NBC Uses Clintonista to Claim Bush-Cheney "Don't Shoot Straight" --10/7/2004
2. Olbermann Uses Selective Edits to Show Cheney Tied Iraq to 9/11
3. Bias Blast from the Past:
NY Times Put "RATS" Ad on Front Page
4. "Top Ten Thoughts Going Through Cheney's Mind at this Moment"
Corrections: An update in the October 6 morning edition of CyberAlert misdated the 2000 NBC Nightly News story on the "RATS" ad and NBC's condemnation of "subliminal" ads. The story aired in September of 2000, not January. In the same edition, item #6, about how Newsweek's Evan Thomas and NBC's David Gregory conceded on Imus in the Morning this week that they thought George W. Bush won the debate last week, but changed their minds in the face of the media line, provided the proper dates for the quotes, but incorrect days. Thomas was on Imus on Monday October 4, Gregory on Tuesday October 5.
NBC Nightly News on Wednesday devoted nearly a full story to how Vice President Dick Cheney really had met Senator John Edwards before and reporter Kelly O'Donnell, noting that "senior Kerry advisors say this seemingly small Cheney mistake helps them make a larger point," had the chutzpah to feature Bill Clinton's spokesman during the Lewinsky mess, Mike McCurry, so he could charge that "they don't shoot straight with the American people" and "they just don't tell the truth sometimes." He should be an expert on that. O'Donnell proceeded to a "far more serious" matter, that contrary to Cheney's contention during the debate, "Democrats argue Mr. Cheney had repeatedly suggested" a connection between Iraq and 9/11, but unlike with the question of whether Cheney and Edwards had met before, O'Donnell offered up no video or quotes to contradict Cheney. MSNBC's Keith Olbermann considered the most important story of the day to be disproving Cheney's contention that he never before met Edwards.
Though Edwards didn't remember himself during the debate, ABC and CBS on their Wednesday evening newscasts made note of how Cheney had sat beside Edwards at a 2001 prayer breakfast, but of the broadcast networks, only NBC centered a story around the subject. Following a piece from David Gregory on Bush's campaign day, the October 6 NBC Nightly News jumped cold to O'Donnell who began, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
MSNBC's Olbermann treated at the most important story of the day disproving Cheney's assertion to Edwards that "the first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight." Olbermann lectured at the top of Wednesday's Countdown, over matching video clips:
On Wednesday night MSNBC's Chris Matthews refused to concede that he had distorted Dick Cheney's comments about a 9/11 link to Iraq and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann set out to prove that Cheney had drawn such a connection, but Olbermann selectively edited a series of Cheney remarks, leaving out Cheney's specific rejection of any such connection.
On Hardball the night after the vice presidential debate, Matthews informed his viewers: "The Republican National Committee today criticized me for saying on the Today show this morning that the taped remarks we showed last night of the Vice President's statement on Meet the Press established the fact that in no uncertain terms that the Vice President has asserted that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The RNC said we were being selective and cited this clip from the same Meet the Press."
Matthews had cited Cheney's reference to how the Iraq war hit at "the geographic base of the terrorists who've had us under assault now for many years but most especially on 9/11," as proof that Cheney was blaming Iraq for 9/11. In the fuller clip from the 2003 interview, however, Russert asked Cheney if "the resistance in Iraq is coming from those who were responsible for 9/11?" Cheney rejected the notion: "Oh I wouldn't, I was careful not to say that."
Nonetheless, the MRC's Geoff Dickens observed, Matthews refused to back down, going only so far as to put it in the hands of the audience: "I'll leave it to you, the viewer to decide on that one."
In MSNBC's next hour on Wednesday night, Olbermann insisted on the 8pm EDT Countdown that "Cheney's forceful performance at the debate was also self-sabotaged on this day after by comparisons between his insistence last night that he never implied a connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and the series of times that he has." But to make his case, Olbermann distorted and selectively edited a series of Cheney quotes.
First, a rundown of Wednesday's Hardball segment and then a full comparison of Olbermann's Cheney quotes to what Cheney really said.
-- Hardball, October 6. Chris Matthews noted: "Also last night after the vice presidential debate we aired a report by NBC's Brian Williams pointing to cases where the candidate said things that were contradicted by previous statements."
In fact, the Williams segment ran several times: During NBC's post-debate coverage, a bit later on the Matthews-anchored MSNBC post-debate coverage and again on Wednesday's Today show.
Matthews replayed the Williams segment. Williams had asserted: "The first exchange we're gonna show you came during the second round of questions. What you're about to see is Vice President Dick Cheney, who Senator Edwards charged tonight has repeatedly Iraq linked Iraq to the 9/11 attacks. This was the Vice President tonight in his own defense."
As I noted in the October 6 morning edition of CyberAlert: "But that doesn't contradict what Cheney said in the debate since in 2003 Cheney was simply arguing that Iraq lies in an area of the world which spawns terrorists, including those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11, not that the Iraqi regime specifically contracted the attack."
Tuesday night, Matthews soon harangued Ben Ginsberg of the Bush campaign about it, pounding him incessantly. For those "questions," see the October 6 morning edition of CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
On Wednesday's Today, Matthews blasted Cheney: "We have the record from Meet the Press, thank God, to base the truth on. To find the truth. Last night was an argument, the evidence suggests, states in fact, that the Vice President wasn't telling the truth." See the October 6 afternoon edition of CyberAlert for a full rundown of Matthew' rant on Today: www.mediaresearch.org
Now, back to Wednesday's Hardball. Matthews acknowledged: "The Republican National Committee today criticized me for saying on the Today show this morning that the taped remarks we showed last night of the Vice President's statement on Meet the Press established the fact that in no uncertain terms that the Vice President has asserted that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. The RNC said we were being selective and cited this clip from the same Meet the Press."
MSNBC then played a lengthy 1:50 excerpt from the September 14, 2003 Meet the Press which showed that Cheney was talking about making the Middle East region less hospitable to terrorists:
Minutes later, Hardball repeated the same slap at Cheney using the same clip in question. David Shuster checked in: "Chris, it was indeed a feisty debate but it was also a one where the experts say the truth got stretched most prominently by the incumbent Dick Cheney. From Vice President Cheney the misleading statements started with this."
Olbermann then played a series of four Cheney clips:
#1: Cheney, from September 14, 2003 Meet the Press: "We will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who've had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."
#2: Cheney, from September 8, 2002 Meet the Press: "Mohammed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions, and on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center."
#3: Cheney, from March 24, 2002 Meet the Press: "One of the lead hijackers, Mohammed Atta, had, in fact, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague."
#4: Cheney, from December 9, 2001 Meet the Press: "It's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague, and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service."
For the others, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth tracked down the original interviews and compared the full text to what Olbermann and his MSNBC producers selectively played. The portions run by Olbermann on Wednesday's Countdown are displayed in ALL CAPS.
From the September 8, 2002 Meet the Press:
Russert: "One year ago when you were on Meet the Press just five days after September 11, I asked you a specific question about Iraq and Saddam Hussein. Let's watch:"
Russert then asked on the 2002 show: "Has anything changed, in your mind?"
From the March 24, 2002 Meet the Press:
Russert: "Iraq's Saddam Hussein. When we spoke on September 16, five days after the tragic day of September 11, I asked you if any evidence of linkage between Saddam Hussein and Iraq and al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. At the time you said no. There's an article in The New Yorker magazine by Jeffrey Goldberg which connects Iraq and Saddam Hussein with al-Qaeda. What can you tell me about it?"
From the December 9, 2001 Meet the Press:
Russert: "Let me turn to Iraq. When you were last on this program, September 16, five days after the attack on our country, I asked you whether there was any evidence that Iraq was involved in the attack and you said no. Since that time, a couple articles have appeared which I want to get you to react to. The first: 'The Czech interior minister said today that an Iraqi intelligence officer met with Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, just five months before the synchronized hijackings and mass killings were carried out.' And this from James Woolsey, former CIA director: 'We know that at Salman Pak, on the southern edge of Baghdad, five different eyewitnesses -- three Iraqi defectors and two American U.N. inspectors have said, and now there are aerial photographs to show it -- a Boeing 707 that was used for training of hijackers, including non-Iraqi hijackers trained very secretly to take over airplanes with knives.' And we have photographs. As you can see that little white speck -- and there it is, the plane on the ground in Iraq used to train non-Iraqi hijackers. Do you still believe there's no evidence that Iraq was involved in September 11?"
It looks like Olbermann "self-sabotaged" his accuracy with such selectively misleading soundbite clips.
Prompted by CyberAlert's catch of "ILIE" lettering displayed, by President Bush's face, for 16 seconds on Monday's NBC Nightly News, Clay Waters of the MRC's TimesWatch.org site went back to 2000 to reminisce about how in the fall of 2000 the New York Times considered the letters "RATS" in an anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign, for a fraction of a second, to be so newsworthy that they splashed it on the front page.
The October 5 CyberAlert had revealed: Four years ago, the NBC Nightly News took seriously the appearance of the letters "RATS," in a single frame of an enlargement of part of the word "BUREAUCRATS," in an anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign. The September 12, 2000 NBC Nightly News carried two full stories on the controversy. Jump ahead four years, and on Monday night the NBC Nightly News displayed the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President George W. Bush's face in a "Decision 2004" graphic beside anchor Tom Brokaw as he introduced a story by David Gregory. The letters came from the word "FAMILIES" in a sign on the far side of Bush, which read: "TAX RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES." To look at what NBC Nightly News viewers saw: www.mediaresearch.org
In a catch picked up by the Drudge Report, the Media Research Center caught an NBC Nightly News graphic showing the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President Bush's face, while anchor Tom Brokaw was introducing a story from reporter David Gregory.
Today's Times ignores the brouhaha, perhaps dismissing the juxtaposition as inadvertent. But that's not how the paper treated a similar moment during Campaign 2000 regarding complaints from the Gore campaign about a Bush ad in which part of the word "BUREAUCRATS" ("RATS") was highlighted in a single frame, which appeared on screen for less than half a second -- extremely difficult to spot unless you were watching for it.
Yet somehow "RATS" became a week-long story in the media at large and especially at the Times, which put it on the September 12, 2000 front page in a story by then-reporter (now Washington editor) Richard Berke: "Democrats See, and Smell, Rats in G.O.P. Ad."
Breathless Berke: "Then, if the viewer watches very closely, something else happens. The word 'rats,' a fragment of the word 'bureaucrats,' pops up in one frame. And though the image lasts only one-thirtieth of a second, it is in huge white capital letters, larger than any other word on the commercial....Several Republican and Democratic advertising consultants who were told of the commercial, as well as many independent academics, said they were startled that such a word would appear and said it appeared to be a subliminal attempt to discredit Mr. Gore."
Berke's article tossed around accusations of subliminal advertising, as did a Times editorial on September 13th (headlined "Subliminal Headache for Mr. Bush"), which darkly accused ad producer Alex Castellanos of "a declaration of intent to use subliminal techniques....If Mr. Bush really means that such techniques are not acceptable to his campaign, perhaps he should sever his connection with Mr. Castellanos."
At the end of the week, Berke went on PBS and demonstrated how he'd been spoon-fed the story by the Gore campaign: "The Gore people called me last week, and they said, 'We want you to view this tape of a commercial. We don't want to tell you anything more about it. Judge for yourself.' So they showed it to me. I'm looking at it. I don't notice anything unusual about it. Then they slow it down; I still don't notice. It takes me a while sometimes -- you know, go figure. It took me several viewings to notice the 'rat.'"
END Reprint from TimesWatch.org
Indeed, the September 18, 2000 CyberAlert recounted: "New York Times reporter Rick Berke denied any nefarious political agenda in the decision by his paper to plaster across page one his 'dispassionate' story on the 'RATS' ad. On PBS's Washington Week in Review Friday night he conceded he was more than spoon-fed the story by the Gore team as he was so slow on the up take 'it took me several viewings' of the ad played in slow motion by a Gore operative 'to notice the RAT' frame of it. But, a female editor supposedly noticed it at regular speed." See: www.mediaresearch.org
From the October 6 Late Show with David Letterman, over a photo of Dick Cheney at the vice presidential debate with his cupped hands in front of him, the "Top Ten Thoughts Going Through Dick Cheney's Mind at this Moment." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "What should I do next -- the phony chuckle or the unconvincing smile?"
9. "Hopefully he won't mention Halibur -- oh crap."
8. "W. better be tivoing 'The Gilmore Girls'."
7. "Where's the girl with my Jack and Coke?"
6. "To get the female vote maybe it's time to rip off the shirt and show some abs."
5. "Good God it's true -- Edwards is devastatingly handsome."
4. "How the hell did the Yankees get shut out by the Twins?"
3. "I can snap this man's neck like a twig."
2. "That was the cue to bring out Osama! Where the hell is he?"
1. "Let's quit the cat and mouse crap and take this out to the parking lot."
-- Brent Baker