2. CNN's Morton Says Biden "Usually" Knows What He's Talking About
3. PBS Stations Use Airwaves to Enlist Viewers to Fight CPB Cuts
4. CNN's NewsNight: Downing Memo, Tribute to Jones & Bush Dishonest
Senate Democrats continued to filibuster John Bolton's nomination to be Ambassador to the UN, but you wouldn't know that from Monday's broadcast network evening newscasts which assiduously avoided the term. ABC anchor Charles Gibson, for instance, euphemistically referred to how the Senate had rejected "a move to end debate so that a vote could be held." CBS's Gloria Borger passed along innuendo from opponents: "The Democrats are very concerned that John Bolton may have been effectively spying, not only on his subordinates but also on some of his bosses. And we've learned tonight that one name they're very interested in learning something about is the former Secretary of State, Colin Powell."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Chip Reid uniquely reported the vote numbers as he avoided the "filibuster" term: "John Bolton is the President's choice to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. The Democrats have been trying to block that choice. Republicans have been trying to force a final vote. But today for the second time the Democrats blocked that final vote. Three and a half weeks ago, the Republicans got 58 votes to go to that final vote. They needed 60. This time they only got 54."
Gibson read this short item on the June 20 World News Tonight:
Bob Schieffer announced on the CBS Evening News, as noted by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "And we have some late developments tonight in the President's effort to get the Senate to hold an up-or-down confirmation vote on John Bolton, his controversial nominee to be Ambassador to the United Nations. Gloria Borger has been following that story from Capitol Hill, and, Gloria, the Democrats have vowed to block this until the administration gives them information about some documents that Bolton got when he worked at the State Department. What is it that they think Bolton was trying to do with this information?"
Recalling how Senator Joe Biden once admitted "I have no idea what I'm talking about," CNN's Bruce Morton asserted on Monday's Inside Politics that Biden "usually does though" know what he's talking about and proceeded to cite as evidence how Biden "called the President's tax cut and Social Security proposals 'cockamamie.' Said to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 'I love you, but you're not very candid so far.' Or his blunt assessment on CBS's Face the Nation of the situation in Iraq." Morton's admiration for Biden's views came during a profile of the Senator, whom Morton insisted is "moderate to liberal on most issues," prompted by Biden's announcement that he intends to run for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Toward the end of the taped June 20 profile in which viewers never saw Morton, the MRC's Ken Shepherd observed that Morton recalled: "As a child, Biden stuttered, but as a Senator, he has always loved to talk. I remember him once starting out to question a witness and after rambling on for several minutes, pausing and then saying, 'of course, I have no idea what I'm talking about.' He usually does though. [Over matching video clips] Called the President's tax cut and Social Security proposals 'cockamamie.' Said to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, 'I love you, but you're not very candid so far.' Or his blunt assessment on CBS's Face the Nation of the situation in Iraq."
How "moderate to liberal" is Biden? While his lifetime rating from Americans for Democratic Action stands at 72 percent, he earned 95 percent approval from the left-wing group for his votes in 2004. See: www.adaction.org
So, maybe not quite a consistent, hardline liberal, but a lot more liberal than moderate.
A check of PBS.org and the Web sites of WETA and other large public television stations around the country show an aggressive campaign to maintain taxpayer's subsidy for PBS stations. (Interestingly, National Public Radio's Web site NPR.org did not have any dire warnings of imminent budget cuts on its home page, at least as of Monday evening.)
[Web Update: A check on Tuesday morning showed that NPR now has a home page link to an internal page headlined "Learn More About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Budget Cuts." The page touted a CPB poll supposedly showing that the public supports more money for public TV and radio, using language designed to play down the overall costs -- " a per capita expenditure of $1.30 in taxpayer funds." The page also urged listeners to join the lobbying effort: "NPR encourages all listeners to seek out your local stations' Web sites for specific information about efforts underway in your community and contact details."
You can read the entire sales pitch at: http://www.npr.org/about/funding.html]
In Tuesday's Washington Post, in an article which quoted the MRC's Graham, "Public Broadcasters Air Ads Against Federal Cutback," Paul Farhi reported that in addition to the ads on WETA-TV, "similar spots are running on at least 90 of the 175 licensed public TV stations across the country, according to the Association of Public Television Stations, a Washington-based lobbying organization that is coordinating the effort. 'Almost all' of the 780 public radio stations affiliated with NPR are posting appeals on their Web sites or airing ads, according to NPR."
For Farhi's June 21 article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
The theory behind public broadcasting in the 1960s was that programs that might not appeal to a broad audience including educational programs, or those dedicated to arts and culture might not survive in the commercial marketplace. But that was at a time when only ABC, CBS and NBC offered national television programming. Most cable systems now offer dozens of channels, including many that, like public television, appeal to relatively small segments of the market, yet are able to sustain themselves without taxpayer support.
But any attempt to wean public television off taxpayer funds draws howls from those who claim that successful and popular programs such as Sesame Street and Clifford the Big Red Dog would be destroyed in the marketplace.
On Thursday, the House Appropriations committee voted to reduce funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting by $100 million next year. By the next evening, viewers in the Washington area saw a commercial urging them to take action. Predictably, the ad included pictures of little kids, the Muppet characters from Sesame Street, and a smiling Clifford with his tongue hanging out.
The ad was narrated by the same male announcer who promotes upcoming programs on WETA. The full text, as transcribed by MRC intern Patrick Skeehan:
During that narration viewers were treated to visuals of kids and the Sesame Street characters with this dire text: "Eliminate Special Children's Funding."
Those visiting WETA.org on Monday were greeted by a large banner pleading "Help save federal funding for public broadcasting. Make your voice heard. Click here." In addition to a list of members of Congress (including West Virginia's Democratic Senator, Jay Rockefeller, the husband of WETA President Sharon Percy Rockefeller), the site offered a list of "talking points" for anyone who wanted to call a congressional office but didn't know what to say.
An excerpt from that page:
What to Say When You Call Your Congressional Representatives
Because we expect the US House of Representatives to act quickly on federal funding for public broadcasting, we ask that you call your congressional legislators as soon as possible to let them know how you feel....
Some points you may want to make, if you support public broadcasting:
* Express to your legislator the impact that Public Broadcasting has had on your life -- be specific, if possible. This personal touch may have the most impact!
* You support public broadcasting and oppose the funding cuts proposed by the House Appropriations subcommittee.
* You oppose the elimination of the highly successful Ready to Learn program.
* You support public broadcasting because its services and programs are not provided by commercial broadcasters.
* You support public broadcasting and consider it one of the worthiest places to invest federal funds....
END of Excerpt
For the complete list of suggested talking points devised by public broadcasting officials to keep your money headed their way, go to: www.weta.org
WETA is hardly alone. Visitors to PBS.org find a directive in a bright red box in the upper-left hand corner of the home page: "Don't let Congress slash public funding for public broadcasting. Take action now." Clicking on that will take you to a "Save PBS" page urging supporters to lobby Congress: "PBS is urgently asking the millions of Americans who value public broadcasting to call, fax, or e-mail Congress."
To see that page, with pictures of Big Bird, Jim Lehrer and others emblazoned on top, go to: www.pbs.org
The Association of Public Television Stations is also not bashful about demanding that public broadcasting continue to be subsidized by taxpayers. Their home page boasts of a "No Member Left Behind" lobbying campaign: "The campaign is energizing stations, boards and community partners in reaching out to Members of Congress to solidify congressional support for Public Television and our funding requests."
One page on the APTS.org Web site congratulates the employees of public television stations that have "been particularly enthusiastic about 'No Member Left Behind,' including employees at WHRO in Virginia, WYES in Louisiana, PBS Hawaii and WITF in Pennsylvania. They also applaud one bureaucrat's efforts to pressure Republican lawmakers:
For all of the stars of public television's self-interested lobbying campaign, go to: www.apts.org
In 1999, WETA was exposed as helping a number of Democratic or liberal political causes. As the July 28, 1999 CyberAlert recounted:
Washington's WETA-TV, a major provider of programming to the PBS system, has conceded its list exchanges for fundraising tilted heavily toward liberal lists.
In a front page story in the July 27 Fairfax Journal, a Virginia suburban daily, reporter Stephen Henn wrote: "The Virginia Democratic Party, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Mary Sue Terry, former Virginia Attorney General and 1993 Democratic gubernatorial candidate, swapped fundraising lists with the region's largest public television broadcaster, Arlington-based WETA, a station official conceded yesterday.
"WETA, which carries Sesame Street, Nova and the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer among other programs on channel 26, began swapping its contributors list with partisan groups more than a decade ago and sold donor lists to a third-party broker working for Mikulski's Senate campaign as recently as last year...."
Later, Henn added that WETA spokeswoman Mary "Stewart said most of the partisan groups that traded with WETA were Democratic, but she noted several Republican organizations also swapped with the station."
END of Excerpt from CyberAlert
For the complete item, go to: www.mrc.org
The statement by the WETA spokeswoman that "several Republican organizations also swapped" their mailing lists with the station turned out to be false, according to an investigation conducted by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The September 13, 1999 CyberAlert included details of the probe's finding: Contrary to earlier claims by PBS officials, PBS stations only rented or bought lists from Democratic groups for direct mail fundraising, but you wouldn't know that from the Washington Post story which ignored that conclusion nor would you have learned that from ABC's World News Tonight which had relayed PBS's bi-partisan spin back in July.
Washington Times reporter Barbara Saffir opened a September 10 front page story on Friday:
An audit that shows WETA and 52 other federally funded TV stations swapped their donor lists exclusively with Democratic organizations is inflaming a debate over federal funding for public broadcasting.
A six-week long audit by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's inspector general found that:
-- "Virtually all of the exchange or rental transactions of station membership/donor names were to apparently Democratic organizations."
-- Public broadcasting officials incorrectly told Congress that stations also rented from several Republican groups but the "organizations" typically turned out to be names of donor lists dubbed by the list brokers who compiled them.
END of Excerpt from CyberAlert
For more on the 1999 mailing list scandal, go to: www.mrc.org
Check the posted version of this CyberAlert item for audio and video of the WETA-TV ad.
CNN's NewsNight on Friday, under Aaron Brown's guidance, delivered a trio of liberal agenda stories on Iraq. First, Brown suggested that "support for the war seems to be ebbing more so in the wake of a once-secret British government memo that was recently leaked and seems to have had a delayed reaction." John King then provided an overview on liberal claims about the so-called "Downing Street memo." Second, Brown set up an empathetic profile of Congressman Walter Jones as he stressed a potential wider trend: "What might make the White House and the war supporters the most nervous are the stirrings of a few voices, a few, on the Republican side. They're not big names, not House or Senate leaders, they're back benchers, but sometimes that's where rebellion starts." Third, Brown brought aboard liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee, whom he described as part of what "used to be called the moderate wing of the Republican Party." Brown ludicrously claimed that "he may now be the entire moderate wing of the Republican Party." Brown asked him "sort of the elephant in the room question," whether "since it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, do you think the administration's been honest with the American people?"
The MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed the series of stories on the June 17 NewsNight and corrected the transcripts against the video.
The newscast opened with a story from Iraq, and then Brown announced: "Lest you forget there's a war going on. A day not like many others before it. It's fair to say that similar days, difficult and confusing days, will likely follow. Among Americans, support for the war seems to be ebbing more so in the wake of a once-secret British government memo that was recently leaked and seems to have had a delayed reaction. Here's CNN's John King."
King began: "The new energy in the anti-war protests comes from a three-year-old British government memo with language right out of a James Bond movie. 'Secret and strictly personal, U.K. eyes only,' is the headline on the once classified and now very public document."
Brown set up his next story on the leader of four Members of Congress, two left-wing Democrats and left-wing libertarian Republican Ron Paul -- all led by Republican Walter Jones: "In that same New York Times/CBS News poll that John reported on, 51 percent of those asked said they thought, looking back, the United States should have stayed out of Iraq. Clearly, the country is getting restless. Many Democrats in Congress are, but what might make the White House and the war supporters the most nervous are the stirrings of a few voices, a few, on the Republican side. They're not big names, not House or Senate leaders, they're back benchers, but sometimes that's where rebellion starts. Here's CNN's Ed Henry."
Henry began the story, during which CNN put "Second Thoughts" on screen: "Two years ago, Congressman Walter Jones was gung-ho about the war in Iraq, and so angry at France for opposing it, he changed the name of French fries in the House cafeteria to Freedom Fries. But with American casualties mounting, Jones has had a change of heart, and become the first congressional Republican urging President Bush to craft a timetable to bring the troops home."
(The June 17 CyberAlert recounted: ABC and CBS led Thursday night with how four backbench Members of Congress held a press conference to publicize their resolution calling for a draw down of troops in Iraq by October of 2006, but neither network uttered a word about Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's outlandish comparison of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags" or Pol Pot. Only NBC reported Durbin's comparison, but that brief item aired only after Kelly O'Donnell touted the vision of "North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who today alongside two Democrats and a fellow Republican, proposed what many Americans, weary of the violence in Iraq, appear increasingly eager to see, a withdrawal date for U.S. troops." On ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced: "We start tonight with the Bush administration and the growing discontent over the war in Iraq. On Capitol Hill today, a resolution was introduced that would require U.S. troops to begin pulling out of Iraq a year from this fall. The resolution was sponsored by a small, bipartisan group of Congressmen, but it is a first." See: www.mediaresearch.org )
CNN put "Moderate Concerns" on screen throughout Brown's next segment: "Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island is part of what used to be called the moderate wing of the Republican Party. He may now be the entire moderate wing of the Republican Party. He, too, senses the country's restlessness the polls reflect and has some ideas on how the administration might quell it. We talked with him earlier."
Brown's first question to Chafee: "Senator, what exactly do you want, in a sense, from the Administration, that you don't think you've gotten so far on Iraq?"
-- Brent Baker