged in a vigorous national debate on the need for war against Iraq, the timing, the consequences in the Middle East, and the effect on other national problems here at home. So no surprise the President's speech last night had a huge television audience, and today it was the topic in coffee shops and offices, construction sites and sales barns, wherever people gathered. NBC's Jim Avila tonight on some Americans that we met last night, the day after."

What is a "sales barn"? But that is what is sounded like he said.

Avila began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "A snowy night in Crown Point, Indiana, the main street café open late, counter four. And across the country, a record number of Americans bathe in the blue light of TV watching a President make his best case for war."
Ralph Carnielo: "He brought up three points that I hadn't heard of before."
Avila: "Before the speech, Ralph Carnielo (sp?) told NBC News he wanted proof Iraq is a serious and imminent danger to the United States. Back for coffee this morning, now convinced by the President's argument that Iraq is not accounting for proven stores of biological and chemical weapons."
George W. Bush in address: "He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it."
Carnielo: "And they still haven't proved what they have done with these items, and that kind of swayed me towards maybe we should go to war."
Avila: "Ralph is not alone. An instant Gallup poll taken before and after the State of the Union shows a nation impressed. Before, only 47 percent believed President Bush made a convincing case for military action. After, 67 [percent] supported an attack."
Eric Larson, RAND Senior Policy Analyst: "There seems to be a fairly high level of basic support for the proposition of military action."

Avila proceeded to note that Bush "did not do as well on the domestic agenda" as people in Crown Point remain concerned about the economy.

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, however, while an ABC poll found 63 percent support attacking Iraq, Jennings refused to acknowledge the fact: "And now to the President's impact last night on public opinion. We knew going into the speech that the country was divided on many issues, including what to do about Iraq, or in some cases, when. And as we do on occasions like this, we conducted a poll when he was finished and we found that people had not changed their minds in significant numbers. ABC's Erin Hayes has been out talking to people about the issues today."

The Hayes piece began with a soundbite from barber Tommy Thomas in Atlanta: "I like George Bush, I loved the speech last night."
Erin Hayes: "In Tommy Thomas's Atlanta barber shop this morning, talk was about the President and the need for war."
Thomas: "I think we ought to kind of just get it on, go over there and do what we got to do and come on back."
Hayes: "But among friends, disagreement. Some are unconvinced by the President's assessment of Iraq."
Man in barber shop: "To me, he hasn't demonstrated a clear and imminent danger at this point."
Hayes: "And while nearly two-thirds of Americans support military action against Iraq, most still do not want the U.S. to go it alone." [on screen graphic put support at 63 percent]
Second man in barber shop: "Not without everybody's support. I'd like to leave it up to the United Nations to decide instead of Bush."

Like Avila, Hayes found less support for Bush's economic policies: "An equal current of anxiety over the economy. Just a 46 percent approval rating for the President on that issue."

Neither the ABCNews.com "politics" page nor "poll vault" has anything about ABC's post-speech poll.

Ruing "Delay" in New Prescription
Drug Entitlement

The media push for more and bigger government. Joie Chen wrapped up a January 29 CBS Evening News story by lamenting "yet another delay for seniors in need of prescription drug care."

After recounting how President Bush's proposal is opposed by key Republicans, which Democrats don't like either, and the Bush administration has yet to even submit an actual plan for consideration, Chen concluded:
"What happened is that members of Mr. Bush's own party, including the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, made it clear they couldn't back this plan. So now it's back to the drawing board and yet another delay for seniors in need of prescription drug care."

Chen's view seems to match that of most journalists. So much for the media challenging either party. When both want to expand government and spend more, they media are all for it.

GMA's Line-up: Aziz, Daschle and
Stephanopoulos

Two quick notes about morning after coverage of the State of the Union: The line-up of those ABC's Good Morning America interviewed: Tariq Aziz, Tom Daschle and George Stephanopoulos. And NBC's Today offered this reaction from a supposedly typical Iraqi, a man in a suit who declared: "I say to Mr. Bush, keep your nose out of our, out of our affairs."

During GMA's 7am half hour on January 29, co-host Charles Gibson first interviewed Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, followed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle. Then viewers were treated to the analysis of George Stephanopoulos. Quite the line-up, but neither Gibson's questions or Stephanopoulos's comments were particularly noteworthy.

Supposedly typical Iraqi reaction NBC's Today, which paired Daschle with House Speaker Dennis Hastert, had Ann Curry in Kuwait City. She decided: "Early indications are the speech did little to sway a world still waiting to be convinced that war is the answer to Saddam Hussein."
George W. Bush in his State of the Union address: "Tonight I have the message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq. Your enemy is not surrounding your country, your enemy is ruling your country."
Curry: "This morning's reaction from an Iraqi."
Iraqi man outside dressed in a suit and tie, asserted in English: "I say to Mr. Bush, keep your nose out of our, out of our affairs."

Why the networks insist upon relaying such comments from Iraqis who are either agents of the state or know, given the Iraqi government handler accompanying the film crew is listening, they must adhere to a pro-Hussein line, is perplexing. Using a TV camera to measure public opinion in a ruthless police state is impossible.

Matthews: Bush Sounding Like "a
Sadistic Murderer"

Bush sounding like "a sadistic murderer"? After the State of the Union address, MSNBC's Chris Matthews played a clip of President Bush noting how many terrorists have been arrested, but "many others have met a different fate. Put it this way, they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies." Matthews scolded Bush for that kind of language: "I'm afraid that's the President at his least attractive. That kind of, I don't know, college fraternity master."

When guest Donna Brazile countered that "that's probably the part of the President...that I really like," MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that Matthews mocked her: "You like the sadistic murderer?"

Earlier, however, Matthews had chided Brazile for making fun of how House Majority Leader Tom DeLay once owned a pest control company. Matthews pointed out that DeLay "succeeded as a pest controller" while Brazile, who ran Al Gore's campaign, "failed as a campaign manager." Matthews advised Brazile: "Never make fun of someone's occupation."

-- Matthews scolds Bush. A bit past 11pm EST, Matthews came back from commercial by playing this excerpt from Bush: "All told more than 3000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Put it this way they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
Matthews lambasted Bush: "I'm afraid that's the President at his least attractive. That kind of, I don't know, college fraternity master. 'We had killed the bad guys.' I don't know."
Donna Brazile: "Well I know but that's probably the part of the President that I, that I really like because, I know that sounds strange but-"
Matthews: "You like the sadistic murderer. I'm just-"
Brazile: "No, no it's, it's when he puts his finger out there and, and just says what he means I think that's, that's really how real it is."
Matthews: "Well that is his death-row parlance isn't it? So people won't have to worry about it any time later."
Howard Fineman of Newsweek: "And he does personalize this which is why some people would think that it's all about-"
Matthews: "Daddy."
Fineman: "-daddy and all that. But it's not. It's George Bush being the sheriff. It's George Bush saying when it comes down to it, it's my responsibility and I'll pull the trigger."
Matthews: "Make my day. Right."
Fineman: "And for an American people worried about their safety if he makes the case that this is necessary they will like it."
Matthews: "Yeah."
Fineman: "And Donna, the country will respond the way Donna did."
Matthews: "You think they like that, that, that almost giddy readiness to kill? You think they like that?"
Fineman: "No I'm not saying that. I'm not saying that. They like the fact-"
Pat Caddell: "I, I didn't read it that way."
Fineman: "-I didn't read it that way either. They'll step up, he'll, if he steps up and he makes the case they will back him. If he makes the case."
Matthews: "There was something, let me just suggest this. Let me just read it to you all so you know what we're talking about here. 'All told 3000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries and many others have met a different fate.' And then he put in the words, the only time he ad-libbed the whole speech. 'Let me put it this way, they are no longer a problem for the United States and our friends and allies.' I just think that's a little cute."

-- Matthews scolds Brazile. During the 8pm EST hour before the State of the Union, Brazile, who was in studio, made fun of Tom DeLay, who had appeared via satellite: "I think it's, well, I don't think it takes a lot of, it doesn't take a rocket scientist and it clearly doesn't take a former pest control man like Tom DeLay, who believes that Republicans have the answer because they control the majority now in Congress. I think it takes a coalition. It takes allies. I mean, we have the might, but my grandmother used to say might doesn't make it right. But we also need support. We need allies. This is going to be a huge endeavor to try to dispose and disarm Saddam."
Matthews upbraided Brazile: "But you know, in all fairness, Donna, since you took a shot at a man who was trying to earn a living as a pest controller, he succeeded as a pest controller."
Brazile: "Absolutely he, he succeeded killing insects, absolutely."
Matthews: "You failed as a campaign manager. I mean, there's a difference between being successful and, anybody who works -- to work is to pray, I believe. Never make fun of someone's occupation, Donna."
Brazile: "I made fun of his occupation-"
Matthews: "You shouldn't do that."
An unchastened Brazile: "-and I will do it again."
Matthews: "I don't think you should."

If only Matthews would take his own advice and stop leveling cheap shots at Bush.

For much more on State of the Union coverage:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030129.asp

Shales Chides Bush for "Sop to the Far Right"
on Abortion

Washington Post television reviewer Tom Shales thought "Bush did well for the most part," but asserted the State of the Union address was marred by "a sop to the far right, a call for an end to 'partial-birth abortions,'" yet far more that the "far right" oppose the procedure. A Gallup poll determined 70 percent back a law to bar it.

The January 29 review by Shales, "A War Cry Tempered By Eloquence," began:
"Though not quite the war rally some had predicted, George W. Bush's State of the Union speech to Congress and the nation last night reached its most effective and dramatic moments in its second half, when the president turned from domestic programs to foreign issues -- mainly, of course, Saddam Hussein and his allegedly concealed weaponry.
"Not by nature a gifted public speaker, Bush did well for the most part, warming up himself and the crowd with a semi-ambitious domestic agenda (with, as a sop to the far right, a call for an end to 'partial-birth abortions'), then changing to a more somber and urgent tone as he enumerated Saddam Hussein's offenses against humanity."

The entire column is online at:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58377-2003Jan29.html

A January 10-12 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, which the MRC's Tim Graham passed along to me, asked: "Do you favor or oppose each of the following proposals? How about:
"A law which would make it illegal to perform a specific abortion procedure conducted in the last six months of pregnancy known as a 'partial-birth abortion,' except in cases necessary to save the life of the mother"

Favor: 70 percent; oppose: just 25 percent.

That and other abortion polls have been collected by The Polling Report: http://www.pollingreport.com/abortion.htm

Admittedly it is true that conservatives have outlawing partial-birth abortion as a priority, yet "campaign finance reform," which had overall public support, was something in which liberals were especially interested, but when did you ever hear a pro-campaign finance reform pitch described as a "sop to the far-left"?

Newsweek Editor Guarded Against Any
"Rightward Deviationism"

A tribute in this week's Newsweek to Sarah Pettit, the magazine's arts editor since 1999 who sadly lost a battle with lymphoma at age 36, recalled how "at the morning editorial meetings, she'd be protesting any rightward deviationism in Newsweek's political coverage."

I didn't realize there was an "rightward deviationism" to block, but maybe her presence stopped it.

In the "An Appreciation" piece in the February 3 issue, David Gates noted how "Sarah was just 25 when she co-founded Out, which had become the nation's largest gay and lesbian magazine by the time she left."

Jumping ahead to her years at Newsweek, Gates recounted: "Too late at night, you'd be kneeling by Sarah's side as she sat at her computer, brainstorming with her over some sentence, some word, that wasn't absolutely clear. At the morning editorial meetings, she'd be protesting any rightward deviationism in Newsweek's political coverage -- and campaigning for extra pages in Arts. A couple of years ago, she stayed up nights and weekends plotting a wholesale redesign of the magazine; she even got her way about some of it."

For the article about her in full:
http://www.msnbc.com/news/863890.asp?0dm=-128K

Up front in the issue, in "The Editor's Desk" column, Mark Whitaker remembered how she offered "contrarian positions" and opposed Bush's Iraq policy: "On the war with Iraq, for instance, Sarah was a skeptic all along. Now, with thousands of soldiers shipping out to the Gulf, a majority of Americans, according to our latest poll, are beginning to question the Bush administration's apparent determination to go into battle even without support from the United Nations or a clear 'smoking gun.'"

Investor's Business Daily Picks Up MRC Tax
Cut Coverage Study

MRC in the News. Wednesday's Investor's Business Daily featured an editorial running down the findings of the MRC study by Rich Noyes documenting the anti-tax cut slant of ABC, CBS and NBC evening show coverage of Bush's plan.

An excerpt of the January 29 editorial:

Subtle Distortions
Media Bias: As the coverage and analyses of President Bush's State of the Union address roll out, don't get taken in by the spin that follows.

....Consider the major broadcast networks' coverage of Bush's tax cut-stimulus plan. In the 28 stories that aired on the stimulus package during the first two weeks of the year, the bias against it was striking. The Media Research Center, which keeps up with such things, determined that criticism of the plan "received much more time" in the stories "than conservative counter arguments -- and that journalists themselves often echoed the anti-tax-cut talking points."

The myth that Bush's tax cut benefits the rich at the poor's expense was the most common theme. Sources used by the networks made that point 27 times and reporters, who rarely bothered to demonstrate balance, made it another 10 times themselves.

Only seven times, the MRC reports, did viewers hear anyone counter that premise. And each time it was a Republican; no reporter ever challenged it.

Also popular was the argument that Bush's tax cuts would increase the deficit....

END of Excerpt

For the editorial in full: http://www.investors.com/editorial/issues.asp?v=1/29

The editorial was prompted by the MRC's study by Rich Noyes, "Reporters Push Spin of Anti-Tax Cut Liberals: Echoing Daschle, Reporters Assert Bush's Tax Cut Is Lousy Stimulus, Favors Wealthy & Worsens Deficit." That's online with numbers at: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2003/fax20030127.asp

Miller Delivers Zingers Against Penn, the
French & ACLU

Dennis Miller On Wednesday's Tonight Show on NBC Dennis Miller delivered some zingers against opponents of taking on Saddam Hussein militarily. Since 9-11 the actor/comedian has honed his shtick around mocking liberals opposed to President Bush's tough line against terrorism.

Some of his shots on the January 29 Tonight Show with Jay Leno:

-- "Sean Penn, for instance, is urging restraint. What could we possibly say to Sean to get him on board? If only Saddam Hussein was a paparazzi." (Penn once punched a photographer.)

-- "The only way the French are going in is if we tell them we found truffles in Iraq."

-- "The French are always reticent to surrender to the wishes of their friends and always more than willing to surrender to the wishes of their enemies."

He also took on liberals for opposing school vouchers when public schools are a disaster and offered this blast at the ACLU's priorities:
"The ACLU spent this entire holiday season protesting public displays of the nativity scene. Yeah, that's the problem with America right now: Public displays of Christ's birth, that's the problem. It's unbelievable to me. The ACLU will no longer fight for your right to put up a nativity scene, but they'll fight for the right of the local freak who wants to stumble onto the scene and have sex with one of the sheep."

Last November on the Tonight Show Miller praised Bush's anti-terrorism efforts, favored attacking Iraq and juxtaposed the "wocka-wocka porno guitar of the Clinton administration" with how Bush "makes me proud to be an American again. He's just a decent guy." See:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021108.asp#7

In a June Tonight Show appearance Miller mocked liberal orthodoxy: "If you put the Guantanamo Bay terrorist prison outside of Kabul it would be their Epcot." And: "I say we create a new airline, called the ACLA, the American Civil Liberties Airline where you don't check anybody, you don't ask any questions, and let those morons fly on that one." See:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020620.asp#4

And in November of 2001, noting how reporters say "it's the public's need to know about our ground forces being in there," on the Tonight Show Dennis Miller led the audience in a reprimanding journalists: "We don't want to know!" Miller also called for oil drilling in Alaska and praised President Bush for ending "the '70s porno guitar of the Clinton administration." See:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011107.asp#7

That last CyberAlert includes a picture of Miller whose stands are quite a contrast to those espoused by most in Hollywood who seem closer to the views of Susan Sarandon and Janeane Garofalo. -- Brent Baker