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NBC Nightly News Spikes News About Fewest Troop Deaths of War --6/3/2008


1. NBC Nightly News Spikes News About Fewest Troop Deaths of War
As lead-ins to short reports on the posthumous presentation of a Medal of Honor, ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News. (And Sunday's Today and Nightly News, as well as Monday's Today, also skipped the good news.) NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday led with worries that "because it's been underfunded for decades, mass transit may not be ready for all the Americans leaving their cars behind," and ran his short update, on the Medal of Honor going to Army Specialist Ross McGinnis, without anything about the decline in troops killed. Fill-in ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos set up his report on the White House ceremony presenting the honor to the parents of McGinnis by dampening the positive news with the total death number: "The Pentagon reported 19 American troops were killed in May. That's the lowest monthly toll since the war began. The total number of Americans killed in the war is now approaching 4,100." On CBS, Katie Couric also noted the overall war total, but CBS didn't display it on screen, as she painted the fewest killed as "perhaps" a sign violence is going down.

2. McClellan Pledged Look at Enmity to Bush 'Rooted in Liberal Bias'
FNC's Brit Hume highlighted Monday night how Scott McClellan's original book proposal, posted Saturday by the Politico, "promised to be quote 'supportive of the President' and take a penetrating look at how the liberal media slant their coverage of him." Interviewing McClellan on Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert highlighted the proposal and declared: "That's not the book you wrote." (Matt Sheffield's Monday post on the Politco's discovery, "McClellan Originally Wanted to Attack Media, Defend Bush.") In his "Grapevine" item, Hume relayed how "McClellan writes that while many recent books have portrayed President Bush in a negative light, he would take a different approach, quote: 'I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media'" and: "'I will look at what is behind the media hostility toward the President and his administration, and how much of it is rooted in a liberal bias.'"

3. CBS to McClellan: 'How You Holding Up' Against Personal Attacks?
In an interview free of substance in which CBS's Early Show portrayed Scott McClellan as an innocent victim, co-host Harry Smith began by asking the former White House Press Secretary turned Bush-bashing critic: "How you holding up?" McClellan responded by claiming: "It's tough when you take on the system. The system kind of fights back and engages in some personal attacks and misrepresentations of what's in the book." Smith then referenced "personal attacks" made against McClellan by Bob Dole: "Among the people who have come out to say disparaging things about you, Bob Dole called you a 'miserable creature.' What is it like to have been so much a part of a certain -- of that political culture and have that culture turn on you?"

4. On GMA, ABC's Religious Expert Explains Away Obama Church
On Monday's Good Morning America, the morning show featured a new religious expert who explained away some of the radical statements heard at Barack Obama's now former church. Father Edward Beck, the host of "Faith Matters Now" on ABC News's video site ABC News Now, also defended Father Michael Pfleger, the latest religious leader to make incendiary remarks at Trinity United Church. (In a video, Pfleger can be heard condemning, "I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God.") Co-host Chris Cuomo prompted: "You say he's much more than how he's being characterized as this kind of bad parody of an African-American preacher. Tell me." Responding to the softball, Beck justified: "Well, everybody is more than a few soundbites can demonstrate." The two, along with NPR analyst Juan Williams were discussing not only Pfleger, but also the enthusiastic response the mostly African American congregation gave him and (on other occasions) the incendiary Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Again, Beck, who was appearing on GMA for the first time as a religious expert, offered standard liberal guilt by asserting, "But I think you have to understand underneath [the congregation's cheering] there is real sentiment. There is a feeling of being disenfranchised."

5. CNN's Phillips & Malveaux Feel Obamas' Pain Over Quitting Church
CNN's Kyra Phillips and Suzanne Malveaux fretted over Barack Obama's recent decision to leave his "controversial church" during a segment on Monday's American Morning. During her introduction to Malveaux's report on the decision, Phillips lamented: "You know, he's getting criticized -- okay, he acting like a typical politician....He's bailing out of the church. Well, he would have been accused of the same type of things if he stayed in the church. He can't win." Malveaux responded: "The things is, you know, Kyra, this was a personal decision. It was a political decision, but also a personal decision. When I interviewed Michelle Obama, they talked about the kind of pain that -- actually disassociating themselves from Reverend Wright...."

6. Not So Subliminal Pro-Obama Message in Economy Story on Today
In a hard economic times story by NBC's Kevin Tibbles on Monday's Today show there was a not-so-subliminal pro-Obama message on display as several times Obama campaign signs found their way into the background. Reporting on the increased traffic to pawn shops by the desperate to make ends meet in the "rocky economy," Tibbles didn't mention Obama by name but the Illinois Senator's name or image popped up in the background several times. Tibbles, or at least his cameraman and/or producer, seemed to be sending the not-so-subtle message that the presumed Democratic presidential nominee could be the savior from these tough economic times.

7. Behar: Sarandon and Robbins 'Most Patriotic Americans'
Joy Behar finds actors and hard left activists Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon "two of the most patriotic Americans that we have in the media." On the May 29 edition of ABC's daytime The View, the panel discussed Susan Sarandon's threat to leave the United States if John McCain is elected President. The following Monday, June 2, Whoopi Goldberg read Sarandon's response to the controversy. In her letter to The View, Sarandon claimed her words have been "morphed into something other than intended." Sarandon bizarrely added she simply would feel unsafe in New York City because of McCain's "statements regarding foreign policy and his volatile temper."


NBC Nightly News Spikes News About Fewest
Troop Deaths of War

As lead-ins to short reports on the posthumous presentation of a Medal of Honor, ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News. (And Sunday's Today and Nightly News, as well as Monday's Today, also skipped the good news.) NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday led with worries that "because it's been underfunded for decades, mass transit may not be ready for all the Americans leaving their cars behind," and ran his short update, on the Medal of Honor going to Army Specialist Ross McGinnis, without anything about the decline in troops killed.

Fill-in ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos set up his report on the White House ceremony presenting the honor to the parents of McGinnis by dampening the positive news with the total death number: "The Pentagon reported 19 American troops were killed in May. That's the lowest monthly toll since the war began. The total number of Americans killed in the war is now approaching 4,100."

On the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric also noted the overall war total, but CBS didn't display it on screen, as she painted the fewest killed as "perhaps" a sign violence is going down: "In Iraq, a sign perhaps that violence is decreasing. In the lowest monthly death U.S. toll since the war began, 19 Americans were killed in May. The total U.S. toll for the war is now 4,086."

Yes, she said "monthly death U.S. toll."

Unlike Couric, Stephanopoulos also pointed out the much-lower civilian death level: "Just over 500 Iraqi civilians were killed in war-related violence last month. That's half the number from the month before."

ABC, but not CBS or NBC, aired a clip of President Bush praising McGinnis: "In an instant the grenade dropped through the gunner's hatch. He dropped inside, put himself against the grenade and absorbed the blast with his own body. With that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life and he saved his comrades."

(The lowest-ever U.S. troop death level in May earned a little broadcast network attention on Sunday with a brief mention in an introduction to a story on ABC's Good Morning America and during the news summary on CBS's Sunday Morning, but zilch on NBC's Today or Nightly News. Also nothing on Sunday's CBS Evening News or ABC's World News, nor on Today, GMA or The Early Show on Monday.)

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

NBC's lack of interest in highlighting the good news echoes the findings of a February 28 Media Reality Check by the MRC's Rich Noyes, "Fewer U.S. Dead = Less TV Coverage of Iraq: Networks Minimize Good News From Iraq, Don't Press Democrats on 'Wrong-Headed' Predictions." See: www.mrc.org

Some examples of how NBC Nightly News has emphasized the negative or avoided good news from Iraq:

An April 9 CyberAlert item, "NBC Stacks Deck Against Petraeus, and Takes a Shot at McCain Too," recounted:

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams led Tuesday's newscast by listing the burden of the Iraq war in years, troops, deaths and cost before Jim Miklaszewski, unlike reporters on ABC and CBS, found it newsworthy to show a man, in the Senate hearing for General David Petraeus, shouting "bring them home!" In the next story, Andrea Mitchell decided to highlight, again unlike ABC or CBS, how John McCain "stumbled...by again describing al Qaeda as Shiite" and Williams turned to Richard Engel, NBC's Iraq reporter, who described Petraeus' decision to end troop withdrawals in July as "frustrating and disheartening in that the rules of the game have changed." Williams opened: "The war's now five years old. That's longer than U.S. involvement in World War II. There are currently 162,000 U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Death toll is now over 4,000. And the price tag of this war for military operations alone: nearly half a trillion dollars so far."

Before and after audio of a man yelling "bring them home!", Miklaszewski helpfully suggested: "A protestor voiced what some Americans are demanding for U.S. troops." In a piece by Mitchell on how the three presidential candidates approached Petraeus, she pointed how that "the Republican Senator also stumbled, briefly, by again describing al Qaeda as Shiite." She countered: "Al Qaeda is Sunni, not Shiite. McCain immediately corrected himself." So, if he immediately corrected himself, why highlight it?

For more: www.mediaresearch.org

The November 2 CyberAlert post, "Only ABC Reports Military's Stats on Violence Plunging in Iraq," reported:

Lt. General Raymond Ordierno on Thursday reported significant progress in reduced violence in Iraq, but of the broadcast network evening newscasts only ABC's World News bothered to cover the positive trend as anchor Charles Gibson introduced a full story on how "military officials gave one of the most upbeat assessments of the security situation in Iraq that we have heard since the opening months of the war." The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly skipped the positive trend, but CBS had time for a story on the investigation of the September shooting of civilians by Blackwater and NBC aired a piece on Hillary Clinton "playing the gender card." The Washington Post and New York Times on Friday also made very different news judgments on the importance of the positive direction as the Post put the news on its front page while the Times hid it in a story, on an inside page, about Iran's role in Iraq.

See: www.mediaresearch.org

The July 31, 2007 CyberAlert item, "NBC Skips More Upbeat Iraq Judgment ABC and CBS Find Newsworthy," revealed:

NBC Nightly News on Monday ignored a development both ABC and CBS found newsworthy, that after eight days in Iraq, two Brookings Institution scholars who describe themselves as "harshly" critical of Bush's Iraq policy, determined the situation in Iraq is better than they assumed and so the "surge" should continue into next year. Instead of reporting the fresh assessment from Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, NBC anchor Brian Williams, citing "a draft U.S. report," aired a full story on how "there are disturbing new details about corruption at the very top of the Iraqi government." But the NBC Nightly News has hardly been reticent before about running soundbites from O'Hanlon with dire warnings about Iraq.

ABC anchor Charles Gibson declared "the column was the talk of Washington today." From Iraq, Terry McCarthy related that "the report tracks fairly closely with what we're seeing both in our visits to U.S. bases in and around Baghdad involved with the surge, and also our trips out to Baghdad neighborhoods talking to Iraqi population. Clearly, security is improving as the U.S. military footprint expands so the violence goes down, the sectarian killings go down." Indeed, on CBS, David Martin noted how "with one day left in the month, American casualties in July are the lowest since the troop surge began in February. And civilian casualties are down a third." Martin aired soundbites from Pollack and O'Hanlon as he described "just enough progress so that a critic like Michael O'Hanlon, who used to think the surge was too little too late, now believes it should be continued."...

As noted above, the NBC Nightly News hasn't hesitated to feature O'Hanlon's previous dire forecasts. On April 28, the newscast featured O'Hanlon's warning: "We're going to have to see some pretty striking results from the surge pretty soon to continue to justify the strain and the sacrifice it's exacting on our forces." A week earlier, on April 20, O'Hanlon predicted: "If al-Sadr's people really fight us hard, we are in very bad trouble. If the car bombings continue like they did on Wednesday, we are not going to prevail." And back on February 3, NBC brought O'Hanlon on to comment on a government report about the situation in Iraq: "This report definitely leaves open the distinct possibility of utter chaos, outright civil war and complete mission failure. There is no doubt that Iraq could simply collapse."...

For more, check: www.mediaresearch.org

Transcripts of the Iraq coverage on the Monday, June 2 broadcast network evening newscasts:

# ABC's World News:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now to Iraq, where we learned today that just over 500 Iraqi civilians were killed in war-related violence last month. That's half the number from the month before. Also the Pentagon reported 19 American troops were killed in May. That's the lowest monthly toll since the war began. The total number of Americans killed in the war is now approaching 4,100.
One of those fallen service members received America's highest military honor today. At an emotional White House ceremony, President Bush awarded the Medal of Honor to a 19-year-old Army Private First Class. In 2006, he sacrificed his life to save his comrades as they patrolled Baghdad in a Humvee. The family of Ross McGinnis was there today and so were the four men he saved.
PRESIDENT BUSH: In an instant the grenade dropped through the gunner's hatch. He dropped inside, put himself against the grenade and absorbed the blast with his own body. With that split-second decision, Private McGinnis lost his own life and he saved his comrades.
STAFF SERGEANT IAN NEWLAND: He wanted to ensure that we made it out of it. Actually we train for the opposite. We train to get away from the grenade. He lived to fight another day and that's not the decision he made. Why didn't it go differently, why did he do that? Why did my soldier die in my arms instead of me?
THOMAS McGINNIS, FATHER OF PFC ROSS McGINNIS: I guess the only thing you're going to remember about my son is that he did the right thing at the right time.
STEPHANOPOULOS: A teenage soldier's sacrifice and a country's enduring gratitude.


# CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: In Iraq, a sign perhaps that violence is decreasing. In the lowest monthly death U.S. toll since the war began, 19 Americans were killed in May. The total U.S. toll for the war is now 4,086.
That number, by the way, includes a soldier who today was awarded the nation's highest military honor for sacrificing his own life to save his comrades. From the time he was in kindergarten, Ross McGinnis wanted to be an Army man. And in December, 2006, the 19-year-old Pennsylvania native was in the gunner's hatch of a Humvee patrolling Baghdad when a grenade was thrown into the vehicle. Private McGinnis could have jumped out and saved himself, but instead he jumped on top of the grenade and saved his four comrades who couldn't get out.
SERGEANT LYLE BUEHLER: I still ponder everyday how you can make a decision that quick.
TOM McGINNIS, FATHER: He did the right thing at the right time.
COURIC: Today, President Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Private Ross McGinnis' parents.
ROMAYNE McGINNIS, MOTHER: Ross did what he did for his buddies.
SPECIALIST SEAN LAWSON: If it wasn't for him, I would be dead. I wouldn't be married right now. I wouldn't have a life of my own.


# NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: For the fourth time since the start of the war in Iraq President Bush today awarded the Medal of Honor, this nation's highest military decoration, but for the fourth time the recipient is not alive to accept it. Specialist Ross McGinnis, then a private, was killed in the line of duty back in 2006. He was on patrol when a grenade landed in his Humvee. He threw his body over it and saved the lives of four men. All four men were on hand at the White House today for the ceremony. Friends say they remember McGinnis drawing pictures of soldiers in kindergarten. He wanted to be one. Ross McGinnis, recipient of the Medal of Honor, was 19.

Army's tribute to McGinnis: www.army.mil

McClellan Pledged Look at Enmity to Bush
'Rooted in Liberal Bias'

FNC's Brit Hume highlighted Monday night how Scott McClellan's original book proposal, posted Saturday by the Politico, "promised to be quote 'supportive of the President' and take a penetrating look at how the liberal media slant their coverage of him." Interviewing McClellan on Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert highlighted the proposal and declared: "That's not the book you wrote." (Matt Sheffield's Monday post on the Politco's discovery, "McClellan Originally Wanted to Attack Media, Defend Bush.") In his "Grapevine" item, Hume relayed how "McClellan writes that while many recent books have portrayed President Bush in a negative light, he would take a different approach, quote: 'I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media'" and: "'I will look at what is behind the media hostility toward the President and his administration, and how much of it is rooted in a liberal bias.'"

On Meet the Press, Russert read from the proposal: "'There have been a number of books written about President Bush, including many more recent ones that portray him in a very negative light. This book's going to take a much different look at our Nation's 43rd President. It will be an insider's account of his behind-the-scenes persona, including his decision-making style, his personal discipline, his composure under fire, his sense of humor. And, I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media, and look at the reality behind those myths.'"

Russert then concluded: "That's not the book you wrote."

Indeed not.

Politico's posting of the January of 2007 book proposal: dyn.politico.com

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

FNC's Bill O'Reilly confronted McClellan Monday night with the far-left agenda of McClellan's publisher, Peter Osnos of PublicAffairs books:

BILL O'REILLY: Your publisher is closely tied with George Soros. George Soros is a radical leftist.
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Let me also mention that they published the Case for Democracy. You know who has touted that book more than anybody else -- by Natan Sharansky? President Bush.
O'REILLY: We've investigated. It's about 8 to 1 liberal to conservative books that your publisher does.

The May 29 CyberAlert post, "McClellan's Publisher a Liberal: Advances Soros & Slams Limbaugh," recounted:

Peter Osnos, who wrote Wednesday that he "worked very closely" with Scott McClellan on McClellan's new book published by PublicAffairs which Osnos founded, is a liberal whose publishing house is affiliated with the far-left The Nation magazine and the publisher of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. PublicAffairs has a roster of authors who are nearly all liberals and/or liberal-leaning mainstream media figures, including six books by far-left bank-roller George Soros. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Ari Fleischer related that "Scott told me that his editor did 'tweak,' in Scott's word, a lot of the writing, especially in the last few months." In an "Eat the Press" blog entry Wednesday, Rachel Sklar asked Osnos: "Did you work directly on the book with McClellan? (Who was his editor?)" Osnos replied: "The editor was Lisa Kaufman and yes, I worked very closely with them." Sklar's post: www.huffingtonpost.com

A reporter and editor at the Washington Post during the 1970s and 1980s before going into book publishing, Osnos pens a weekly column for the left of center The Century Foundation. In a March column he denounced Rush Limbaugh as "bombastic, aggressive, and mean," bemoaning how the late William F. Buckley Jr. left behind "a right-wing culture that tends to be as coarse and leaden as his demeanor could be buoyant," charging Buckley provided "unfortunate cover to others who followed with a spirit that was distinctly and consistently malevolent."

In contrast, he hailed the late left-wing columnist Molly Ivins and wished she had more impact: "In the contest for power in America, Molly Ivins had a good perch in her column, nearly perfect pitch, and, alas, too little influence." Ruminating this week about the Kennedy family's legacy in the wake of Senator Ted Kennedy's cancer diagnosis, Osnos asserted that "we are a distinctly better country for the message" which "Ted conveyed about our priorities as a people."...

For much more on Osnos and PublicAffairs: www.mrc.org

Hume's June 2 Grapevine report:

The original book proposal by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan promised to be quote "supportive of the President" and take a penetrating look at how the liberal media slant their coverage of him. The proposal is printed in The Politico newspaper. McClellan writes that while many recent books have portrayed President Bush in a negative light, he would take a different approach, quote: "I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media.

"I will look at what is behind the media hostility toward the President and his administration, and how much of it is rooted in a liberal bias."

How Tim Russert confronted McClellan on the change in approach to Bush, on the June 1 Meet the Press:

RUSSERT: I think what people are groping for is when did you undergo this transformation, this intellectual journey, this evolution? Ari Fleischer, your former boss, the man who you replaced at the White House, said this: "Scott told me that this book really did change. And he said this book ended up a lot different from the way it got started. He told me he didn't know if he could write a book like this a year ago."
And we refer you to your book proposal, which was sent around in January of '07: "The Unvarnished Truth About George W. Bush: His Former Spokesman Talks Candidly About the President, the Press, Washington Politics, and his White House Days," by Scott McClellan. "There have been a number of books written about President Bush, including many more recent ones that portray him in a very negative light.
"This book's going to take a much different look at our Nation's 43rd President. While being supportive of the President, I want to give readers a candid look into who George W. Bush is, what he believes, why he believes it so strongly, what drives him.
"It will be an insider's account of his behind-the-scenes persona, including his decision-making style, his personal discipline, his composure under fire, his sense of humor.
"And, I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media, and look at the reality behind those myths."
That's not the book you wrote.

CBS to McClellan: 'How You Holding Up'
Against Personal Attacks?

In an interview free of substance in which CBS's Early Show portrayed Scott McClellan as an innocent victim, co-host Harry Smith began by asking the former White House Press Secretary turned Bush-bashing critic: "How you holding up?" McClellan responded by claiming: "It's tough when you take on the system. The system kind of fights back and engages in some personal attacks and misrepresentations of what's in the book." Smith then referenced "personal attacks" made against McClellan by Bob Dole: "Among the people who have come out to say disparaging things about you, Bob Dole called you a 'miserable creature.' What is it like to have been so much a part of a certain -- of that political culture and have that culture turn on you?"

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Later, McClellan explained "it's time to move beyond this destructive culture in Washington and end the partisan warfare that has existed for the past fifteen years, if not longer. And that's the larger message in the book that they can take away from it." Smith replied by asking: "Do you think Republicans will look at this and take this seriously at all?" So according to Smith, the "destructive culture in Washington" is a Republican problem.

McClellan responded to Smith: "Well, right now I think it's the initial reaction phase. I think it's hard for them to move beyond this whole mentality that, you know, when we're addressing these hard issues, you just get caught up in this back and forth." Smith interjected: "Because you -- you're looked at as Judas. But in the end, after the dust settles will people say-" McClellan then added: "Well I -- yeah. I was raised on speaking up and speaking out. And that's what I'm doing. This is an extension of my career in public service. Another way to continue to making a positive difference. And I think it has struck a nerve, but it needed to strike a nerve."

Here is the full transcript of the June 2 segment in the 8:30 half hour:

HARRY SMITH: Also coming up, speaking of Washington, because you really gave us the amazing transition before. This is another one of those amazing transitions. Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan is going to be along to talk about the aftermath and the reaction to his quite controversial book.

HARRY SMITH: It has been an interesting week or so for the former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. His memoir has created a firestorm of controversy. And now he's come under attack from some key players in Washington. And joining me now is Scott McClellan. Good morning.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN: Good morning Harry. Glad to be with you.
SMITH: How you holding up?
MCCLELLAN: Well, well. It's tough when you take on the system. The system kind of fights back and engages in some personal attacks and misrepresentations of what's in the book. But it's important that this larger message get out. And that's really taking on the destructive permanent campaign culture in Washington.
SMITH: Among the people who have come out to say disparaging things about you, Bob Dole called you a 'miserable creature.' What is it like to have been so much a part of a certain -- of that political culture and have that culture turn on you?
MCCLELLAN: Well, you know, I expected it to some extent. You know, these are some unpleasant truths and hard realities that I'm trying to address in the book. And no one's really refuting the key themes and perspectives in the book. What they're doing is taking some of these personal attacks and misrepresentations and trying to shift the focus away from what this book talks about. And I think it's important to get it back on the larger message in the book.
SMITH: At least immediately, some of the people reacted and said, well, you know, Scott was out of his league, he was naive. In retrospect, do some of those seem -- things seem applicable to you?
MCCLELLAN: Well, I certainly was idealistic, that we would come to Washington and really change it. The president, as you know, was a bipartisan leader in Texas. 70 percent plus approval rating. And that was -- this is the story of a young idealistic political person who thought, you know, that he came into public service to really do things for the better. And we got to Washington, we got caught up in this culture and things didn't turn out the way we thought. They went badly off course. And I'm trying to address why in this book.
SMITH: Yeah. You go through this process of self-analysis.
MCCLELLAN: I do.
SMITH: If you had a chance for do-overs, one do-over in this whole thing, what would you have done differently?
MCCLELLAN: I think I would have spoken up more internally at the time about some of my concerns. Now, I had some different views back then. I got caught up in this culture just like everybody else. It really -- it really, you know, pulls everybody into it. And you get in this politics is war mentality. We need to move beyond that, restore honesty and civility and bipartisanship to the process.
SMITH: Yeah. If people in this whole controversy over the last week, if you want them -- people to take away one thing, what would it be?
MCCLELLAN: That it's time to move beyond this destructive culture in Washington and end the partisan warfare that has existed for the past fifteen years, if not longer. And that's the larger message in the book that they can take away from it.
SMITH: Do you think Republicans will look at this and take this seriously at all?
MCCLELLAN: Well, right now I think it's the initial reaction phase. I think it's hard for them to move beyond this whole mentality that, you know, when we're addressing these hard issues, you just get caught up in this back and forth-
SMITH: Because you -- you're looked at as Judas. But in the end, after the dust settles will people say-
MCCLELLAN: Well I -- yeah. I was raised on speaking up and speaking out. And that's what I'm doing. This is an extension of my career in public service. Another way to continue to making a positive difference. And I think it has struck a nerve, but it needed to strike a nerve.
SMITH: Yeah. Scott good to see you.
MCCLELLAN: Harry, thanks for having me.
SMITH: Thanks for coming in. Do appreciate it.

On GMA, ABC's Religious Expert Explains
Away Obama Church

On Monday's Good Morning America, the morning show featured a new religious expert who explained away some of the radical statements heard at Barack Obama's now former church. Father Edward Beck, the host of "Faith Matters Now" on ABC News's video site ABC News Now, also defended Father Michael Pfleger, the latest religious leader to make incendiary remarks at Trinity United Church. (In a video, Pfleger can be heard condemning, "I also believe that America is the greatest sin against God.") Co-host Chris Cuomo prompted: "You say he's much more than how he's being characterized as this kind of bad parody of an African-American preacher. Tell me."

Responding to the softball, Beck justified: "Well, everybody is more than a few soundbites can demonstrate." The two, along with NPR analyst Juan Williams were discussing not only Pfleger, but also the enthusiastic response the mostly African American congregation gave him and (on other occasions) the incendiary Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Again, Beck, who was appearing on GMA for the first time as a religious expert, offered standard liberal guilt by asserting, "But I think you have to understand underneath [the congregation's cheering] there is real sentiment. There is a feeling of being disenfranchised."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

It was left to the NPR representative Williams, who is also a regular on ABC, to make the tough critiques about Obama's church. After Cuomo, who identified Obama as "the unity candidate," asked about the political ramifications, Williams explained that Americans are going to ask, "Why is [Obama] associated with these people who are so inflammatory and mean-spirited and even racial?" In very tough terms, Williams went on to decry individuals such as Pfleger and Wright: "They are stirring people up, appealing to their most base, racist sentiments. What you saw from Father Pfleger the other day looked to me like a minstrel show being put on for black people and I thought that he was mocking. He was bitter. This is not speaking to ideas of lifting people up or speaking to the Christ in us all, black and white and speaking to us as brothers."

Despite this, Williams was outnumbered by Beck and Cuomo. Beck glowingly insisted that Obama began a discussion on ethnicity "with that great speech on race that he gave." Oddly, neither Father Beck, nor Cuomo, who is also Catholic, noted that Chicago Cardinal Francis George has reprimanded Pfleger for engaging in politics. If Beck is going to become a regular on GMA, conservatives, thus far, have no reason to be encouraged that he will offer a right leaning perspective.

A transcript of the June 2 segment, which aired at 7:33am:

CHRIS CUOMO: And joining us live for some perspective on Obama's decision are NPR senior political analyst Juan Williams and Father Edward Beck, the host of ABC News Now's "Faith Matters Now." Gentlemen, thank you for both being here. Father, let me begin with you. You know Father Pfleger. You say he's much more than how he's being characterized as this kind of bad parody of an African-American preacher. Tell me.
FATHER EDWARD BECK: Well, everybody is more than a few sound bites can demonstrate. I mean, I worked with him for three years. I saw him get arrested for injustice against African-American people. He adopted an African-American child. I mean, he really walks the talk and I think you can't just look at this and say this is the whole person. He is more than that.
CUOMO: Okay, so this is who the man is. Juan, let me bring you in for what the impact is. How do you think this will play for Obama, the unity candidate? Is this going to be seen as more white bashing? How does this play for him?
JUAN WILLIAMS: I mean, you just heard in this latest clip that's come out where he says America is the greatest sin against God. It sounds more like, you know, the whole thing about God, you know, America coming from Reverend Wright. It stirs up all those feelings again. If you look at recent Pew poll numbers that came out, it indicates Barack Obama's favorability ratings have been sinking, especially with the swing voters as we head toward the general election. White women, Jews, Latinos, a real problem. People identify Obama as young, energetic, telegenic, intelligent, a man who is talking about change and unifying the races and then the second thing that comes to mind is, but, gee what about this Reverend Wright? What about Father Pfleger? Why is he associated with these people who are so inflammatory and mean-spirited and even racial? I mean, that mocking of Hillary Clinton goes beyond any black liberation theology. That's putting down somebody who has a fairly progressive record on race in America.
CUOMO: Now, as far as Obama is concerned, there has been the point made you have to separate him from the statements of others but there does seem to be a sensitivity. Something that's very interesting in what happens here though as we look at the video of that speech. The audience. The reaction of the audience. Predominantly black, of course, even though the preacher is white. Father Beck, how do you think whites should react to what they see here, the enthusiasm for this really negative speech?
BECK: Well, I'm sure they may be a bit frightened by it. But I think you have to understand underneath it there is real sentiment. There is a feeling of being disenfranchised. You have a white man, a priest naming this for them. And I mean, they don't always get to say it. You know, some people don't always name it for them. So they're going to react to it. And there's a certain environment in a preaching environment like that that is stirred up. There's an enthusiasm. And I think you're seeing all of that play out but certainly, there's real sentiment underneath that.
CUOMO: This is the reality. This isn't them being whipped into a frenzy by a charismatic speaker?
BECK: No. Let's not pretend that there is not a race issue still in America. There is. And black people know it and white people know it. I've been asking some black people, you know, around where I work, and I say do you think this is racism, reverse racism? They say, no, absolutely not. They don't think it's reverse racism. They think that real feelings are being demonstrated here. Are you can't take that away from them.
CUOMO: You get a different reaction from the whites in your congregation? BECK: Yeah, whites are saying, is this what's going to happen if he's president? Are we going to be now turning the tide? Is this going to be reverse discrimination? So, people are a little bit afraid of it.
CUOMO: Now, looking at this politically, pragmatically, Juan, how do you think the Republicans use this? How good is this for them, in a manner of speaking.
WILLIAMS: Oh, you know, I mean, this is manna from heaven if you want to stick with the religious theme. Because what you've got is, it raises the risk factor around this young man who would be the first African-American president. It says, you know, he may be talking about change but what kind of change and do you really know him? And when you look back at his associations, it's with people like Reverend Wright and Father Pfleger. Yes, there's a history of bitter segregation in a city like Chicago but what are these ministers doing? They are stirring people up, appealing to their most base, racist sentiments. What you saw from Father Pfleger the other day looked to me like a minstrel show being put on for black people and I thought that he was mocking. He was bitter. This is not speaking to ideas of lifting people up or speaking to the Christ in us all, black and white and speaking to us as brothers. This is bringing us down to a low level and that's what Obama said in his remarks the other day, this doesn't speak to the kind of unifying theme that I want for my campaign, to quote him.
CUOMO: Well, I guess there are the two sides we're seeing. You're saying this doesn't speak to what the campaign is supposed to be speaking to but, Father, you say this is a reality. You bristle when you hear the word minstrel when attached to Pfleger.
BECK: Well, I agree the method was bad. He had a bad choice of words. I mean, he went way over the top, but I think you have to look at what is underneath it. Why do people respond to it? Why is he taking that approach? He's getting heard. He believes the message has to be heard. Now, he's using bad means to do it. But it's an important issue and I think what we have to pay attention to is the conversation that it needs to start. Obama began the conversation with that great speech on race that he gave. But it's not going to end there. That's not going to end the debate just because he gave a great speech. It has to continue

CNN's Phillips & Malveaux Feel Obamas'
Pain Over Quitting Church

CNN's Kyra Phillips and Suzanne Malveaux fretted over Barack Obama's recent decision to leave his "controversial church" during a segment on Monday's American Morning. During her introduction to Malveaux's report on the decision, Phillips lamented: "You know, he's getting criticized -- okay, he acting like a typical politician....He's bailing out of the church. Well, he would have been accused of the same type of things if he stayed in the church. He can't win." Malveaux responded: "The things is, you know, Kyra, this was a personal decision. It was a political decision, but also a personal decision. When I interviewed Michelle Obama, they talked about the kind of pain that -- actually disassociating themselves from Reverend Wright...."

Both before and after her report, Malveaux guessed that the fact that the Obamas "had no control over the church" contributed to their decision to leave.

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org]

During the report itself, the CNN correspondent did not feature any critics or skeptics of the Obamas' decision to leave the church. Instead, she aired clips of the Illinois Senator's press conference where he announced that he was leaving Trinity United Church of Christ, along with clips of Father Michael Pfleger's now-infamous sermon at the church and his later apology. She also played two clips of unidentified Trinity parishoners responding to Obama's departure. Again, during the report, Malveaux highlighted how "the decision to leave was difficult for Obama. Trinity was a place where he married his wife and where his children were baptized."

After Malveaux's report finished, Phillips echoed the CNN correspondent's earlier Obama-sympathetic comments. "Well, it's such a personal thing. It's got to be tough. I mean, he was married in this church; his kids were baptized in this church; and it's sort of sad to see, just, even Reverend Wright and now Father Pfleger. You know, they're taking advantage of their moments of fame, and it's too bad it even had to happen in the first place."

The full transcript of the segment, which began a minute into the 8 am Eastern hour of the Monday, June 2 American Morning:

KYRA PHILLIPS: Barack Obama cut ties with his controversial church after being a member there for 20 years. But the controversy doesn't end there. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux joins us with the story. You know, he's getting criticized -- okay, he acting like a typical politician-
SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Right, right.
PHILLIPS: -He's bailing out of the church. Well, he would have been accused of the same type of things if he stayed in the church. He can't win.
MALVEAUX: The things is, you know, Kyra, this was a personal decision. It was a political decision, but also a personal decision. When I interviewed Michelle Obama, they talked about the kind of pain that -- actually disassociating themselves from Reverend Wright, but they stayed in the church because of their relationship with the church. But this weekend it was really quite different because it was a political decision as well, which is they had no control over the church, and so they had to sever ties. Another scandal at Barack Obama's church.
FATHER MICHAEL PFLEGER: I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!
MALVEAUX: Visiting priest Michael Pfleger's remark quickly went viral, an immediate target for pundits and bloggers, and this time, Obama had had enough.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: We also don't want a church subjected to the scrutiny that a presidential campaign legitimately undergoes.
MALVEAUX: Pfleger gave a mea culpa Sunday.
PFLEGER: I am deeply sorry and I pray that my apology will be accepted, even by those who have told me they won't accept it.
MALXVEAUX: But it was too late for Obama.
OBAMA: -statements by Father Pfleger, who is somebody who I've known, who I consider a friend, who has done tremendous work in Chicago, but made offensive statements that have no place in our politics and in the pulpit.
MALVEAUX: Still, the decision to leave was difficult for Obama. Trinity was a place where he married his wife and where his children were baptized.
OBAMA: I want to be able to take Michelle and my girls, sit in a pew quietly, hopefully get some nice music, some good reflection, praise God, thank him for all the blessings that he has given our family, put some money in the collection plate....
MALVEAUX: Parishioners at the church say the story was blown out of proportion.
UNIDENTIFIED PARISHONER #1: Politics and church should be separate -- totally separate, and I feel how can they bring all of this politician things inside the church. You know, if someone's preaching and they're delivering the word, however they feel to deliver that word, then that should be them.
UNIDENTIFIED PARISHONER #2: This goes not going to take the church down [by] any stretch of the imagination.
MALVEAUX: But it remains to be seen if Obama can distance himself enough to quell voters' concerns over his judgment come November.
OBAMA: I have no idea how it will impact my presidential campaign. But I know that it's the right thing to do for the church and for our family.
MALVEAUX: And, really, one of the challenges that Barack Obama has -- and they realized this -- is that he has to go out and define himself, and sometimes redefine his candidacy to voters who don't know him so well. So this kind of thing -- he really can't afford to be associated with the church, especially because they just couldn't control what was happening, you know, what was coming out of it, and it's something, though, that they're really -- they struggled with for quite some time.
PHILLIPS: Well, it's such a personal thing. It's got to be tough. I mean, he was married in this church; his kids were baptized in this church; and it's sort of sad to see, just, even Reverend Wright and now Father Pfleger. You know, they're taking advantage of their moments of fame, and it's too bad it even had to happen in the first place. But you know, it's historic what's happening in this election, not only you have an African-American, you have this first female candidate going for President, but just the subject matter. We haven't seen a controversy like this.
MALVEAUX: And, I mean, my church, I fell asleep in my church. It was never this exciting. We've had a whole different kind of role of pastors, I mean, on both sides, the Republicans as well as the Democrats here, which is why a lot of people make the argument, you know, church and state, keep them separate.
PHILLIPS: We'll be praying for a little kumbaya. All right, thank you Suzanne.

Not So Subliminal Pro-Obama Message in
Economy Story on Today

In a hard economic times story by NBC's Kevin Tibbles on Monday's Today show there was a not-so-subliminal pro-Obama message on display as several times Obama campaign signs found their way into the background. Reporting on the increased traffic to pawn shops by the desperate to make ends meet in the "rocky economy," Tibbles didn't mention Obama by name but the Illinois Senator's name or image popped up in the background several times.

Tibbles, or at least his cameraman and/or producer, seemed to be sending the not-so-subtle message that the presumed Democratic presidential nominee could be the savior from these tough economic times.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon, with screen shots, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is the full story as it aired on the June 2, Today show:

MATT LAUER: On "Today's Money," quick cash. If you're having trouble making ends meet in this rocky economy what can you do? NBC's Kevin Tibbles found one place where business is moving.

KEVIN TIBBLES: You don't need to go to Wall Street to see we're living in tough times. Tell-tale signs of an economic slump are all on display at the Royal Pawn Shop in Chicago, where this brokers' business is booming in a bust economy.
PAWN SHOP BROKER: With the gold going up I have never been as busy.
TIBBLES: More people looking to pawn their expensive watches or jewelry for a quick buck. Something's kinda catching my eye and it's the gleam coming off of that. What is?
BROKER: That's your six-karat diamond.
TIBBLES: Six-karat diamond?
BROKER: With one-karat diamonds next to it.
TIBBLES: But it's not only family heirlooms. There are cameras, stereo equipment, guitars, even motorcycles. From soup to nuts.
BROKER: Unbelievable isn't it? I got it all.
TIBBLES: Remnants of better times exchanged for much needed cold, hard cash, in many cases, just to make ends meet. A fur is a sort of luxury item that goes first?
BROKER: That's probably one of, that and jewelry.
MAN WITH OBAMA SIGN IN BACKGROUND: Gas is high, food is high, everything going up but your salary.
TIBBLES: Why do you think your seeing so many people come in here?
BROKER: Tough times and tougher times to come.
TIBBLES OVER VIDEO OF SHOP COUNTER WITH OBAMA POSTER IN BACKGROUND: Most customers bring items as collateral for temporary loans with the hope of reclaiming them later. Pawnbroker Randy Cohen charges about 10 percent monthly interest. Customers have from three months to a year to pay off their loans and get their goods back. Pawn shops eventually re-sell unclaimed items, often, at bargain basement prices.
UNIDENTIFIED CUSTOMER: I've bought Rolex watches, I've bought cell phones, I've bought DVDs.
TIBBLES: Just another economic indicator, this one from the street level up. For Today, Kevin Tibbles, NBC News, Washington.

Behar: Sarandon and Robbins 'Most Patriotic
Americans'

Joy Behar finds actors and hard left activists Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon "two of the most patriotic Americans that we have in the media." On the May 29 edition of ABC's daytime The View, the panel discussed Susan Sarandon's threat to leave the United States if John McCain is elected President. The following Monday, June 2, Whoopi Goldberg read Sarandon's response to the controversy. In her letter to The View, Sarandon claimed her words have been "morphed into something other than intended." Sarandon bizarrely added she simply would feel unsafe in New York City because of McCain's "statements regarding foreign policy and his volatile temper."

[This item, by the MRC's Justin McCarthy, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The June 2 CyberAlert item, "If McCain Wins, Sarandon Threatens (Promises!?) to Leave U.S.," recounted:

Catching up with a quote from a British newspaper interview published May 24 that got some play in the U.S. late last week, actress Susan Sarandon told John Hiscock of London's Telegraph she'll consider moving to Italy or Canada if John McCain wins over Barack Obama. In an interview to promote the British release of the Speed Racer movie and the DVD release of her anti-Iraq war film, In the Kingdom of Elah, Sarandon fumed: "If McCain gets in, it's going to be very, very dangerous....It's a critical time, but I have faith in the American people. If they prove me wrong, I'll be checking out a move to Italy. Maybe Canada, I don't know. We're at an abyss."

For the entire previous CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

After Goldberg read in Sarandon's letter that she "has faith in the American people," Joy Behar called Sarandon and longtime partner Tim Robbins "two of the most patriotic Americans that we have in the media" because "they stuck their neck out in the beginning when it was very unpopular to speak out against the war and the Bush administration."

ABC employee Joy Behar must have missed a story from her own network at the time when "it was very unpopular." In April 2003, Peter Jennings and Jim Wooten smeared those who speak out against Robbins and Sarandon as "McCarthyites." See the April 17, 2003 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Behar then verified Sarandon's charge that in McCain's American New York will no longer be safe adding "there is a certain amount of fear" raised the specter of a war with Iran and felt "we would become a target even more."

The relevant portion of the June 2 show:

WHOOPI GOLDBERG: The other day we were talking about Susan Sarandon saying that she'd consider moving out of the country if McCain was elected. Now it turns out she was watching us and she wrote us a letter, which I had to have them write in very big letters because I can't read it otherwise. It says "hey girls I came up over coffee in your 'Hot Topics' segment. I want to clarify a quote that has been repeated and morphed into something other than intended. If I were to entertain the notion of leaving my country, it's because I believe under McCain it would be significantly more dangerous to live in New York City with my family because of his statements regarding foreign policy and his volatile temper not because I would ever hate my country. Continued on next card"- Oh. [laughter] "If discontent at the present leadership were motivated to leave, I would have left a long time ago, but instead, it's every citizen's duty and right under the Constitution to express their discontent. That's called democracy. As I said in the full quote, this election is a critical one. I also said I have faith in the American people. Love, Susan."
JOY BEHAR: Yeah. Well, Susan and her husband Tim Robbins are two of the most patriotic Americans that we have in the media. And they stuck their neck out in the beginning when it was very unpopular to speak out against the war and against the Bush administration. I'm just saying that for Susan. And I think she was, you know, in a fit, pique, yeah maybe frustration. Well, so there is a certain amount of fear that you have that if someone gets into office who doesn't have the right foreign policy and does insist these wars keep going, and Iran is next and this and that, that we would become a target even more. That's why she said she wants to move away.

-- Brent Baker