Appearance Alert!
MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Fox Business Network at 5:55 p.m. ET

NBC: Iraq Followed Bush's Travels, "Botched Exit" Symbolizes Trip --11/23/2005


1. NBC: Iraq Followed Bush's Travels, "Botched Exit" Symbolizes Trip
Another example of network journalists creating their own self-fulfilling story. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams set up a full story on how President Bush has returned to his Texas ranch "after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world." As if reporters, who were the ones posing the questions to him about Iraq and making it a topic on their newscasts, had nothing to do with it! Then, over video of Bush trying to open the closed doors in China, David Gregory began his piece by finding deep meaning in the minor incident: "The President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad." Gregory proceeded to act as if reporters were mere observers when they were directly responsible for imposing their news agenda: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation."

2. Garofalo & Olbermann Mock Conservatives, FNC & Liberal Bias Claim
On MSNBC's Countdown on Tuesday night, host Keith Olbermann brought aboard actress and Air America radio host Janeane Garofalo to discuss conservative columnist Robert Novak's latest problems after he was involved in a scuffle with an airplane passenger. The segment turned out to be the Air America host's latest opportunity to rant against conservatives, FNC, and what she sees as a "right-wing" media. Notably, Olbermann voiced agreement with attacks she made against conservative columnist Ann Coulter and FNC's Fox and Friends.

3. NBC's Displays Human Corpse Next to Katie and Matt, a Dissident?
Several times over the past few weeks, Katie Couric has used her Today show to push the idea that the United States is now a country that abuses human rights through torture. But Tuesday's Today saw a dead human corpse, stripped of his skin and with his skull removed, located just a few feet from where Katie was sitting next to co-host Matt Lauer on the couch. The corpse was from a traveling exhibit on human bodies, where the preserved remains are dissected to show different aspects of human anatomy. But according to Friday's New York Times, human rights groups are extremely concerned that the bodies on this exhibit -- presumably including the one that showed up on Today's set -- could be dissidents executed by China's communist regime.


Correction: The November 22 CyberAlert item about the poll, by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, which compared the views of the public to those of several elite groups, including one made up of the news media, listed Bush approval ratings for August of 2001 and October of 1985. That should have read 2005.

NBC: Iraq Followed Bush's Travels, "Botched
Exit" Symbolizes Trip

Another example of network journalists creating their own self-fulfilling story. On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams set up a full story on how President Bush has returned to his Texas ranch "after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world." As if reporters, who were the ones posing the questions to him about Iraq and making it a topic on their newscasts, had nothing to do with it! Then, over video of Bush trying to open the closed doors in China, David Gregory began his piece by finding deep meaning in the minor incident: "The President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad." Gregory proceeded to act as if reporters were mere observers when they were directly responsible for imposing their news agenda: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation."

After Bush's Friday, November 4 press conference in Argentina, a CyberAlert item recounted how "the broadcast networks...treated as of great import how President Bush was 'dogged' at the Summit of the Americas in Argentina, with questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak matter -- a self-fulfilling agenda since those questions were posed by reporters from the Washington press corps. In short, the media made its agenda the news and then marveled over it." NBC's "Brian Williams stressed how Bush's 'political troubles following him to Argentina from faraway Washington.' Kelly O'Donnell zeroed in on how Bush's 'domestic woes came along, too' with 'four of five' press conference 'questions related to the political fallout from the CIA leak case.'"

For more, see the November 7 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To offer your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video of the November 22 NBC Nightly News story:

Brian Williams, with "Rough Road"graphic beside him: "President Bush is back on U.S. soil tonight on his way to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, for the Thanksgiving holiday after an overseas trip that was not supposed to be about Iraq, but that topic ended up following him all the way around the world. The President may have thought he was leaving that and other political troubles behind, but, as NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory reports tonight, it didn't happen that way."

With "Long, Strange Trip" at the bottom of the screen, David Gregory began over video of Bush and the door: "In China over the weekend, the President's botched exit from an impromptu press conference spoke volumes about this latest trip abroad."
George W. Bush: "I'm trying to escape; it didn't work."
Gregory: "All this month, from Latin America to Asia, foreign travel has provided Mr. Bush no escape from his political troubles. In Argentina, trade talks collapsed overshadowed by anti-America protests and persistent questions about Karl Rove and the CIA leak investigation."
Bush, in Argentina, November 4: "I understand the anxiety and angst by the press corps to talk about this."
Gregory: "In Asia, it was the increasingly bitter debate over Iraq hounding the President, putting him on the defensive about when troops would come home."
Bush at military base in South Korea: "One of our top commanders in Iraq, Major General William Webster, says that setting a deadline for our withdrawal from Iraq would be, quote, 'a recipe for disaster.'"
Gregory: "And when the White House first attacked Congressman John Murtha, comparing him to filmmaker Michael Moore after his call to bring U.S. troops home within six months, Mr. Bush felt the need to tone down the White House rapid response."
Bush at press conference: "This is not an issue of who's patriot and who's not patriotic. It's an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq."
Gregory concluded: "Beyond the war, the President's Asia tour produced little. No agreements on issues from trade to security to human rights. Perhaps the highlight was Mr. Bush's four-hour finale in Mongolia. A warm reception in a country that has its own troops in Iraq. In the end, Mr. Bush's trip met the White House's own low expectations, producing no breakthroughs and no distraction from the war of words back home. David Gregory, NBC News, the White House."

Garofalo & Olbermann Mock Conservatives,
FNC & Liberal Bias Claim

On MSNBC's Countdown on Tuesday night, host Keith Olbermann brought aboard actress and Air America radio host Janeane Garofalo to discuss conservative columnist Robert Novak's latest problems after he was involved in a scuffle with an airplane passenger. The segment turned out to be the Air America host's latest opportunity to rant against conservatives, FNC, and what she sees as a "right-wing" media. Notably, Olbermann voiced agreement with attacks she made against conservative columnist Ann Coulter and FNC's Fox and Friends.

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your thoughts, go to: newsbusters.org ]

After Olbermann reported on Novak's airplane scuffle and showed a puppet show re-enactment of it for fun, came the segment with Garofalo, which was presumably intended to poke more fun at Novak. Garofalo was soon on the attack against conservatives as she contended that Novak and other "right-wing partisan hacks...are always on the verge of punching somebody or always, they always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic" and "they have an anger management problem that, that, then they just pretend is Republican or conservative politics." She later suggested that Novak might find punishment by being forced to appear on FNC's Fox and Friends, which she described as "akin to waterboarding" and as "a really, really unpleasant place to be." To which Olbermann quipped, "Punishment is watching Fox and Friends."

At one point, Olbermann oddly wondered, as if Novak's part in the CIA leak story had not already been reported in the mainstream media, "How in the world has all of this CIA leak story unfolded without Robert Novak getting indicted or reprimanded or fired or just mentioned?" In part of her response, Garofalo managed to bring up conservative columnist Ann Coulter and attacked her by comparing her to Novak: "Or Bob Novak is just so unpleasant that they would rather avoid dealing with him than follow the letter of the law....It would be like dealing with Ann Coulter....I think that people would rather see justice miscarried than actually have to talk to Ann Coulter or something like that." To which Olbermann agreed, "Lord knows I would vouch safe for that latter point."

The Air America personality even found time to argue that "right-wing" media bias is evidenced by the fact that Novak was not fired by CNN for his role in the CIA leak case: "There is definitely a right-wing bias in the media that protects these bullies and, again, hacks, for lack of a better word, that are so clearly motivated by other things than journalism."

Asked by Olbermann what would be remembered about Novak, Garofalo took another jab at FNC as she theorized that he'd be remembered for "what kind of trouble you can get into by following the lead and the counterfeit stories of partisan right-wing hacks and basically stenographers like Bob Novak or Judith Miller or the Fox crew, things like that."

A complete transcript of Olbermann's November 22 segment with Garofalo:

Keith Olbermann: "Let's start with the scuffle, or, as they would call it in the circles of his favorite basketball team, 'no harm no foul.' Do you buy this story? Could this really just have been passenger rage or might there be something darker behind this? Could that have been Joe Wilson or Pat Fitzgerald or James Carville or Bob Woodward's source trying to start something with Robert Novak?"
Janeane Garofalo: "No, but there is definitely something darker behind this. Bob Novak, or I like to refer to him as Nosferatu because he, although he's less likeable than Nosferatu, but he, like a lot of partisan hacks for today's Republican party and today's conservative movement, which is neither republican nor conservative, they seem to be operating by a lot of dark forces or inner tensions or just cantankerousness that is evident in the way that they do business with politics. And everything with them is a zero sum game. So I believe that Bob Novak, spiritually, like a lot of other right-wing partisan hacks, are always on the verge of punching somebody or always, they always behave as if they've just been cut off in traffic. That's spiritually where they are all the time, and they have an anger management problem that, that, then they just pretend is Republican or conservative politics."
Olbermann: "So that raises the, I mean, that brings us back to the broader point that I mentioned at the beginning of this segment. How in the world has all of this CIA leak story unfolded without Robert Novak getting indicted or reprimanded or fired or just mentioned?"
Garofalo: "Well, probably because Karl Rove is the one who leaked the information to him like Karl Rove used to leak information to him during the governor's race in Texas about the Bush campaign. And I would think that Karl Rove is protecting himself, and so Bob Novak is protecting him. Or Bob Novak is just so unpleasant that they would rather avoid dealing with him than follow the letter of the law."
Olbermann: "Let him go rather than drag him here and have him testify."
Garofalo: "Yeah, he's just so unpleasant. It would be like dealing with Ann Coulter. You know what I mean? I think that people would rather see justice miscarried than actually have to talk to Ann Coulter or something like that."
Olbermann: "Lord knows I would vouch safe for that latter point. It appears that the newspaper column that he does is going to continue, but his TV career is not. He had stormed off the set at CNN shouting 'BS,' only he didn't do the abbreviation, at James Carville in August. And he's not been on the air since. And even the New York Post reported two weeks ago that he's not going to be on the air again. His contract apparently expires in the new year, and they're just going to let it fade out. So he did lose the TV gig. On the other hand, the gig he lost was at CNN, which is in kind of flux at the moment. So is losing a gig at CNN a punishment or is it a reward?"
Garofalo: "It's neither. Actually, a punishment would be if you're forced to go work at Fox and Friends morning show. That would be a cruel and unusual punishment, almost inhumane."
Olbermann: "Punishment is watching Fox and Friends."
Garofalo: "That is bad enough."
Olbermann: "There you go."
Garofalo: "Yes, watching it is bad enough. Being on it is akin to waterboarding, in a way, not to take away from the severity of waterboarding, but if you've ever seen Fox and Friends or been on it, you know that it's a really, really unpleasant place to be. So that would be the punishment. But how he even remained on television as long as he did really is sort of a mystery. But that goes to show, again, there is no quote, unquote, '€˜liberal bias' in the media. There is definitely a right-wing bias in the media that protects these bullies and, again, hacks, for lack of a better word, that are so clearly motivated by other things than journalism. And why they were interested in journalism in the first place is just as mysterious."
Olbermann: "The other option, of course, is, and I believe in this just as much as I believe in the one you just brought up. I also believe in long-standing bureaucratic network clerical errors, but we can go into that when there's more time and another subject. I got about 45 seconds here. When this is all over, how or if we will remember Robert Novak, your thoughts on that?"
Garofalo: "Well, hopefully as a cautionary tale, what kind of trouble you can get into by following the lead and the counterfeit stories of partisan right-wing hacks and basically stenographers like Bob Novak or Judith Miller or the Fox crew, things like that. It actually leads to tremendous trouble."
Olbermann: "What would you do if he took a swing at you or pushed you out of the way?"
Garofalo: "I guess fall down. I don't know."
Olbermann: "I don't know, Janeane. I think you could, I think you could probably take him. I've seen him. I think you could probably, this, whoever this guy was, he must not have been in shape or anything. That's what I'm thinking."
Garofalo: "Oh, I have no idea."

NBC's Displays Human Corpse Next to Katie
and Matt, a Dissident?

Several times over the past few weeks, Katie Couric has used her Today show to push the idea that the United States is now a country that abuses human rights through torture. But Tuesday's Today saw a dead human corpse, stripped of his skin and with his skull removed, located just a few feet from where Katie was sitting next to co-host Matt Lauer on the couch. The corpse was from a traveling exhibit on human bodies, where the preserved remains are dissected to show different aspects of human anatomy. But according to Friday's New York Times, human rights groups are extremely concerned that the bodies on this exhibit -- presumably including the one that showed up on Today's set -- could be dissidents executed by China's communist regime.

[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. To add your views and/or to see a picture of the crystalline cadaver, go to: newsbusters.org ]

In a November 18 New York Times article titled, "Cadaver Exhibition Raises Questions Beyond Taste," Andrew Jacobs reported:
"Harry Wu, the executive director of the LaoGai Research Foundation, an organization that documents abuses in China's penal system, said officials from Dalian University had been previously implicated in the use of executed prisoners for commercial purposes, having supplied bodies to Gunter von Hagens, the German entrepreneur who started the first traveling show of the dead, 'World of Bodies.' Dr. Sui Hongjin, who was previously Mr. Von Hagen's Chinese partner until a falling out three years ago, is now working with Premier Exhibitions, which has its headquarters in Atlanta.
"'Considering that China executes between 2,000 and 3,000 prisoners a year and their long history of freely using death row prisoners for medical purposes, you have to wonder,' Mr. Wu said, adding that he would pursue legal steps in this country to ensure that the show was not using illegally obtained bodies. 'In China, a piece of paper means nothing.'"

For the article in full: www.nytimes.com

Such concerns were put on the back burner as Couric whimsically introduced her November 22 report, which aired at 7:20am EST: "Cole Porter may have written 'I've got you under my skin,' but have you ever really thought about what's underneath yours? Well, a controversial exhibit now here in New York City can help answer that and other questions about the human body in a very unique way. It's putting dead bodies on display. We should warn you, some of the images in this story may be a bit disturbing."

Today then switched to her taped report: "It's an anatomy text book come alive, so to speak. Twenty-two human bodies, along with 260 organs and other preserved body parts making up a new educational experience called, what else, but 'Bodies.'"

Throughout the story, Today showed the headline: "Cadaver Controversy: Should Dead Bodies Be On Display?", although NBC was basically answering that question in the affirmative, as they showed video of the museum's exhibits, including the blackened lungs of a smoker and a skinned man "holding hands with his own removed skeleton."

Couric eventually got around to the question of where the corpses came from, and whether it's right to make a profit from the dead: "Critics question the ethics of displaying the dead for profit. Human rights groups are concerned that the bodies, all on loan from a university in China, may have been illegally obtained, but organizers say their goal is to educate, not simply make money, and insist the bodies come from legitimate sources."

They then showed an official with the exhibit, although they didn't show his name. "I'm very comfortable with the way they were obtained, and quite frankly we wouldn't be involved if they weren't obtained in a legal manner."

[MSNBC's 4pm EST Scarborough Country on Tuesday showed a version of the same story, this time identifying the exhibit official. He's Arnie Geller, President of Premier Exhibitions.]

That was it -- someone with the corpse exhibit insisted that they are good people who don't do anything wrong, and Couric moved right on to the fascinating educational aspects of desecrating the dead.

After her taped piece ended, viewers got to see a male cadaver posed as Rodin's "The Thinker" sitting just a few feet from Couric and co-host Matt Lauer. Neither host looked especially comfortable, and Lauer did have a somewhat pained expression on his face at one point.

Couric admitted to misgivings: "I have mixed feelings about it, but I took the girls to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and I think they -- it was pretty fascinating. I just wonder about the people. Do they realize when they donate their bodies, or where they get these cadavers, that they're actually going to be on display? Because there was, like, a mother and a father and a small child where they were showing the nerve endings. It just, I don't know, it made me wonder how they would feel."
Lauer replied: "You're right, you have to worry about, wonder about the human stories behind the bodies but this is, it's an amazing technique when it comes right down to it. They use liquid silicone."
Couric then pointed to the nearby corpse, which the camera had been focusing on since the end of her taped piece: "Yeah, there's 'The Thinker' over there. And the black lung corpses are really interesting, too, and a good warning for people about smoking."
Lauer sighed, "I don't know. On a weekend '€" maybe Six Flags for me," a remark that drew loud laughter from Couric.

Of course, the publicity of having a dead body on the Today set could only increase traffic to the exhibit. Adults are charged $24.50, but children 12 and under can get in for just $18.50.


# Have a great Thanksgiving. The next CyberAlert will be distributed on Monday. For any noteworthy liberal bias which may break out over the holiday weekend, check in with the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org

-- Brent Baker