2. FNC Authoritative to Olbermann When It Finds Low Bush Approval
3. Couric Calls Kennedy's National Health Care Quest a "Noble Goal"
4. Chris Matthews Promotes Rolling Stone's Bush-Bashing Issue
5. Fonda on PBS: Pathetic Right-Wingers Spread "Myth of Hanoi Jane"
Though the Red Chinese regime was so embarrassed by a woman interrupting the White House welcoming ceremony for Chinese President Hu Jintao to denounce him, that it censored the incident from news coverage back in China, CBS on Thursday night framed coverage around worries about offending China over Taiwan and how some incident made the White House look bad while NBC focused on the "embarrassment" the protester caused to the Bush team. CBS's Bob Schieffer led with how "this was not the best day the White House ever had," citing how "a government announcer introduced China's national anthem by calling it the national anthem of the Republic of China." Schieffer adopted Red China's spin, er, I mean that of the People's Republic of China, as he explained how Republic of China is "the formal name of the island of Taiwan," which "claims to be an independent nation, a claim that China fiercely disputes." Plus, "a heckler got into the White House grounds and caused a commotion." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas echoed Schieffer's concern about the announced name of the country: "There was another awkward moment during the White House ceremony. An announcer referred to China as the 'Republic of China,' which is the formal name for Taiwan, which China considers to be a rebellious province."
NBC's David Gregory declared that "this was considered to the President a major embarrassment" and fretted about how "the outburst was a major irritant to the Chinese leader since the White House gave her a day pass to attend the event." Anchor Brian Williams asked "about the lasting significance" of the incident? Gregory relayed how "one veteran diplomat that was on hand today said there's no way that the Chinese won't think that this was an intentional move by the administration."
[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
The woman, Wenyi Wang, of the pro-Falun Gong Epoch Times newspaper, got into the South Lawn event via a day pass issued to her as a journalist. She shouted: "President Bush: Stop him from killing! President Bush, stop him from persecuting the Falun Gong."
As for those who are lucky enough to live in the fairly democratic Republic of China, why do journalists make such an effort to see the status of that nation through the prism of how a bunch of communists think they should exercise control over those who have managed to escape their oppression? NBC Nightly News, by the way, didn't waste time worrying about any offense taken by the communists by how the ludicrous "People's" was left off the announcement of the nation's name.
ABC's World News Tonight didn't frame their coverage around White House incompetence or supposed embarrassment for the White House, but Martha Raddatz's story did include this soundbite from Derek Mitchell of the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "This is a huge embarrassment for both the United States and China. They believe in conspiracies. They believe things happen for a reason. That the United States means what it does. And something like this can feed that kind of a mind set."
Bob Schieffer led the April 20 CBS Evening News: "China's President came to see President Bush today, but this was not the best day the White House ever had. First, a government announcer introduced China's national anthem by calling it the national anthem of the Republic of China. In fact, the Republic of China is the name, the formal name of the island of Taiwan, which claims to be an independent nation, a claim that China fiercely disputes. Then a heckler got into the White House grounds and caused a commotion, and finally, when the two Presidents sat down together, it does not appear they got much done. Here's Jim Axelrod."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video for the NBC Nightly News coverage. Brian Williams led:
David Gregory: "Brian, quite a ways, in fact. The President later apologized to President Hu at the outset of their one-on-one meeting. This was considered to the President a major embarrassment, and it came on a day that was tightly scripted down to the last detail. The atmosphere was formal for Hu Jintao's first visit to the White House, the setting tightly secured. Yet, when President Hu began to make his remarks, there was a rare interruption."
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, who regularly ridicules the Fox News Channel, suddenly found them credible on Thursday night and decided to tout how the competing network's new poll put President Bush's approval rating at just 33 percent. On Countdown, with an on-screen graphic featuring the FNC logo, Olbermann highlighted how the FNC survey found Bush's "approval ratings plummeting even further, as in now closer to 30 percent than to 40 percent, as in good thing we're not rounding it down. Only 33 percent of those surveyed by Opinion Dynamics for Fox News now approving of how President Bush is doing his job. A three-point drop in just the last two weeks, a six point drop in this poll in the last month."
Just the night before, Wednesday, he had mocked FNC's credibility when reporting on the possibility that Tony Snow may become the White House Press Secretary. Olbermann noted Snow's Fox News affiliation before he snidely added: "As critics would suggest, as such he's already an unofficial White House spokesman." A Thursday CyberAlert item also recited how Olbermann proposed: "If you go with Tony Snow of Fox News, are you not saying we're only talking to that increasingly smaller group of people who believe Fox News is the sole source of truth in the world?" And he proposed that if Snow joins the White House staff, "Would the entire Fox News bias issue suddenly become connected at the hip with how the administration handles truth versus propaganda?" See: www.mediaresearch.org
On Thursday's Today, Katie Couric endorsed Ted Kennedy's goal, of government-guaranteed health care for every American, as "noble." After a discussion about the White House shakeups Couric moved to promoting Ted Kennedy's new book: "Let me ask you about the seven challenges. You talk about the things that need to be done, Senator, from 'reclaiming our constitutional democracy, to protecting our national security, to guaranteeing health care for every America[n].' Noble, noble goals for sure. Are they do-able and is there a national will to achieve these things in your view?"
Earlier Couric teased the segment by asking Today viewers: "Also ahead has America veered off course? Actually a serious book coming from Senator Ted Kennedy who's written one about public policy. He was recently voted one of the ten most effective Senators in Time magazine. He'll be here to tell us about his book and also give us his take on the recent shakeup at the White House. And whether Donald Rumsfeld should in fact resign."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Ted Kennedy is one of the few liberals in the Senate that actually gets that label applied to him in the mainstream media but of course coming from reporters it's a term of endearment as they often attach the regal sounding, "lion" to it. Couric opening the segment:
After Couric tossed up this softball to Kennedy, "Do you think Rumsfeld should go?" Kennedy went on his usual diatribes about Abu Ghraib and so forth. However Couric, referring to an earlier interview with Mary Matalin about White House shakeups, did pepper Kennedy about the state of the Democratic Party. However when it comes from Katie it always sounds like she's pushing the Democrats to be better players in the way a coach fires up his team right before the big game, the big game in this case being the midterm elections. Couric's question to Kennedy on the April 20 Today:
# "Karl Rove will not be focused so much on domestic policy and in fact will be focused more on the midterm elections which Mary Matalin talked about earlier in this program. How, how concerned should Republicans be in your view about these upcoming midterm elections?"
# "We'll get to, we'll get to the seven challenges in just a moment. But I'm just curious Mary Matalin also said the Democratic Party had no vision. I know you're gonna disagree with that Senator, but it seems to me the Democratic Party has done a miserable job of communicating its vision to the American people and offering any kind of alternative."
# "But why, why, why is that attack always made?"
# "But what about what it says, what it says it will do though?"
# "But why can't people, why aren't people more fired up about the Democrats?"
Finally Couric concluded with her endorsement of Kennedy's plan: "Let me ask you about the seven challenges. You talk about the things that need to be done, Senator, from 'reclaiming our constitutional democracy, to protecting our national security, to guaranteeing health care for every America[n].' Noble, noble goals for sure. Are they do-able and is their a national will to achieve these things in your view?"
On Wednesday's Hardball, Chris Matthews invited on Rolling Stone Editor Eric Bates to promote their Bush-bashing issue, "The Worst President in History? One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush," imploring him: "Eric, let me ask you about the cover, because it is gonna come out and you're on to push it, and I want you to push it." Bates responded in kind, stating Bush has "domestic policies that have, have trashed the economy and resulted in a dramatic shift of wealth," and declared that "so far [Bush] ranks right down there with James Buchanan, Herbert Hoover and Andrew Johnson."
[This item, by the MRC's Geoff Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your views, go to: newsbusters.org ]
For the Rolling Stone cover story, with a drawing on the cover of Bush wearing a dunce cap: www.rollingstone.com
Matthews: "And Rolling Stone's cover this month, I must warn you, if you're a Republican or a middle-of-the-roader. Look at this. This is a tough one. What does it say?
'The Worst President in History.' Can we have that thought explained a bit, Eric. You, you wrote this piece."
To his credit, Matthews pointed out Wilentz's bias: "But wasn't Wilentz the guy who defended Clinton and Monica right to the last day, till the last dog died, so to speak? Wasn't he a complete partisan on the Clinton administration's misconduct?"
In a later segment Matthews made a hard sell of the issue in a way that must've put a smile on the face of the magazine's publisher Jann Wenner:
Matthews: "But isn't that the problem? Eric, I mean, we argue about this all the time and I'll continue to do so, because the most profound decision of this administration is singular. It's not complicated. It's not multifaceted. It was the decision after 9/11 not to continue to track down al Qaeda and bin Laden at all costs in a total, you know, a total effort, but to shift attention down to the old problem of Iraq. And that decision, I would suggest, you respond to this, is the single and the signature issue of this administration. And the President cannot say, 'I made a profound error because he's admitting his administration is a disaster if he does, doesn't he?"
Apparently Matthews couldn't wait to get his hands on a copy of the Bush-bashing issue as he signed off: "Anyway, thank you Norah O'Donnell, thank you Howard Fineman. Thank you Eric Bates, good luck with that cover. I'll buy a copy."
At the late-night PBS talk show Charlie Rose, the revolving door of hosts filling in for Rose, who is on medical leave, keeps turning. On Monday night, ABC's Barbara Walters interviewed Jane Fonda about the paperback edition of her memoir, and just past the midway point of the interview, Walters asked indignantly about conservative opposition to her. "It amazes me that I still get letters about you...what has it been since Vietnam? Forty years?...The anger. 'Traitor to her country. Honoring her would be traitorous, stupid,' and so on. It goes on and on and on." Fonda was harsh: "It's sad, and in a way, it's pathetic, that lo, these many years later, these people have not (pause) made sense of the war....The right wing has been very assiduous in fanning the flame of the myth of Hanoi Jane. You know, they've spread lies on the Internet about things I supposedly did that aren't true."
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. See: newsbusters.org ]
Fonda's answer, in full, to the fretting from Walters on the April 17 show: "Well, partly it's organized. It's not spontaneous. Some of it is probably spontaneous. But it's sad, and in a way, it's pathetic, that lo, these many years later, these people have not (pause) made sense of the war. They're off base in terms of where the anger needs to be placed. And I'm made a lightning rod, and the right wing has been very assiduous in fanning the flame of the myth of Hanoi Jane. You know, they've spread lies on the Internet about things I supposedly did that aren't true. And they've kept it alive because it suits their interests."
Walters then asked if it still hurts, and Fonda said she separates the letters between the ideologues, who she ignores, and the people with real pain, which makes her sad, but many vets and wives have written to her praising the book. Walters followed up:
Walters then asked Fonda why the Democrats aren't doing better with all of Bush's problems. Fonda said she's not really concerned about building the Democrats, but building a grass-roots political movement. Walters let the curtain slip a little, with the royal we of the anti-Bush campaign: "You say we should do it from the grass roots. Like what?"
It was clear that Walters wasn't going to ask challenging questions to Fonda, underline her real activities and statements of the Vietnam era, or ask what precisely is the right wing allegedly lying about. It should have been clear from the first minute of the program, when Walters began lovingly: "Jane Fonda is with us tonight. I'm so glad. I have known Jane for 36 years, so we're really going to dish tonight (Fonda laughs). Jane is an actress, an activist, a feminist, a philanthropist, a workout girl, and an American icon."
Walters: "In the 1970s, though, Fonda became a controversial figure when she publicly opposed the Vietnam War." Walters noted that Fonda already appeared with Charlie Rose for an interview when the hardcover came out. "I love this book. I really do...I am so pleased to have Jane Fonda back on this program. I love this book. You know that."
There was a lot of psychobabble in this interview, with Fonda talking about how she was crippled by misogyny, and the struggles of "women who aren't embodied." At one point, Walters asked the typical Baba Wawa question: "Who are you, Jane Fonda?"
Then, there was more fawning at interview's end.
Walters: "We have had 36 years of friendship and doing interviews. Later on this week, you're going to be doing 'The View,' so I'll have to have new questions to ask you with my ladies. But you know, when I see you myself, from that girl I first interviewed all those years back, in the shack, trying to find a way, and I look at you today, I have great pride in our friendship."
-- Brent Baker