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NBC Trumpets Distorted Poll on Opposition to Ending Filibuster --5/19/2005


1. NBC Trumpets Distorted Poll on Opposition to Ending Filibuster
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted Wednesday night how "a brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll" shows "that by a margin of 56 to 34, Americans want the Senate to weigh in on the President's judicial nominees rather than giving them blanket approval" -- as if that's at issue. In fact, no one is calling for "blanket approval" since, if the filibusters against judicial nominees were eliminated, those now blocked would still have to earn the backing of the majority of Senators, just like every other judge the Senate has ever approved. On Thursday's Today, Matt Lauer highlighted for Tim Russert the same irrelevant question, but then Lauer cryptically referred to how the public was "evenly split pretty much on the whole filibuster issue." Indeed, in a poll question NBC Nightly News ignored, and for which Today provided no further detail, respondents split 32 opposed versus 31 in support (with 19 neutral and 13 not caring) on whether they backed Congress in "considering putting an end to the Senate's filibuster procedure" for "judicial nominees."

2. Stephanopoulos Worries Non-"Moderate" May Get on Supreme Court
All three broadcast network morning shows addressed the fight over judicial filibusters Wednesday, but ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos stood out for promoting Democratic spin as he recited the liberal attacks on Priscilla Own and Janice Rogers Brown. Though it is the Democrats who have changed Senate tradition and can avoid rule changes by simply ending their filibuster tactic, Stephanopoulos chastised Republicans, contending that the filibuster fight "really, really is important because this issue will affect everything else. This, if it passes, is going to change the way that the Senate has worked for 200 years." He worried about what might result: "If the rules change passes, it is going to be much easier for the President to get one of his Supreme Court nominees through, even if that person doesn't have moderate views." GMA's Diane Sawyer fretted: "To a lot of people out in the country this really does look like fiddling while big issues burn, health care and other big issues burn, fiddling about a filibuster."

3. Matthews Paints Newsweek as Diversion from Opposition to Iraq
MSNBC's Hardball on Wednesday night continued the scolding of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, for daring to advise Newsweek on how to repair the damage its retracted story caused in the Muslim world, as Chris Matthews and Hotline's Chuck Todd suggested the Bush team was exploiting the topic in order to divert attention from public dissolution with Iraq. Matthews asked Washington Post reporter Mike Allen if those inside Newsweek "believe that the White House has gone beyond what it should" in "now dictating terms, telling Newsweek what the newspaper has to do pro-actively to make up for it?" Todd insisted the whole discussion "makes the White House very happy because it calls into question the media." Matthews jumped in to point out the "the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on the war, it's so unpopular now a majority of people think it wasn't worth it. I think they're looking, perhaps, for a little opportunity to spread the blame on this."

4. FNC Examines How Media Upset at White House Advice to Newsweek
FNC on Wednesday night took a look at how, as Brit Hume previewed the story, "the focus of media attention in Washington has already moved away from Newsweek's mistake to alleged White House pressure on news organizations." Carl Cameron highlighted Terry Moran's Tuesday rebuke of Scott McClellan ("Who made you the editor of Newsweek?") and how "this afternoon...another reporter asked if the damage resulting after Newsweek's article shouldn't be viewed as the administration's fault for other reasons." He then played a clip of this question: "Isn't it the case that the Newsweek article would not have done the damage that it has if our reputation hadn't already been damaged by the atrocities at Abu Ghraib?" Cameron concluded by forwarding how "the White House hopes to curb is what it considers to be an unhealthy cynicism and predisposition by some to expect the worst and blame America first even when the facts are uncertain or, in this case, even wrong."

5. Limbaugh Picks Up Wednesday on a Couple of CyberAlert Articles
You read it here first. Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday read on his show from two Tuesday CyberAlert articles, "Reporters Come to Newsweek's Defense, Suggest the Story is Really True" and "Schieffer Blames Newsweek's Retraction on White House 'Pressure.'"


NBC Trumpets Distorted Poll on Opposition
to Ending Filibuster

NBC Poll NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams trumpeted Wednesday night how "a brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll" shows "that by a margin of 56 to 34, Americans want the Senate to weigh in on the President's judicial nominees rather than giving them blanket approval" -- as if that's at issue. In fact, no one is calling for "blanket approval" since, if the filibusters against judicial nominees were eliminated, those now blocked would still have to earn the backing of the majority of Senators, just like every other judge the Senate has ever approved. On Thursday's Today, Matt Lauer highlighted for Tim Russert the same irrelevant question, but then Lauer cryptically referred to how the public was "evenly split pretty much on the whole filibuster issue." Indeed, in a poll question NBC Nightly News ignored, and for which Today provided no further detail, respondents split 32 opposed versus 31 in support (with 19 neutral and 13 not caring) on whether they backed Congress in "considering putting an end to the Senate's filibuster procedure" for "judicial nominees."

Williams led the May 18 NBC Nightly News: "Good evening. For days here we've been talking about the threat of the U.S. Senate going nuclear, as they call it, ending the use of the filibuster to block votes on judges used by both sides for years. To try and head that off, last night and all day today, a few senators have been doing what they do best: They've locked themselves in a meeting where they've been trying to hammer out a deal, something they think the American people would prefer. Well, tonight, some new numbers are out and a brand new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, they show that by a margin of 56 to 34, Americans want the Senate to weigh in on the President's judicial nominees rather than giving them blanket approval. But can the Senate keep from going nuclear? We'll begin there tonight with NBC's Chip Reid on Capitol Hill for us..."

As Williams spoke, viewers saw a graphic with a vague description of the poll question: "Confirming Judges? President's Nominee: 34% Senate Decides: 56%"

Thursday morning on Today, Tim Russert appeared from Washington, DC to go over many topics in the poll. Matt Lauer cued up Russert: "The issue on the front burner, this morning, judicial nominees, when asked about the Senate's role in confirming federal judges, 34 percent said they think the Senate should generally confirm the President's judicial nominees, 56 percent said the Senate should make its own decision. They were evenly split pretty much on the whole filibuster issue. So what does this tell us about how voters are going to react if that so-called 'nuclear option' is taken?"

Today displayed this graphic: "Senate & Judicial Nominees Confirm President's Choice: 34% Make Own Decision: 56%"

MSNBC.com's article about the poll provides no quotations of the actual questions and MSNBC.com never posts rundowns of polls as do ABCNews.com and CBSNews.com. MSNBC.com's story on the poll: www.msnbc.msn.com

The Wall Street Journal, however, this morning posted a PDF of the questions and results in the poll conducted by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff.

Question #11 was the one highlighted by Williams and Lauer, and the specific text of it confirms how it posed a question irrelevant to whether the public supports or opposes ending judicial filibusters: "When there are vacancies in the federal court system, should the Senate generally confirm the President's judicial nominees as long as they are honest and competent, or should the Senate make its own decision about the fitness of each nominee to serve?
"Should generally confirm President's nominees: 34%
"Should make its own decision: 56%"

The next question informed those polled: "I am going to read you a series of actions that have recently been in the news. For each one, please tell me whether you generally support this action, generally oppose this action, feel neutral about this action, or whether you do not care about this action."

One of those topics in the list: "Congress considering putting an end to the Senate's filibuster procedure, which requires sixty senators rather than fifty-one to end debate and hold a confirmation vote for judicial nominees."
Support: 31%
Oppose: 32%

For the PDF with the full survey results: online.wsj.com

Previous CyberAlert items on media hype for distorted polls regarding the blocking of Democratic filibusters:

# April 26 CyberAlert: ABC and the Washington Post touted how a new poll found two-thirds opposed to a rul change to end Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, but the language of the question led to the media's desired answer. "An ABC News poll has found little support for changing the Senate's rules to help the President's judicial nominees win confirmation," World News Tonight anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted Monday night. The Washington Post's lead front page headline, over a Tuesday story on the poll, declared: "Filibuster Rule Change Opposed." But the questions in the poll failed to point out the unprecedented use of a filibuster to block nominees who have majority support while they forwarded the Democratic talking point that "the Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush" and painted rules changes as an effort "to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees," not as a way to overcome Democratic obstructionism. See: www.mediaresearch.org

# April 27 CyberAlert: FNC's Brit Hume on Tuesday night pointed out how the wording of a Washington Post/ABC News poll led to its finding of overwhelming opposition to blocking Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, an observation made in Tuesday's CyberAlert, and Hume noted how differently-worded polls led to opposite results. "If you doubt whether the framing of a poll question can influence the outcome," Hume asked, "consider this. When a Republican poll said quote, 'Even if they disagree with a judge, Senate Democrats should at least allow he President's nominations to be voted on,' 81 percent said they agreed." In addition, a Rasmussen survey found that when asked "should the Senate rules should be changed so that a vote must be taken on every person that the President nominates to become a judge?", 56 percent responded affirmatively. See: www.mediaresearch.org

# April 28 CyberAlert: In a Wednesday online chat session, Washington Post National Editor Michael Abramowitz defended Washington Post/ABC News poll questions which CyberAlert and others argued had wording which inevitably led to the finding that an overwhelming majority oppose blocking Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees when other polls have found the opposite. "Filibuster Rule Change Opposed," declared the April 26 Washington Post lead front page headline even though the questions did not mention filibusters. Abramowitz maintained that the Post's polling chief, Rich Morin, "is scrupulously fair." Abramowitz asserted: "I thought the questions in this case were fine." Morin defended himself: "I believe the question does not plant biases that would unfairly favor Democrats or disadvantage Bush or the Republicans." www.mediaresearch.org

# May 2 CyberAlert: In defending the wording of a Washington Post poll, which the paper plastered at the top of Tuesday's front page under the headline, "Filibuster Rule Change Opposed," Washington Post Ombudsman Micheal Getler cited a March Newsweek poll which also found majority opposition to ending Senate filibusters of judicial nominees. But that poll's formulation was just as slanted as the Post poll's wording, in contrast to a Rasmussen poll, that Getler didn't acknowledge, which used wording that led to a finding of opposition to the Democratic tactic. The Newsweek poll inaccurately told those surveyed that the filibuster "tactic has been used by both Democrats and Republicans to prevent certain judicial nominees from being confirmed." Like the Post poll, Newsweek treated Republicans as the ones wanting to use a political maneuver to their benefit: "Senate Republican leaders, whose party is now in the majority, want to take away this tactic by changing the rules to require only 51 votes..." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# May 3 CyberAlert: Another distorted poll on the use of the filibuster by Senate Democrats to block judicial nominees. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday afternoon described how the filibuster tactic can be "used to prevent the Senate from passing controversial legislation or confirming controversial appointments by the President, even if a majority of Senators support that action." But then instead of posing the question at hand, whether the public agrees with the unprecedented Democratic use of the filibuster to deny votes to appeals court nominees, the poll posed a broader question not at hand: "Do you favor or oppose the use of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate?" Most, naturally, favored it as CNN's Bruce Morton relayed in a Monday Inside Politics story, as if eliminating the filibuster was an issue in play. See: www.mediaresearch.org


Later on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News, Tim Russert ran through some other numbers in the poll. (On Thursday's Today, NBC put "An Unhappy America?" on screen when he ran through them with Lauer.)

Williams set him up, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "At the top of the broadcast, we mentioned our new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. There are more new numbers out tonight, and with those, our Washington Bureau Chief, moderator of Meet the Press, Tim Russert, is with us. Tim, how are people feeling about the direction of their nation and the man running it?"
Russert checked in from Washington, DC with on-screen graphics to list the numbers he recited: "It's not good news, Brian. Let's look at right track/wrong track: 35 percent of Americans, just 35 say the country's on the right track, 52 wrong track. The President's approval rating, approve 47, disapprove 47, a very low number for George Bush at this point in his second term."
Williams: "Tim, what are the issues that are driving these numbers?"
Russert: "You will not be surprised. First, the economy: 20 percent believe we're better off, 42 percent say we are worse off when it comes to the economy. Compare that to January '05 when it was 31, 28, just the other way. Social Security, the President's been on the road, Brian, trying to sell his plan. Is the President's plan a good idea? 36 percent say yes, 56 percent say bad idea, and amongst voters over 50, over 60 percent think the President's idea of personal private accounts a bad idea. And the war in Iraq, now a clear majority believes it was not worth the price. 51 percent, not worth it, only 40 percent worth it."
Williams: "Tim, with so much of the attention on the U.S. Senate over the past few days, how are folks feeling about their elected representatives in all?"
Russert: "Even worse news for Congress. Only 33 percent of Americans, just one out of three, believe Congress is doing a good job. 51 percent disapprove, that's a six-point drop in approval from just one month ago. And, Brian, we asked people if the 2000 congressional elections were being held right now, the 2006 elections, 47 percent would vote for Democrats, 40 percent Republican. That's a seven-point bulge. That's very significant at this stage of the race. It's still early, but it is a real warning sign for the Republicans, who control both houses of Congress."

Stephanopoulos Worries Non-"Moderate"
May Get on Supreme Court

All three broadcast network morning shows addressed the fight over judicial filibusters Wednesday, but ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos stood out for promoting Democratic spin as he recited the liberal attacks on Priscilla Own and Janice Rogers Brown. Though it is the Democrats who have changed Senate tradition and can avoid rule changes by simply ending their filibuster tactic, Stephanopoulos chastised Republicans, contending that the filibuster fight "really, really is important because this issue will affect everything else. This, if it passes, is going to change the way that the Senate has worked for 200 years." He worried about what might result: "If the rules change passes, it is going to be much easier for the President to get one of his Supreme Court nominees through, even if that person doesn't have moderate views." GMA's Diane Sawyer fretted: "To a lot of people out in the country this really does look like fiddling while big issues burn, health care and other big issues burn, fiddling about a filibuster."

[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert, based on a transcript provided by the MRC's Jessica Barnes.]

None of the three morning shows actually interviewed a U.S. Senator Wednesday, sticking with familiar political experts (CBS interviewed Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report, NBC interviewed Chris Matthews). Sawyer asked Stephanopoulos, who helped the Clinton White House usher two Supreme Court justices through the Senate: "Okay, George. What are the chances this is really going to end in a giant showdown?"
Stephanopoulos played up the "nuclear option" hyperbole: "Very high. I mean, remember those old doomsday clocks about actual nuclear explosions? This one right now is at about three minutes to midnight and every single Senator is seized by how important it is, and that's why they have been meeting through the night. There's this group of centrist senators, led by John McCain and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, trying to find some kind of formula that can pull this, pull this back from the brink of the nuclear explosion."
Sawyer: "Okay, but it does start, the fuse starts to burn today, and how? Tell us about the judicial nominees and how it's going to work."
Stephanopoulos highlighted how controversial and conservative the Bush nominees were, using the standard Democratic talking points about what's wrong with them: "What's going to happen today is Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader, is actually going to put a couple of these nominees up for a vote and they're two of the most controversial nominees. The first one is a judge from California, Janice Rogers Brown. She's on the California Supreme Court, she's the daughter of Alabama sharecroppers. She's got a great personal story. A lot of people say she's got a story like Clarence Thomas; they also say she has views like Clarence Thomas. In fact, they point to one of the speeches that she gave a couple of years ago where she said [text on screen] that FDR's New Deal 'marks the triumph of our socialist revolution' -- very, very provocative comments. Those are going to come back to her on the floor.
"The second nominee is a woman named Priscilla Owen. She's a judge from Texas. She's top rated by the ABA. Her problem, according to Democrats, is abortion. In one abortion case she denied an abortion to a young woman who hadn't gone to see her parents. Her colleague, I mean, in Texas, in the Bush administration the Attorney General Gonzales said this was 'an unconscionable act of judicial activism.' So there is a lot of fodder for debate out there."
Sawyer, in mock surprise: "So the current Attorney General is on record as having criticized her?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, he says he wasn't criticizing her, he was criticizing himself had he made the same decision -- you tease out the difference. It's criticism of her."

(These circuit court nominees are just now getting mentioned on network news. Priscilla Owen, who was nominated by President Bush on May 9, 2001, was first mentioned on an ABC morning or evening news program on May 15, 2005. CBS mentioned Owen first on the November 7, 2002 Evening News, and then for the second time on Tuesday night.)

Sawyer concluded: "But the big question here, you know, to a lot of people out in the country this really does look like fiddling while big issues burn, health care and other big issues burn, fiddling about a filibuster. Is it really?"
Stephanopoulos insisted that history was in the balance: "No, because it really, really is important because this issue will affect everything else. This, if it passes, is going to change the way that the Senate has worked for 200 years. It will really change the balance of power in Washington and that means every other issue will be affected, whether it's health care, whether it's education, whether it's Social Security, will be affected by the decision here. And of course, if the rules change passes, it is going to be much easier for the President to get one of his Supreme Court nominees through, even if that person doesn't have moderate views."

As if Stephanopoulos helped put "moderate views" on the court with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, two solid votes for the liberal bloc, especially on the hot-button social issues like abortion and homosexuality.

But Republicans insist that the change in the Senate rules happened two years ago, soon after the Democrats lost their slim Senate majority, when the Democrats began using the filibuster, traditionally used only against legislation, to start blocking judicial nominees from a floor vote, even if they were voted out of the Judiciary Committee. Where was George Stephanopoulos and ABC to worry about changing the historical traits of the Senate? They weren't doing stories. A Media Reality Check report from 2003 explained how Bush nominee Miguel Estrada was denied an up-or-down vote, but it was ignored by ABC and CBS. See: www.mrc.org

Matthews Paints Newsweek as Diversion
from Opposition to Iraq

MSNBC's Hardball on Wednesday night continued the scolding of White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, for daring to advise Newsweek on how to repair the damage its retracted story caused in the Muslim world, as Chris Matthews and Hotline's Chuck Todd suggested the Bush team was exploiting the topic in order to divert attention from public dissolution with Iraq. Matthews asked Washington Post reporter Mike Allen if those inside Newsweek "believe that the White House has gone beyond what it should" in "now dictating terms, telling Newsweek what the newspaper has to do pro-actively to make up for it?" Todd insisted the whole discussion "makes the White House very happy because it calls into question the media." Matthews jumped in to point out the "the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on the war, it's so unpopular now a majority of people think it wasn't worth it. I think they're looking, perhaps, for a little opportunity to spread the blame on this."

On the May 18 Hardball, Matthews asked Allen: "You're part of the Newsweek/Washington Post family, if you will. Although it is probably not a happy family this week. Newsweek, the people at the organization, the Washington Post/Newsweek organization, believe that the White House has gone beyond what it should in not only criticizing Newsweek for getting that wrong about the Koran being flushed down the toilet, but now dictating terms, tell Newsweek what the newspaper has to do pro-actively to make up for it?"
Allen, on Capitol Hill, referred to Terry Moran's question: "You saw that question at the briefing yesterday. One reporter said to Scott McClellan, 'with respect, when did you become the editor of Newsweek?' The White House is free to ask or demand anything they want, journalists don't have to do it..."

Matthews turned to the New York Post's Deborah Orin, in studio: "Do you think Newsweek's gotta come up with a mea culpa cover this week for its international editions? Right on the cover say 'we were wrong'?"
Orin observed: "I think it would probably help them to do it. And I think mike is basically right. The White House can ask whatever it wants. The fact that the press seems to be circling the wagons so quickly, I think gives you pretty good idea that reporters sometimes get awfully defensive. You know, we can dish it out but we don't always seem so well able to take it."

Chuck Todd of Hotline soon argued: "This makes the White House very happy because it calls into question the media. And whenever they do that-"
Matthews jumped in: "By the way, we looked at the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll on the war, it's so unpopular now a majority of people think it wasn't worth it [51 to 40 percent]. I think they're looking, perhaps, for a little opportunity to spread the blame on this, and they have the right to do it here."

(For more on this topic, see #4 below.)

FNC Examines How Media Upset at White
House Advice to Newsweek

FNC on Wednesday night took a look at how, as Brit Hume previewed the story, "the focus of media attention in Washington has already moved away from Newsweek's mistake to alleged White House pressure on news organizations." Carl Cameron highlighted Terry Moran's Tuesday rebuke of Scott McClellan ("Who made you the editor of Newsweek?") and how "this afternoon...another reporter asked if the damage resulting after Newsweek's article shouldn't be viewed as the administration's fault for other reasons." He then played a clip of this question: "Isn't it the case that the Newsweek article would not have done the damage that it has if our reputation hadn't already been damaged by the atrocities at Abu Ghraib?" Cameron concluded by forwarding how "the White House hopes to curb is what it considers to be an unhealthy cynicism and predisposition by some to expect the worst and blame America first even when the facts are uncertain or, in this case, even wrong."

The May 18 CyberAlert recounted: Some journalists were appalled Tuesday by White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's suggestion that Newsweek "help repair the damage that has been done...by talking about the way they got this wrong, and pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are when it comes to the handling of the Holy Koran." At the briefing, ABC's Terry Moran demanded: "Who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?" On the CBS Evening News, Wyatt Andrews tried to explain away Newsweek's responsibility: "The White House is still pressuring Newsweek, saying this mistake cost lives. Newsweek, however, says no U.S. official ever denied that story until four days after the rioting began, and that the magazine immediately scrambled to uncover and then admit the error." Bob Schieffer marveled at how "I can never recall a White House telling a news organization to go report X, Y or Z." Andrews then scoffed: "As if Newsweek is now obligated to repair the damage that America has suffered to its reputation overseas. Never seen it." For more: www.mediaresearch.org

Hume set up the Cameron piece on the May 18 Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC: "It has been only two days since Newsweek magazine retracted its story about alleged desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo Bay by U.S. forces. But as Fox News chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron reports tonight, the focus of media attention in Washington has already moved away from Newsweek's mistake to alleged White House pressure on news organizations."

Cameron began: "Brushing off objections in the media, the White House stepped up pressure on Newsweek to help undo the damage from its now-retracted, erroneous report, that a single U.S. official confirmed Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay."
Scott McClellan, on Tuesday: "I think the American people are outraged about the report, to learn that it turned out to be wrong. We share in that outrage."
Cameron: "More than a dozen people were killed in a surge of anti-American riots overseas after Newsweek's May 9th article. But what appears to outrage some in the press is the White House suggestion that Newsweek should go beyond its retraction and apology, and take specific additional steps to repair the damage."
McClellan: "I would hope that they would be appearing on Arab networks as well and talking to the region about this issue."
Cameron: "Rewind to yesterday when McClellan first urged Newsweek to be more proactive. ABC's Terry Moran set the tone."
Terry Moran, ABC News correspondent, on Tuesday: "With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you at that podium speaking with the authority of the President of the United States to tell an American magazine what they should print?"
Cameron: "Fast forward to this afternoon, and another reporter asked if the damage resulting after Newsweek's article shouldn't be viewed as the administration's fault for other reasons."
Victoria Jones, Talk Radio News Service: "Isn't it the case that the Newsweek article would not have done the damage that it has if our reputation hadn't already been damaged by the atrocities at Abu Ghraib?"
Cameron: "Of course, the administration has roundly condemned the abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison, and the suspects are being prosecuted."
McClellan: "People are being held to account. They're going to jail for what they did at Abu Ghraib because it went against everything we stand for."
Cameron: "At the State Department, spokesman Richard Boucher publicly complained that reporters' questions seem to presume the worst about U.S. policy toward detainees."
Richard Boucher, State Department spokesman: "-that there's a whole premise to these questions that somehow that Guantanamo is an effort to violate religious freedom. It's quite the contrary."
Condoleezza Rice: "The United States is a country that believes deeply in religious freedom and in the equality of all to practice religion as they see it."
Cameron: "The Pentagon says it's found no evidence of Koran desecration at Guantanamo or even a credible charge of it, though officials continue to investigate. The White House dismissed the allegation that it's trying to dictate the media's message."
McClellan: "I kind of laugh at it because I don't think that's possible. We have a free media in the United States."
Cameron concluded: "And with that freedom, the White House says the media has a responsibility to clean up its mistakes. A certain amount of press skepticism and friction with the government is considered healthy. What the White House hopes to curb is what it considers to be an unhealthy cynicism and predisposition by some to expect the worst and blame America first even when the facts are uncertain or, in this case, even wrong, Brit."

Limbaugh Picks Up Wednesday on a Couple
of CyberAlert Articles

You read it here first. Rush Limbaugh on Wednesday read on his show from two Tuesday CyberAlert articles, "Reporters Come to Newsweek's Defense, Suggest the Story is Really True" and "Schieffer Blames Newsweek's Retraction on White House 'Pressure.'"

Just past 2:30pm EDT on his May 18 show, Limbaugh announced, as reflected in a transcript posted on RushLimbaugh.com:

Media Research Center has put together a little summary: Reporters Come to Newsweek's Defense, Suggest the Story is Really True. "Following the 'fake but accurate' theme espoused by some to defend CBS's use of forged memos to get President Bush, in the wake of Newsweek's retraction late Monday of its claim that a military report would include the charge that a guard at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down a toilet, journalistic colleagues came to Newsweek's defense. CNN's Anderson Cooper proposed: 'Is it beyond the realm of possibility that a tactic like this was used?' CBS and ABC passed along allegations from prisoners. Richard Roth of CBS recalled: 'Detainees released in 2003 came home claiming American guards had routinely provoked them by sitting on the Koran, or putting pages in a toilet.' ABC's Martha Raddatz argued: 'The Newsweek article was not the first time U.S. personnel have been accused of desecrating the Koran. Last year, this British detainee released from Guantanamo said guards 'would kick the Koran, throw it into the toilet and generally disrespect it.' Later, on Monday's Nightline, John Donvan suggested: 'What really goes on at Guantanamo Bay, no one really knows.' Anchor Chris Bury asked that 'given the other abuses' of prisoners by the U.S., 'does Newsweek deserve all the blame, assuming that its story was incorrect?'"

They retracted it, for crying out loud! What is this assuming it's incorrect? So now the media circling the wagons. "Hey this stuff happens anyway. We know it happens because the detainees tell us it happens, it happens. So maybe Newsweek was wrong but maybe they're right."

"Bob Schieffer, matching the view of those hostile to the U.S. in the Muslim world, painted Newsweek's retraction as coming only after 'pressure' from the White House. 'Under pressure from the White House,' Schieffer teased Monday's CBS Evening News, 'Newsweek today retracted a story that led to deadly rioting in Afghanistan.' Schieffer introduced his lead story by outlining how 'over the weekend, Newsweek said its source could no longer confirm the report, and the magazine's editor apologized. Then, late today, under pressure from the White House, Newsweek retracted the entire story.'"

The White House made 'em do it. Well, hey, you know, Bob, if that's true, why aren't you mad at music for buckling to the pressure? Why aren't you mad at Newsweek? What are you beating up on the administration for? None of this makes any sense.

END of Excerpt

For the RushLimbaugh.com posting in full: www.rushlimbaugh.com

For the two May 17 CyberAlert items in their entirety: www.mediaresearch.org

And: www.mediaresearch.org

-- Brent Baker