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NBC Hypes Repetitive Low Bush Approval, Skips Intercept Approval --3/16/2006


1. NBC Hypes Repetitive Low Bush Approval, Skips Intercept Approval
Without their own poll with which to batter President Bush, last Friday the NBC Nightly News led with how "the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent" as anchor Brian Williams pointed how "that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency." But NBC caught up Wednesday night with the other networks, and though its new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found the exact same 37 percent presidential approval rating -- so no fresh news -- Williams nonetheless led with the poll number. Just as ABC and CBS did in reporting their polls in recent weeks, NBC ignored findings that found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as how 52 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "using wiretaps to listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States without getting a court order to do so," how 75 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "promoting the USA Patriot Act," and that 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent."

2. Schieffer Leads Again: "Iraq Teeters on the Edge of Civil War"
Does CBS anchor Bob Schieffer think that if he issues ominous warnings about "civil war" in Iraq often enough it will eventually come true and vindicate his, as of yet, unfulfilled predictions? Neither ABC or NBC raised "civil war" in their Wednesday evening newscasts, but Bob Schieffer, who has been the most prolific anchor in pushing the dire warning, did so again as he pegged off how Saddam Hussein has turned his trial into a "farce" to insist that "Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war." Schieffer opened his broadcast with a downbeat litany: "Iraq's new parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow, but again today political leaders could not agree on a cabinet to take charge of the government, top cleric's appeals for calm went unheeded and the country may be closer than ever to civil war..."

3. More Favorable on Feingold's Censure than Barr's Push to Impeach
One tried-and-true way to measure a media bias is to compare and contrast events. The comparisons are rarely perfect, but they can illuminate that the "news" is very much a product of human opinion, and rarely do the major media's assignment editors seem to consider how they covered something in 2006 to something they covered in 1996 (or sometimes, how they covered something in March compared to December). Today's experiment: Russ Feingold's censure ploy versus Rep. Bob Barr making rumbles about a Clinton impeachment in 1997. The Washington Post put Feingold on A-1 and A-2 Wednesday. What about Bob?

4. Last Days to Buy Tickets to MRC's March 30 "DisHonors Awards"
Just two weeks until the MRC's annual "DisHonors Awards." This year they will be held Thursday, March 30 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Seats are $250.00 each. It's always a fun evening where we turn the tables on the press corps and play video clips on big screens to mock and laugh at their biased reporting. Last year we ended up oversold, and though we've moved to a bigger venue this year to accommodate a larger crowd, it would be wise to buy now, especially since ticket sales will soon be cut off.

5. "Top Ten Signs the Government Is Running Out of Money"
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs the Government Is Running Out of Money."


NBC Hypes Repetitive Low Bush Approval,
Skips Intercept Approval

Without their own poll with which to batter President Bush, last Friday the NBC Nightly News led with how "the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent" as anchor Brian Williams pointed how "that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency." But NBC caught up Wednesday night with the other networks, and though its new NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey found the exact same 37 percent presidential approval rating -- so no fresh news -- Williams nonetheless led with the poll number. Just as ABC and CBS did in reporting their polls in recent weeks, NBC ignored findings that found public support for Bush policies which the media have derided, such as how 52 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "using wiretaps to listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States without getting a court order to do so," how 75 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "promoting the USA Patriot Act," and that 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent."

For how the March 10 NBC Nightly News led with the AP poll, check the March 13 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

[This item is modified and updated version of a Wednesday night posting on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Bringing aboard Tim Russert, Williams prompted him: "Tim, let's start with that all-important benchmark for Presidents, the approval rating." Russert outlined: "It is not good news for President Bush, Brian. Approve: 37 percent. Disapprove of his job: 58 percent. And look at this Brian, 'direction of the country.' Only one in four [26 percent] Americans say the country is in the right direction; wrong track, 62 percent."

Russert proceeded to highlight how "Democrats will take great joy in" the finding that 50 percent want Democrats to control Congress, "a 13 point bulge" over the 37 percent who prefer Republicans. "Analysts, of both political parties," Russert stressed, "say with that kind of number if the election was held today they [Democrats] could re-capture the House and Senate." But, Russert noted, "inside the poll, voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security."

This isn't the first time in the last few weeks that network poll-takers discovered findings which did not match the media's agenda and thus were ignored:

# A March 7 CyberAlert item about a ABC News/Washington Post poll, which pegged Bush's approval at 41 percent, recounted how ABC's World News Tonight (and Good Morning America the next day) and the Washington Post skipped that when asked about how after 9/11 the "FBI was given additional authority in areas like surveillance, wiretaps and obtaining records in terrorism investigations," 62 percent said they favor the power and as for the National Security Agency "secretly listening in on telephone calls and reading e-mails between some people in the United States and other countries, without first getting court approval to do so," 54 percent consider it "acceptable." For details: www.mrc.org

# A February 28 CyberAlert posting, about the CBS Evening News leading with Bush's approval at an "all-time low" of 34 percent, pointed out: CBS managed to skip over several numbers which demonstrated the disconnect between the public and the national press corps. On "media coverage of Cheney hunting accident," for instance, the public overwhelmingly rejected -- by three-to-one -- the media's obsession: 66 percent said the media devoted "too much time" compared to a piddling 22 percent who thought the press allocated the "right amount of time." Another nine percent, most likely a lot of journalists and the "angry left," believed it got "too little time." Also, by 51 to 47 percent, most "approve of Bush authorizing wiretaps to fight terrorism." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, as well as MSNBC's Hardball and Countdown, plus Thursday's Today (on which Matt Lauer interviewed Russert), skipped these findings on issues where the public backs the Bush position for which the media have shown disdain:

-- 52 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "using wiretaps to listen to telephone calls between suspected terrorists in other countries and American citizens in the United States without getting a court order to do so," compared to 46 percent or "strongly" or "somewhat" oppose."

-- 75 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "promoting the USA Patriot Act, which gives the government greater ability to spy on and prosecute suspected terrorists."

-- 56 percent "strongly" or "somewhat" support "making the tax cuts of the past few years permanent."

For results for several of the questions posed in the poll, see this PDF posted by the Wall Street Journal: online.wsj.com

A transcript of how Brian Williams led the March 15 NBC Nightly News:

"Good evening. In a few moments here we'll debut some new polling numbers tonight here on this broadcast. It is the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. That means it's the latest snapshot of opinion across this country and it is bad news for the Bush White House. While reports are swirling around Washington tonight that the White House may make some staff changes after a long and tough five years in office. Tonight, it is very clear that Americans harbor some deep concerns about the directions of things, including the war in Iraq. From our Washington bureau tonight we're joined by the bureau chief, moderator of Meet the Press, Tim Russert. And Tim, let's start with that all-important benchmark for Presidents, the approval rating."

Tim Russert, on split screen, and poll numbers displayed on screen: "It is not good news for President Bush, Brian. Approve: 37 percent. Disapprove of his job: 58 percent. And look at this Brian, 'direction of the country.' Only one in four [26 percent] Americans say the country is in the right direction; wrong track, 62 percent. And are these problems that confront President Bush short term or long-term? 58 percent say these are difficulties that are going to bother this President for a long time [short-term: 26 percent]."
Williams: "And Tim, from the numbers, what are respondents saying that has them so upset?"
Russert: "In one word, Iraq. And here it is Brian, very clear. 'Successful conclusion in Iraq,' 32 percent of people are now 'more confident' that will happen, 57 percent 'less confident.' That's a seven percent drop in just three months. When we ask people about troop levels in Iraq, 31 percent say maintain current troop levels, 61 percent of Americans now say reduce the number of American troops in Iraq."
Williams: "And Tim, what is in all of this for members of Congress?"
Russert: "Well the Democrats will take great joy in this, Brian. We asked them who should control Congress, and here is the result: 37 percent say Republicans, 50 percent say Democrats -- a 13 point bulge for the Democrats. Very good news. Analysts, of both political parties, say with that kind of number if the election was held today they could re-capture the House and Senate. But inside the poll, voters still say they prefer Republicans to manage the war in Iraq and to deal with homeland security, they opt for the Democrats on social and domestic issues. So the Democrats still have more work to do and the election is still quite a ways away."
Williams: "And finally, Tim, considering the fact this President is still operating with largely the same senior staff he has had since day one, and it's been a long five years, what to make of these reports tonight of an impending White House staff shake up of some sort?"
Russert: "It was buzzing throughout the White House. It was asked at the press briefing today, Brian, through all of Washington, the talk is what changes and when are they coming. One White House aide said what fueled all of this is when Republican Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota said the White House had a tin ear politically and needed to make some changes. One Republican I spoke to tonight said no staff changes can change the outcome of Iraq and that's what the election will be judged on. But Brian, something seems to be in the wind. We're watching it, we're recording it, we're monitoring it. But we don't have anything hard tonight."

Schieffer Leads Again: "Iraq Teeters
on the Edge of Civil War"

Does CBS anchor Bob Schieffer think that if he issues ominous warnings about "civil war" in Iraq often enough it will eventually come true and vindicate his, as of yet, unfulfilled predictions? Neither ABC or NBC raised "civil war" in their Wednesday evening newscasts, but Bob Schieffer, who has been the most prolific anchor in pushing the dire warning, did so again as he pegged off how Saddam Hussein has turned his trial into a "farce" to insist that "Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war." Schieffer opened his broadcast with a downbeat litany: "Iraq's new parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow, but again today political leaders could not agree on a cabinet to take charge of the government, top cleric's appeals for calm went unheeded and the country may be closer than ever to civil war..."

Back on February 22, Schieffer opened the CBS Evening News: "One of the worst days ever in Iraq, and it's Iraqis against Iraqis. A Middle East expert tells us the country has been plunged into civil war." And ten months ago, on May 19, Schieffer teased: "I'm Bob Schieffer. It just keeps getting worse in Iraq. The death toll is rising. Tension is growing between Shiites and Sunnis. Is the country sliding toward civil war?"

A March 2 CyberAlert item compiled by the MRC's Rich Noyes, "Going Back to 2004, Nets Repeatedly Predict 'Civil War' in Iraq," lists several examples from CBS and the other networks: www.mediaresearch.org

Back to this week, Schieffer teased the March 15 CBS Evening News: "Good evening I'm Bob Schieffer. Saddam takes the stand for the first time and again turns his trial into a farce as Iraq teeters on the edge of civil war."

Schieffer opened his newscast: "Iraq's new parliament is scheduled to meet for the first time tomorrow, but again today political leaders could not agree on a cabinet to take charge of the government, top cleric's appeals for calm went unheeded and the country may be closer than ever to civil war. One call for Iraqis to stop killing each other came from Saddam Hussein of all people. The old dictator urged them to concentrate instead on killing Americans. Saddam spoke out as his trial resumed which again was more farce than legal proceeding. Our chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, was in the courtroom."

More Favorable on Feingold's Censure
than Barr's Push to Impeach

One tried-and-true way to measure a media bias is to compare and contrast events. The comparisons are rarely perfect, but they can illuminate that the "news" is very much a product of human opinion, and rarely do the major media's assignment editors seem to consider how they covered something in 2006 to something they covered in 1996 (or sometimes, how they covered something in March compared to December). Today's experiment: Russ Feingold's censure ploy versus Rep. Bob Barr making rumbles about a Clinton impeachment in 1997. The Washington Post put Feingold on A-1 and A-2 Wednesday. What about Bob?

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

It broke out at exactly this time of year in 1997, when Barr, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, suggested to chairman Henry Hyde that they consider impeachment for Clinton for illegal fundraising from China and other scandals. Hyde was asked about it on Fox News Sunday, and said they were studying it, but found it a "bit of a stretch." Both the Post and the Washington Times put a few paragraphs in on Monday, March 17. Then the paths diverge.

On March 19, the Washington Times reported that the chairman of the House Rules Committee, Gerald Solomon also urged preparation for impeachment. On November 6, the WashTimes reported that in response to Barr and a letter signed by 17 House Republicans, Solomon said the Rules Committee would hold hearings into whether impeachment was necessary. Again, Hyde was skeptical. The White House was typically harsh, with spokesman Mike McCurry saying of Barr, "He's always had a rather extreme view of these things...In any body of 535 people, there will always be a denominator that's lowest." (This kind of vinegar seemed absent from George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, wasn't it?)

On the plausibility scale, Barr and Solomon were at least members of the majority party, men with more potential to persuade the majority of their idea, whereas Feingold's censure is a quixotic crusade, designed largely for publicity. (You could also suggest Barr and Solomon were hardly running for president.) Unlike the floating Feingold censure, the Post ignored these developments in the news pages. Instead, the Sunday "Outlook" section deployed a conservative against the conservatives: "The Folly of Impeachment Chic: Invoking The 'I' Word Only Hurts the GOP." The writer complained:
"Instead of sullying the Clinton White House, this impeachment impulse threatens to sink the Republican agenda in quicksand....The GOP leadership's failure to rebuke Barr -- or even to disavow his effort -- has helped the impeachment craze spread to other arenas...Floating the impeachment boat at this stage only helps foster the unfair stereotype that Republicans are mean-spirited partisans...When Republicans lob impeachment grenades, they convey a guerrilla-warfare mentality not suited to a majority party. At a time when conservative ideas -- from school choice to ending racial preferences -- are catching on across the country, Republicans cannot afford to be sidetracked by Clinton bashing and impeachment gossip."

The writer was...Laura Ingraham, described underneath as "a political analyst for CBS Evening News." That's a little generous. Laura was a CBS employee, a rotating commentator (along with Sen. Bill Bradley) on the Sunday night Evening News for a short time. Can we expect the Post to allow the anti-Feingold Democrats to craft an op-ed for a Sunday soon?

A quick peek at the New York Times looks like the Post: a paragraph or two on March 17, then nothing on Barr's moves the rest of the year, except a Barr-bashing column ("hateful" voices of the "extreme right") from columnist Anthony Lewis in December.

Last Days to Buy Tickets to MRC's March
30 "DisHonors Awards"

Just two weeks until the MRC's annual "DisHonors Awards." This year they will be held Thursday, March 30 at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, DC. Seats are $250.00 each. It's always a fun evening where we turn the tables on the press corps and play video clips on big screens to mock and laugh at their biased reporting. Last year we ended up oversold, and though we've moved to a bigger venue this year to accommodate a larger crowd, it would be wise to buy now, especially since ticket sales will soon be cut off.

To place a credit card order via either PayPal or the MRC's own credit card processing system, go to: www.mediaresearch.org

(Just enter a multiple of $250.00 for how many tickets you want; ie: if you want three seats, enter $750.00. You will receive an e-mail from us confirming your order. Tickets will not be mailed, but will be held at the event registration table for you.)

That page also has a order for you can print out and then mail in or fax, as well as the name, phone number and e-mail address for questions.

At each annual gala, we mockingly award the worst reporting of the year and then have a conservative leader accept the award in jest. Cal Thomas will again generously serve as Master of Ceremonies and this year we will feature a "Tribute to the American Military."

Past award galas have featured a who's who of conservative opinion leaders, from Ann Coulter to Laura Ingraham to Sean Hannity. This year we'll have Lawrence Kudlow, Tony Blankley and Mark Levin serving as award presenters. But we always have surprise participants, such as those who accept the awards. Two years ago Rush Limbaugh popped in. The year before, attendees were treated to the Charlie Daniels Band.

But the best reason to attend is to watch the videos of the nominated quotes and enjoy making fun of the media's misdirected left-wing reporting.

This year's award categories: Send Bush to Abu Ghraib Award Slam Uncle Sam Award Aaron Brown Memorial Award for the Stupidest Analysis Cindy Sheehan Media Hero Award The I'm Not a Geopolitical Genius But I Play One on TV Award

The judges this year who picked the winners for us: Tony Blankley, Neal Boortz, L. Brent Bozell III, William F. Buckley Jr., Steve Forbes, John Fund, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, Mary Matalin, Robert Novak, Kate O'Beirne, William A. Rusher, Cal Thomas, Professor Walter E. Williams and Thomas Winter

If you didn't attend last year, this is what you missed:

Cal Thomas, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Neal Boortz, Zell Miller and T. Boone Pickens highlighted the presentations and acceptances of MRC's "2005 DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2004," which were presented on Thursday night, April 21, before an audience of more than 950 -- the MRC's largest crowd ever -- packed into the Grand Ballroom of the J.W. Marriott in Washington, D.C.

Following the presentation of the DisHonors Awards videos in five categories, a look at the Best of the Worst of Dan Rather and the audience picking the Quote of the Year, we presented a 12-minute video tribute to the Swift Boat Vets and POWs for Truth. MRC President L. Brent Bozell then honored a founder of the group, John O'Neill, with the MRC's Conservative of the Year Award.

DisHonors Awards winners were selected by a distinguished panel of 16 leading media observers, including Rush Limbaugh, who served as judges.

Cal Thomas, a syndicated columnist and host of FNC's After Hours with Cal Thomas, served as Master of Ceremonies. Sean Hannity, co-host of FNC's Hannity & Colmes and a national radio talk show host, was the first presenter of nominee videos and announcement of the winner, followed by author Ann Coulter and then Atlanta-based nationally-syndicated radio talk show host Neal Boortz.

In place of the journalist who won each award, a conservative accepted it in jest. Those standing in for the winners: Colin McNickle of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the target of Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it" remark; renowned businessman T. Boone Pickens; national radio talk show host Janet Parshall; Midge Decter, author and conservative intellectual; and former U.S. Senator Zell Miller.

The evening began with welcoming remarks from Cal Thomas, an invocation by Reverend Vincent Rigdon and the Pledge of Allegiance led by MRC Trustee Dick Eckburg.

After the second award category, we paid tribute to Reed Irvine, the founder of Accuracy in Media who passed away last year, and then Ann Coulter narrated a video review of Dan Rather's worst bias. Later, Cal Thomas urged the audience to put Peter Jennings in their prayers. To introduce acceptor Colin McNickle, attendees watched videos of Teresa Heinz Kerry's "shove it" attack of him and, leading into Zell Miller, attendees were treated to video of the Miller/Chris Matthews "duel" exchange from MSNBC's Republican convention coverage.

END Reprint of Summary of last year's event

To watch RealPlayer video of all of last year's nominated quotes and of the award presentations by Hannity, Coulter and Boortz: www.mediaresearch.org

To read about and watch video from all of the past DisHonors Awards galas: www.mediaresearch.org

"Top Ten Signs the Government Is Running
Out of Money"

From the March 14 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs the Government Is Running Out of Money." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. State dinners are at IHOP

9. Country renamed United States of Ditech.com

8. Had to fire Laura's sexy Dominican gardner

7. Witness protection program now issues informants a fake mustache

6. For ten bucks you can punch Rumsfeld in the stomach

5. Bush's awkward call to Mrs. Milosevich asking if he's in Slobodan's will

4. The original Constitution is on eBay

3. N.S.A. can only afford to tap phones during off-peak hours

2. Price of a stamp is now two grand

1. Cheney was spotted strolling into a bank carrying his 12-gauge

-- Brent Baker