NBC Impugns Limbaugh Over 'Barack the Magic Negro' Parody Song --5/22/2007
2. Stephanopoulos Marvels with Pelosi About First Female President
3. After a Week of False Reports of 'Record High' Gas, Reality Noted
4. GMA and Early Show Tout Immigration Bill Deal as 'Historic Day'
5. Couric Celebrates Cronkite for Opposing 'Another Unpopular War'
6. O'Donnell:'655,000 Iraqi Civilians Dead. Who Are the Terrorists?'
Editor's Note: There was no CyberAlert or CyberAlert Special on Monday. I know some wonder if they missed an issue when none arrives on a weekday since normally when I don't have time to produce a regular CyberAlert I send a "Special" with material already posted on the MRC's Wed site (columns, fax reports, TimesWatch articles), but over the weekend and into Monday I was in New Hampshire at a location with no Internet capability, not even access to a phone line for dial-up.
On Monday, NBC's Today allowed itself to be used as a publicity machine for a left-wing attempt to whip up an Imus-style campaign against conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh for daring to air the parody song "Barack the Magic Negro" -- a parody inspired by a black writer who used that term in March in a Los Angeles Times op-d about Obama -- in which an Al Sharpton impersonator sings about how Barack Obama isn't an authentic black.
The song has been around for two months, but NBC acted like they just found out about it. Co-host Matt Lauer charged: "Rush Limbaugh airing a racially-charged parody about presidential candidate Barack Obama. Is the radio talk show host getting a free pass? We'll have more on that in our next half-hour." The on-screen graphic also asked: "Obama Parody, Is Limbaugh Getting A Free Pass?"
The story by NBC reporter Michael Okwu presumed Limbaugh guilty of some great offense, and suggested his conservative audience is also culpable: "Media watch dogs say there's no hue and cry to stop Limbaugh because he speaks to a niche audience who either expects this or is willing to let him slide." Okwu included two sound bites from Paul Waldman of the hard-left Media Matters, who ludicrously claimed: "This is basically the radio equivalent of a black-faced, minstrel show." NBC helpfully put some old minstrel video on screen to illustrate the point.
"Legitimate satire, or something darker?" Okwu ominously wondered.
[This item was prepared for the CyberAlert by Rich Noyes, the MRC's Research Director]
Limbaugh's parody song was inspired by a March 19 Los Angeles Times column by African-American writer David Ehrenstein headlined "Obama the Magic Negro." In it, Ehrenstein explained how "the Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. 'He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist,' reads the description on Wikipedia." See: www.latimes.com
The Limbaugh parody song, performed by Paul Shanklin, began airing March 21, two days after Ehrenstein's column appeared. But after CBS and MSNBC fired Don Imus in mid-April, some on the left began trying to use the "Magic Negro" parody as a way to similarly attack Limbaugh.
Indeed, back on April 24 MSNBC's page for Countdown with Keith Olbermann, tried to foment a backlash with a blog headlined "Rush Limbaugh's Imus Moment." See: thenewshole.msnbc.msn.com
Prior to NBC's story airing, Limbaugh on Friday posted a page with links to everything he has said on the air about the parody, plus links to numerous articles by liberals questioning whether Obama was an authentic African American, or "black enough." See: www.rushlimbaugh.com
# Co-host Meredith Vieira, 7am: "And we're also going to be talking about Rush Limbaugh who aired a parody of Senator Obama. Some people believe that he went too far and are wondering how he got away with it, especially in light of the Don Imus controversy. We're gonna get into that story."
# Co-host Matt Lauer, 7:21am: "Still ahead Rush Limbaugh airing a racially-charged parody about presidential candidate Barack Obama. Is the radio talk show host getting a fre pass? We'll have more on that in our next half-hour."
# The full story at 7:31am. Matt Lauer: "We begin this half-hour, though, with radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. He makes a living poking fun at Democrats but now some think he has gone a little too far in taking on Senator Barack Obama. Here's NBC's Michael Okwu."
MSNBC's Scarborough Country, hosted by MSNBC executive Dan Abrams, re-ran the Okwu story Monday night.
Catching up with George Stephanopoulos' interview on Sunday's This Week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Stephanopoulos took the opportunity to banter with Pelosi about the possibility of a woman President in front of her on the podium at the next State of the Union. Over video of Congressman John Boehner back in January handing the gavel to Pelosi, Stephanopoulos, one once toiled for the administration of the only woman candidate, marveled: "Seeing you up at the podium, first female Speaker of the House. Do you ever think what it would be like to be standing at that podium as the first female President of the United States comes up to give the State of the Union?" A giggling Pelosi exclaimed: "Wouldn't that be exciting to have the woman as the President and woman as the Speaker of the House? It'd be pretty exciting..." When Pelosi soon contended that "it's harder to become Speaker of the House than President of the United States for a woman," Stephanopoulos empathized with how "you had to prove you were tough enough."
[This item was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The exchange toward the end of the pre-taped session conducted in the Speaker's ceremonial office in the Capitol, and shown on the May 20 This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You came in about five months ago and everyone remembers that picture.
After a week of inaccurate reports about the "record high" price for gas when, adjusted for inflation, the price was still below the cost in March of 1981, on Monday night ABC, CBS, and NBC again touted a "record high" price, but at least NBC acknowledged it simply matched the real 1981 price, while CBS alluded to a 1981 comparison. With "Record Prices" on screen, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric reported that "gas is up another 12 cents in just the past week to a nationwide average tonight of $3.22 a gallon. Adjusting for inflation, that beats the all-time high set more than a quarter century ago at the start of the Iran-Iraq war." In fact, it does not beat it but only "matches" it, as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams relayed: "For the second week in a row gas prices have hit a record high. The feds say the average price for unleaded regular soared eleven-and-a-half cents over the last week to a new record of $3.22 a gallon. That matches the peak price reached during 1981 during the Iran-Iraq war when the figures are adjusted for inflation."
ABC anchor Charles Gibson, however, continued to deliver distorted reporting in which he refused to adjust for inflation. "Gas prices hit another all-time high," he announced in teasing the May 21 World News. He set up the subsequent story: "Another Monday, another record high for the price of a gallon. The government says the price of gas went up 12 cents a gallon from last week, when it was already at a record high."
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Gibson was the most energetic last week in pushing the false "record high" storyline. The May 15 CyberAlert recounted:
But ABC was not along amongst the broadcast network evening newscasts. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth tracked down for me how last Monday, May 14, Katie Couric referred to how "the price of gasoline hit an all-time high today, a nationwide average of $3.10 a gallon for self-serve regular."
Three nights later, on the Thursday, May 17 NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams trumpeted "another all-time high again today" for the price of gas. Reporter Tom Costello cited "record prices at the pump: $3.11 a gallon nationally, up 94 cents since January."
Monday night's reports were based on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) weekly survey of a gallon of regular gas at the pump which on Monday pegged the price at $3.22.
A Monday Reuters dispatch, "Gasoline price at inflation adjusted peak," by Tom Doggett, began:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. retail gasoline prices hit a record high for the second week in a row and matched the inflation-adjusted peak reached in the early 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war, the government said on Monday, as concern about low motor fuel supplies pushed up pump costs.
The average price for regular unleaded gasoline soared 11.5 cents over the last week to a fresh record of $3.22 a gallon, according to the federal Energy Information Administration's nationwide survey of 800 service stations.
The much larger Lundberg industry survey of 7,000 stations showed the national price of gasoline jumped 11.4 cents over the last two weeks to a record $3.18 a gallon.
The latest EIA pump price also equals the all-time high fuel cost of $3.22 a gallon, when adjusted for inflation, reached in March 1981 after war erupted between Iran and Iraq....
END of Excerpt
For the Reuters story in full: news.yahoo.com
On Friday, both CBS and ABC skewed their coverage of the Senate's immigration bill to the left. Neither network featured a conservative talking head that opposed the legislation, instead The Early Show and Good Morning America simply referred to the "critics" who believe the bill would amount to amnesty for those who came to the country illegally. However, while both networks also interviewed Senator Ted Kennedy, ABC anchor Diane Sawyer actually pressed the liberal legislator with several conservative points. GMA used flowery language to discuss the Senate's action, describing the legislation as "landmark." Co-host Sawyer asserted, "It was a historic day to see Republicans and Democrats coming forward on something together." ABC even queried illegal aliens as to what they think of the Senate's action: "Everyone taking sides. But sometimes it's good to hear the voices from the people who are at the center of the debate. And some of these illegal 12 million have been phoning in to Talk Back, which is our Web site..."
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
ABC anchor Robin Roberts introduced the May 18 piece by describing how the legislators presented a "unified front" by "coming together to make this deal work." Reporter Martha Raddatz began by featuring clips of only those who favored the immigration deal:
ABC Graphic: "Historic Immigration Deal: Bush: '€˜It Will Treat People With Respect'"
Considering that Congress passed a very similar amnesty bill in 1986, it's odd to repeatedly refer to the Senate's legislation as unique or "historic." Raddatz proceeded to feature a clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praising the bill and only offered brief, text quotes of opposition from conservatives such as Newt Gingrich, Tom Tancredo and Mitt Romney.
Over on CBS, Early Show reporter Sharyl Attkisson continued the theme of highlighting only those talking heads who support the liberal legislation:
Sharyl Attkisson: "After weeks of marathon meetings, an eclectic group of negotiators, both Democrats and Republicans, worked out a compromise on immigration reform with the president's stamp of approval."
Attkisson went on to cite Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein and quickly mentioned that "critics are already labeling the compromise amnesty."
However, GMA's Diane Sawyer should be given credit for pressing Senator Ted Kennedy, a guest on the two shows.
Consider these conservative-leaning questions by the ABC co-host to the liberal legislator:
Sawyer: "But the fact is, [illegal aliens] broke the rules. And is this fair? At the end of the day, however practical, is it fair?"
Sawyer: "And yet, all that is being done is adding 300 miles of fence to a 2000 mile border. And I've heard people say, you know, it's only 15 feet high in places, and people can buy ladders that are 16 feet high. How is this going to stop more illegal immigrants from coming in?"
Sawyer: "So you're assuring Americans that after this, there will be no more illegal immigration across the Mexican border, across the southern border?"
In comparison, Early Show co-host Hannah Storm asked only two questions about the legislation, with one being a softball question as to whether "this is the last best chance to strike a deal on immigration."
Friday's CBS Evening News plugged its prime time special on Walter Cronkite with a story, as introduced by Katie Couric, about a "journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief" during a time of "another unpopular war," as Couric was transitioning from a story about the debate over Iraq War funding. Couric was referring to Cronkite's decision in February 1968 to declare on the air that America would have to negotiate without victory to end the Vietnam War.
After correspondent Jim Axelrod filed a report on the latest effort by congressional Democrats to put conditions on Iraq War funding, which ended with Axelrod opining that President Bush has an incentive to reach a deal soon because of the President's low approval rating over the "unpopular war," Couric drew a comparison to the Vietnam War by introducing the Cronkite piece referring to "another unpopular war." Couric: "And now we want to take you back 40 years to another unpopular war and to a journalist who stood up to the Commander-in-Chief. It was Vietnam, the President was Lyndon Johnson, and that journalist? CBS News correspondent Walter Cronkite."
The piece, slightly altered from the version aired during that night's special, featured soundbites from Bill Clinton, actor George Clooney, and CBS News veterans Morley Safer and Don Hewitt, in addition to Cronkite himself. Cronkite recounted his decision to convey his belief to viewers that the Vietnam War was unwinnable: "When I came back, we did a documentary, but in the conclusion of that, I simply told people what I thought about the state of the war in Vietnam. And it was that we'd better get out of it."
After a supporting soundbite from Bill Clinton, then came the famous clip of Cronkite from February 1968: "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out, then, will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people who lived up to their pledge to defend democracy and did the best they could. This is Walter Cronkite. Good night."
After a Clooney soundbite came a prerecorded clip of Couric relaying that "most trusted man" Cronkite had contended the Vietnam War was "not right." Couric: "Here was the most trusted man in America saying this war is not right."
Below is a complete transcript of the story, including the very end of the story before it, from the Friday May 18 CBS Evening News:
JIM AXELROD: There is now a week until the deadline to get a deal done. With Mr. Bush's 32 percent approval rating, due largely to this unpopular war, he has every incentive to make it happen. Katie?
On the May 17 show, O'Donnell, in interrogating the non-liberal co-hosts, implied that the United States are the real terrorists:
O'DONNELL: I haven't -- I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?
After implying that they are terrorists, O'Donnell claimed to speak for the American people: "Because people no longer, the vast majority of Americans no longer are falling for the trick of the bad terrorist are out there to get us."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck then turned the tables on O'Donnell and asked several times if the comedian "believes in terrorism." She did not answer the question until she finally said there is "government sponsored terrorism" including in the USA:
HASSELBECK: Do you not believe in terrorism?
The segment began as Joy Behar announced she "almost would vote for a Republican." That Republican is Texas Congressman and presidential hopeful Ron Paul. Her reasoning was that Ron Paul suggested in lat Tuesday's presidential debate that the United States invited the September 11 attacks. Behar felt Congressman Paul was "right on the money." For good measure, Behar also ranted against Giuliani for daring to speak out against the "blame America first" rhetoric:
BEHAR: We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us. [Applause] That's, all he's saying, all he's saying is instead of just being a knee jerk like Rudy Giuliani, and you know Rudy Giuliani is not the only one who can respond to 9/11, excuse me.
On the May 21 show, O'Donnell answered to the charge that she called U.S. troops terrorists. Elisabeth followed up with a very pointed question.
O'Donnell: "Okay, I'll say it a million times. I just think it's interesting that the network you support takes such joy in twisting my words and distorting them. I do not think our American troops are terrorists. I want our American troops home, able-bodied. [applause] I don't want them to invade countries that have done nothing to the, us. I don't want them to die at the hands of a Republican administration that doesn't care enough about them to give them health care when they return. I love our troops and will work for our troops and no matter what you say [bleeped out] I, and that's the truth. Change it around as you like."
O'Donnell soon turned on Hasselbeck: "But I didn't say it. You know who said it? Those crappy cable shows said it. The ones Elisabeth watches. Those shows."
Hasselbeck harshly reacted to those comments and it prompted Rosie to personally attack her more: "I watch all cable news, number one. I watch all of the, because that's part of my job and as an American citizen I try to broaden as many concepts as possible by watching all those news programs, okay. I do, obviously, like, like certain shows. I'll throw them out if you want me to. Like Hannity and Colmes, they're one of my favorites, because they hold debates [applause] They hold debates on that show and I think that is, that is like what we do here only, you know, we have four women. And I think it's special here. But to say that, you know, someone can't hold two thoughts at the same time just because I believe in terrorism when there are Democrats out there running for office who don't want to believe in terrorism and they want to treat it like the boogeyman. How are they going to protect us from something-"
-- Brent Baker