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Nets Convey Excitement Over Bloomberg, 'Candidate of the Media' --6/21/2007


1. Nets Convey Excitement Over Bloomberg, 'Candidate of the Media'
OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto on Wednesday proposed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the preferred presidential "candidate of the media, ideologically as well as professionally," a supposition demonstrated by media excitement over his separation from the Republican Party in preparation for a possible independent bid. "The presidential race just got a whole lot more interesting," gushed Today co-host Meredith Vieira in plugging Wednesday's top story while, on CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith excitedly relayed how "we want to get right to our top story, and that's a bombshell from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg." On ABC's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer enthused about how "the hugely popular Mayor of New York City ditches the Republican label and declares independence, asking if other Americans are ready for a change." Robin Roberts insisted that "many are asking now whether he is destined to be a contender." An on-screen graphic on ABC's World News asked "Will He Run?" But the CBS Evening News was the most promotional. Katie Couric highlighted how a poll "found more than one out of three Democratic primary voters and more than half of Republicans want more choices. So how about an independent? Today a certain Mayor of New York was the talk of the town and a lot of the country." More likely, the talk of America's newsrooms.

2. Morning Shows Love Hillary and Bill Clinton's 'Sopranos' Parody
When Hillary faked a Southern accent in Selma, Alabama the major network morning news shows, barely touched her blatant and awkward pandering, but this week when Hillary and Bill played like Tony and Carmela Soprano in a campaign ad, meant to humanize Hillary, it drew widespread praise on those very same shows. On Wednesday's Today show, co-anchor Matt Lauer declared it "a hit" and "clever," while fellow anchor Meredith Vieira exclaimed she "loved" it. On ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos called it "effective" in "showing that she's also a human being who can laugh at herself." Over on CBS's The Early Show, Bob Schieffer called the ad "hilarious," and cheered: "I think it's one of the cleverest things I've seen in a long, long time."

3. Report: 'Innate Liberal Bias' on BBC; Ask About Troop Movements
"Just one day after an independent report accused the British Broadcasting Company of having a, quote, 'culture of bias,' the BBC's Web site carried a request for people in Iraq to report troop movements to the network," FNC's Brit Hume reported in his Wednesday "Grapevine" segment in citing a story in London's Daily Telegraph. Another story this week in that newspaper began: "The BBC is operating in a 'left-leaning comfort zone' and has an 'innate liberal bias' according to a report commissioned by the corporation."


Nets Convey Excitement Over Bloomberg,
'Candidate of the Media'

OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto on Wednesday proposed that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the preferred presidential "candidate of the media, ideologically as well as professionally," a supposition demonstrated by media excitement over his separation from the Republican Party in preparation for a possible independent bid. "The presidential race just got a whole lot more interesting," gushed Today co-host Meredith Vieira in plugging Wednesday's top story while, on CBS, Early Show co-host Harry Smith excitedly relayed how "we want to get right to our top story, and that's a bombshell from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg." On ABC's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer enthused about how "the hugely popular Mayor of New York City ditches the Republican label and declares independence, asking if other Americans are ready for a change." Robin Roberts insisted that "many are asking now whether he is destined to be a contender."

All day Wednesday the cable networks were full of speculation over Bloomberg and in the evening all three broadcast network newscasts ran full stories on his possible candidacy. An on-screen graphic on ABC's World News asked "Will He Run?" and the NBC Nightly News looked at the possibility of three candidates from New York. But the CBS Evening News was the most promotional. Katie Couric highlighted how a poll "found more than one out of three Democratic primary voters and more than half of Republicans want more choices. So how about an independent? Today a certain Mayor of New York was the talk of the town and a lot of the country." More likely, the talk of America's newsrooms. Noting how Bloomberg is "sparking imaginations," Jim Axelrod recited some of Bloomberg's liberal positions: "So no one really knows what this 65-year-old billionaire who favors gun control, gay marriage, and abortion rights is up to, aside from sparking the imaginations of those uninspired by the current field."

[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Diane Sawyer announced at the top of the June 20 GMA: "This morning, who needs Washington? The hugely popular mayor of New York City ditches the Republican label and declares independence, asking if other Americans are ready for a change. Has the presidential race just been thrown a giant curve ball?"

Robin Roberts added: "The race to '08 is getting a shot of adrenaline this morning from someone who is not even in the race. No, New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not throw his hat in the ring. But he did declare his independence from the Republican Party. That move, along with his multi-billion dollar bank account, well, many are asking now whether he is destined to be a contender."

This week's Time magazine also hyped Bloomberg, putting him on the cover with Arnold Schwarzenegger, touted in the cover story as "The New Action Heroes." Michael Grunwald's idolatrous first sentence: "On an unseasonably hot May day in Central Park, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- the pint-size billionaire whose last name needs no elaboration for anyone who knows anything about finance or the media -- was talking about saving the planet." See: www.time.com

In his lead item Wednesday for his "Best of the Web Today" compilation, James Taranto of OpinionJournal.com outlined why the media are excited about a Bloomberg candidacy:

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg "announced Tuesday that he has left the Republican Party and become unaffiliated," the Associated Press reports. The AP notes that Bloomberg was a "lifelong" Democrat until 2001, when he opportunistically switched parties to get a clear shot at the mayor's office. It also itemizes some of his views, and they sound as if they're lifted from the Democratic Party platform:

Throughout his five years as mayor, Bloomberg often has been at odds with his party and [President] Bush. He supports gay marriage, abortion rights, gun control and [federal funding of embryonic] stem cell research and hiked property taxes to help solve a fiscal crisis after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bloomberg is so out of step with the GOP that he opposed the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice. He is term-limited and thus cannot seek re-election, which means that the Republican line is no longer of any use to him. So why is it news that he is abandoning his Republican affiliation?

Because, according to the AP's Sara Kugler, "many believe [it] could be a step toward entering the 2008 race for president."

To make sense of this assertion, you need to be fluent in the dialect of American English known as Journalese. In Journalese, many can be either singular or plural, and it is a first-person pronoun.

Which is to say, Bloomberg is the candidate of the media, ideologically as well as professionally. The positions Kugler enumerates are all very popular among journalists. And while they are also popular among Democrats, Democratic politicians do not necessarily support them, or support them sincerely.

The Dems have of late been playing down gun control, figuring that they have more to lose than to gain from a strong anti-gun stand. They would do the same with abortion if they thought it would profit them politically. (The list of Democrats who have gone from anti- to pro-abortion is a long one, as of course is the list of Republicans who've moved in the other direction.) John Kerry in 2004 said he opposed same-sex marriage, though everyone assumed he didn't really mean it, and he was one of only 14 senators to vote "no" on the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996.

Bloomberg, by contrast, is a conviction politician, and his convictions match those of the liberal media....

END of Excerpt

For Taranto's June 20 compilation in full: www.opinionjournal.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the June 20 CBS Evening News story:

KATIE COURIC: Stem cell research is sure to be an issue in the upcoming presidential campaign, and while there may be a lot of candidates, apparently the current field is leaving some people hungry for more. A recent CBS News/New York Times poll found more than one out of three Democratic primary voters [35%] and more than half of Republicans [57%] want more choices. So how about an independent? Today a certain Mayor of New York was the talk of the town and a lot of the country. Here's Jim Axelrod.

JIM AXELROD: Michael Bloomberg made front-page news when he said he's no longer a Republican. Today he tried to cool the flames -- sort of.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG: I'm not running for President, and I'm going to be mayor for the next 925 days. But there's a reason why my picture was there-
AXELROD: The reason, he says, is widespread dissatisfaction with the highly partisan political landscape.
BLOOMBERG: Today you're a piranha if you are seen having coffee with somebody from the other party, in many cases.
AXELROD: So no one really knows what this 65-year-old billionaire who favors gun control, gay marriage, and abortion rights is up to, aside from sparking the imaginations of those uninspired by the current field.
GERALD RAFSHOON, UNITY08: The politics of polarization has hurt the country quite a bit. The two parties don't talk to each other. At the same time, 40 percent of the people consider themselves independents. There is not that much party loyalty.
AXELROD: Of course, if he were to run, it would set up this place, Times Square, as the crossroads of the political world. Imagine New York's top three political heavyweights -- Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg -- all duking it out. But for Mayor Bloomberg it may be even bigger than that. Maybe he wants to measure the appetite for a third party. But it certainly didn't sound that way when asked if he and Arnold Schwarzenegger ran together, who'd get the top spot.
BLOOMBERG: There would be a fight to see who would be the presidential candidate and who would be the vice presidential candidate. He would want to arm wrestle for the top spot. I would want to check the Constitution.
AXELROD: The Constitution says the foreign-born Schwarzenegger is not eligible, so maybe Bloomberg was joking. Or maybe it's just one less rival to be concerned about. Jim Axelrod, CBS News, New York.

Morning Shows Love Hillary and Bill Clinton's
'Sopranos' Parody

When Hillary faked a Southern accent in Selma, Alabama the major network morning news shows, barely touched her blatant and awkward pandering, but this week when Hillary and Bill played like Tony and Carmela Soprano in a campaign ad, meant to humanize Hillary, it drew widespread praise on those very same shows. On Wednesday's Today show, co-anchor Matt Lauer declared it "a hit" and "clever," while fellow anchor Meredith Vieira exclaimed she "loved" it. On ABC's Good Morning America, George Stephanopoulos called it "effective" in "showing that she's also a human being who can laugh at herself." Over on CBS's The Early Show, Bob Schieffer called the ad "hilarious," and cheered: "I think it's one of the cleverest things I've seen in a long, long time."

In contrast, NBC for example, only played a brief snippet of a YouTube video of Clinton faking an accent on the March 16th Today show. Andrea Mitchell: "But even front-runners like Giuliani have another challenge this year, the youtube elections, embarrassing video clips, often taken out of context."
Senator Hillary Clinton: "I don't feel no ways tired."
Mitchell: "That means candidates can no longer carefully craft their campaign image."

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following are all morning show exchanges over the Clintons' Sopranos parody from the June 20th editions of NBC's Today show, ABC's Good Morning America and CBS's The Early Show.

# NBC's Today:

Matt Lauer: "Let me, let me play a tape for you Chris, because a lot of people are talking this morning about Hillary Clinton's new tape that she put out, you know, introducing a new campaign song. But it's really not about the song."
Chris Matthews: "Right."
Lauer: "It's more about the way she introduced it. Let's take a look. We'll ask about it on the other side."
[Begin clip. Hillary Clinton: "I ordered for the table."
Bill Clinton staring at carrots: "No onion rings?"
Hillary Clinton: "I'm looking out for you. Where's Chelsea?"
Bill Clinton: "Parallel parking."
Hillary Clinton: "Oh."
Bill Clinton: "So what's the winning song?"
Hillary Clinton: "You'll see."
Bill Clinton: "My money's on Smash Mouth. Everybody in America wants to know how it's gonna end."
Hillary Clinton: "Ready?"
[End clip of parody ad]
Lauer: "People think this is a hit, Chris. What do you think?"
Matthews: "How, how many electoral votes does New Jersey have? Look I really think that works. It works for me. I love seeing them together. I liked seeing them without their Secret Service as regular, regular couple. Maybe because they're about my age. There's something about that, that Sunday night dinner, whatever it is, that grabs me, just like it did on the Sopranos."
Lauer: "But all people love to see that these people are real and have a sense of humor-"
Matthews: "Yeah, exactly."
Lauer: "-and that kind of shows a sense of humor. Especially someone like Hillary Clinton who's had that likeability issue."
Matthews: "Right and you know we've grown up with politicians eating blintzes and hot dogs on street corners and Philly cheese-steaks in South Philly. It's a way of saying, 'Look I'm willing to play this game. And today, electronically, the way to play the game is to pretend you're in the Sopranos. It works for me."
Lauer: "Alright, Chris Matthews in Washington. Chris, thanks as always, nice to see-"
Matthews: "I think you agree, Matt. I think you agree."
[Lauer and Vieira chuckle]
Lauer: "Alright, Chris, thanks."
Vieira: "I loved the tape, actually."
Lauer: "I think it's clever."
Vieira: "Yeah."
Lauer: "At least, you know, it shows, maybe they had too much time on their hands. I'm not sure."
Vieira: "Maybe. I don't know."


# ABC's Good Morning America:

Diane Sawyer: "All right. I want to switch topics and turn to the Clintons as The Sopranos. As we know, it's the video on YouTube. It was designed to announce the new campaign song after a contest. And even if you've seen it out there, let's watch it again."
[Clip of Clinton Sopranos parody]
George Stephanopoulos: "Okay. They're not going to win any Emmys, Diane. But that's part of the joke. That is really part of the joke here. One of the things the Clinton campaign is trying to do with all these web videos is humanize Senator Clinton. Their main theme, their main strategy is to show she has a strength and experience to be president. But this is another way of showing that she's also a human being who can laugh at herself and I think it was effective."


# CBS's The Early Show:

Harry Smith: "I want to move one now, speaking of things making headlines, is this Hillary Clinton's campaign put together to announce their -- the song they've been trying to come up with. And it looks just like the last scene of the Sopranos. Take a look at this."
[Begin clip]
Bill Clinton: "Anything look good?"
Hillary Clinton: "We have some great choices. I ordered for the table."
Bill Clinton staring at carrots: "No onion rings?"
Hillary Clinton: "I'm looking out for you."
[End clip]
Smith: "And, of course, it's Hillary Clinton who is sitting in the Tony Soprano seat. And was making it all -- they're looking at all the, perhaps dangerous characters and how this will end and Chelsea's screeching her tires as she's trying to parallel park. And all of this just to announce the song that will be her campaign song. Bob, this has gotten so much play. It's just, it's pretty much a work of genius."
Bob Schieffer: "I think it can also be very, very, very effective as a political tool. Humor, when it is funny, is the most effective political tool of all. Paul Wellstone, who was an unknown person running for the Senate back in Minnesota, ran these crazy little ads where he was walking around in double speed. He won the Senate there. Walter Mondale, think back when he was being challenged by Gary Hart back there, it looked like Hart might take it. Mondale came out with a takeoff on a commercial that said, 'where's the beef?' It just hit that chord and, and he went on to get the nomination in his party. This also plays to something else Harry. For all her political skills, Hillary Clinton has never been really known for a sense of humor. This thing is hilarious. And I think it's going to help her campaign. I think it's one of the cleverest things I've seen in a long, long time."

Report: 'Innate Liberal Bias' on BBC;
Ask About Troop Movements

"Just one day after an independent report accused the British Broadcasting Company of having a, quote, 'culture of bias,' the BBC's Web site carried a request for people in Iraq to report troop movements to the network," FNC's Brit Hume reported in his Wednesday "Grapevine" segment in citing a story in London's Daily Telegraph. Another story this week in that newspaper began: "The BBC is operating in a 'left-leaning comfort zone' and has an 'innate liberal bias' according to a report commissioned by the corporation."

Hume's June 20 item on Special Report with Brit Hume:
"Just one day after an independent report accused the British Broadcasting Company of having a, quote, 'culture of bias,' the BBC's Web site carried a request for people in Iraq to report troop movements to the network. The Daily Telegraph writes that the request was up for about two hours before furious protests prompted its removal. The BBC confirms the page read, quote, 'Are you in Iraq? Have you seen any troop movements? If you have any information you would like to share with the BBC, you can do so using the form below.' The BBC acknowledged the page should not have been published, but couldn't say why the notice was posted or if there had been any responses."

For the Daily Telegraph story, "BBC 'risked safety of troops,'" go to: www.telegraph.co.uk

In Monday's "Grapevine" segment Hume had related:
"A year-long investigation of the British Broadcasting Company has condemned what it calls a quote 'culture of bias' in the network including its news coverage -- finding the BBC is anything but fair and balanced on issues such as climate change, poverty, race and religion. British media say the report -- which was commissioned by the BBC itself -- finds the organization has been undermined by the liberal culture of its staff, with few challenging those preconceived positions. Quote: 'There is a tendency to 'group think' with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone,' the report says. It offers a 12-step program to help the BBC safeguard its impartiality, including a call for fair-minded, evidence-based judgments and discussions exploring more than one side of a given issue."

An excerpt from the June 17 Sunday Times article, "BBC report damns its 'culture of bias,'" by Richard Brooks and Dipesh Gadher:

THE BBC is institutionally biased, an official report will conclude this week. The year-long investigation, commissioned by the BBC, has found the corporation particularly partial in its treatment of single-issue politics such as climate change, poverty, race and religion.

It concludes that the bias has extended across drama, comedy and entertainment, with the corporation pandering to politically motivated celebrities and trendy causes.

Singled out is the coverage of Bob Geldof's Live 8 concert and the Make Poverty History campaign. The report says there was no rounded debate of the issues....

The report points to the danger of BBC programmes being undermined by the liberal culture of its staff, who need to challenge their own assumptions more. "There is a tendency to 'group think' with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone," says the report.

It goes on to highlight a "Roneo mentality" where staff ape each other's common liberal values.

The report has been approved by a steering group led by Richard Tait, a BBC trustee and former editor-in-chief at ITN. Its members also include Mark Byford, the BBC's deputy director-general, Helen Boaden, head of BBC News, and Alan Yentob, the creative director.

Although its coverage of conventional politics is judged to be fair and impartial, the inquiry says the BBC allowed itself to be hijacked by Geldof, the U2 singer Bono, and Curtis, who urged Tony Blair to pressure world leaders to alleviate poverty in developing countries....

The document, jointly commissioned by BBC managers and the board of governors, now replaced by the BBC Trust, includes details of a staff impartiality seminar at which senior figures criticised the corporation for being antiAmerican and pandering to Islam.

Criticisms highlighted from the seminar include: A senior BBC reporter attacking the corporation for giving "no moral weight" to America. Executives admitting they would broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away -- but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims. The BBC deliberately championing multiculturalism and ethnic minorities, while betraying an anticountryside bias....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.timesonline.co.uk
An except from a June 19 Daily Telegraph story, "BBC viewers angered by its 'innate liberal bias,'" by Nicole Martin:

The BBC is operating in a "left-leaning comfort zone" and has an "innate liberal bias" according to a report commissioned by the corporation. The report, From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel, said that the BBC's drift towards a liberal-minded approach to programmes risked stifling originality and angering viewers....

Andrew Marr, the BBC's former political editor, said at a seminar last year that the BBC is "a publicly funded urban organisation with an abnormally large proportion of younger people, of people in ethnic minorities and almost certainly of gay people compared with the population at large." advertisement

All this, he said in the report, "creates an innate liberal bias inside the BBC".

A survey of viewers found that the corporation was generally seen as impartial.

However, some respondents felt it had gone "too far" in its representation of racial minorities and was too politically correct.

One white man from the West Midlands said in response to a news item about terrorism: "The BBC was saying that 21 men have been arrested but when I flicked over Sky it said that the men were Asian.

"Other news channels tell you what you need to know, they don't hide it."

Most respondents outside south-east England believed that they were under-represented. When the BBC introduced three-dimensional weather maps in 2005, they appeared to suggest that northern Scotland was on the periphery because of the way the maps were tilted.

The problem was quickly rectified, but the report warned that "the continuing practice of giving temperature forecasts for conurbations rather than rural areas may suggest a presumption that the bulk of the audience lives in large cities, whereas the opposite is in fact the case".

The report criticised coverage of Live8 in 2005. It said that the BBC failed properly to debate the issues raised by the anti-poverty concerts. Instead, it effectively became a tool for Live8, which was supported by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

"The BBC also ran a week-long Africa special featuring documentaries by Bob Geldof, one of the organisers of Live8. This prompted a senior BBC executive to say that impartiality in that particular season was 'as safe as a blood bank in the hands of Dracula'".

At a seminar on impartiality last September, Jeff Randall, editor-at-large of The Daily Telegraph and the former BBC business editor, described his time at the corporation: "They discuss issues from the point of view that the earth is flat."

"If someone says the earth is round, they think this person is an extremist. That's what it's like for someone with my right-of-centre views working inside the BBC."...

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.telegraph.co.uk

For the BBC's self-report, in PDF form: news.bbc.co.uk

-- Brent Baker