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Nets Fret Over Women in Catholic Church, Give Platform to Liberal --4/18/2005


1. Nets Fret Over Women in Catholic Church, Give Platform to Liberal
The night before the Catholic Cardinals were to begin their conclave to choose a new Pope, the U.S. broadcast network evening newscasts painted the role of women as the most important issue and gave a platform to left-wing church activist Joan Chittister. "The future of the church is now in the hands of 115 men. Some Catholic women find that offensive," ABC's David Wright asserted Sunday night in leading into a Chittister soundbite. Wright proceeded to showcase a woman upset that her unborn daughter cannot become a priest, before concluding: "Men and women may be equal in the eyes of God, but many Catholics say in the eyes of the church, there's still a long way to go." Wright gave a soundbite to a church defender, but not CBS's John Roberts who sandwiched two denunciation from Chittister around touting how "a new CBS News poll finds the majority of Catholics think the next Pope should admit women into the priesthood, let priests marry, and allow birth control." Plus, "52 percent of American Catholics think the church is out of touch."

2. Tom DeLay's Quip at NRA Convention Appalls CBS's Bob Schieffer
CBS's Bob Schieffer doesn't have much of a sense of humor, judging by his reaction to quip from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. All the Sunday interview shows devoted segments to DeLay's ethical troubles, but only Schieffer was appalled by how DeLay had told the NRA convention in Houston on Saturday night that "when a man is in trouble or is in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed." On Face the Nation, Schieffer read the quote to Republican Congressman David Dreier and demanded: "Well, don't you find that rather inflammatory?" Schieffer soon pressed Dreier to affirm that "you're disassociating yourself from these kinds of remarks."

3. CNN Picks Up Gimmicky Attacks on DeLay, Uncle Sam Whacking Head
File under it doesn't take much to get onto CNN's Inside Politics. On Friday, anchor Candy Crowley devoted a segment to a round-up of attacks on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, starting with a left-wing group which built a contraption on a trailer in which Uncle Sam whacks a DeLay figure on the head. Crowley moved on to how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a DeLay-bashing Web site, but she didn't point out how CNN's video showed their own James Carville, co-host of Crossfire, in front of a banner which proclaimed: "Tom DeLay's House of Scandal." Crowley then touted how "the New York Times reports ten former Republicans members of Congress" criticized DeLay, but even Washington insiders would be hard-pressed to recollect any of the names. Finally, Crowley trumpeted how "the conservative-leaning publication The Economist is editorializing that it's time for DeLay to go."

4. CBS Ignores Unprecedented Use of Filibuster to Block Judges
In a Friday night look at the so-called "nuclear option" considered by Republicans to block the organized filibustering by Democrats of several of Bush's judicial nominees, the CBS Evening News managed to ignore a major Republican argument: The unprecedented nature of the Senate's minority party using the filibuster to block not bills, but individual judicial nominees who have majority support. Instead, Gloria Borger touted how Democrats see the judicial filibuster "as their constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances." After noting how Christian conservatives are pressing Republicans to get the confirmations, Borger relayed how "Democrats say mixing faith and politics is dangerous." She concluded by highlighting how the media's favorite Republican, John McCain, is amongst the "traditionalists" who say "this could boomerang on the Republicans if" they are again in the minority.

5. Mitchell's Promise of a GOP Scandal Over Oil-for-Food Falls Apart
Just a few weeks before last year's presidential election, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell predicted Republicans would be embarrassed by a "huge scandal" over "Texas oilmen who were involved in that Oil-for-Food scandal." But when on Thursday's NBC Nightly News Mitchell reported on the first arrest of a Texas oilman for allegedly conspiring with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Mitchell neglected to associate him or his accomplices with either political party. Perhaps that's because the man arrested, David Chalmers, who heads BayOil USA, is listed as a donor to Democratic campaign efforts.

6. Not Even Tim Russert Is Aware of Good News and Normalcy in Iraq
If NBC News and the rest of the media are putting much emphasis on news from Iraq beyond violence it would be hard to tell from a question Tim Russert, who you'd have to consider a heavy news consumer, posed, on Sunday's Meet the Press, to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, who is just back from Baghdad. Russert wondered about the life of the average Iraqi: "Are they going to work? Is the city functioning? Are kids going school? Are the markets open?" Filkins informed Russert that "on most days, Baghdad is a very normal, Middle Eastern city" and "the amount of car traffic has, you know, quadrupled or possibly more. The traffic, the streets are jammed, the schools are open. There's lots of commerce."


Nets Fret Over Women in Catholic Church,
Give Platform to Liberal

CBS's John Roberts & Sister Joan Chittister The night before the Catholic Cardinals were to begin their conclave to choose a new Pope, the U.S. broadcast network evening newscasts painted the role of women as the most important issue and gave a platform to left-wing church activist Joan Chittister. "The future of the church is now in the hands of 115 men. Some Catholic women find that offensive," ABC's David Wright asserted Sunday night in leading into a Chittister soundbite. Wright proceeded to showcase a woman upset that her unborn daughter cannot become a priest, before concluding: "Men and women may be equal in the eyes of God, but many Catholics say in the eyes of the church, there's still a long way to go." Wright gave a soundbite to a church defender, but not CBS's John Roberts who sandwiched two denunciation from Chittister around touting how "a new CBS News poll finds the majority of Catholics think the next Pope should admit women into the priesthood, let priests marry, and allow birth control." Plus, "52 percent of American Catholics think the church is out of touch."

In a less politically-charged story about woman wanting a greater role in the Catholic Church, NBC's Rosiland Jordan couldn't resist slipping Chittister into her Nightly News story: "As 115 men prepare to elect the next Pope, Sister Mary Chittister is in Rome leading the charge for women. She's been campaigning for years to expand the priesthood."
Chittister: "Otherwise, we're going to lose an entire generation of young women and we're going to lose them quickly."

A full rundown of the April 17 ABC and CBS reports:

-- ABC's World News Tonight/Sunday. From Rome, reporter David Wright asserted:
"In the Sistine Chapel tomorrow, the only women present will be the biblical characters depicted on Michelangelo's walls. The future of the church is now in the hands of 115 men. Some Catholic women find that offensive. All week long they've been trying to raise awareness in issues of particular concern to women."
Sister Joan Chittister Sister Joan Chittister, Order of St. Benedict: "This was meant to be a service to the church, not at all any kind of confrontation with the church."
Wright: "Pope John Paul was the first to acknowledge that the church has not always been sensitive to women. In 1995 the pope issued a formal apology to women for sexism within the church. He spoke of 'the urgent need to achieve real equality in every area' of society. But at the same time he also defended the church's refusal to ordain women. Lydia Keller is about to give birth to her second child."
Lydia Keller: "We are expecting a girl and I think my daughter should be able to be a priest if she chooses to be a priest. Why not?"
Matt Keller, husband: "She has the opportunity to become an astronaut, a supreme court judge, the President of the United States -- anything she would want to do, except to become a Catholic priest."
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Deputy Media Director, U.S. Conference of Bishops: "Well, I think that if you're going to concentrate on the ordination question, you are going to miss out on everything that women can do and are doing in the church."
Wright: "Sister Mary Ann Walsh of the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference says roughly 25 percent of the chancellors, or top administrators, of the American church are women. But issues such as abortion and contraception remain a huge source of controversy and women have no voice in deciding church doctrine."
Chittister: "If men and women are the same, why not have women there? And if men and women aren't the same, you must have women there."
Wright concluded: "Men and women may be equal in the eyes of god, but many Catholics say in the eyes of the church, there's still a long way to go. David Wright, ABC News, Rome."


-- CBS Evening News, anchored from Rome by John Roberts who narrated the lead story on who might become the next Pope. Roberts insisted, "The question on almost every Catholic's mind tonight: Will the conclave continue the strict conservative line of John Paul II, or will the church move in a different direction?"
Sister Joan Chittister, We Are Church: "Well, everyone is talking a lot about papal candidates. I'm more concerned about the character of the papacy."
Roberts, walking next to Chittister: "Sister Joan Chittister believes it's time for new thinking, and so it seems to American Catholics. A new CBS News poll finds the majority of Catholics think the next Pope [results on screen] should admit women into the priesthood [60%], let priests marry [65%], and allow birth control [69%]. And despite the respect and admiration they had for John Paul II, 52% of American Catholics think the church is out of touch."
Chittister charged: "We can't say that we have answers from the 13th century, the 16th century, that can be applied now. We have to bring all of the people of the church into the discussion of these issues, or the church itself will be totally ineffective."
Roberts concluded: "And the disconnect between the Vatican and Catholics in America goes beyond that. Most Catholics said they follow their own moral conscience, not the Pope's teachings, and they believe they can disagree with the Pope on issues like birth control, abortion, and divorce, and still be good members of the church."

Tom DeLay's Quip at NRA Convention Appalls
CBS's Bob Schieffer

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay & CBS's Bob Schieffer CBS's Bob Schieffer doesn't have much of a sense of humor, judging by his reaction to quip from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. All the Sunday interview shows devoted segments to DeLay's ethical troubles, but only Schieffer was appalled by how DeLay had told the NRA convention in Houston on Saturday night that "when a man is in trouble or is in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed." On Face the Nation, Schieffer read the quote to Republican Congressman David Dreier and demanded: "Well, don't you find that rather inflammatory?" Schieffer soon pressed Dreier to affirm that "you're disassociating yourself from these kinds of remarks."

Schieffer devoted most of the April 17 Face the Nation to DeLay with in-studio guest Dreier and, from New York City, Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel.

The exchange:

Schieffer: "Let me ask you about something, and I want to get Congressman Rangel's view on this. You know, obviously, earlier this year, earlier this month, there was some controversy over the remarks that Congressman DeLay made about the federal judges in saying they would face retribution for their behavior. This was in conjunction with the Terri Schiavo case. Last night, speaking to the National Rifle Association, Congressman DeLay said, and I'm quoting here an Associated Press account [text on screen]: 'When a man is in trouble or is in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel ["really" in on-screen text] good.' What is your reaction to that, Congressman?"
Dreier: "Well, my reaction is, first of all, Tom DeLay, like most of the rest of us, are supporters of the Second Amendment to the Bill of Rights and believe in the right to keep and bear arms. But I will tell you that, let me just tell you the-"
Schieffer, over Dreier: "Well, don't you find that rather inflammatory?"
Dreier: "Let me say this. I disagree with what Tom DeLay said earlier. I believe strongly in the independence of the judiciary. And Tom DeLay said that he regretted having made those statements and he apologized for it. So let's realize that we are on the same page in our quest to make sure that as we encourage the rule of law, and I've just come back from a trip all over the Middle East, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, where building democratic institutions is something that's happening in the wake of our policy in Iraq, and people are encouraged about that, Bob. We need to do everything that we can to make sure that we have an independent judiciary, and that's something Tom DeLay-"
Schieffer: "So you're stepping back and you're disassociating yourself from these kinds of remarks."
Dreier: "He apologized. He apologized-"
Schieffer: "But this latest statement-"
Dreier: "Well, I mean, listen, I mean, that's Tom DeLay and that was a speech that he gave to the NRA. And, you know, he certainly is entitled to say what he wishes there."
Schieffer: "Congressman Rangel, would you want to comment on that?"

CNN Picks Up Gimmicky Attacks on DeLay,
Uncle Sam Whacking Head

Uncle Sam whacking Tom DeLay figure on head File under it doesn't take much to get onto CNN's Inside Politics. On Friday, anchor Candy Crowley devoted a segment to a round-up of attacks on House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, starting with a left-wing group which built a contraption on a trailer in which Uncle Sam whacks a DeLay figure on the head. Crowley moved on to how the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a DeLay-bashing Web site, but she didn't point out how CNN's video showed their own James Carville, co-host of Crossfire, in front of a banner which proclaimed: "Tom DeLay's House of Scandal." Crowley then touted how "the New York Times reports ten former Republicans members of Congress" criticized DeLay, but even Washington insiders would be hard-pressed to recollect any of the names. Finally, Crowley trumpeted how "the conservative-leaning publication The Economist is editorializing that it's time for DeLay to go."

Crowley announced about five minutes into the April 15 Inside Politics on CNN:
"Criticism of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay keeps on coming today from the usual suspects, and from some less likely ones. On Capitol Hill, the liberal group truemajority.org displayed a 12 foot statue of Uncle Sam scolding DeLay for alleged ethical transgression [video of Uncle Sam statue whacking head of Tom DeLay]. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unveiled a Web site [video of CNN's James Carville in front of "Tom DeLay's House of scandal" banner] that claims to lay out the case against DeLay. Republicans call it a publicity stunt and accuse Democrats of sinking to a new low.
"Four members of DeLay's own party are questioning his conduct. The New York Times reports ten former Republicans members of Congress are urging House leaders to reverse changes made in House ethics rules, complaining those changes were an obvious effort to protect DeLay. Another Republican, Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado is quoted today as saying DeLay has handled ethics issues, quote, 'stupidly,' and goes onto say, 'it is probably not the worst idea for DeLay to step down.'
"And the conservative-leaning publication The Economist is editorializing that it's time for DeLay to go, saying the majority leader has become, quote, 'a liability to the Republican party.'"

Check out the posted version of this item for a picture of what CNN showed of the Uncle Sam figure hitting DeLay's head.

An April 15 New York Times headline proclaimed: "10 Ex-G.O.P. Lawmakers Attack Changes in Ethics Rules." Reporters Philip Shenon and Sheryl Gay Stolberg began:
"Ten former members of Congress, all Republicans, joined in a letter to the House leadership on Thursday to say they believed that revisions in House ethics rules this year were an 'obvious action to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay' from investigation. They said the changes needed to be reversed 'to restore public confidence in the People's House.'
"The letter, to be presented Friday to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, is signed by Mark Andrews, a former member of both the Senate and the House from North Dakota, and nine other former House Republicans...."
"Apart from Mr. Andrews, those who signed the letter were John H. Buchanan of Alabama, M. Caldwell Butler of Virginia, Paul Findley of Illinois, Bud Hillis of Indiana, James Johnson of Colorado, Richard W. Mallary of Vermont, Wiley Mayne of Iowa, Pete McCloskey of California and G. William Whitehurst of Virginia."

For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com

CBS Ignores Unprecedented Use of Filibuster
to Block Judges

In a Friday night look at the so-called "nuclear option" considered by Republicans to block the organized filibustering by Democrats of several of Bush's judicial nominees, the CBS Evening News managed to ignore a major Republican argument: The unprecedented nature of the Senate's minority party using the filibuster to block not bills, but individual judicial nominees who have majority support. Instead, Gloria Borger touted how Democrats see the judicial filibuster "as their constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances." After noting how Christian conservatives are pressing Republicans to get the confirmations, Borger relayed how "Democrats say mixing faith and politics is dangerous." She concluded by highlighting how the media's favorite Republican, John McCain, is amongst the "traditionalists" who say "this could boomerang on the Republicans if" they are again in the minority.

CBS's John Roberts & Gloria Borger CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts set up the April 15 segment, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
"A big battle is coming in the Senate over President Bush's judicial nominations and the use of the filibuster to try to stop them. And now religion is becoming a part of that fight. CBS News correspondent Gloria Borger joins us now from Capitol Hill. Gloria?"
Borger checked in: "John, the Senate is headed towards a showdown over the so-called 'nuclear option.' That's a plan that's backed by the White House that would stop the Democrats from filibustering judicial nominees. Americans first saw a Senate filibuster -- albeit a Hollywood one -- in 1939 [black and white scenes of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington]. It's a Senate tradition that allows the minority to block anything that does not get 60 votes. In the case of judges, Republican leaders charge that the Democrats are deliberately using the filibuster to keep conservative judicial nominees from even getting a Senate vote."
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader: "Let people vote yes or no but to give advice and consent, which is our constitutional responsibility."
Borger: "Democrats, who are the minority, see it as their constitutional responsibility to provide checks and balances."
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL): "They want it all. They want every nominee, and sadly they're about to assault this Constitution."
Borger: "But the fight has expanded way beyond the Senate. After Congress forced the courts to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case last month, the question of just who sits on the bench has become issue number one for social conservatives."
Tony Perkins, Family Research Council: "Now you have the judicial branch acting with virtually no accountability. And, clearly, if there is an 800-pound gorilla that's throwing around its weight, it's not the legislative branch nor the executive branch. It's wrapped in a black robe."
Borger: "Perkins' group is working with Senate leaders to mobilize the faithful to push for an end to the filibuster. In this case, Democrats say mixing faith and politics is dangerous."
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY): "To inject this into politics, to say, 'I know that I am right and God tells me I'm right and he tells me that your whole party, your whole group is wrong,' that's not what America's all about."
Borger: "John, this could come to a head as early as next week. Right now, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is out there trolling for votes. If he does get them, the Democrats are threatening to shut this place down."
Roberts to Borger: "You would think, Gloria, that if he is this close to exercising the nuclear option that he'd have the other 54 senators in line."
Borger: "He doesn't, John. There are lots of traditionalists in the Senate. One of them is John McCain, Republican of Arizona. He says that he's been around long enough to remember when he was in the minority, and he says this could boomerang on the Republicans if that ever happens again, John."

Mitchell's Promise of a GOP Scandal Over
Oil-for-Food Falls Apart

NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell Just a few weeks before last year's presidential election, NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell predicted Republicans would be embarrassed by a "huge scandal" over "Texas oilmen who were involved in that Oil-for-Food scandal." But when on Thursday's NBC Nightly News Mitchell reported on the first arrest of a Texas oilman for allegedly conspiring with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, Mitchell neglected to associate him or his accomplices with either political party. Perhaps that's because the man arrested, David Chalmers, who heads BayOil USA, is listed as a donor to Democratic campaign efforts.

[The MRC's Rich Noyes recognized the Mitchell contrast and submitted this item for CyberAlert.]

A search of the Center for Responsive Politics online database at opensecrets.org shows only one political contribution by Chalmers in the past six years, a $1,000 gift to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee on June 22, 2000, at a time when New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli was heading up the committee.

On the October 10, 2004 Chris Matthews Show, Mitchell offered this tantalizing pre-election insight. Referring to a just-released report by Iraqi weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, a report which also detailed ways in which Saddam Hussein avoided international sanctions in order to finance his weapons buildup, Mitchell predicted:
"Look for a huge scandal over the Texas oilmen who were involved in that oil for food scandal, who had their own piece of the action. The French are furious that they were named, the Americans were not named in that CIA report, and now the American names are coming, dribbling out."
Host Chris Matthews eagerly followed up: "Influential names in that group? Political connections?"
Mitchell: "Yep."
Matthews posed the relevant political question: "D or R?"
Mitchell smiled as she answered: "R."

The "huge scandal" for Republicans that Mitchell foresaw did not materialize before the election, probably to her chagrin. Fast forward to the April 14 NBC Nightly News. It fell to Mitchell to provide the details of the arrest of David Chalmers, the head of a small Houston-based oil company, BayOil USA, and two of his oil traders.

Mitchell scrupulously avoided mentioning Chalmers' political leanings as she summarized the U.S. government's case against him: "U.S. prosecutors say while George Bush was challenging Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator was being propped up by millions of dollars in secret kickbacks from a Texas oilman and his partners, money that was intended to feed hungry Iraqi children under a U.N. program."

NBC then showed FBI agent John Klochan, speaking at press conference: "Motivated by greed, they flouted the law, made a mockery of the stated aims of the Oil-for-Food program, and willingly conspired with a foreign government, with whom our country was on the brink of war."

Mitchell picked up the story: "The indictment charges David Chalmers and his company, BayOil, headquartered in Houston, and two traders the government says helped Chalmers cut his deal with Saddam."

Then a soundbite from U.S. Attorney David Kelley, from the same press conference at which Klochan spoke: "The defendants were essentially diverting funds that otherwise would have been deposited into the Oil-for-Food escrow account from which humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people was to be paid."

Mitchell added: "Chalmers' attorney said he and his company will vigorously fight the charges."

Not Even Tim Russert Is Aware of Good
News and Normalcy in Iraq

If NBC News and the rest of the media are putting much emphasis on news from Iraq beyond violence it would be hard to tell from a question Tim Russert, who you'd have to consider a heavy news consumer, posed, on Sunday's Meet the Press, to New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, who is just back from Baghdad. Russert wondered about the life of the average Iraqi: "Are they going to work? Is the city functioning? Are kids going school? Are the markets open?" Filkins informed Russert that "on most days, Baghdad is a very normal, Middle Eastern city" and "the amount of car traffic has, you know, quadrupled or possibly more. The traffic, the streets are jammed, the schools are open. There's lots of commerce."

Russert devoted the first half of the April 17 Meet the Press to the Tom DeLay situation. Then he brought aboard NBC News reporter Jim Miklaszewski and Filkins, both just back from Iraq. Most of the segment stuck to problems in Iraq, but at one point Russert wondered:
"Dexter, talk about life in Baghdad as opposed to pre the fall of Saddam. What is the average guy, the average lady, do they get up in the morning? Are they going to work? Is the city functioning? Are kids going school? Are the markets open? What do you see?
Filkins: "All those things. I mean, the truth is, you know, on most days, Baghdad is a very normal, Middle Eastern city. You know, after the fall off Saddam, there was a huge economic boom. They took down all the duties, you know, the amount of car traffic has, you know, quadrupled or possibly more. The traffic, the streets are jammed, the schools are open. There's lots of commerce. So in that sense, it's a very vibrant, bustling place. It's just sort of punctuated by, you know, this terrible violence. But, you know, it's difficult to describe the country because you have these very dramatic moments of violence. But the truth is, you know, most of the time, it's pretty normal."
Russert: "What about the newspapers, the television, the radio? What are the people in Iraq seeing and hearing? Is there honest and open debate?"
Filkins: "There is. Yeah, there's plenty of debate. I mean, the shadow of Saddam Hussein is still, still lingers over everybody, but I mean, you can really see that. But one of the things that everybody bought after Saddam fell was satellite dishes. I mean, there's just zillions of them now. And so everybody gets everything from, you know, CNN to Al-Jazeera. So yeah, there's no shortage of information and opinions now."
Russert returned to the negative: "Reconstruction, Mik, there was a lot of emphasis by our government that we were going to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq. In fact, the former Deputy Defense Secretary, Wolfowitz, said that the oil revenues that would be generated from increased production would begin to finance a lot of our military and economic operation. Every article I have read indicates that reconstruction is way behind schedule. What's happening?"

-- Brent Baker