Nets Obscure Earle's Partisan Affiliation; CBS Didn't With Starr --9/29/2005
2. Cafferty Brags About His "Has He Been Indicted Yet?" Flip Remark
3. MSNBC's Olbermann Implies He Sees Limbaugh as a "Rude, Vile Pig"
4. Kurtz Scolds Media for Not Describing ANSWER's True Agenda
5. Gallup: By 3-to-1 Public Sees Liberal Over Conservative Bias
6. Conservative House Speaker the Ogre on ABC's 'Commander in Chief'
The CBS Evening News, which described Ken Starr as the "Republican" independent counsel, on Wednesday night went out of its way to avoid alerting viewers to how Ronnie Earle, the Texas county prosecutor behind the indictment of Tom DeLay, is a Democrat. Anchor Bob Schieffer twice described DeLay not by his title as House Majority Leader, but as the "House Republican Leader." While Schieffer relayed how DeLay "says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney," viewers did not learn of Earle's party affiliation until three-fourths the way through Jim Stewart's story when Stewart related how DeLay believes "the personal vendetta of Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle" is "the real cause of his problems."
ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas teased at the top of World News Tonight how "one of the most powerful men in Washington is facing the prospect of jail time" and she proceeded to identify Earle as simply "a prosecutor." Reporter Linda Douglass cited "District Attorney Ronnie Earle" before, late in her piece, attributing Earle's partisan status to an assertion by DeLay, as if it's a matter of dispute: "DeLay says the prosecutor is a Democrat on a witch-hunt." (Douglass did note that "the indictment provided no evidence that DeLay knew anything.")
In contrast, by citing a claim by DeLay, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams strongly hinted up front at Earle's affiliation. He teased: "Tonight, indicted. Tom DeLay, facing criminal conspiracy charges. The House Majority Leader calls the prosecutor 'a partisan fanatic.'" Chip Reid noted how "DeLay today unleashed a bitter attack on Earle, who is a Democrat." But Reid countered with how "in an interview with NBC News earlier this year, Earle vigorously denied his investigation of DeLay was motivated by politics."
[This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comment, go to: newsbusters.org ]
From the MRC archive, a sampling of instances when Dan Rather added a partisan label to independent counsel Ken Starr:
# "There is growing controversy tonight, about whether the newly named independent counsel in the Whitewater case is independent or a Republican partisan allied with a get-Clinton movement. Among the questions about Kenneth Starr are these: the involvement of anti-Clinton activists in pushing for Starr's appointment to replace Robert Fiske. Also, Starr's public stand actively supporting a woman's current lawsuit against the President. This is a potentially important and explosive story, correspondent Rita Braver has the latest." -- Dan Rather on the August 8, 1994 CBS Evening News.
# "The Republican Whitewater offensive is taking an unprecedented turn: First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton has been subpoenaed and now must testify before a Whitewater federal grand jury. That grand jury is led by a Republican prosecutor, Kenneth Starr." -- Dan Rather on the CBS Evening News, January 22, 1996.
# "New indications in a CBS News poll out tonight of how the public perceives Republican special prosecutor Ken Starr's investigation. Our poll suggests only 27 percent believe Starr is conducting an impartial probe. And 55 percent think it's time for Starr to drop his investigation." -- Dan Rather, March 2, 1998 CBS Evening News .
# "Ken Starr drops another load on President Clinton....Good evening. Just as President Clinton was enjoying a day talking up the economy, officially announcing the first U.S. budget surplus in three decades, Ken Starr hit him again. The Republican independent counsel and special prosecutor decided late in the day to announce his decision to press his subpoena for samples of Monica Lewinsky's handwriting, fingerprints and her voice." -- Dan Rather at the top of the May 26, 1998 CBS Evening News.
# "Al Gore must stand and deliver here tonight as the Democratic Party's presidential nominee. And now Gore must do so against the backdrop of a potentially damaging, carefully orchestrated story leak about President Clinton. The story is that Republican-backed special prosecutor Robert Ray, Ken Starr's successor, has a new grand jury looking into possible criminal charges against the President growing out of Mr. Clinton's sex life." -- Dan Rather opening the August 17, 2000 CBS Evening News from the Democratic convention in Los Angeles. A federal judge appointed by President Carter admitted he inadvertently leaked the news.
Bob Schieffer, in opening teaser: "Good evening. I'm Bob Schieffer. Big trouble for Tom DeLay. The House Republican Leader is indicted on conspiracy charges in a campaign finance scheme. He says he's the innocent victim of a rogue district attorney. We start there tonight, then we'll have these stories."
Schieffer: "The investigation has been under way for over a year now, and today, the indictments were finally handed down. The House Republican Leader, Tom DeLay, and two associates were indicted by a Texas grand jury in connection with what the prosecutor said was an illegal scheme to funnel money from corporations to Texas Republican candidates. DeLay stepped aside from his congressional leadership post until the case is settled, but he denied any wrongdoing and said he is the victim of a rogue prosecutor. Here's Jim Stewart in Washington."
Schieffer than ran through GOP troubles before Gloria Borger, from Capitol Hill, stressed impending doom and how the indictment "really very much plays into the Democrats' charges that Republicans are abusing their power."
Schieffer: "As Jim says, this is just the latest news for Republicans. Reports surfaced recently that federal investigators are looking into some of Senate Republican Leader Bill Frist's stock transactions, a White House aide was arrested last week in connection with a scandal involving a major lobbyist, all of this while, as Jim said, the President's approval ratings are sinking. We want to bring in Gloria Borger from Capitol Hill. Now, Gloria, are Republicans worried about the fallout from this? They must be."
Coverage on ABC's World News Tonight:
Elizabeth Vargas' tease: "On World News Tonight, one of the most powerful men in Washington indicted in a campaign finance scheme. He calls it a political witch-hunt. Tonight, the implications for the Republican Party and the President."
Vargas began: "Good evening. They call him 'The Hammer.' Congressman Tom DeLay is known for many things in Washington -- steering President Bush's legislation through the House, keeping his fellow Republicans in line. That's the 'Hammer' part. But most of all, he's been incredibly successful at raising money for other members of Congress. Today, in his home state of Texas, a prosecutor charged Mr. DeLay with violating the state law that regulates how that money is raised. And tonight, one of the most powerful men in Washington is facing the prospect of jail time. We begin with ABC's Linda Douglass on Capitol Hill."
Vargas then turned to George Stephanopoulos, who appeared from Washington, DC:
Vargas: "The indictment today has big implications for the Republican Party and the President. And ABC's George Stephanopoulos joins us. George, Mr. Delay says he's the victim of a, quote, 'political witch-hunt,' by a, quote, 'partisan fanatic.' Is any part of that true?"
Some excerpts from the NBC Nightly News coverage:
Brian Williams teased: "Tonight, indicted. Tom DeLay, facing criminal conspiracy charges. The House Majority Leader calls the prosecutor 'a partisan fanatic.'"
Williams led his broadcast: "Good evening. Tonight a blast out of Texas has taken the place of the ongoing storm aftermath at the very top of our broadcast tonight and it's in the form of an indictment. Tom DeLay, the Majority Leader in the House of Representatives, the second most powerful Republican in the House, was indicted today. He is out of that management job for now. He's an enormously powerful politician and this case is charged with politics. This Texas indictment echoed loudly inside the Bush White House."
In his subsequent story, Chip Reid noted: "DeLay today unleashed a bitter attack on Earle, who is a Democrat."
DeLay: "This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution, the all-too predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic."
Hours after the indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was revealed, CNN's Jack Cafferty boasted of his "flip" comment a week earlier: "Has he been indicted yet?" On Wednesday's The Situation Room, Cafferty insisted "I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment. A lot of you laughed out loud. It was an off-hand comment. Some of you wrote and were highly critical of what I said. But it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto." Cafferty moved on to his new question of the hour to which he elicited e-mail comments: "So here's the question today. Should Tom DeLay resign from Congress? Not from his leadership role, from the House of Representatives?" Later in the hour, Cafferty wisecracked: "Has Tom DeLay resigned yet? Wolf?"
The September 22 CyberAlert recounted Cafferty's September 21 remark: Cafferty's cheap shot at House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. After Jack Cafferty read some viewer e-mails, on Wednesday's The Situation Room on CNN, about ideas on how to pay for Katrina, anchor Wolf Blitzer noted DeLay's silly claim that "there's no pork" and "everything is essential" in the federal budget. That prompted Cafferty to ask: "Has he been indicted yet?" That broke up Blitzer who chucked through his wrap-up of the segment: "Well, we'll leave that alone. Jack Cafferty, thank you very much."
For video, in both RealPlayer and Windows Media formats, go to: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Megan McCormack caught Cafferty's bragging at 3:12pm EDT on the September 28 Situation Room:
[Clip from the September 21 Situation Room:
Cafferty, back live: "You can't make this stuff up. I can assure you I had no inside information on DeLay's upcoming indictment. A lot of you laughed out loud. It was an off-hand comment. Some of you wrote and were highly critical of what I said. But it's probably a piece of videotape that I'm going to hang onto. So here's the question today. Should Tom DeLay resign from Congress? Not from his leadership role, from the House of Representatives?..."
A little more than a half hour later, at 3:52pm EDT, Jack Cafferty asked: "Has Tom DeLay resigned yet? Wolf?"
[The MRC's Brad Wilmouth posted this item late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, with a video clip. To post your comment or to watch the video excerpt, in either RealPlayer or Windows Media format: newsbusters.org ]
The August 22 CyberAlert recounted: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center as "a scam" and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the "worser" slot in his nightly "worst person" gimmick, that "the only person distorting as usual is Bozell." Olbermann was defending himself "against the charge of wacky guy" Bozell who "accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'" Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the "Worst Person in the World" for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent."
For RealPlayer and Windows Media Player video of Olbermann's brief August 19 rant, go to the NewsBuster's posting: newsbusters.org
For the August 17 NewsBusters item with video of an earlier Olbermann rant against Limbaugh: newsbusters.org
Olbermann started his September 28 "Keeping Tabs" segment by relaying the story of Elton John's offer to perform a private concert for a substantial fee. He then played a clip of John shouting "rude, vile pig" at paparazzi members, and joked that the clip was a preview of one of John's songs. The Countdown host then flamboyantly pretended to be excited that this song might be played at the concert and, in an over-the-top manner, repeatedly shouted, "Rude, vile pig!" as he pumped his fists while the video screen beside him displayed a picture of Limbaugh. After quickly reassembling his composure, Olbermann immediately transitioned into an update on Limbaugh's legal problems by saying, "Which brings us to the latest on the Rush Limbaugh investigation."
Olbermann: "And Christmas is our tenuous segue from that story to our nightly romp through the self-indulgent world of entertainment and celebrity, that which we call 'Keeping Tabs.' Not just Christmas but the newest high-priced item available in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue, Sir Elton John. That's right. Along with the $20,000 personal photo booth, the $200,000 rideable toy train set, and the Lexus Hybrid for $65,000, your own personal 90-minute Elton John concert is available. You and 499 friends can be entertained by the rocker for a mere million and a half, all of which goes to Elton's AIDS foundation. That would be $3,000 a person, by the way. But, for a limited time, we here at Countdown can offer you this free no-obligation preview."
In an online posting Wednesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz rebuked his colleagues: "The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C." Kurtz observed that "many journalists shortchanged their readers and viewers in not saying more about the radical group ANSWER." Kurtz provided a compilation of examinations of ANSWER which nearly all the media ignored and highlighted how, in Slate, Christopher Hitchens chastised a New York Times reporter for gently describing ANSWER as a group which "embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives." Hitchens pounced, noting that ANSWER is really a "group run by the 'Worker's World' party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the 'resistance' in Afghanistan and Iraq."
An excerpt from Kurtz's September 28 "Media Notes" session, of which Tim Scheiderer of Creative Response Concepts alerted me:
The media have done a poor job of describing who was behind Saturday's big antiwar demo in D.C. This is in no way to cast aspersions on the tens of thousands of ordinary folks who showed up to demonstrate their opposition to U.S. policy in Iraq. But many journalists shortchanged their readers and viewers in not saying more about the radical group ANSWER.
The Washington Post offered this brief description of ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice: "Both groups have sponsored other major demonstrations against the war in Iraq but also protested U.S. foreign policy in places ranging from Haiti to the Gaza Strip."
I wonder if the media would have resorted to such shorthand in covering a group as far to the right as ANSWER is to the left. In Slate, Christopher Hitchens blames journalistic laziness:
"Saturday's demonstration in Washington, in favor of immediate withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq, was the product of an opportunistic alliance between two other very disparate 'coalitions.' Here is how the New York Times (after a front-page and an inside headline, one of them reading 'Speaking Up Against War' and one of them reading 'Antiwar Rallies Staged in Washington and Other Cities') described the two constituencies of the event:
"The protests were largely sponsored by two groups, the Answer Coalition, which embodies a wide range of progressive political objectives, and United for Peace and Justice, which has a more narrow, antiwar focus .
"The name of the reporter on this story was Michael Janofsky. I suppose that it is possible that he has never before come across 'International ANSWER,' the group run by the 'Worker's World' party and fronted by Ramsey Clark, which openly supports Kim Jong-il, Fidel Castro, Slobodan Milosevic, and the 'resistance' in Afghanistan and Iraq, with Clark himself finding extra time to volunteer as attorney for the genocidaires in Rwanda. Quite a 'wide range of progressive political objectives' indeed, if that's the sort of thing you like. However, a dip into any database could have furnished Janofsky with well-researched and well-written articles by David Corn and Marc Cooper--to mention only two radical left journalists--who have exposed 'International ANSWER' as a front for (depending on the day of the week) fascism, Stalinism, and jihadism."
[For the Hitchens piece: slate.msn.com ]
Andrew Sullivan [www.andrewsullivan.com ] is equally appalled:
"I'm sorry, but I can respect criticism of the conduct of this war. In fact, I find it hard to respect those who refuse to subject the conduct of this war to constructive criticism. But I cannot respect the organizations and agenda that pollute such legitimate criticism, or their fellow-travelers. Anyone who attends rallies organized by International ANSWER deserves no quarter and no hearing. And the notion that abruptly abandoning the beleaguered Iraqi people to the tender mercy of Jihadists is somehow 'progressive' boggles the mind. As Hitch observed of the motley crew in Washington last weekend: 'Was there a single placard saying, 'No to Jihad'? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, 'Yes to Kurdish self-determination' or 'We support Afghan women's struggle'? Don't make me laugh.'"...
END of Excerpt
For the posting in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Nearly three times as many of those polled in a new Gallup survey said they believe the media are "too liberal" than "too conservative." Gallup's Tuesday press release for the poll, which is earning publicity for how it found that "trust and confidence in the news media is up" from last year, reported: "When asked about the news media's political slant, Americans are much more likely to say they are too liberal (46%) than they are to say they are about right (37%) or too conservative (16%). Those views are consistent with what Gallup has measured since 2001. The percentage of Americans saying the news media are too liberal has ranged between 45% and 48%, and has always been the plurality response. There has been a slight increase in the public's sentiment that the media are too conservative, from 11% in 2001 to 16% today."
Last year, 48 percent saw the media as "too liberal" compared to 15 percent who thought the media were "too conservative." Given the plus/minus three percent margin of error, the numbers are essentially unchanged from last September.
[This item was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comment: newsbusters.org ]
(The MRC's Rich Noyes just updated our "Media Bias Basics" section with thorough rundowns -- excerpts, graphs and tables for polls going back decades -- of how the media vote, how the public views the media as well as long lists of quotes from journalists admitting and denying liberal bias. Go to: www.mediaresearch.org )
From the September 27 Gallup press release (which requires a paid subscription to access), some more findings:
# "About 3 in 10 Republicans (31%) say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust and confidence in the media, while the vast majority of Republicans (69%) say they have very little or no trust in the media. The results are essentially opposite among Democrats, with 70% expressing a great deal or fair amount confidence in the media and 30% very little or no confidence."
# "Eight in 10 Republicans (81%) say the news media are too liberal, while 15% say they are about right, and just 3% say they are too conservative. Among Democrats, a majority (57%) says the news media are just about right, while the rest are almost equally divided in their description of the news media as too liberal (18%) and too conservative (23%)."
ABC's new Commander in Chief drama, which debuted Tuesday night, clearly intends to make the conservative Republican "House Speaker Nathan Templeton," played by Donald Sutherland, the foil on the show revolving around Geena Davis as "President Mackenzie Allen." On the debut, Republican "President Teddy Roosevelt Bridges" dies of an aneurysm, but before he does so he asks VP Allen, an independent with more liberal views, to resign so the Speaker can become President since he "shares my vision." Allen plans to do so, enraging her chief aide who declares of Templeton: "This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi." And he warns that a Templeton presidency would mean "the return of book-burning, creationism in the classroom, invading every third world country."
[This item was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views on the ABC drama: newsbusters.org ]
During a meeting with Allen, who is on a quest to save a Nigerian woman sentenced to death by stoning for having a baby outside of marriage, Templeton enrages Allen by deriding the woman as "the adulteress" and "a lady who couldn't keep her legs together." (As if that's how conservatives view the plight of women in the world.) Templeton's buffoonery prompts Allen to fold up the draft of her resignation letter -- and thus make the theme of the TV series, a woman President, occur. Sutherland is a leading character on the show and the preview of next week's episode suggests that he will "sabotage" Allen's VP pick.
Early in the September 27 episode, Allen derisively refers to "Nathan 'Bloody Hell' Templeton."
Fuller transcripts of the scenes cited above:
# "Vince Taylor, chief aide" to the VP pleads with Allen to not resign: "Nathan Templeton? Come on. This guy makes Genghis Khan look like Mahatma Gandhi. You can't be serious."
# A conversation between Taylor and "Communications Director Kelly Ludlow," reading from her draft of a resignation speech:
# Templeton, meeting with Allen.
Allen, reacting to Templeton's claim that the world, especially leaders in the Middle East, will not respect a woman President: "Not only that Nathan, but we have that whole once a month will she or won't she press the button thing."
Allen then folds up and puts aside draft of her resignation letter.
-- Brent Baker