2. Newsweek's Wolffe on Obama: 'Basically a Centrist Politician'
3. ABC's GMA Coos Over John and Elizabeth Edwards' Visit to Wendy's
4. Helen Thomas 'Miffed' at Doonesbury, Wanted to Be 'JFK's Lover'
5. Letterman's 'Top Ten Signs President Bush Needs a Vacation'
Though many journalists impose their views regularly in biased political coverage, and last year the New York Times publisher made clear his left-wing world view, on Tuesday night the broadcast networks framed Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of the Wall Street Journal around what agenda the "controversial" Murdoch will "impose." That matches the "fear" expressed in online journalism forums and media magazines about Murdoch's "conservative" agenda. Leading into pro and con soundbites, CBS's Kelly Wallace described Murdoch as "a conservative who put his imprint on the New York Post and brought topless women to the Sun in London. His critics say he may not impose tabloid on the Journal, but will impose his point of view."
NBC's Andrea Mitchell called Murdoch "a controversial press lord" and declared Murdoch "deeply conservative," but noted he's also a "pragmatic" man who has been "a supporter of liberal politicians." Mitchell relayed how Murdoch insists he "does not mix politics and business," but, she cautioned, "still, some are skeptical." The liberal Ken Auletta of The New Yorker contended Murdoch "often" uses "his publications and his media to advance either his business or his political interests." Over on ABC, David Muir warned that Murdoch "already wields great power over much of what we watch and read" and asserted that "critics caution being a brilliant businessman does not guarantee brilliant journalism." After a soundbite from Auletta about how Murdoch's politics influence his publications, Muir worried: "For that reason, this has turned into a painful decision for members of the Bancroft family, who controlled the Wall Street Journal for more than 100 years. Sell for $5 billion? Or is that selling out? There were tears within the Bancroft family and fears in the newsroom." On screen, a WSJ headline: "Fear, Mixed with Some Loathing; Many Reporters at Wall Street Journal Fret Over Murdoch's Arrival."
Muir did at least uniquely point out how "others say critics are missing the point, that in an aging newspaper industry, it is Murdoch who is keeping the Wall Street Journal alive."
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Paranoia about Murdoch's supposed right-wing agenda is not new, especially to CBS News. On the January 19, 1997 60 Minutes, barely four months after the launch of the Fox News Channel -- a time when very few could even see it -- Mike Wallace warned that "on Murdoch's new cable channel the news also comes with a conservative spin." Wallace's expert authority? Ted Turner, I kid you not: "Ted Turner disdains all this. He believes Murdoch's political bias contaminates his news coverage."
An excerpt from a January 20, 1997 MRC CyberAlert article with a transcript of a January 19, 1997 piece on 60 Minutes about the business feuds between and Murdoch and Turner:
Mike Wallace: "In the last election campaign Murdoch contributed more than a million and a half dollars to political candidates, most of them Republicans."
In a May of 2006 commencement address, New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. delivered a left wing rant in which he presumed liberal policy goals are more noble than conservative ones as he offered an "apology" for the nation his generation has left to the next generation:
For a video clip, go to the May 30, 2006 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the July 31 stories on the CBS, NBC and ABC evening newscasts:
# CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: Now to a huge deal tonight. Rupert Murdoch is about to add the Wall Street Journal to his collection. Enough members of the family that has controlled the Journal empire for more than a century agreed to sell it to Murdoch for $5 billion. So what will that mean for the best-known financial newspaper? Kelly Wallace takes a look.
KELLY WALLACE: Is Rupert Murdoch a white knight trying to save the Wall Street Journal or a tabloid tycoon focused on shoring up his other businesses? Outside the Journal's offices, on a painting of Murdoch, mixed opinions on the media mogul [Zoom in on "Good Move!" and "NEWS SHOULD BE UNBIASED!"]. He's the man behind Fox News Channel and Britain's Sky News, a conservative who put his imprint on the New York Post and brought topless women to the Sun in London. His critics say he may not impose tabloid on the Journal, but will impose his point of view.
# NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS TEASE: Stop the presses: He's already got a global media empire. Tonight, the apparent winner of the high-stakes fight for one of this nation's oldest and greatest newspapers.
WILLIAMS: Good evening. One of the finest names in American journalism appears likely to be taken over by one of the biggest names in global media. If the deal goes through, as expected, Rupert Murdoch, a genuine modern-day media baron, will own the Wall Street Journal, the establishment voice of American business for generations. It's one of the great brand names of the print world, and it will only add to a media empire controlled by the astute native Australian newspaper man who is already responsible for so much of what this nation sees. We begin with the deal tonight and NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
ANDREA MITCHELL: He now stands as a media giant. One man will control an icon of business journalism on top of an empire that already included 100 newspapers around the world -- sassy tabloids, book publishing, satellite systems, the Fox network, movies.
CHARLES GIBSON's TEASE: Welcome to World News. Tonight, a done deal. The Wall Street Journal is about to be folded into Rupert Murdoch's media empire in a multi-billion dollar deal the paper's owners couldn't refuse.
GIBSON: Good evening. Tonight, the news is the news. Lawyers are dotting the I's and crossing the T's on a deal that's done to sell the Wall Street Journal to Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch, whose media empire spans five continents, is buying the most storied name in financial news, the Dow Jones company, which includes the Wall Street Journal. One extended family has owned the Journal until now. Murdoch made them an offer that, in the end, they could not refuse. ABC's David Muir is here with the story. David?
DAVID MUIR: Charlie, when Rupert Murdoch first reached out with that $5 billion offer for Dow Jones, stock for the company was trading at $36 a share. Murdoch was offering $60 a share. You might think that's a no-brainer. Not so for the family that controlled the Wall Street Journal. Rupert Murdoch was already a man of enormous power, running one of the few mega corporations still controlled by a single individual.
Obama a "centrist"? Though Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama earns zero ratings from conservative groups and 100 percent ratings from liberal groups for his Senate votes, Tuesday morning on MSNBC, Newsweek Senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe declared: "He's basically a centrist politician." Wolffe, a regular on MSNBC's Countdown hosted by conservative-basher Keith Olbermann, maintained during the 6am EDT hour of the July 31 Morning Joe show that Obama is a centrist because "he's annoyed the teachers union. He went to Detroit and annoyed the car industry. But the war gives him a lot of cover to take very centrist positions."
He must not have "annoyed" the National Education Association very much since in 2005 the union for teachers rated Obama's votes as 100 percent in their interest. And the only way he's "annoyed" the car industry is from the left by advocating ever-higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards.
If that makes one a "centrist," Wolffe is very far to the left.
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, co-hosts Robin Roberts and Diane Sawyer touted the marital relationship between Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife. Co-host Robin Roberts recounted the often repeated story of how the Edwards couple spend their wedding anniversary, including their recent 30th, at a Wendy's fast food restaurant. Perhaps in a Freudian slip, Roberts even referred to the former North Carolina Senator as "presidential nominee John Edwards." Roberts: "We have a very special picture of the morning. It's an anniversary party of sorts at Wendy's. That, of course, presidential nominee John Edwards and his beautiful wife Elizabeth. 30 years. Their 30th anniversary." She recounted how Elizabeth had a "Frosty and also some chili as well. He had a cheeseburger." Sawyer gushed: "That's right. And they are going to renew their vows. Happy anniversary."
Yet, this is the same morning show that has vastly underplayed stories that aren't quite so cute and endearing for the '08 contender. For instance, during a recent GMA town hall with John Edwards on the subject of poverty, Sawyer only managed to mention the trial lawyer's 28,000 square-foot mansion once. After an admittedly tough question (from an audience member) about Edwards's $400 haircut, Sawyer observed, "...You have a big house that you're building..." However, considering that the subject matter, and that the ex-Senator received 38 minutes of air time, one would assume it would get greater prominence.
Good Morning America isn't alone in highlighting the cutesy story of the millionaire couple spending their anniversaries at Wendy's. During the 2004 campaign, Katie Couric, then a host of NBC's Today, cheerfully wondered about the dining experience. She cooed, "What do you say, 'One Frosty, two straws?'" See: www.mrc.org
[This item is adapted from a posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's NewsBusters blog: newsbusters.org ]
A transcript of the July 31 segment, which aired at 7:20am:
Robin Roberts: "We have a very special picture of the morning."
[Clip from town hall interview]
Roberts: "She got that Frosty and also some chili as well. He had a cheeseburger."
Helen Thomas, the Hearst columnist and long-time scourge of Republican presidents as UPI White House correspondent, was "miffed" at Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau because he joked that the rumors were that she was Harry Truman's lover: "I wished he said I was Jack Kennedy's lover."
If that makes Thomas sound like a liberated woman, that would be in line with her recent Planned Parenthood luncheon speech in Iowa, where she claimed conservatives would love to deny women even their right to vote: "It seems now, more than ever, the Supreme Court is prepared to put Americans -- especially women -- back in the 19th century if not earlier...Women, in particular, have to be more vigilant. They can never let go and think that the battle is won. There has been a chipping-away at every advance we've had. Pretty soon they'll be taking aim at the vote."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here's Daphne Retter's Doonesbury item in the D.C. newspaper The Hill:
Longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas is miffed at Garry Trudeau after he portrayed her as one tough broad in his Doonesbury cartoon strip last week.
But it's not because he depicted the dean of the White House press corps telling self-important TV correspondent Roland Hedley to "Get the hell out of my face" when he brought two visitors to meet her in the White House briefing room.
No, it was because Hedley told the visitors the "legendary UPI reporter [has] been here since the Truman administration! Some say she was Truman's lover."
Truman's lover? Puh-lease. Thomas likes to think she could do better than that.
"I wish he'd said I was Jack Kennedy's lover," said Thomas, who began covering the White House when President Kennedy took office in January, 1961.
Thomas, who will celebrate her 87th birthday next month, left UPI in 2000 and now writes a syndicated column for Hearst Newspapers.
END of Reprint
That's online at: thehill.com
The more than 300 people crowded into the small banquet room at the Hotel Fort Des Moines, many of them standing, grew silent as Thomas outlined her thoughts on the battles to come.
"It seems now, more than ever, the Supreme Court is prepared to put Americans -- especially women -- back in the 19th century if not earlier," she said. "Women, in particular, have to be more vigilant. They can never let go and think that the battle is won. There has been a chipping-away at every advance we've had. Pretty soon they'll be taking aim at the vote."
Her final sentence provided a quick and nervous laugh from the audience. Thomas looked around the room, meeting many women eye-to-eye before continuing.
"Women have come a long way," she said. "Now we have the possibility of the presidency, and a woman already serves as speaker of the House. Two women have served in the powerful role of secretary of State. There is no doubt that we have come a long way, but we have not come far enough."
In a private interview after her public remarks, Thomas continued her thoughts on the role she believes women must play in the coming years and on the imminent threat of the Supreme Court.
"I don't think we have passed a point of no return -- I don't think we will ever do that," she said. "I think women should be alerted to the possibility of what may come. Women should not rest on their laurels. They need to understand the danger of this court. This is a deliberate court. It is very rigid, and it is going to be against a lot of women's rights in terms of equal pay, birth control, abortion or anything else where women are striving for equality. The justices were deliberately picked because of that. I think the litmus test was given to them even though they denied it."
Thomas also admits that when she was originally told the conservatives' plans for the court, she didn't fully understand the implications.
"People were saying during the [Ronald] Reagan administration that this was about the Supreme Court," she said. "I wasn't sure at that time what they meant. But the truth is that the court is their one last resort to push their agenda. It is their one last resort to prevail."
END of Excerpt
That's online at: www.rhrealitycheck.org
The King Features Syndicate columnist and former UPI White House correspondent didn't spare the media, either. "I do believe journalists have let the country down," said Thomas, who was addressing Association of American Editorial Cartoonists conference attendees Thursday night. "They were cowed, and afraid to be called unpatriotic. The real journalists are the editorial cartoonists who don't fear the truth."
Describing the Bush administration, Thomas said it's "running on empty and heading for collapse." She added that the "invasion and occupation of Iraq -- which didn't attack us -- was illegal, immoral, and unconscionable. George W. Bush struck a match inflaming the whole Mideast, and no one has laid a glove on bin Laden."
Thomas also blasted secret overseas prison sites and Guantanamo, noting: "Detainees have been denied the right to appeal -- a right that only goes back to the Magna Carta." One result? "The U.S. is now the most despised nation in the world," she said.
END of Excerpt
For the July 5 Editor & Publisher article in full: www.mediainfo.com
From the July 31 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs President Bush Needs a Vacation." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. Ordered a full-scale invasion of Turks and Caicos
9. Staffers found him having a conversation with a coat rack
8. Asked CIA Director to have Jason Bourne join hunt for Osama
7. Hasn't stopped sobbing since he was passed over for "The Price is Right"
6. Has only seen the new Harry Potter movie four times
5. Only seems half as Bushy as usual
4. Instead of signing bills, now licks 'em
3. So overworked he's pronouncing words correctly. Boo-ya!
2. He's been drinking like an astronaut
1. Hasn't given Laura the ol' "veto" in months
-- Brent Baker