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Nets Play Gore Blast at Bush Lawbreaking, MSNBC Mulls GOP Crackup --1/17/2006


1. Nets Play Gore Blast at Bush Lawbreaking, MSNBC Mulls GOP Crackup
NBC and ABC on Monday night gave time to short items on Al Gore's charge, leveled during a morning speech, that President Bush's "domestic surveillance" means he "has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently." And MSNBC's Countdown led with it as host Keith Olbermann showcased a clip of Gore with his allegation before Olbermann insisted: "Just more old-fashioned partisanship? Not when it's Bob Barr joining Gore in the same complaint about NSA spying. Not when it's Arlen Specter calling for a full investigation." Seeing great import in the Gore-Barr alliance, Olbermann ruminated about how "the creations of the last two serious third political parties in this country define the cliche politics makes strange bedfellows." Seemingly suggesting a potential repeat scenario, Olbermann recalled how in 1854 Republicans "started as a third party with disaffected Democrats abandoning their own sitting President..." NBC anchor Brian Williams passed along how "Al Gore noted that he gave the speech on Martin Luther King Day because Dr. King himself had been a victim of illegal domestic spying by the FBI." But in holding the FBI accountable for the "spying," Williams obscured who was behind it: Liberal heroes Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy.

2. News Outlets Yet to Correct Kennedy's Alito Smear Based on Satire
FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night picked up on how, in trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito as a bigot, Senator Ted Kennedy, in a quote showcased by many media outlets, read from what was really a satire. Hume noted how at the hearings last week Kennedy read this from a magazine published by Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP): "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic." Hume informed his viewers: "But the magazine's editor at the time says the article was pure satire, a send-up of what liberals think conservatives think. He added quote, 'I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them,' unquote." Last week, NBC, CNN and the Washington Post -- amongst many other outlets -- highlighted Kennedy's reading of the quote, which he displayed on a board behind him, yet none, as far as I've observed, have offered any clarification. NBC's Pete Williams featured the Kennedy soundbite on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News and Thursday's Today; CNN's Bob Franken recited it himself on Thursday's American Morning; and two Thursday Washington Post stories quoted Kennedy's citation of the quote.

3. "Top Ten Reasons Saddam Hussein's Chief Judge Resigned"
Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons Saddam Hussein's Chief Judge Resigned."


Nets Play Gore Blast at Bush Lawbreaking,
MSNBC Mulls GOP Crackup

NBC and ABC on Monday night gave time to short items on Al Gore's charge, leveled during a morning speech, that President Bush's "domestic surveillance" means he "has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently." And MSNBC's Countdown led with it as host Keith Olbermann showcased a clip of Gore with his allegation before Olbermann insisted: "Just more old-fashioned partisanship? Not when it's Bob Barr joining Gore in the same complaint about NSA spying. Not when it's Arlen Specter calling for a full investigation." Seeing great import in the Gore-Barr alliance, Olbermann ruminated about how "the creations of the last two serious third political parties in this country define the cliche politics makes strange bedfellows." Seemingly suggesting a potential repeat scenario, Olbermann recalled how in 1854 Republicans "started as a third party with disaffected Democrats abandoning their own sitting President and the Whigs, who had been in office until a year earlier, deserting en masse, putting aside their personal hatreds to create a one-issue party against slavery."

NBC anchor Brian Williams relayed how "Gore made some of the toughest charges yet from a prominent Democrat. He called for an independent investigation of the NSA spy program which he called a threat to the very structure of our government." After a clip of Gore's declaration, "What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law [rising applause] repeatedly and insistently," Williams offered no contrary view and then passed along how "Al Gore noted that he gave the speech on Martin Luther King Day because Dr. King himself had been a victim of illegal domestic spying by the FBI." But in holding the FBI accountable for the "spying," Williams obscured who was behind it: Liberal heroes Lyndon Johnson and Robert Kennedy. ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas at least pointed out that while "Gore called for an independent counsel to investigate the program," it's a policy "which the administration has said is, in fact, legal."

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

(UPDATE: Tuesday's Today on NBC highlighted the Gore rant and CBS's Early Show ran a full story on it by Bill Plante.)

The American Constitution Society and Liberty Coalition, with heavily promotion from MoveOn.org were behind the Monday morning address by Gore at the DAR's Constitution Hall in Washington, DC.

Transcripts of the January 16 coverage cited above:

# NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams: "Former presidential candidate Al Gore has come out hard against President Bush on the subject of domestic spying. Gore made some of the toughest charges yet from a prominent Democrat. He called for an independent investigation of the NSA spy program which he called a threat to the very structure of our government."
Al Gore, in speech: "At present we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law [rising applause] repeatedly and insistently."
Williams: "Al Gore noted that he gave the speech on Martin Luther King Day because Dr. King himself had been a victim of illegal domestic spying by the FBI."


# ABC's World News Tonight, Elizabeth Vargas: "Former Vice President Al Gore made an unusually strong attack today on the man he challenged for the presidency in the year 2000. Gore told a Washington audience that President Bush has been breaking the law by authorizing wiretapping without court approval. He called the anti-terrorism eavesdropping program a quote, 'threat to the structure of our government.' And Gore called for an independent counsel to investigate the program, which the administration has said is, in fact, legal."


# MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbemann's opening tease: "Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? Gore v. Bush, again."
Al Gore: "The President of the United States has been breaking the law -- repeatedly and insistently."
Olbermann: "Just more old-fashioned partisanship? Not when it's Bob Barr joining Gore in the same complaint about NSA spying. Not when it's Arlen Specter calling for a full investigation."

Olbermann then led his show by ruminating: "Good evening, Bob Barr and Al Gore, together again for the first time. We don't tend to think of it this way, but the creations of the last two serious third political parties in this country define the cliche politics makes strange bedfellows. 1912 saw Theodore Roosevelt split with the Republicans, and his hand-picked successor William Howard Taft. Roosevelt and the Progressive Party actually finished second in the vote that year. And in 1854 the Republicans themselves started as a third party with disaffected Democrats abandoning their own sitting President and the Whigs, who had been in office until a year earlier, deserting en masse, putting aside their personal hatreds to create a one-issue party against slavery.
"Our fifth story on the Countdown, this is not to say we're going to see another major third party brought into being this week, but here is the fact, once and again: Bob Barr and Al Gore together again for the first time, at least in theory. Former Congressman, now working to defend the Bill of Rights, all set to introduce the former Vice President at a bipartisan event in Washington this afternoon at which Mr. Gore would deliver a speech challenging the Bush administration's expansion of executive of power. That was the plan, anyway. Former Congressman Barr scheduled to appear from a remote location. The reality: Experiencing technical difficulties, Mr. Barr's satellite feed failing to work, leaving the man who won the 2000 presidential popular vote by 500,000 to wait on stage for several awkward minutes before someone else made the introduction. As for what followed, while no one would say Mr. Gore has become a great speaker, he has definitely become a more forceful one, ripping into the President on a host of constitutional issues, charging him with quote, 'breaking the law repeatedly and persistently' and calling on Congress to launch an investigation into NSA wiretapping, since the legislative body can't be trusted to do any investigating itself.
Al Gore: "A special counsel should be immediately appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that present him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We've had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzpatrick has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the executive branch has violated other laws. [edit jump] It should be a political issue in any race, regardless of party, section of the country, house of congress, for anyone who opposes the appointment of special counsel under these dangerous circumstances, when our Constitution is at risk."
Olbermann: "For more on what to make of the Gore speech and the Bob Barr introduction that was only symbolic, time now to call in Newsweek magazine's White House correspondent Richard Wolfe...."

News Outlets Yet to Correct Kennedy's
Alito Smear Based on Satire

FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night picked up on how, in trying to smear Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito as a bigot, Senator Ted Kennedy, in a quote showcased by many media outlets, read from what was really a satire. Hume noted how at the hearings last week Kennedy read this from a magazine published by Concerned Alumni of Princeton (CAP): "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic." Hume informed his viewers: "But the magazine's editor at the time says the article was pure satire, a send-up of what liberals think conservatives think. He added quote, 'I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them,' unquote." As Tim Graham noted in a Friday NewsBusters item, in his ABCNews.com blog that day, Jake Tapper first reported how Dinesh D'Souza, the editor to whom Hume referred, had let him know that the 1983 piece in Prospect magazine was satire. (For Graham's NewsBusters item: newsbusters.org )

Last week, NBC, CNN and the Washington Post -- amongst many other outlets -- highlighted Kennedy's reading of the quote, which he displayed on a board behind him, yet none, as far as I've observed, have offered any clarification. NBC's Pete Williams featured the Kennedy soundbite on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News and Thursday's Today; CNN's Bob Franken recited it himself on Thursday's American Morning; and two Thursday Washington Post stories quoted Kennedy's citation of the quote.

[This item was posted this morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your perspective, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Hume led his "Grapevine" segment on the January 16 Special Report with Brit Hume:
"In suggesting that Samuel Alito had belonged to a racist conservative group, Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy relied heavily on an essay published by the organization that sounded like a bigoted rant. The essay, titled 'In Defense of Elitism,' reads in part quote, 'People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic.' But the magazine's editor at the time says the article was pure satire, a send-up of what liberals think conservatives think. He added quote, 'I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them,' unquote."

On Friday, January 13, in his "Down and Dirty" blog on the ABCNews.com Web site, ABC News reporter Jake Tapper recounted:

Probing the debate over Alito's having said he was a member of the conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton on a 1985 job application with the Reagan Justice Department, I spoke to conservative intellectual Dinesh D'Souza of the Hoover Institution yesterday.

D'Souza worked for CAP from 1983 to 1985, editing CAP's controversial Prospect magazine. He said a number of the Democratic attacks on Samuel Alito were based on falsehoods.

First off, D'Souza says, one of the two stories from Prospect that Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-MA, read this week at the confirmation hearings was intended as a satire.

The 1983 essay "In Defense of Elitism" by Harry Crocker III included this line, read dramatically by Kennedy: "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns blacks and hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and hispanic..."

The essay may not have been funny, D'Souza acknowledges, but Kennedy read from it as if it had been serious instead of an attempt at humor.

"I think left-wing groups have been feeding Senator Kennedy snippets and he has been mindlessly reciting them," D'Souza said. "It was a satire."

END of Excerpt from Tapper's blog

For Tapper's blog entry in full: blogs.abcnews.com

At no time last week, from what I've been able to determine, did ABC or CBS run a soundbite of Kennedy reading the quote from the magazine.

Some examples of journalists who have featured Kennedy's blast, without any recognition it was really satire:

# NBC Nightly News, Wednesday, January 11. Pete Williams began:
"Democrats on the committee challenged Alito to explain something he wrote in 1985, applying for a promotion as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department. Listing his credentials, he said he was a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, describing it as a conservative alumni group. Judge Alito now says he doesn't remember joining it, but says he probably supported its fight to keep an ROTC program on Princeton's campus. Today, Senator Edward Kennedy asked if Alito agreed with other positions taken by the alumni group, reading from a magazine it published."
Senator Ted Kennedy, at hearing: "Quote: 'People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic.'"


# NBC's Today, Thursday, January 12, as caught by the MRC's Geoff Dickens. Pete Williams, picking up as he explained what led to Mrs. Alito crying:
"It all began when Democrats questioned Alito about something he wrote in 1985 applying for a promotion as a lawyer in the Reagan Justice Department. Listing his credentials he said he was a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, describing it as a conservative alumni group. Alito says he remembers little about it but probably supported its fight to keep ROTC at Princeton. But Senator Ted Kennedy quoted from a magazine published by the alumni group back then."
Sen. Ted Kennedy: "'People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic.'"
Alito: "Had I thought that, that's what this organization stood for I would never associate myself with it in any way."
Williams: "And asked whether he's like other conservatives on the Supreme Court like Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas Alito said no..."


# CNN's American Morning, Thursday, January 12. From Capitol Hill, with matching text on screen, Bob Franken asserted:
"Kennedy had cited a 1983 essay in the group's magazine which included this quote, 'People nowadays just don't seem to know their place.' It went on to sharply criticize, 'blacks and Hispanics, the physically handicapped, homosexuals.'"
Alito: "They're not my views now. They never were my views. They represent things that I deplore."
Franken: "Republicans are saying that their opponents are engaging in desperation, but the Democrats say what this is really about is a right-wing agenda, they charge, that Samuel Alito wants to bring to the Supreme Court."


# Two January 12 Washington Post stories featured Kennedy's use of the quote to impugn Alito.

A story by Dale Russakoff, headlined "Alito Disavows Controversial Group: Nominee Touted His Membership in 1985," included this passage:

Throughout its existence, the now-defunct group was widely reported in major newspapers and magazines to be against increased admission of minorities and women -- positions advanced in its magazine, fliers and letters to alumni. Republicans released a 1985 newspaper article that said the group also was defending the Army ROTC unit then.

Democrats declared themselves "incredulous" that Alito was unaware of the group's attitudes toward women and minority students, and that his explanations for why he joined the group and mentioned it on an application did not add up. Kennedy read aloud a number of passages from the group's magazine, Prospect, that attacked women, minorities and gays.

One 1983 article, titled "In Defense of Elitism," began: "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place. Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic. The physically handicapped are trying to gain equal representation in professional sports. And homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children."

Alito said he had never seen the article and called the views in it "antithetical" to his beliefs. Republicans released disclaimers from Prospect saying that all articles reflected the opinions of the authors and were not official positions of Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

END of Excerpt from first of two Washington Post articles

For the Post article in its entirety: www.washingtonpost.com

In "Alito Leaves Door Open to Reversing 'Roe': Membership In Controversial Group Surfaces As an Issue," Amy Goldstein and Charles Babington reported:

Alito told the committee he does not remember joining the now-defunct group -- founded in 1972, the year he graduated from Princeton University -- and does not know anything about it. Democrats challenged him sharply, wondering aloud if he used the club to impress Reagan conservatives but now wants to distance himself from its outspoken opposition to efforts that brought more women and minorities to Princeton.

The committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), said Alito's forgetfulness seemed too convenient. "If he didn't know what they stood for, he had to be about the only person in America who didn't know what they stood for," Leahy said.

At midday, Kennedy employed large blue charts showing quotes from articles published in the group's magazine, Prospect. "People nowadays just don't seem to know their place," a November 1983 article said. "Everywhere one turns, blacks and Hispanics are demanding jobs simply because they're black and Hispanic....Homosexuals are demanding the government vouchsafe them the right to bear children....And now come women."

Alito said he had read none of the articles, adding, "I would not have anything to do with statements of that nature."

END of Excerpt from second Washington Post story

For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

"Top Ten Reasons Saddam Hussein's Chief
Judge Resigned"

From the January 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Reasons Saddam Hussein's Chief Judge Resigned." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Wants to spend more time with his goat

9. Unflattering courtroom sketches make him look chunky

8. Got a part in the hit reality show "Mustaching with the Stars"

7. Just named partner at the law firm Muhammad, Muhammad, Muhammad, and Weintraub

6. Lost faith in everything after finding out Oprah's book club is rigged

5. Courtroom reeks of beard dye and curry

4. Finally got clearance to open Iraq's first Jack in the Box franchise

3. I don't know, the daily death threats?

2. Conflict of interest -- he also enjoys eating Doritos in his underpants

1. Tired of Saddam calling him a "Godless, son-of-a-whore"

-- Brent Baker