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NBC Showcases Anti-War West Virginian Over One Critical of Media --3/23/2006


1. NBC Showcases Anti-War West Virginian Over One Critical of Media
At a forum with President George W. Bush Wednesday at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia, Gayle Taylor, the wife of a member of the military recently returned from Iraq, was drowned out by a standing ovation when she told Bush: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News found the criticism of the news media to be newsworthy. NBC's David Gregory instead decided to assert that "in a state he won twice...many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it." NBC viewers then heard from one Mountain State resident, Donna Neptune, whom Gregory described as "a Republican." She maintained: "Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing." ABC's World News Tonight, however, was unique amongst the broadcast evening newscasts and highlighted the contention from the woman anchor Elizabeth Vargas described as "the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq."

2. Olbermann Raises McCarthy, Rails Against "Unforgivable" Ingraham
In leading his Countdown show on Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pegged "the day in 1988 when the first George Bush sandbagged Dan Rather during a live interview on CBS as the moment" when "the process of blaming the messenger became an essential ingredient in American politics," raised Joe McCarthy's name in noting the location of President Bush's criticism of press coverage of Iraq and railed against the "unforgivable" criticism of the media by radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, whom he described as someone "that I've known socially." And that was all before he brought aboard Helen Thomas. Olbermann asserted that the war of "the government versus the news has just escalated anew, and it is approaching a carpet bombing stage. Exhibit A, Wheeling, West Virginia, where Joe McCarthy started his string of the most memorable speeches, today's stop on the George W. Bush 'I am nothing if not deeply misunderstood ' Express." Video of Olbermann and BONUS VIDEO of the 1988 Bush 41-Rather confrontation cited by Olbermann.

3. Elvis Costello Attacks "Wrong Wars," Katrina Ravaging "Man-Made"
VH-1 watchers enjoying the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert aired on tape Tuesday night received some perhaps unsurprising political commentary along with the music. When rock singer Elvis Costello came on stage to perform with New Orleans music legend Allan Touissant, he took a few shots at the Iraq War and the Bush administration's apparent inability to handle Hurricane Katrina because of that war.


NBC Showcases Anti-War West Virginian
Over One Critical of Media

At a forum with President George W. Bush Wednesday at the Capitol Music Hall in Wheeling, West Virginia, Gayle Taylor, the wife of a member of the military recently returned from Iraq, was drowned out by a standing ovation when she told Bush: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News found the criticism of the news media to be newsworthy. NBC's David Gregory instead decided to assert that "in a state he won twice...many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it." NBC viewers then heard from one Mountain State resident, Donna Neptune, whom Gregory described as "a Republican." She maintained: "Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing."

ABC's World News Tonight, however, was unique amongst the broadcast evening newscasts and highlighted the contention from the woman anchor Elizabeth Vargas described as "the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq." Vargas set up the brief soundbite: "There has been criticism from the Bush administration and others that the media has been ignoring the good news in Iraq, distorting what's really going on there."After the clip of Taylor, Vargas acknowledged that "it is certainly true that many of the stories from Iraq involve violence, and fear," but she argued "it is also true that we cover all kinds of stories in Iraq. The last story Bob [Woodruff] filed before" the attack which severely wounded him, "was about a Baghdad ice cream parlor" and "when I was in Iraq in December, we spent time at this ballet school for children."

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

CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer held his coverage of the event to this short item:
"President Bush took his campaign to urge support for the Iraq War to West Virginia today. He told an audience there that it is time for the Iraqi government to unify the country and for the Iraqi army to defend democracy."

The article posted on the WashingtonPost.com, by Bill Brubaker, at 4pm EST, "Bush Defends Iraq Decision, Addresses WMD Intelligence," ignored Taylor's remark: www.washingtonpost.com

FNC's Carl Cameron highlighted Taylor during his taped piece on Special Report with Brit Hume. Cameron observed:
"Mr. Bush, having noted often recently that media coverage of the violence in Iraq often obscures progress, had to be pleased when the wife of a soldier just back from Tikrit complained that it's overly negative."
Woman in audience, Gayle Taylor: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good." [loud applause and standing ovation]
Bush: "I know you're frustrated with what you are seeing, but there are ways in this new kind of age being able to communicate that you'll be able to spread the message that you want to spread."
Cameron: "Mr. Bush specifically recommended using alternatives like the Internet, but made clear he was not criticizing or trying to mute the nation's free press."
Bush: "We will never do that in America. I mean, the minute we start trying to suppress our press, we look like the Taliban."

An AP dispatch posted on Yahoo provided this quotation of Taylor, without identifying her:
"Another standing ovation was prompted by a woman who asked Bush what could be done to keep the press from ignoring progress in Iraq. 'Our major media don't want to portray the good,' she said. 'If the American people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict.'" See: news.yahoo.com

The story on the event posted Wednesday afternoon by the New York Times, "Bush Says 'It's Time' for Unity Government in Iraq," by John O'Neil, provided this summary of the reaction Taylor generated:
"The questions were overwhelmingly friendly, and the crowd gave two questioners standing ovations. One was for a man with two sons in the military who declared, 'I thank God you are their commander in chief.' The other was for a woman married to an Army officer who had returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with a DVD showing reconstruction work that she wished she could have broadcast by the major networks. 'If the American people could see it, there would never be another negative word about this conflict,' she said, to cheers."

For the est of the NY Times story: www.nytimes.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the March 22 NBC and ABC stories:

Anchor Campbell Brown introduced Gregory's NBC Nightly News story:
"President Bush was in West Virginia today continuing his string of public events this week in support of his policies in Iraq. The President said he has told U.S. officials in Iraq that it is time for Iraqis to put aside their differences and form a unity government. He also said election year politics would have no impact on his decisions regarding how many U.S. troops need to be in Iraq. Now to this week's series on the Iraq War three years later. Tonight, the President's decision to stake his presidency on this war: What are the consequences of that decision? Here's NBC's chief White House correspondent David Gregory."

George W. Bush clip #1: "The best way to protect the American people is to stay on the offensive."
Bush clip #2: "Freedom in Iraq will make America safer-"
Bush clip #3: "The rise of a free and peaceful Iraq is critical to the stability of the Middle East."
David Gregory: "George W. Bush has defined his presidency by a war of his own choosing. His mission in the Middle East, built on a doctrine of preemption, has become the great gamble of his political capital."
Bush: "I'd say I'm spending that capital on the war."
Gregory: "After 9/11, the President's vision went beyond answering the terrorists in Afghanistan."
David Frum, former Bush speechwriter: "Is he going to keep the war on terror central to his understanding of what he was trying to accomplish as president? That was the real moment of decision."
Gregory: "Critics argue Mr. Bush had a vision with blinders. The war in Iraq was part of a larger struggle between good and evil -- a war effort of biblical proportions, says Kevin Philips, the author of American Theocracy. He writes that a majority of the President's supporters believes in prophecies of the Apocalypse and the second coming of Jesus Christ centered in the Middle East. The President, he added, didn't suffer from doubt."
Kevin Philips: "And we saw in Afghanistan and after 9/11, a religiously based certitude. When he was asked about the advice of his father, remember how he mentioned he took the advice of a higher Father."
Gregory: "But three years later, reality in Iraq has cost the President even his most reliable support as Mr. Bush's vision for democracy in that country now suffers from new fears of failure. Mr. Bush came to West Virginia today to face critics. In a state he won twice, and is known in part for its favorite daughter, former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch, many here now wonder whether the sacrifice of American lives has been worth it. Donna Neptune is a Republican."
Donna Neptune, West Virginia resident: "Those people don't want our help. Our people's being killed over there for nothing."
Gregory: "Was the war a mistake, the mission unmanageable? Or is success, as the President argues, still just a matter of time? Moments by which this President will always be judged. David Gregory, NBC News, New York."

Anchor Elizabeth Vargas began the coverage on ABC's World News Tonight:
"President Bush spent another day trying to convince Americans that things are not as bad as they seem in Iraq. The President met with military families in West Virginia today. There has been criticism from the Bush administration and others that the media has been ignoring the good news in Iraq, distorting what's really going on there. The President heard this from the wife of a military journalist who was just back from Iraq."
Gayle Taylor, wife of military journalist: "It seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" [applause and standing ovation]
Vargas: "It is certainly true that many of the stories from Iraq involve violence, and fear. This morning, for example, the second brazen attack in as many days on an Iraqi police station. Sixty insurgents stormed the station. This time, the attack was thwarted by Iraqi and U.S. forces. And it is true that the violence makes it increasingly difficult for reporters to travel the country in safety, to get out and see as much as they would like. Eighty-six journalists have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Earlier this year, our colleagues, Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, were badly injured in an attack on their convoy. They had been reporting on the capability of the new Iraqi security forces. But it is also true that we cover all kinds of stories in Iraq. The last story Bob filed before that attack was about a Baghdad ice cream parlor, a business that was flourishing in a very rough neighborhood."
Bob Woodruff: "An oasis here."
Vargas: "When I was in Iraq in December, we spent time at this ballet school [video of kids] for children. And we have reported from northern and southern Iraq, particularly for our occasional series, 'Where Things Stand,' about schools that have been built, about increased commerce. The news is sometimes good. It is sometimes bad. It is almost always complicated."

Next, ABC viewers saw a piece from Jake Tapper on a crew filming, on a Baghdad street, a comedy TV show who were devastated when they got a phone call telling them that their boss had been assassinated.

UPDATE, 4:30pm EST, March 23. On the Thursday broadcast network morning shows, coverage matched the evening shows for CBS and ABC, but NBC's Today, unlike NBC Nightly News, highlighted Taylor. CBS's Early Show, the MRC's Michael Rule noted, didn't run any soundbites from the Wheeling event, or even mention it. On ABC's Good Morning America, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, a piece from Dan Harris about the views expressed in postings on an ABCNews.com message board, included a clip of Taylor: "But the vast majority of postings echoed the sentiments of this woman in West Virginia, who shared her concerns with President Bush on Wednesday." Gayle Taylor: "And I ask you this from the bottom of my heart, for a solution to this because it seems that our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus- (drowned out by applause.)" In a story from NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, Today viewers saw a bite of Taylor: "Our major media networks don't want to portray the good. They just want to focus-" O'Donnell related: "That military wife, Gayle Taylor, said positive stories her husband Kent, an Army journalist, brought home from Iraq are ignored by media here." O'Donnell, the MRC's Geoff Dickens observed, then played video taken by Taylor's husband, of men working on a building in Iraq, as a narrator explained: "Renovations to the complex will soon be finished then it will open for anyone who needs medical treatment."]

Olbermann Raises McCarthy, Rails Against
"Unforgivable" Ingraham

In leading his Countdown show on Wednesday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann pegged "the day in 1988 when the first George Bush sandbagged Dan Rather during a live interview on CBS as the moment" when "the process of blaming the messenger became an essential ingredient in American politics," raised Joe McCarthy's name in noting the


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location of President Bush's criticism of press coverage of Iraq and railed against the "unforgivable" criticism of the media by radio talk show host Laura Ingraham, whom he described as someone "that I've known socially." And that was all before he brought aboard Helen Thomas.

Olbermann asserted that the war of "the government versus the news has just escalated anew, and it is approaching a carpet bombing stage. Exhibit A, Wheeling, West Virginia, where Joe McCarthy started his string of the most memorable speeches, today's stop on the George W. Bush 'I am nothing if not deeply misunderstood ' Express." After playing clips of Ingraham on Tuesday's Today show urging reporters in Iraq "to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," Olbermann presumed that meant she had no concept of journalists who have given their lives: "That hotel balcony crack was unforgivable. It was unforgivable to the memory of David Bloom, it was unforgivable in consideration of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt..."

After his rant against Ingraham, Olbermann's first question to his guest, Richard Wolffe of Newsweek, featured more insults: "With this frankly paranoid tone set by the administration and enacted by people like Laura Ingraham, is that what we're left with about Iraq, defending the actions conducted in this nation's name with desperation and stupidity?"

[This item was posted, with video, late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, where you can add your take by posting a comment: newsbusters.org ]

A video clip of Olbermann castigating Ingraham, and a little more of his insults, in both Real and Windows Media formats, as well as an MP3 audio clip, will be added by the MRC's Michael Gibbons to the posted version of this CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

In the meantime, I've added the video and audio to the NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org

BONUS VIDEO, of the 1988 Bush 41-Rather confrontation, cited by Olbermann, is also in the NewsBusters version of this item and will be added at the bottom of this posting.

Olbermann led his March 22 program, as tracked by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
"Good evening. Our colleague Craig Crawford points to the day in 1988 when the first George Bush sandbagged Dan Rather during a live interview on CBS as the moment, the moment of the process of blaming the messenger became an essential ingredient in American politics. The actual origin of attacking the media certainly goes back to the 'nattering nabobs of negativism' speech of future felon Spiro Agnew in 1969, probably to the Alien and Sedition laws under President John Adams, maybe even to the case of the colony of New York versus John Peter Zenger in 1734. Our fifth story in the Countdown, whenever it started, it sure as heck ain't finished. And how well or how poorly the war in Iraq might be going, the one here on our soil, the government versus the news, has just escalated anew, and it is approaching a carpet bombing stage. Exhibit A, Wheeling, West Virginia, where Joe McCarthy started his string of the most memorable speeches, today's stop on the George W. Bush 'I am nothing if not deeply misunderstood ' Express. Say goodbye to that brief experiment of letting just anybody ask questions unscreened. This was almost an entirely military audience."

After playing the comment to Bush which the NBC Nightly News had ignored, as detailed in item #1 above, Olbermann, with "Attacking the Messenger" as the on-screen footer, ran clips of President Bush at his Tuesday press conference talking about media coverage of Iraq, Ingraham on Tuesday's Today, Ingraham on Tuesday's O'Reilly Factor ("hours later," after Today, "Ms. Ingraham sharing her thoughts with Ted Baxter himself, by which time some sane person had reminded her of the death of our own David Bloom at the war's outset"), how a CBS News poll last week found more believe media coverage of Iraq is accurate than think what Bush says about the war is accurate and finally a piece from NBC's Richard Engel, which aired on Wednesday's Today, about the dangers to journalists in Iraq.

For more on the CBS poll, check the March 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Olbermann then delivered this diatribe against Ingraham:
"A note about Laura Ingraham's comments: I've known her a long time. I'll, in fact, give you the caveat that I've known her socially. But that hotel balcony crack was unforgivable. It was unforgivable to the memory of David Bloom, it was unforgivable in consideration of Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, it was unforgivable in the light of what happened to Michael Kelly and what happened to Michael Weiskopf. It was unforgivable with Jill Carroll still a hostage in Iraq. And it's not only unforgivable of her, it was desperate, and it was stupid."

With "Blame the Media Backlash?" as his new on-screen footer, Olbermann moved to his first guest:
"As promised, a calmer voice, no doubt, in the person of Newsweek's White House correspondent Richard Wolffe....It's one thing to question if the media's being representative in its reporting from Iraq, but with this frankly paranoid tone set by the administration and enacted by people like Laura Ingraham, is that what we're left with about Iraq, defending the actions conducted in this nation's name with desperation and stupidity?"

For a complete rundown of Ingraham's appearance on the March 21 Today and NBC's counter-story from Engel on the March 22 Today, see this March 22 MRC CyberAlert article with video of Ingraham, "To Gregory's Consternation on Today, Ingraham Scolds War Coverage." Go to: www.mrc.org

After an ad break: Helen Thomas.

BONUS VIDEO of the incident in which Olbermann claimed George H.W. Bush "sandbagged" Dan Rather, probably for this retort from Bush: "It's not fair to judge my whole career by a re-hash on Iran. How would you like it if I judged your career by those seven minutes when you walked off the set in New York? Would you like that? I have respect for you, but I don't have respect for what you're doing here


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tonight." From the MRC's archive, the infamous confrontation over the Iran-Contra scandal, on the Monday, January 25, 1988 CBS Evening News, during which Rather told the then-Vice President and presidential candidate: "You've made us hypocrites in the face of the world!"

Video of the interview, joined a couple of minutes into it and running through the end of it, rendered at 100 kbps for Real (instead of MRC's normal 225 kbps) and 81 kbps for Windows Media (instead of MRC's normal 256 kbps rate) to make the file size reasonable for the lengthy clip (6:35): Real (4.9 MB) or Windows Media (4.2). Plus MP3 audio at 32 kbps (1.5 MB).

Elvis Costello Attacks "Wrong Wars,"
Katrina Ravaging "Man-Made"

VH-1 watchers enjoying the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert aired on tape Tuesday night received some perhaps unsurprising political commentary along with the music. When rock singer Elvis Costello came on stage to perform with New Orleans music legend Allan Touissant, he took a few shots at the Iraq War and the Bush administration's apparent inability to handle Hurricane Katrina because of that war:
"I feel very lucky and very proud that music jumped to the aid of New Orleans back in September...But it's a drop in the bucket for what is needed. There is a lot of things that I could say. I could say something like we are fighting the wrong wars in the wrong countries and not dealing with the people here that are living in this country that are not living right. You could call to account the people who have the audacity to blaspheme and say that Katrina was a judgment of God on the city of New Orleans. This is absolute nonsense because the devastation that followed Katrina was man-made, as we now know."

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. See: newsbusters.org ]

Is there a safer, more predictable retreat for an entertainer to make than the old saw that war is an unnecessary drain on resources that are supposed to be devoted to the needy?

Hat tip to MRC's Michelle Humphrey, and to intern Matthew van de Crommert for the transcription.

-- Brent Baker