2. He's No Tony Snow; Ex-ABCer Morrell Tapped as Pentagon Spokesman
3. CBS Sees 'Inflation Alarms,' ABC Sure 'Inflation Under Control'
4. Geraldo: Immigration Enforcement Like 'Pulling Down Pants of Jews'
5. Al Neuharth: Limbaugh 'Idiotic,' Bloggers Full of 'Stupidity'
6. Shrum: Senior Network Reporter Warned Gore Not to Concede to Bush
Monday's Today show pumped Hillary Clinton as the next nominee of the Democratic Party and even used two former Clinton flacks, Lisa Caputo and Dick Morris, to posit she may be unbeatable in the general election. In fact, Today co-host Meredith Vieira acted as a third flack as she called Hillary the "Teflon Candidate" and noted two recent anti-Clinton books haven't "made any dent in her popularity." Maybe that's because the books have received so little media attention.
First up, at the top of the June 18 Today, Vieira greeted viewers with Hillary's inevitability: "And Senator Hillary Clinton definitely on a roll. A new poll out today shows her lead widening. So why is she doing so well and can she go the distance?"
Then, just a few minutes later it was time for former Hillary flacks Caputo and Morris to join current flack, Vieira, to analyze Hillary's chances in the following segment that was headlined: "Decision 2008, Is Hillary Clinton Unbeatable?"
[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Transcript of the session:
Vieira: "Lisa Caputo served as Hillary Clinton's press secretary while she was First Lady and Dick Morris is a former adviser to President Clinton and author of the book Outrage. Good morning to you both."
The Politico reported Monday that former ABC News reporter Geoff Morrell is going to be named the new spokesman for the Pentagon. The Politico's Mike Allen reported that the idea of picking a working journalist like Morrell was that of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, "in an effort to improve press relations at a time when the administration is under pressure to show progress in Iraq." See: www.politico.com
Back in 1993, the Clinton administration also selected an ABC journalist, Kathleen deLaski, as its on-air Pentagon spokesman. At the time, an MRC review found deLaski's reporting for ABC was "in step with Clintonite thinking that 'tax and spend' equals caring." For more, see "deLaski's Defensive Detail" in the August 1993 MediaWatch: www.mediaresearch.org
When President Bush wanted a media professional to boost his White House publicity machine, he hired Tony Snow, a polished performer with solid conservative credentials. Geoff Morrell is no Tony Snow.
While Morrell was generally a solid weekend reporter for ABC, he occasionally served up liberal conventional wisdom as fact. Last year, Morrell voiced "surprise" that the students at Kent State University were showing "indifference" toward the Iraq war. A few months earlier, he profiled anti-war Democratic candidate Paul Hackett, who blasted President Bush as a "chicken hawk" and "the biggest threat to America." Morrell generously labeled those mean-spirited attacks as bursts of "candor" '€" "If elected, Hackett says he'll use that same candor to educate Congress about what's really going on in Iraq."
[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here's how CyberAlerts wrote up some of Morrell's ABC reporting. The record suggests he definitely has not been auditioning for a job with the Bush administration:
# On February 26, 2006, ABC devoted a story to lamenting the apathy at Kent State, a hotbed of anti-Vietnam war protests, toward the war in Iraq. Reporter Geoff Morrell passed along an all too common smear of war supporters as he contended that "many are reluctant to speak out against it for fear of being called unpatriotic." In his World News Tonight piece, Morrell fretted that the "indifference" toward the war "is surprising at this school, a hotbed of anti-war protests during Vietnam, and still popular with liberals."
Comments from left-wing students dominated Morrell's piece, such as one who charged: "It's an act of modern day imperialism, where America is going to other countries and moving, trying to expand its borders to take over other countries and use them for economic resources." Morrell even found a vet, who "fought in Iraq and Afghanistan," who became "totally disillusioned." The vet-turned-student declared: "I think it's an unjust war." Morrell touted how "the 25 year-old enrolled at Kent State, hoping he could reinvigorate its anti-war movement," but he disappointingly found only apathy.
For more: www.mrc.org
# Several media outlets on couldn't resist trumping up President Bush's motorcade passing by Cindy Sheehan's protest camp. On the August 12, 2005 World News Tonight, ABC's Geoff Morrell relayed how "the President's motorcade passed by Cindy Sheehan en route to a $2 million Republican fund-raiser" and asked Sheehan: "Are you disappointed he didn't stop?" Morrell also pointed out how "in the eleven days Mr. Bush has been on vacation, at least 37 troops have been killed in Iraq." For more: www.mrc.org
# On July 31, 2005, Morrell recited how anti-war Democratic congressional candidate Paul Hackett denounced President Bush as a "chicken hawk" and "the biggest threat to America," but instead of describing that as mudslinging, Morrell called it "candor," relaying: "If elected, Hackett says he'll use that same candor to educate Congress about what's really going on in Iraq." For more: www.mrc.org
# Right before Bush's second inaugural, on January 16, 2005, Morrell focused on how "some" are upset by a "lavish" inaugural in the midst of a war. ABC anchor Terry Moran teased at the top of that Sunday's World News Tonight: "In a time of war and natural disaster, is it time for a lavish celebration?" Correspondent Morrell proceeded to relay the complaints of one anti-war activist and a rich sports owner who had voted for Bush. Without mentioning how FDR was near-death at the time, Morrell contrasted Bush with how "during World War II Franklin Roosevelt opted not to have a parade or a party '€" just a White House swearing in followed by a small luncheon of chicken salad and pound cake." For more: www.mrc.org
On Friday evening, the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News with Charles Gibson offered opposite views on whether the recently released inflation figures for May should be viewed as good or bad. While CBS News anchor Russ Mitchell referred to "inflation alarms" going off, leading to higher interest rates that are "hitting [home] buyers hard," ABC News anchor Gibson characterized inflation as "under control" as he conveyed that the report "eased worries" and set off a stock market rally.
Below are transcripts of relevant portions of the CBS Evening News and ABC's World News with Charles Gibson from Friday June 15:
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
From the June 15 CBS Evening News, as Mitchell introduced a report about the plight of home buyers facing higher mortgage rates: "Now to the economy: Inflation alarms went off today when the government reported that consumer prices in May took their biggest jump in nearly two years, energy prices leading the way. So far this year, inflation is running 5.5 percent. That's more than twice last year's rate. And that is helping to send interest rates higher. Thirty-year fixed rate mortgages rose this week to an average of about 6 and 3/4 percent. Anthony Mason reports that's hitting buyers hard."
From the June 15 World News with Charles Gibson: "Wall Street ended the day and the week with another rally. As worries about interest rates and inflation eased, the Dow closed up 85 points today, and the NASDAQ was up 27. Government numbers indicate that except for food and energy -- two major exceptions -- consumer inflation is under control."
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted over the weekend, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]
The controversy began on the Friday June 8 show during The O'Reilly Factor's regular "Weekly Review" segment as Bill O'Reilly and Malkin discussed the debate over immigration reform. Malkin chided O'Reilly for "mischaracterizing" her position as "dragging women and children out." Malkin added: "You and Geraldo, especially, keep using this line that what we want to do is drag families apart and go in the middle of the night. It's not true." Malkin wished to concentrate on "deporting the worst elements, the criminal illegal aliens."
O'Reilly soon asked Malkin if she would turn in "an illegal alien living across the street who was working," leading to that alien's deportation. Malkin responded: "If I knew somebody was an illegal alien and I knew that their employer knew that they were illegal alien, yes, I think it's incumbent on citizens to do that."
Rivera appeared later for the show's regular "Fridays with Geraldo" segment, which began with Rivera wanting to respond to Malkin's remarks. Rivera: "I think it's outrageous, and what she said was outrageous. You know, I have two Hispanic-American sons. You know what this is going to result in? This is going to result in racial profiling. If, in her America, in Michelle's America, when you look, is that Hispanic guy an illegal or is he legal? It reminds me so much of when they used to pull down the pants of Jews to see if they were circumcised or not. It is, it is so, so pathetic. It's so un-American."
Rivera later referred to illegal immigrants facing "terror." Rivera: "So we have a situation where families are being divided, where terror will persist, where we have ICE agents raiding in New Haven even as the Senate debates the bill."
When O'Reilly brought up the issue of whether illegal aliens who have committed other crimes should be deported, Rivera seemed to oppose the concept without being willing to directly say so. He responded, "John Lennon was a criminal illegal alien," and later added, "He was here illegally because he had a deportation order because he was a drug criminal. So we would have lost all of those great 10 years of John Lennon living in New York and Los Angeles."
When O'Reilly pressed Rivera over his refusal to answer the question directly of whether criminals should be deported, Rivera responded that illegal immigration opponents want America's police to "sow horror and pain."
O'REILLY, looking into the camera: I just want everybody to know he's dodging the question.
On the Thursday June 14 show, O'Reilly brought Rivera and Malkin together during one segment so the two could respond to each other directly, and Malkin challenged Rivera to defend his comments comparing law enforcement to "Gestapo tactics against innocent Jews" and his reference to "terrorizing undocumented workers." Rivera contended that he was not referring specifically to Nazis, and brought up several instances of people "pulling down the pants of Jews since Hammurabi." Rivera soon made another inflammatory attack on Malkin. Rivera: "What she wants is not only the enforcement of the laws, she wants to turn every neighbor into a cop, every neighbor into a snitch, a rat, to point out whether Pablo over there is illegal or not."
Later in the segment, after O'Reilly asked Rivera if he was willing to accept the construction of a 700-mile fence on the border as part of the compromise plan, Rivera charged that the issue was being pushed because other "wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion lost steam with the extreme right." Rivera: "Listen, if they want to waste the money on that and that's the only way to regularize the lives of the more than 12 million people who are here who have been brought here, lured here by the combination of the promise of jobs and lax enforcement. They got over the border and then suddenly because wedge issues like gay marriage and abortion lost steam with the extreme right, they've now seized on this as a way to appeal to energize the base."
In a Q & A with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle newspaper published Monday, USA Today founder Al Neuharth described Rush Limbaugh's radio show as "one of the funniest programs on the air" and asserted: "I don't become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them." Neuharth, however, conceded Limbaugh is entitled to his supposed idiocy: "I also think that from my perspective that it's OK for idiots like him to voice their opinion because that's what this country is about and that's what the First Amendment is about." He also allowed that he has "become convinced, although a little reluctantly, that all the bloggers on the Internet have a right to all of their stupidity, too. And there's a lot of it." (Screen shot from a 2004 Smithsonian event carried by C-SPAN, CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org )
Neuharth, who in 2002 once devoted his weekly USA Today column to how he needs to buy diapers for himself (CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org ), proclaimed in February of this year that George W. Bush is the worst ever President (CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org ).
In 2002, he denounced Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. Neuharth took a personal shot at Goldberg, accusing him of being "a second-rate newsman," and insisted that "Goldberg's depiction of the three biggies as biased bad guys is fiction" since Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw were all "fair." (CyberAlert article: www.mediaresearch.org )
Hat tip to Romenesko, who on Monday highlighted the Rochester newspaper item: www.poynter.org
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The relevant exchange in the June 18 Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, a paper which, like USA Today, is owned by Gannett: Q: We are...ripped by the right-wing conservative talk show hosts and others who just brand the mainstream media as worthless. Do we deserve that?...And what can we do about it?
A: Well, when I travel across the country, my amusement comes from Rush Limbaugh's show. I find that that's one of the funniest programs on the air. I don't become offended by the idiotic things he says; I become amused by them. But I also think that from my perspective that it's OK for idiots like him to voice their opinion because that's what this country is about and that's what the First Amendment is about. I might add that I have become convinced, although a little reluctantly, that all the bloggers on the Internet have a right to all of their stupidity, too. And there's a lot of it.
But I really think we're better off with those kinds of opinions and dissenting voices than we would be if we or the government tried to control them.
END of Excerpt
For the unbylined interview in full: www.democratandchronicle.com
Kurtz set up the question to Shrum: "Here's one thing that jumped out at me in your book. Election night 2000, very close. Suddenly, it looks like George W. Bush is going to win. A senior network correspondent, you said, called you and warned, 'The Florida numbers are wrong. Don't let him concede.' Why would a correspondent, this is not a commentator, this is not a columnist, be giving you that kind of advice?"
Shrum responded: "Someone I knew, and Al Gore, I think this happened not only with me, someone else called Carter Eskew and, who was in a different place than I was at that point, and Al Gore was speeding toward the war memorial to concede. And we actually had to have David Morehouse, who was his body guy, stop him and say, 'No, Mr. Vice President, you cannot go to the stage. You must go into this holding room.' Why would the correspondent do it? I think because the correspondent was just informing me that the Florida results were not what they had been reported as when we left the hotel."
After Kurtz commented that this revelation would "fuel everybody who thinks there's a liberal media," Shrum argued that Bush would also have been warned if the roles had been reversed. Kurtz ended by unsuccessfully inquiring about the reporter's identity.
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Below is a transcript of the relevant exchange from the Sunday, June 17 Reliable Sources on CNN:
HOWARD KURTZ: Here's one thing that jumped out at me in your book. Election night 2000, very close. Suddenly it looks like George W. Bush is going to win. A senior network correspondent, you said, called you and warned, "The Florida numbers are wrong. Don't let him concede." Why would a correspondent, this is not a commentator, this is not a columnist, be giving you that kind of advice?
-- Brent Baker