2. Chris Matthews Scolds Bush for 'Sucker Punch' to Obama
3. CNN's Hypersensitive Reaction to Bush's 'Appeasement' Comments
4. Bush Goes Left on Global Warming, But Not Left Enough for NBC
5. ABC: Americans 'Soon' Paying $1,000 to Fill Up Their Gas Tank?
The broadcast network evening shows took their cues from the Obama campaign Thursday night as all framed their coverage -- of President Bush warning in Israel that "some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals" -- around angry reaction to Bush's perceived attack on Barack Obama with CBS and NBC trying to undermine Bush's argument by contending it contradicts policies of past Republican Presidents and/or Bush administration officials.
CBS anchor Katie Couric, referring to Bush and John McCain, cited "a two-pronged Republican attack today on Barack Obama on a key foreign policy matter." Reporter Chip Reid saw a "Republican barrage" which "began in Jerusalem today where President Bush appeared to be taking aim at Barack Obama." Reid soon passed along how "Obama, who has said he would meet with leaders of Iran, Syria, and Cuba, noted that Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and even Reagan also negotiated directly with America's enemies." But Mikhail Gorbachev hadn't promised to nuke Israel.
Over on NBC, Brian Williams teased his lead story: "President Bush on the world stage delivers what was widely seen as an attack on Barack Obama." Williams described it as "today's political shot heard 'round the world. The concussion was instantaneous. Upon hearing the news, one Democratic Senator used a word we can't use on this broadcast." Reporter John Yang called it "the first salvo of this fall's general election campaign" and, with "THIS IS B******T" on screen, relayed how "Senator Joseph Biden characterized the President's words with a word we can't use." Yang contended Bush's admonition "would also apply to Mr. Bush's former Secretary of State" who urged engagement with Hamas. But not a personal sit-down with the President of the United States.
ABC's World News, which like CBS led with the same-sex marriage ruling in California, approached the Bush/Obama story in less hyperbolic terms as anchor Charles Gibson introduced a report from David Wright: "There was a debate today between Republicans and Democrats that spanned the Atlantic Ocean. President Bush, addressing Israel's parliament, made comments to which Barack Obama and other Democrats took offense -- and then John McCain got involved."
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume highlighted this pledge on the Obama campaign's Web site: "Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions."
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Transcripts of the stories on the Thursday, May 15 CBS and NBC evening newscasts:
# CBS Evening News
KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: Also tonight, President Bush jumps into the campaign fray.
COURIC: And if the gay marriage debate is a preview of what may come in the fall election campaign, here is another -- a two-pronged Republican attack today on Barack Obama on a key foreign policy matter: Iran. Chip Reid has that story.
CHIP REID: The Republican barrage began in Jerusalem today where President Bush appeared to be taking aim at Barack Obama.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, TEASE: On the broadcast tonight, war of words. President Bush on the world stage delivers what was widely seen as an attack on Barack Obama.
WILLIAMS: Good evening tonight from Atlanta. President W. Bush today went before the Israeli legislature to deliver an important speech on Israel's 60th anniversary. In one particular paragraph he invoked the fight against the horrors of Nazi Germany and it was clear to those listening that it was, in part, to make a point about Barack Obama back home. It was today's political shot heard 'round the world. The concussion was instantaneous. Upon hearing the news, one Democratic Senator used a word we can't use on this broadcast. And so we begin here tonight with NBC's John Yang who's in Jerusalem traveling with the President. John, good evening.
JOHN YANG: Good evening, Brian. This just may have been the first salvo of this fall's general election campaign and it was fired by someone who's not even running. Speaking to Israeli lawmakers, President Bush ridiculed calls for diplomatic engagement with Iran
On Thursday's Hardball Chris Matthews accused George W. Bush of delivering "a sucker punch" to Barack Obama in his speech to the Knesset. In the speech Bush warned against appeasing enemies, which Matthews took to be a cheap shot at the Illinois Senator's willingness to talk to the leaders of hostile nations like Iran.
[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Matthews made the "sucker punch" remark on the May 15, Hardball in the following question to the Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News: "Let me ask you while you're up now Wayne, this question of the President. You've written about Bush's Brain. What was he up to in the Knesset today with that, well you'd have to call it a sucker punch over there. In the Knesset, in Israel, which was, you know, so much to do with the Holocaust, let's be honest. In terms of the world and the way it looks, the necessity of a state of Israel, a Jewish state. And to go in there and basically accuse the Democrats of selling out the Jews of Europe. I mean an amazing charge right there in, in the homeland! Incredible!
Minutes after President Bush began his speech to the Israeli Knesset, CNN quickly channeled outraged Democratic reaction to his "false comfort of appeasement" remark. American Morning co-host John Roberts, in a brief on the speech, claimed the President was "suggesting that Senator Barack Obama and other Democrats are in favor of appeasing terrorists in the same way that U.S. leaders appeased the Nazis in the run-up to World War II," though the President did not mention any Democratic official or the Democratic Party.
The graphic on the screen also reflected this belief that Democrats were being unfairly smeared: "Pres. Says Obama, Other Dems Want 'Appeasement of Terrorists" and "Pres. Bush Compares Dems' Stance on War to Appeasement of Nazis."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Ten minutes later, Roberts again read a brief on the President's remark, but this time gave a bit more detail: "President Bush, speaking before the Knesset in Israel...saying that Barack Obama, without mentioning him by name, but saying basically that Barack Obama and other Democrats favor a policy of appeasement of terrorists, in much the same way that U.S. leaders did prior to World War II....Our Ed Henry is on the story. He's just getting some of his ducks in a row here, and will be joining us in a couple of minutes with more on that."
After a short interview of a newly-elected mayor in Oklahoma, CNN correspondent Ed Henry gave a live report from Jerusalem on the President's speech. After a playing a clip of the relevant portion of the speech, Henry again clarified that "President Bush never uttered the words Barack Obama. But White House aides are acknowledging that this was a reference to the fact that Senator Obama and other Democrats have publicly said that it would be okay for the U.S. President to meet with leaders like the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
Henry then continued about John McCain's recent remarks about Obama being the favorite presidential candidate of Hamas: "...[L]ast week, Senator McCain suggested that Obama was the favorite candidate of Hamas, the terror group. Last week, Obama called that a smear." Henry thus continued CNN's omission of the fact that the political advisor to Hamas' political leader had communicated the terror group's endorsement of the Illinois Senator.
May 9 CyberAlert item on CNN's previous omission of Hamas' endorsement of Obama: www.mrc.org
American Morning continued to cover the supposed attack on Obama for the next ten minutes, asking correspondents Suzanne Malveaux and Dana Bash for the Obama and McCain camps reaction to the remark. After the commercial break, Roberts interviewed Robert Gibbs, the communication director of the Obama campaign. Roberts did bring up Obama's past comment that the Senator "would sit down with the leaders of these countries without precondition," and how that was "fairly controversial." He continued by making a fair point in his question: "So for President Bush to say that leaping immediately to the leader level might not be a policy the United States wants to follow -- does he have a point there?"
Wednesday's NBC Nightly News cheered the Bush administration's recent liberal moves on climate change -- "a very big week for those who are fighting to save the environment," anchor Brian Williams celebrated -- but NBC's "environmental affairs" correspondent Anne Thompson nevertheless trotted out an activist with the National Resources Defense Council to complain that the administration still hasn't gone far enough to the left on global warming.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
But Nightly News had no time for any conservative or free market spokesman who might have said that the administration had already gone too far in trying to appease environmental liberals, and that the act of placing polar bears on the threatened species would make it easier for a more liberal successor to pursue economically-punishing regulations.
Writing on The American Spectator's Web site, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Iain Murray outlined the conservative argument that NBC ignored. An excerpt:
A sensible discussion of the polar bear requires acknowledging a simple fact: that the polar bear is merely a proxy for something else. The environmental pressure groups like the Center for Biological Diversity that have petitioned for the listing acknowledge that their reason for doing so is concern over global warming. The more warming, they argue, the less sea ice; the less sea ice, the fewer polar bears. So their hope was that the Endangered Species Act will give the federal government power to curtail sources of global warming -- such as your car or air conditioning system.
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne attempted to frustrate this desire by erecting regulatory barriers, like a statement from the Director of the US Geological Survey that melting ice in specific areas could not be tied to specific sources of carbon emissions. These barriers have all the legislative strength of tissue paper. It will take but a few moments of a new Administration to blow them away.
After that, the first effects of the now-sacrosanct listing will probably be felt not in Alaska, where America's polar bears range, but in any state thinking of adding a coal-fired power plant to its energy infrastructure. The Act will be used by the new government to intervene -- and by activists to litigate -- against new construction in any controversial permitting process.
Once that precedent is set, the Act would be used to stop uncontroversial, even popular permit applications. Electricity supplies would be constrained. Blackouts and brownouts would proliferate. Were you to buy a plug-in electric car a few years from now, you may well find you have no electricity to power it.
END of Excerpt
For Murray's May 15 post in full: www.spectator.org
Not a peep of that point of view on NBC, however, which touted the polar bear ruling as "a huge milestone" only undermined by Kempthorne's decree that the Endangered Species Act not be used to push a Gore-esque agenda. Thompson sought out Dale Bryk of the National Resources Defense Council (no "liberal" label) for a predictable soundbite: "The administration on the one hand is saying yes, global warming is the dominant threat to your survival, but at the very same time they're saying, we're going to do nothing to protect from you that threat."
Full transcript of the May 14 NBC Nightly News story:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: This has been a very big week for those who are fighting to save the environment. Yesterday in an interview, President Bush said there's no question, global warming is real. Then today, a huge milestone by the Bush administration, polar bears were declared a threatened species. But none of that apparently has changed the fight over what to do about climate change. Our report tonight from our Chief Environmental Affairs correspondent Anne Thompson.
ANNE THOMPSON: The polar bear is on thin ice and could well be on its way to extinction. Today the Bush administration acknowledged global warming is shrinking sea ice, a crucial part of the bear's habitat in Alaska. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne used satellite images to show the dramatic change in ice from 1979 to today in explaining his decision to list the bear as threatened. But he insisted this would not be a way to regulate greenhouse gases from cars and power plants.
ABC's Nightline on Monday continued the network's trend of hyperbolically, and in this case, apocalyptically, fretting over high gas prices in America. Anchor Martin Bashir introduced a segment by wondering if $4 a gallon gas might result in some people stealing gasoline, or, as he put it, "taking some drastic measures." Speaking to a car security expert who claimed that such theft would be a misdemeanor because the total cost would be below $1,000, reporter John Donvan lost all perspective and replied: "But we may soon be paying more than $1,000 for a tank of gas."
Donvan, in a snarky tone, even cited the plot of the futuristic thriller The Road Warrior to support his argument. He speculated: "And in the future, of course, they will be stealing gas and fighting over it. We know that because of the 1981 Mad Max classic 'The Road Warrior.'"
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
After more conjecture about theft of $1,000-per-fill-up gas, Donvan closed the piece by ominously questioning: "But [gas costing that much], of course, would be in the distant, distant future, right?" As he spoke, another clip of The Road Warrior played onscreen. Anchor Bashir capped the report by speculating that such a nightmarish future might be "closer than we think."
Now, Donvan and Bashir might argue that they were simply exaggerating the effect of high prices for comedic, sarcastic impact. But ABC has developed quite a track record throughout the month of May. The network has massively hyped the extent to which gas prices (and the economy in general) are destroying the lives of Americans. On May 13, World News featured a woman who skipped breakfast in order to deal with the rising fuel costs. See the May 14 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
On May 6, in a more generalized report, the same program highlighted people who had forgone electricity as a result of the economic slowdown. See the May 7 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
A transcript of the May 12 Nightline segment:
MARTIN BASHIR: Now some more bad news, I'm afraid. Gas prices set yet another record last week. The average national price of a gallon of regular unleaded fuel now costs $3.72. In California, it's already $3.92. That ominous $4 mark now seems inescapable. And if it that goes far, might people start taking some drastic measures? For John Donvan, this is a 'Sign of the Times".
-- Brent Baker