Nets Remember Heston as 'Polarizing' and 'Controversial' --4/7/2008
2. ABC Marks MLK Death By Featuring Jackson's Left-Wing Bombast
3. CBS's Early Show Asks: 'Is America Broken?'
4. CNN Sympathetically Portrays Obama's Church as 'Under Siege'
5. ABC Touts One Sided, Positive Take on Pregnant 'Man'
Remembering Charlton Heston, who died Saturday night in his Beverly Hills home at age 84, the ABC and CBS anchors on Sunday tarnished the actor's political activity on behalf of conservative causes, particularly his leadership of the NRA, as "polarizing" and "controversial." Dan Harris, anchor of ABC's World News, asserted: "As President of the National Rifle Association, he became one of the most-polarizing figures in American politics." CBS Evening News anchor Russ Mitchell declared: "Once the quintessential big screen hero, in his later years he drew as much attention for his controversial politics."
Those pro-gun rights views were certainly "controversial" to network journalists who disagreed with him and so hit him repeatedly from the left on the issue in 1998 and 2001 morning show interviews, especially Katie Couric.
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, will be posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
For instance, check out how Couric pressed him on the June 8, 1998 Today show:
COURIC: Speaking of gun safety and children, Mr. Heston, as you well know, and in fact as everyone in this country knows, there has been a spate of school shootings recently that have been quite disturbing to all Americans. Given the fact that these seem to be happening with greater frequency has it caused you to rethink your philosophy about children and guns and the accessibility of guns for children?...
COURIC: Getting back to kids and guns, if you will indulge me for a moment. You cannot think of any other position the NRA could take in terms of trying to decrease the number of school shootings? You feel like this is not your bailiwick, this is not your problem?
Those quotes, with a video/audio clip (Windows Media video, Real video or MP3 audio), are in the MRC's 2006 "Meet the Real Katie Couric: CBS's New Star Adores Liberals, Scolds Conservatives -- And Thinks America Should Be More Like France." Go to: www.mrc.org
For more from Heston's interviews that morning, check the MRC's June 9, 1998 CyberAlert:
Congratulations, Mr. Heston, on your election as President of the NRA. Now, embrace liberal gun control laws and we'll praise you. If you don't, we'll disparage you. So, it seemed, the networks decided. Monday morning Heston made the rounds of the three morning shows and on each was hit from the left on the irrationality of his opposition to gun control....
That's online at: www.mediaresearch.org
Three years later Heston returned to the Today show and tried to promote the DVD release of Bur Hur, but Couric was a lot more interested in pushing further gun control, as recounted in the Wednesday, March 14, 2001 CyberAlert:
Charlton Heston agreed to an appearance on NBC's Today to plug the release on DVD of Ben Hur, but after just a little bit of time on that Katie Couric pounded away at the NRA President on gun control, pressing him with stats and arguments from Handgun Control, Inc.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens took down her arguments in the form of questions on the March 13 show:
-- "Obviously because of your role in the National Rifle Association I want to get a couple of quick comments if I could Mr. Heston from you on this recent shooting. Particularly at, in Santana High School outside of San Diego. When you heard about that, I mean what was your reaction?"
-- "Some people, some people though feel it, it may be about maladjusted kids. But it is about guns as well and, and how easy it is to get guns in this country. Do you think-"
-- "Well, you know, this, this boy Andy Williams' father did have guns in the home. What do you think about some kind of smart technology that would make it more difficult for children to use guns?"
-- "Well, what, I mean is that something you could support as an advocate of the National Rifle Association?"
-- "And do you think gun manufacturers will be more receptive than they have been already? Some are making a move in that direction?"
-- "Handgun Control cites a statistic that our firearms deaths of children under the age of 15 is twelve times that of 25 other industrial nations combined. Is it all about maladjusted kids, if, if those, those numbers are so stunning are there that many more maladjusted kids in this country than there are in 25 industrial nations combined?"
-- "Do you think that, that, that guns are to blame at all in any way shape or form for the increase in violence in this country?"
-- "Do you find that you have, that you have a more receptive audience for that philosophy with, with the Bush administration?"
-- "This is gonna be my last question. Do you, do you feel more comfortable with George W. Bush in the White House? Do you think you have a more receptive administration?"
-- "Alright Charlton Heston. Again, congratulations on the DVD release of Ben Hur."
For that 2001 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
A portion of the obituary story on the Sunday, April 6 World News on ABC:
DAN HARRIS: As President of the National Rifle Association, he became one of the most-polarizing figures in American politics.
Mr. Heston was a judge for the MRC's "The Best Notable Quotables of 1993: The Sixth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." See: www.mediaresearch.org
In a story from Memphis on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King in that city, ABC's Steve Osunsami acknowledged great economic progress for black citizens with "a definable black middle class," but warned "there are still large disparities." He then featured a man at the anniversary events who insisted "we're waiting for progress" followed by Jesse Jackson using the solemn occasion to complain about the Iraq war and tax cuts: "We are freer but less equal. To that extent, we spend $3 trillion on the war in Iraq and give tax breaks to the wealthy. You have this body of poverty, growing poverty in our cities. And our response to it is what? First-class jails and second-class schools."
The Reverend Bill Kyle, who was with King when he was murdered, rued that "now that we have the right to go to a school, we need the money to pay the tuition," before Osunsami concluded by agreeing King's dream of equality remains unfulfilled: "Not quite what Dr. King had dreamed. But some dreams take a mighty long time to realize."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Transcript of the story on the Friday, April 4 World News on ABC anchored by George Stephanopoulos:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Dr. King was in Memphis to march with the city's striking sanitation workers. At the time, they were making $1.80 an hour. Their work was dirty and degrading, two had been crushed to death by faulty equipment. The strikers still living will never forget King. Nor will those on the motel balcony that evening. Here's Steve Osunsami.
ARCHIVAL NEWS AUDIO: The shot apparently came from an apartment building directly across the street.
Touting a new CBS News/New York Times poll on Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez teased an upcoming segment on the poll's findings: "Is America broken? In a new CBS News poll, 81 percent of Americans believe this country's on the wrong track. Never has that number been so high."
Co-host Harry Smith later introduced the segment by declaring: "A new CBS News/New York Times poll shows 81 percent of Americans say the country is headed in the wrong direction. The 14 percent who think we're on the right track is all -- an all-time low in the 25 years that CBS News has been asking the question." Conveniently, as Smith pointed out, CBS News began asking that question in 1983, during the Reagan administration, and never asked the poll question during the Carter administration. If they had, one might suspect that quite a few Americans thought the country was "headed in the wrong direction" at the time.
Smith then highlighted a restaurant owner in New Jersey, Marianne Cuneo-Powell, who "is cutting costs any way she can." Smith went to show how Powell's situation reflected the poll numbers: "She is among the 78 percent of Americans who believe the economy is in bad condition...Like Marianne, two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. economy is already in a recession. And they are not encouraged by their leaders in Washington...Only 21 percent of Americans approve of President Bush's handling of the economy." Of course a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, not based on what the latest poll numbers say.
[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Smith observed: "Voters have more confidence on economic issues in Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, than they do in Republican John McCain." Smith then turned to CBS political analyst Jeff Greenfield, who explained: "Unsurprisingly, when economic times are tough and the Republicans have been in power for eight years, they're more skeptical about the Republican, in this case John McCain, than they are about the Democrats. But nobody gets highly confident marks here."
Smith and Greenfield also discussed the belief that Republicans are seen as favoring the rich with their economic policies:
SMITH: Yeah, it's interesting because when they go then to the question, who do these candidates particularly favor, middle class voters or rich, this is really stunning.
CNN correspondent Susan Roesgen, reporting live from in front Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ on Thursday's The Situation Room, presented a sympathetic view of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his house of worship as being "under siege" -- from the national media. "Beyond what they say is the hurtful glare of the cameras, church leaders also say parishioners are hounded by reporters and they say the church received bomb threats. A church that feels under siege, now getting national support." Nearly the entire three minute segment, outside of Roesgen's voice-overs and on-camera reporting, consisted of soundbites of the supporters of the church.
Besides featuring nobody but its supporters, Roesgen also painted the church and its congregations as victims of the controversy and of the news media. "I think they feel angry and they feel used. When they have talked about certain reporters, they were basically talking about reporters who were rude enough to go into the pews and hand out their business cards during the services, something of course CNN would never do."
[This item, by Matthew Balan, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The report, which aired 41 minutes into the 5 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, featured the Rev. Michael Kinnamon of the liberal National Council of Churches; the Rev. Otis Moss, the current pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ; and the Rev. John Thomas, president of the national United Church of Christ. The three appeared at a press conference that was given from behind the pulpit at Trinity, the same pulpit where the Rev. Jeremiah Wright made his many controversial sermons. The three were among those who came to the defense of the "church that feels under siege," as Roesgen put it.
Roesgen herself only mentioned Wright in passing, and then in a relatively good light. "Standing behind the pulpit where former Pastor Jeremiah Wright inspired his congregation and enraged critics, national church leaders defended the church and blasted the news media." She also did not play any of the former pastor's now-infamous remarks, thus failing to provide the context to why these religious leaders were coming to the church's defense.
The full transcript of Roesgen's report from Thursday's "The Situation Room:"
SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Religious leaders are coming to the defense of Barack Obama's church which has been under a very hot spotlight over controversial remarks about race by the senior pastor. Our CNN's Susan Roesgen joining us live. Susan, obviously, there has been a lot of controversy over this. What is happening today?
SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well today Suzanne, the church is trying very hard to defend its former pastor and its reputation.
During the April 4 segment on the subject, GMA guest news anchor David Muir described Thomas Beatie's decision as "very controversial." One would assume that a controversial decision would have two sides to it. But over the course of three segments, totaling ten minutes and 16 seconds, the closest the network program got was on April 3, when psychologist Jeffrey Gardere mildly advised: "It really is incumbent upon this individual, his wife, to try to give this as much dignity as possible, to not make it a joke, to not make it that something that's cheap."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
On Friday's program, reporter Andrea Canning played a clip from Beatie's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's daytime program and then approvingly described him as "the man the world has been waiting to meet." While discussing the issue on March 26, co-host Chris Cuomo tentatively asked an obstetrician, who approved of the pregnancy, if there were any psychological implications for the child. After being told that only love was necessary, Cuomo quickly concurred and added: "It's a good point to make, doctor. Oddity aside, biology aside, it is all about love of this child and as long as that's present, everything else is really going to be normal." For more on this, see a March 26 NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org
A transcript of the Friday, April 4 Good Morning America segment, which aired at 8:04am:
DAVID MUIR: We are learning more this morning about the Oregon man who is now six months pregnant. He and his wife are going public with their very controversial decision to have a child. Here's ABC's Andrea Canning.
-- Brent Baker