2. Mary Mapes: Bush National Guard Report Still "Is a Good Story"
3. "Memogate" Mapes Tells CNN's King She Had No Political Agenda
4. New CBS News President: "I Don't See" Any Liberal Bias On CBS
5. NBC: Lack of "Affirmative Action" Behind Rioting in France
6. Today's Movie Critic Calls Desert Storm "America's First Oil War"
7. Letterman's "Top Ten Signs You've Run a Bad Campaign"
Eight years ago, when a Democrat was President and Republicans won the governorships in New Jersey and Virginia, CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather gave the results a piddling 12 seconds, didn't even utter the names of the winners and made clear that local issues -- "the high cost of automobile insurance and a tax on car ownership" -- were "the key issues." But on Wednesday night, the same newscast gave a minute and thirty seconds to the election results which included names as anchor Bob Schieffer inserted an ideological label into his description of Virginia: "In New Jersey, Democrat Jon Corzine won one of the nastiest races ever. He'll be the next Governor there. And in conservative country, Virginia, another Democrat, Tim Kaine, won the Governor's race there." Gloria Borger then declared that "this was not a great night for President Bush, particularly in the state of Virginia." She cited how "he went in and he campaigned for the Republican candidate for Governor who lost, and, Bob, this was a state the President himself won by eight points in the last election." Borger ignored a basic fact which undermines her analysis: The Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia won in 2001 when Bush's approval rating, just two months after 9/11, was over 80 percent.
Back on the November 5, 1997 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw didn't bother to mention the two GOP gubernatorial victories as he set up a look at ballot initiatives by contending that "the big story out of the elections across the country yesterday was the status quo." But tonight (Wednesday), NBC anchor Brian Williams stressed how the election results "confirmed some Republican fears that President Bush's falling approval ratings may be a drag on the party." David Gregory, however, pointed out how "top Republicans dismiss the idea these results were symptoms of Mr. Bush's plunging popularity. Democrats also won the Virginia and New Jersey races, they noted, in 2001 when the President's approval ratings were sky-high." Gregory added that "Republicans eyeing next year's mid-term elections are nervous" and he concluded that this off-year vote "proved that just when the President thought things couldn't get worse, they did."
ABC's coverage Wednesday night didn't provide much quote-worthy, but certainly avoided the take Cokie Roberts delivered in 1997 that spun the two Democratic defeats into validation of the policies pushed by the Democratic President: "Incumbents did well because the economy's good, Peter. It's a direct correlation." The economy is good now, too.
[This article was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
(A Wednesday Media Reality Check by the MRC's Rich Noyes, which as distributed as a CyberAlert Special, "Media's Post-Election Spin Favors Democrats: In 1997, GOP Wins Spun as Happiness with Clinton's Status Quo; Now Reporters See Anti-Bush Anger," contrasted morning show coverage. See: www.mediaresearch.org )
During the panel segment on Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, Morton Kondracke of Roll Call pointed out:
I'd add that, presuming the Republican holds on to win the very close Attorney General race in Virginia against the NRA-endorsed Democrat, party control of the four statewide offices up on Tuesday, will switch from a 3-to-1 Democratic advantage to a 2-2 split because of both parties holding onto their two governorships and Republicans keeping the Virginia AG while picking up the Virginia Lieutenant Governor seat.
Contrasting coverage, 1997 versus 2005, equivalent first off-year elections after a presidential re-election (This year's CBS and NBC transcripts provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth):
# CBS Evening News:
+ November 5, 1997. Total coverage of the election results, this 12 seconds plus a couple of sentences on ballot initiatives:
Dan Rather: "Republicans today talked up the off-year election as a definite on year for them. The high cost of automobile insurance and a tax on car ownership were key issues in the two major governors' races. The GOP won both."
Bob Schieffer: "Well, it was also a bad night for Republicans who wanted to be Governors and one Republican Governor who wasn't even running. In New Jersey, Democrat Jon Corzine won one of the nastiest races ever. He'll be the next Governor there. And in conservative country, Virginia, another Democrat, Tim Kaine, won the Governor's race there. California's Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't on the ballot, but all the initiatives that he backed got beat. Our political correspondent Gloria Borger's in Washington tonight. Well, Gloria, you know what they always say at these off-year elections: The losers always say these were local races about local issues, the winners always say this shows there's a national trend developing. What do you read into what we learned last night?"
Borger: "They're worried about losing the House and maybe the Senate, Bob."
+ November 5, 1997:
Tom Brokaw avoided the gubernatorial elections: "The big story out of the elections across the country yesterday was the status quo. Incumbents and their parties did well and in voting on a variety of propositions, the public sent a signal: We're pretty happy with what we have right now."
Gwen Ifill then checked in with a summary of the ballot initiatives.
Brian Williams: "Now to Election Day 2005, which, by the way, confirmed some Republican fears that President Bush's falling approval ratings may be a drag on the party. But even as Democrats celebrate big wins in the two governors' races, others say you can't read a national trend into last night's results. Here is NBC News chief White House correspondent David Gregory."
David Gregory: "It was a big night for Democrats who portrayed gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey as a black eye for President Bush."
+ November 5, 1997:
Peter Jennings: "Taxes were a big issue in many of the election contests around the country yesterday -- local taxes. In the Virginia Governor's race, Republican Jim Gilmore beat Democrat Don Beyer -- car taxes there. In New Jersey, Christie Todd Whitman eked out a one percent victory over her challenger, Jim McGreevey. The big issues were property taxes and car insurance. And Republican Rudy Giuliani was re-elected easily to a second term as Mayor of New York. And we're joined by Cokie Roberts tonight, who's had a chance to analyze all the results of yesterday. Cokie, a couple of things. First of all, incumbents, they did well."
Roberts went on to discuss the ballot initiatives.
Elizabeth Vargas: "A lot of Democratic politicians are in good spirits today, after the results of last night's voting, in many parts of the country. Democrats Jon Corzine and Timothy Kaine won Governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia. In California, voters dealt Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger a significant blow, rejecting all four ballot initiatives that he wanted to re-shape how the state isn governed. One bright spot for Republicans was in New York, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg won a second term in a landslide. In Texas, voters approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage, while voters in Maine decided to keep that state's gay rights law. Democrats said the gubernatorial results represent a rejection of the President and foreshadow victories next year. Republicans said the voting hinged on local issues."
A minute or so into the interview Ross and Mapes got into the question of the documents and whether the responsibility was to prove the documents authentic before airing the story, or if any documents could be used until someone else proved them to be false. Mapes maintained that "I'm perfectly willing to believe those documents are forgeries if there's proof that I haven't seen." But when Ross asked, "isn't it the other way around? Don't you have to prove they're authentic?", Mapes contended: "Well, I think that's what critics of the story would say. I know more now than I did then and I think, I think they have not been proved to be false, yet." Ross pointed out: "Have they proved to be authentic though? Isn't that really what journalists do?" Mapes insisted: "No, I don't think that's the standard."
[This item was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org, by the MRC's Brian Boyd. To post a comment or to watch the video excerpt rendered by the MRC's Michelle Humphrey, in either Real or Windows Media formats, go to: newsbusters.org ]
A full transcription of the taped interview aired on the November 9 GMA:
Charlie Gibson: "We're going to turn next to the woman whose investigative reporting on President Bush backfired and ignited a scandal at CBS News that wound up involving anchorman Dan Rather. Former CBS News producer Mary Mapes tells her side of the story in a new book out called 'Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power.' And she's given her first interview to our chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross, who's here with me this morning, Brian."
Asked by Larry King Wednesday night live on CNN whether she had a personal agenda against President George W. Bush, Mary Mapes, the CBS News producer fired in January for her role in the forged National Guard memos and representations she made to her colleagues, shot back: "Oh my God no, no of course not." She insisted that "Dan Rather and I did stories on Hillary Clinton, we did stories on the Clinton administration and terrorism...you question whoever is in your cross-hairs." Hillary Clinton, however, was hardly in her "cross-hairs" when she produced for Rather a 24-minute tribute to her that aired on the May 24, 1999 60 Minutes II and included such tough statements from Rather as, "once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning" and: "The agenda she lays out seems downright old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and families..."
Back to CNN Wednesday night, King fretted: "Who got you? The bloggers?" Mapes said she knew of the Drudge Report, but "I really wasn't aware of these really political blogs" and so when "the next day at about 11 o'clock this stuff, this drumbeat started saying the documents were false and I was just incredulous because the White House hadn't raised it, they hadn't indicated this in any way, we didn't have any evidence of that and they went nuts." As she did on Wednesday's Good Morning America, as recounted in this NewsBusters item by Brian Boyd, Mapes maintained her stance that no one has disproved the authenticity of the memos: "Their criticisms last year really didn't reach the bar of proof at all."
[This item was posted Wednesday night, with video, on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog. To post your thoughts or to watch a video clip, in either Real and Windows Media formats, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Mapes appeared on ABC and CNN to promote her new book, Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power. Amazon's page for it: www.amazon.com
King: "How about those who said you had a motivation, that you were interested in defeating Bush. You, Mary Mapes."
Defending herself against the charge that she had any bias against Bush, Mapes cited how "Dan Rather and I did stories on Hillary Clinton" -- clearly implying they were as tough on her as on Bush. Not quite. She was the producer of a May 26, 1999 fawning tribute to then-First Lady Hillary Clinton which lasted an amazing 24 minutes. (If you look closely at the small still shot, which is in the NewsBusters posting and will be added to the MRC.org posting, you can see Mapes' name behind Rather.)
The May 27, 1999 MRC CyberAlert provided a full rundown of the entire segment and features a nearly four-minute RealPlayer video clip: www.mediaresearch.org
CBS News should be ashamed and embarrassed by Dan Rather's 60 Minutes II interview with Hillary Clinton which aired Wednesday night, May 26. But they won't be since if they weren't proud of it they would not have allocated an incredible 24 minutes of prime time to running the tribute which was so long they had to divide it up into two 12 minute segments.
CBS delivered more of a campaign commercial for her Senate run, or the kind of interview you'd expect if she appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell Show, than a probing news interview.
No one term can fully impart what CBS aired, so I'll list a bunch of descriptions: gushing, exalting, praising, cheering, admiring, adoring, idolizing, etc.
Amongst the comments and "questions" uttered by Rather:
-- "For whom do you root, the Mets or the Yankees?" -- "First Lady Hillary Clinton is a political superstar." -- "Once a political lightning rod, today she is political lightning." -- "It's hard to know what keeps her going through marital problems made public, political fights turned ugly, through triumphs, disasters and always the demands of her work." -- "The agenda she lays out seems downright old-fashioned. She sees her work as focusing on children and families..." -- "What are the possibilities that one day, some day you'll run for President?" -- "Of all the allegations, accusations, charges made what do you consider to be the most unfair attack?"
And even all that does not adequately communicate the full adulation of this piece. You really have to read it or watch it to believe it, which is why I've transcribed so much of it and have asked MRC Webmaster Sean Henry to post a clip.
In front of the usual 60 Minutes wall board, with the story title "Hillary" over a picture of her, Rather opened: "She is a woman on a first name basis with the world. First Lady Hillary Clinton is a political superstar. She has a history of making history and tonight she's on vacation in Florida deciding whether to do it again, this time by making a run for the United States Senate in New York. We sat down together a few days ago and she talked about her future and her recent past. She outlined what she believes in, what she hopes for and how she's gotten through the hard times in the White House." ....
END of Excerpt
At a Tuesday meeting with CBS News staff, new CBS News President Sean McManus asserted that the people of CBS News "do a darned good job at" shutting out their political opinions and so "I don't see" any liberal bias in CBS News coverage. Vaughn Ververs recounted in a Tuesday evening posting for the "Public Eye" blog on CBSNews.com: "Asked if he feels the need to address perceptions that CBS has a left-wing bias, McManus said no, adding, 'it's very difficult for any reporter or producer to completely and totally shut out his political opinions, but what I've seen at CBS News, people do a darned good job at doing that. I guess if I saw that creeping into our coverage I would have to address it, but I don't see that in our coverage, I think we have been falsely accused of that at times.'"
[This item was posted Wednesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
An October 27 CyberAlert article recalled how "in 2000, appearing on C-SPAN the day before the start of the Republican convention in Philadelphia, Andrew Heyward denied a caller's contention that CBS reflected a liberal bias and denigrated MRC President Brent Bozell and the late Reed Irvine of Accuracy in Media as 'activists and extremists of the right.' Heyward argued that viewers confused 'tough questions' to 'the establishment' posed by CBS reporters with liberal bias and went so far as to seriously maintain that of 'the people I work with, many of them are surprisingly conservative.' Plus, he said with a straight face: 'Our job is to communicate the truth to people.'" See: www.mediaresearch.org
In a July 21, 1991 ABC Sports special before the Pan Am games, Fidel Castro: One on One, Jim McKay, the father of Sean McManus (McManus took the family's real name), "asked" Castro:
Since his retirement, McKay has admitted his liberal views. One wonders how far the apple has fallen from the tree.
ABC, CBS and NBC all ran stories Tuesday night explaining the "anger" behind the rioting in France by Muslim "youths," but on the NBC Nightly News reporter Jim Maceda went so far as to specifically complain about how "immigrants are left to fend for themselves, with no government affirmative action programs." Maceda did add how "even worse, the French economy is stagnant, with few new jobs being created," but he moved on to other comments about the rioting without anything more about the role of high taxes and regulation in causing that "stagnant" economy.
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog: newsbusters.org ]
The start of Jim Maceda's November 8 NBC Nightly News story from France:
Even the movie reviews on NBC's Today aren't free from liberal bias. During his review on Tuesday, of the new movie Jarhead, Gene Shalit lapsed into the language of Moveon.org types in his description of the film as "set in Desert Storm, America's first oil war."
[The MRC's Geoffrey Dickens posted this item Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Gene Shalit opened his November 8 review at the very end of the 9:30am half hour: "Good morning and welcome to the Critic's Corner. Jarhead, from the distinguished director Sam Mendes, is an immediate classic. No exploding mines, no flying shrapnel its glory is in its understatement, its frightening quietude. Jarhead, that's slang for a Marine, is set in Desert Storm, America's first oil war."
After coming back from a clip of the movie, I half-expected to see Shalit holding a "No blood for oil," protest sign.
From the November 8 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Signs You've Run a Bad Campaign." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. "Campaigned a month in Ohio before realizing you're running in Iowa"
9. "You endorsed your opponent"
8. "Campaign coverage always includes phrase "Pantless Candidate"
7. "Bird Flu? Your idea"
6. "Encouraged supporters to get out and vote this Thursday"
5. "You've pledged to 'Tax America back to the Stone Age'"
4. "Only endorsement is from disgraced former FEMA director Michael Brown"
3. "In the debates, you ignored the issues in favor of hilarious ' Yo mama so fat jokes'"
2. "Your slogan: 'I will destroy you'"
1. "You brag about having the magnetism of Gore and the intellect of Bush"
-- Brent Baker