2. Ruing "Delay" in New Prescription Drug Entitlement
3. GMA's Line-up: Aziz, Daschle and Stephanopoulos
4. Matthews: Bush Sounding Like "a Sadistic Murderer"
5. Shales Chides Bush for "Sop to the Far Right" on Abortion
6. Newsweek Editor Guarded Against Any "Rightward Deviationism"
7. Investor's Business Daily Picks Up MRC Tax Cut Coverage Study
8. Miller Delivers Zingers Against Penn, the French & ACLU
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."
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."
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.
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:
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.
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.
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."
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.
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 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."
If only Matthews would take his own advice and stop leveling cheap shots at Bush.
For much more on State of the Union coverage:
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:
The entire column is online at:
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:
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"?
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:
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.'"
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:
....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
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:
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:
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:
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:
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