NBC: Metzenbaum a 'Populist,' But Jesse Helms an 'Ultra-Rightist' --7/7/2008
2. NBC's Today Re-Airs Limbaugh's McNabb, Fox & Drug 'Controversies'
3. Washington Post Explores Obama's Faith -- But with No Wright
4. GMA: Hot Dogs Will Take 'Big Bite' Out of Wallets Over Holidays
5. Wolf Blitzer Defends Al Gore's 'Creating the Internet' Claim
6. 'Top Ten Dumb Guy Ways to Save Gas'
When far-left former Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum passed away in March, the NBC Nightly News didn't identify his party or apply any ideological label as fill-in anchor Ann Curry hailed his life as "the classic American success story" of a man who "always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries" while he "stuck to his populist principles."
But on Friday night, Independence Day holiday fill-in anchor Lester Holt accurately described former Senator Jesse Helms, who passed away earlier in the day at age 86, as "a Republican and staunch conservative" as well as "a champion to the right and a lighting rod to the left." NBC reporter Martin Savidge, however, tagged Helms as "an ultra-rightist" when he won his Senate seat in1972, though Savidge concluded his review of Helms' career by portraying the late Senator's ideology in a positive light: "Helms finally left the Senate in 2003 at the age of 81, and for the rest of his life would proudly wear the unofficial title of the Senate's most conservative Senator."
Holt painted Helms from the negative, what he was against as opposed to what he favored: "He staked out firm positions against everything from communism and foreign aid to civil rights and modern art."
Holt could just as easily have summarized: "He staked out firm positions in favor of everything from freedom fighters and lower taxes to protecting the life of the unborn."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Saturday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Holt introduced the story on the Friday, July 4 NBC Nightly News:
The over-the-top label from Savidge: "An ultra-rightist, he was elected in the Republican landslide of 1972."
MSNBC.com video of Savidge's story: www.msnbc.msn.com
The March 14 CyberAlert item, on how the NBC Nightly News described Metzenbaum, recounted:
....[I]n an item about the passing of very liberal ex-Senator Howard Metzenbaum, [NBC Nightly News fill-in anchor Ann] Curry never mentioned his ideology or party as she hailed his life as "the classic American success story" of a man who "always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries" while he "stuck to his populist principles."...
Curry's short item on Metzenbaum on the Thursday, March 13 NBC Nightly News: "We learned today that former Ohio Senator Howard Metzenbaum has died. His life was the classic American success story. A self-made millionaire, his public career spanned nearly 20 years. And he always fought for the little guy, taking on the oil and insurance industries, often using filibusters to block bills. After leaving the Senate, Metzenbaum stuck to his populist principles, leading the Consumer Federation of America. Howard Metzenbaum was 90 years old."
That's online at: www.mediaresearch.org
On this "doctor shopping" issue, Okwu remarked: "In 2003, Florida authorities charged Limbaugh with illegally-deceiving multiple doctors, in order to get overlapping painkiller prescriptions. He pled not guilty and the charges were later dismissed, though Limbaugh admitted he was an addict."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Last year, the Today show and the very same Okwu tried to smear Limbaugh as a racist. The Tuesday, May 22, 2007 CyberAlert article, "NBC Impugns Limbaugh Over 'Barack the Magic Negro' Parody Song," recounted:
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.
For the previous CyberAlert in full: www.mrc.org
It's not surprising an outlet like NBC and its Today would bring up the old issues again, since it was the mainstream media that worked overtime to spin them when they first emerged. When Limbaugh, during an ESPN broadcast in 2003, charged that "the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well" and that McNabb "got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he really didn't deserve," the mainstream media, and the "Big Three" network in particular, painted Limbaugh as a racist for the remarks. Today's own co-host at the time, Katie Couric, gave a list of supposedly racist comments made by Limbaugh on his radio show.
See October 2, 2003 CyberAlert item, "Networks Rush to Defame Limbaugh as a Retrograde Racist," at: www.mrc.org
With the "controversy" surrounding Limbaugh's "mocking" of Michael J. Fox, Today co-host Matt Lauer asked: "How did it all get so ugly?....it got really personal this week when Rush Limbaugh accused Michael J. Fox of exploiting the effects of Parkinson's disease to make a political point in a campaign ad." However, the talk radio host received an at least partial vindication when Fox himself admitted that he didn't take the drugs that ease his Parkinson's symptoms before some of his public appearances, in order to show "what Parkinson's was like."
See the October 25, 2006 Media Reality Check, "Negative Ad Season, Negative GOP Coverage: New Focus on TV Ads Largely Finds Conservative and Republican Ads and Arguments Objectionable," at: www.mrc.org
Video of Fox's admission, see mfile.akamai.com
Then in 2006, when Limbaugh was booked in Florida on "doctor shopping" charges, many mainstream media outlets led with the news, including NBC's Nightly News program. On sister network MSNBC, gadfly Keith Olbermann celebrated over Limbaugh's mug shot.
See the first two CyberAlert items from May 1, 2006: www.mrc.org
The full transcript of Michael Okwu's report on the Thursday, July 2 Today:
MATT LAUER: Conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh is never really at a loss for words, and now, thanks to a very big new contract, he'll never be at loss for money either. Here's NBC's Michael Okwu.
MICHAEL OKWU: It must have been a 'rush.'
The Washington Post published a front page story on Sunday headlined "Obama Addresses His Faith: Senator Describes Spiritual Journey." But it completely ignored Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the Trinity United Church of Christ. Obama was allowed to declare to audiences how he "let Jesus Christ into his life" on the south side of Chicago, but the Post utterly left out the fact that it was Rev. Wright who was his spiritual mentor and pastor for nearly two decades.
Post editors might insist that Jonathan Weisman's story was not a biographical or historical piece so much as a campaign trail piece about how Obama hopes to appeal to evangelical voters who aren't thrilled with John McCain. But doesn't Obama's church factor in when those voters try to decide what kind of Christian he is?
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An excerpt from the front page story:
"In my own life," he said, "it's been a journey that began decades ago on the South Side of Chicago, when, working as a community organizer, helping to build struggling neighborhoods, I let Jesus Christ into my life. I learned that my sins could be redeemed and that if I placed my trust in Christ, that he could set me on the path to eternal life when I submitted myself to his will and I dedicated myself to discovering his truth and carrying out his works."
He suggested that he would apply the lessons of his faith to the problems he would face if he became president. "The challenges we face today -- war and poverty, joblessness and homelessness, violent streets and crumbling schools -- are not simply technical problems in search of a 10-point plan," he said. "They are moral problems, rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness, in the imperfections of man. And so the values we believe in -- empathy and justice and responsibility to ourselves and our neighbors -- these cannot only be expressed in our churches and our synagogues, but in our policies and in our laws."
Of the two presumptive nominees for president, Obama has been far more outspoken about his religious beliefs than Sen. John McCain. Evangelical Christian leaders have remained skeptical, however, that Obama's faith comports with their own, especially given his support for gay and abortion rights...
END of Excerpt
For the entire July 6 article: www.washingtonpost.com
The article went on to describe how Obama's attempting to appeal to evangelical voters by moving "to the center" by suggesting he doesn't believe "feeling blue" is a reason to allow abortions for the "health" of the mother. If Obama didn't have a very staunch legislative record on abortion, this might be interesting. But Weisman also ignored Obama's Planned Parenthood-pleasing state and federal record.
Liberal reporters see evangelical doubts about Obama to be merely political, like abortion and the gay agenda. Those are an important sign of Obama's extreme social liberalism. But there is also the matter of Obama's actual religious beliefs. Weisman didn't address one reason why leaders like James Dobson question Obama's "confused theology" -- Obama's 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that will certainly make its way around church circles:
So, I have a deep faith," Obama continues. "I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people...
It's perhaps an unlikely theological position for someone who places his faith squarely at the feet of Jesus to take, saying essentially that all people of faith -- Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, everyone -- know the same God.
That depends, Obama says, on how a particular verse from the Gospel of John, where Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me," is heard.
Obama's theological point of view was shaped by his uniquely multicultural upbringing. He was born in 1961 in Hawaii to a white mother who came from Protestant Midwestern stock and a black African father who hailed from the Luo tribe of Kenya.
Obama describes his father, after whom he is named, as "agnostic." His paternal grandfather was a Muslim. His mother, he says, was a Christian.
"My mother, who I think had as much influence on my values as anybody, was not someone who wore her religion on her sleeve," he says. "We'd go to church for Easter. She wasn't a 'church lady.' "
In his 1993 memoir, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Obama describes his mother as "a lonely witness for secular humanism."
END of Excerpt
For the Sun-Times story: www.suntimes.com
Obama can't even seem to decide whether his mother was a secular humanist or whether he wants to paint her as a "needlepoint values" Christian. Reporters like Weisman can't seem to be skeptical enough to question whether Obama is always telling the same yarn when he talks of faith, or whether it evolves depending on the audience.
Thursday's Good Morning America used the Fourth of July holiday to exaggerate the effects that food prices are having on consumers. In the "Hitting Home" segment, reporter Sharyn Alfonsi reported on the price increases of certain Fourth of July barbecue staples, claiming that "Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hot dogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets."
Alfonsi fretted: "Today, a pack of hot dogs runs about $4.29. That's nearly seven percent more than last year. Want ketchup, mustard or relish? That costs more, too. Condiments are up about eight percent. Corn on the cob, forty-seven percent. Even that bowl of pasta salad will set you back a few more months. Pasta prices are up twenty-eight percent. Potato chips aren't any cheaper. A sixteen ounce bag runs about $3.89, up twelve percent. A two liter bottle of soda, $1.33, up nearly eleven percent. Even the Fourth of July staple, an apple pie, will take a bigger slice out of your wallet. Apples are up fourteen percent."
[This item, by MRC intern Lyndsi Thomas, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
What Alfonsi apparently forgot is that all of these items are typically on sale at this time specifically for Fourth of July barbecues. Here in the Washington, D.C., area, the Safeway grocery store is featuring packages of Butcher's Cut jumbo hot dogs for $0.88, buy one get one free packages of Ball Park hot dogs and two packages of Hebrew National hot dogs for $5. An eight count package of hot dog buns costs $0.99 and Doritos or Lay's potato chips are on sale for two for $5. Finally, if you buy any two twelve-pack cans of Coke or Pepsi products, you can get three free.
Also, Alfonsi used Christopher Waldrop of the Consumer Federation of America to say that food prices are increasing because of high energy prices. Of course, there was no mention that the mandate for ethanol in gasoline is also a factor. Further, it was never mentioned that the CFA is a liberal organization even though it is associated with Ralph Nader and his "consumer movement."
Before the Memorial Day holiday, NBC's Nightly News highlighted e-mails from viewers who claimed they had to choose hamburgers instead of ribs for their cookouts. This came after ABC's World News featured a hapless Massachusetts woman who could "no longer take joy rides" because she need a $45 prescription and has been forced into "buying store brands instead of name brands." For more on this, see the May 20 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
And the May 28 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
The transcript of the July 3 segment, which aired at 7:17 a.m., follows:
DAVID MUIR: Now to our continuing series, "Hitting Home." And this morning, the high cost of celebrating the Fourth of July. Americans are going to eat, among other things, 150 million hot dogs on this Independence Day. But from the hot dog to the bun, the rising food prices have American families really feeling it so ABC's Sharyn Alfonsi has a bit of a price check when it comes to the backyard barbecue. Sharyn, good morning.
SHARYN ALFONSI: Good morning. Well, the turkey owns Thanksgiving but the hotdog, that is strictly Fourth of July territory. This weekend, Americans are gonna eat 110 million pounds hotdogs and that could take a big bite out of their wallets. The explosions this Fourth of July won't be limited to the sky. Prices on all the traditional barbecue staples are also going up. Way up.
Appearing on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of becoming host of CNN's Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer defended Al Gore's famous statement that he "took the initiative in creating the Internet," as the CNN anchor argued that Gore's words, which came during a March 1999 interview with Blitzer, were "misreported" and "twisted" by the media: "It never dawned on me that that would be exploded and, to a certain degree, misreported on what he said. He never said, 'I invented the Internet,' although that headline was so damaging to him, as a result of that interview."
After host Howard Kurtz asked if the media "kind of twisted the meaning of the words," Blitzer agreed with that assessment, and credited Gore with work in Congress that "resulted in a lot of other people creating the Internet." Blitzer: "Yes, yes. Because if you look precisely at what he said ... when he was a member of the Congress, he did take the initiative in passing the legislation that eventually resulted in a lot of other people creating the Internet, not necessarily him. But all of it, as you correctly point out, was lost because the headline was 'I invented the Internet.' And that really, that really hurt him a lot."
[This item, by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
More from the 1999 interview and video of Blitzer's question and Gore's response, from a March 9, 1999 primetime edition of Late Edition, can be seen in the March 12, 1999 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
Below is a complete transcript of the exchange from the Sunday, July 6, Reliable Sources on CNN:
HOWARD KURTZ: I had not realized it until recently, that when you interviewed Al Gore back in the 2000 campaign, that the famous phrase that has always been affixed to him, "inventing the Internet," came in an interview with you. Was it some sort of trick question that you drew this out of him?
From the Late Show with David Letterman Web site, the winning entries posted on June 28 in the weekly "Top Ten Contest," the "Top Ten Dumb Guy Ways to Save Gas." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Put it on the endangered species list (Todd D, Kokomo, IN)
9. Push your car to work (Ralph H, Houston, TX)
8. Drive only at night (Sheri F, Bethany, OK)
7. Drive in reverse until tank is refilled (Scott M, Blaine, WA)
6. Stop showing up for work every day (Brad I, Rock Falls, IL)
5. Only drive downhill (Scott S, Mounds View, MN)
4. Take the wife's car (Stan H, Hoffman, Estates, IL)
3. Fill the car with helium gas to make it lighter on the road (Michael V, Camp HIll, PA)
2. Try to be in Oprah's audience every day -- she's gotta be giving gas away soon (Barry P, Ridgefield, CT)
1. Take your wife and mistress out to dinner at the same time (Michael C, Nashville, TN)
-- Brent Baker