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Nets Spotlight College Chief's Complaint About Cheney Speech --4/28/2004


1. Nets Spotlight College Chief's Complaint About Cheney Speech
Highlighting upset at Cheney. ABC's Peter Jennings on Tuesday night spotlighted how "the President of Westminster College in Missouri has complained that Vice President Cheney used a visit yesterday to attack Senator Kerry." MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann featured an interview with the college chief, Fletcher Lamkin, and NBC's Today in the morning had noted the complaint while CBS's Hannah Storm cited the chiding and then worried to RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie: "Now, is this scorched-earth campaign, is there a point at which it goes too far, where it alienates voters?"

2. Kerry Distracted from Jobs Issue by "Harsh Attacks" from Cheney
As occurred Monday night, though John Kerry issued a personal attack on President Bush about whether he served his National Guard duty, on Tuesday morning Kerry was treated as the victim of attacks from the Bush campaign team. CBS's Byron Pitts fretted on the Early Show about how "for Senator John Kerry this was supposed to be his week to talk about jobs as he launched a three state, three day bus tour listening to blue collar workers," but "instead he was forced to respond to harsh attacks from Vice President Dick Cheney on Kerry's voting record on national security." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell lamented that "as much as the Senator works to talk about the economy, the Vietnam era follows closely behind." And MSNBC's Keith Olbermann admired Kerry's "pretty good return" punch at Bush.

3. NBC's Curry Pushes Blinded Vet to Say He's "Angry" Over No WMD
NBC's Today devoted a moving and inspirational segment on Tuesday to a U.S. Army Ranger who was blinded in Iraq, Sergeant Jeremy Feldbusch, followed by a live interview with Feldbusch and a veteran blinded during World War II. But NBC's Ann Curry couldn't resist trying to get Feldbusch to denounce the war. She asked him: "Are you angry that what you were on a mission to protect America against, weapons of mass destruction, may never have existed at the time you parachuted into Iraq." Feldbusch stood by how the war was justified, but Curry was not dissuaded, pressing: "Was all of that worth the price you have paid?" And: "The price you will pay for the rest of your life?"

4. Wash Post Reporter "Against the War Before, During and After It"
"I was against the war before, during and after it," Washington Post military reporter Rick Atkinson, who has written a book about his experiences as an embedded reporter in Iraq, told Editor & Publisher magazine. He complained: "I have no mixed feelings about the hundreds of dead soldiers -- it was a poor use of their lives. I was certain last March that we as a nation had not done all we could to make sure lives were not lost." Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell related how Atkinson told him that "the casus belli for the war, that Iraq posed an imminent threat to America, 'was inflated and perhaps fraudulent.'"

5. Letterman's "Top Ten Chapter Titles in Bill Clinton's Memoirs"
Letterman's "Top Ten Chapter Titles in Bill Clinton's Memoirs."


Nets Spotlight College Chief's Complaint
About Cheney Speech

Fletcher Lamkin Highlighting upset at Cheney. ABC's Peter Jennings on Tuesday night spotlighted how "the President of Westminster College in Missouri has complained that Vice President Cheney used a visit yesterday to attack Senator Kerry." MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann featured an interview with the college chief, Fletcher Lamkin, and NBC's Today in the morning had noted the complaint while CBS's Hannah Storm cited the chiding and then worried to RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie: "Now, is this scorched-earth campaign, is there a point at which it goes too far, where it alienates voters?"

Interestingly, while Lamkin was disturbed by Dick Cheney using a platform, at the college where Winston Churchill gave his "Iron Curtain" speech, to criticize his opponent's policies, Lamkin isn't shy about issuing effusive praise for a leading liberal icon, Walter Cronkite. The college will honor him next week and a press release on its Web site quotes Lamkin saluting Cronkite and favorably comparing him to Churchill:
"'Walter Cronkite is one of our nation's most admired and trusted leaders, and a true treasure,' said Lamkin. 'Like Winston Churchill, he is a cherished example of charismatic leadership and unselfish service, and has an undying commitment to what is right and good in the world.'"

Unlike Churchill, however, Cronkite blamed the victims of terror, arguing on the September 9, 2002 Larry King Live on CNN: "I think very definitely that foreign policy could have caused what has happened [last September 11]....It certainly should be apparent now -- it should be, for goodness sakes understood now, but it is not -- that the problem is this great division between the rich and the poor in the world. We represent the rich....Most of these other nations of Africa, Asia and South America and Central America are very, very poor....This is a revolution in effect around the world. A revolution is in place today. We are suffering from a revolution of the poor and have-nots against the rich and haves and that's us."

For the press release about Cronkite being awarded the "Winston Churchill Medal for Leadership and Service," see: www.westminster-mo.edu

For a picture of Lamkin: www.westminster-mo.edu

On Tuesday's World News Tonight, Jennings featured Lamkin's complaint: "In our 'Campaign Notebook' today, the President of Westminster College in Missouri has complained that Vice President Cheney used a visit yesterday to attack Senator Kerry. President Fletcher Lamkin sent a campus-wide e-mail saying he was 'surprised and disappointed that Mr. Cheney chose to step off the high ground,' as he put it, 'and resort to Kerry-bashing for a large portion of his speech.' Senator Kerry has now been offered equal time and is going to speak at Westminster on Friday."

On screen as Jennings talked ABC showed the text of Lamkin's quote: "I must admit that I was surprised and disappointed that Mr. Cheney chose to step off the high ground and resort to Kerry-bashing for a large portion of his speech."

Earlier, on Tuesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, news reader Natalie Morales announced: "The President of Westminster College in Missouri says he's disappointed that Cheney used a speech at the school Monday to attack John Kerry on national security. Cheney accused Kerry of being soft on security issues. For his part Kerry campaigns today in Ohio. He's focusing on jobs. Kerry accuses the President of letting down U.S. workers by failing to enforce trade agreements that bar unfair foreign competition."

Over on CBS's The Early Show, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, Hannah Storm interviewed RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe. She asked Gillespie:
"Well, yesterday the President at Westminster College where Dick Cheney gave his speech yesterday, he sent out a note, Mr. Gillespie, to the faculty and the students and he chastised the Vice President for Kerry bashing. Now, is this scorched-earth campaign, is there a point at which it goes too far, where it alienates voters?"

Gillespie replied: "Look Hannah, I'm sorry I just don't see this as a scorched-earth campaign to point out that John Kerry opposed the Gulf War in 1991; he says he's an anti-war candidate today; he said it would be irresponsible to oppose funding for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, for them to have funding for body armor and up-armoring the Humvee vehicles there and then voted against it after saying it would be irresponsible to do so. These are facts, this is what elections are about. People need to know where candidates are on the issues of the day. National security is one of the most important issues of the day..."

For the April 26 AP story, "College Leader 'Disappointed' by Cheney," see: news.yahoo.com

For the April 27 Washington Post article, "College Host Chides Cheney," which noted that "Cheney drew frequent applause and a standing ovation mid-speech," see: www.washingtonpost.com

For the text of Cheney's remarks at the college in Fulton: www.whitehouse.gov

Kerry Distracted from Jobs Issue by "Harsh
Attacks" from Cheney

As occurred Monday night, though John Kerry issued a personal attack on President Bush about whether he served his National Guard duty, on Tuesday morning John Kerry was treated as the victim of attacks from the Bush campaign team. CBS's Byron Pitts fretted on the Early Show about how "for Senator John Kerry this was supposed to be his week to talk about jobs as he launched a three state, three day bus tour listening to blue collar workers," but "instead he was forced to respond to harsh attacks from Vice President Dick Cheney on Kerry's voting record on national security." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell lamented that "as much as the Senator works to talk about the economy, the Vietnam era follows closely behind."

The night before, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann admired the Kerry retort in which he resorted to personally demanding that Bush prove he fulfilled his National Guard service. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught this remark from Olbermann, to Newsweek's Howard Fineman, on the April 26 Countdown:
"Of course, there has to be a danger in the White House response to this to do too much with it. The 1970, '73, '74 era is kind of a black hole for them, too. Kerry said in response tonight, 'All of this is coming from a President who can't even prove that he showed up for duty with the National Guard.' That's, I mean, that is a, perhaps not a serve that goes right past your opponent, but it's a pretty good return."

The April 27 CyberAlert recounted: John Kerry appeared on Monday's Good Morning America on ABC to respond to evidence he's contradicted himself on throwing away his war medals, but instead of making Kerry's credibility the focus of the day's news, ABC and the other networks painted Kerry's post-Vietnam War actions as an unfair burden and/or Kerry as a victim of unfair attacks from pro-Bush political operatives. Peter Jennings framed the story around Kerry's "dilemma: After brave and honorable service in Vietnam, a post-war record that dogs him." CBS's Dan Rather portrayed the Bush team as the aggressor: "The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign launched another attack today on Democratic challenger..." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell ignored ABC's role as she blamed "political digging" and claimed questions about the "credibility" of both candidates had been "renewed." CNN anchor Aaron Brown framed the news through a prism hostile to Bush as he recited a litany of supposed Bush-Cheney failures as he implied disgust at how they still had the chutzpah to criticize Kerry. See: www.mediaresearch.org

On the April 27 Early Show on CBS, Byron Pitts checked in: "It's been a war of words over national security. The Vice President attacked Senator Kerry's record and Kerry fought back. For Senator John Kerry this was supposed to be his week to talk about jobs as he launched a three state, three day bus tour listening to blue collar workers in a mill in Pennsylvania, visiting a local hot dog stand."
Kerry at the hot dog stand: "Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger."
Woman: "Cheeseburger -- oh jeez."
Kerry: "No Pepsi, Coke, Coke."
Pitts: "But instead he was forced to respond to harsh attacks from Vice President Dick Cheney on Kerry's voting record on national security."
Cheney on Monday at Westminster College: "It is irresponsible to vote against vital support for the United States military."
Pitts: "Cheney's speech signaled the start of a new $10 million ad campaign."
Bush ad: "John Kerry has repeatedly opposed weapons vital to winning the war on terror."
Kerry to Pitts: "That's the most bogus thing I've ever heard in my life. I have voted for the largest defense budgets in the history of our country."
Pitts: "Meantime, Democrats launched their own ad campaign."
Ad: "This election is about character. It's between John Kerry who left no man behind and George Bush who simply left."
Pitts: "Kerry believes his record in Vietnam as well as on national security are his strengths. If Republicans pick that fight he says, they've picked the wrong one."
Kerry: "I'm not going to listen to the likes of Dick Cheney or anybody else question my willingness to defend my nation when I've already done it. So their plan is just attack, attack, attack and try to destroy people. Well, they picked the wrong person. I'm going to talk about the issues that matter to Americans and if they want to spend their time off in this other gobble-de-gook that's fine. But you know what? The President owes America an explanation of whether or not he showed up for duty in Alabama."
Pitts concluded: "This morning Senator Kerry will talk with supporters here in Youngstown, Ohio, before heading to Cleveland to talk about jobs. Kerry would like to turn the focus on the nearly three million jobs lost in America since President Bush took office."

As if the media haven't made that point for him many times.

Over on NBC's Today, Kelly O'Donnell began: "The campaign message on the side of the Kerry bus is in giant letters today: 'Jobs.' But as much as the Senator works to talk about the economy the Vietnam era follows closely behind. John Kerry sampled the goods at a well known Pennsylvania hot dog shop."
John Kerry: "Thank you for coming out here to join me in marking the beginning of the end of the Bush administration."
O'Donnell: "But he also appears more hungry for a political fight."
Kerry: "Now when they start questioning what I did or didn't do 35 years ago or said, on a personal level I'm gonna fight back."
O'Donnell: "Republicans claim Kerry has been inconsistent in comments made over the years about his post-Vietnam protest. The controversial tossing of combat decorations. Kerry says he kept his medals but discarded the ribbons. Would you make them available to sort of show people-"
Kerry: "No, absolutely not! They're private and I have no reason to do that whatsoever."
O'Donnell: "While Kerry himself now challenges the President to disclose more about his military service."
Kerry: "If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates he owes America an explanation of whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it!"
O'Donnell: "And from Vice President Dick Cheney questions about Kerry's positions on Iraq and the war on terror."
Dick Cheney in Monday's speech: "And the Senator from Massachusetts has given us ample grounds to doubt the judgment and attitude he brings to bear on vital issues of national security."
O'Donnell concluded: "For the Kerry campaign this is a four-state bus tour. We started in West Virginia, then on here to Ohio, Pennsylvania and then Michigan. All heavy manufacturing states that have lost jobs, the key word of the day, and all battleground states to be sure."

NBC's Curry Pushes Blinded Vet to Say
He's "Angry" Over No WMD

NBC's Today devoted a moving and inspirational segment on Tuesday to a U.S. Army Ranger who was blinded in Iraq, Sergeant Jeremy Feldbusch, followed by a live interview with Feldbusch and a veteran blinded during World War II. But NBC's Ann Curry couldn't resist trying to get Feldbusch to denounce the war. She asked him: "Are you angry that what you were on a mission to protect America against, weapons of mass destruction, may never have existed at the time you parachuted into Iraq." Feldbusch stood by how the war was justified, but Curry was not dissuaded, pressing: "Was all of that worth the price you have paid?" And: "The price you will pay for the rest of your life?"

MRC analyst Geoff Dickens caught the exchange which took place during a lengthy taped piece aired during the 9am hour on the April 27 show, in which Curry traveled to Blairsville, Pennsylvania to chronicle Feldbusch's efforts to adapt to a new life as a blind 24-year-old man. During the first days of the war he was hit in the head with shrapnel.

As the two sat in what looked like a living room of a house, Curry pressed him: "Are you angry that what you were on a mission to protect America against, weapons of mass destruction, may never have existed at the time you parachuted into Iraq."
Feldbusch: "We have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein in the Middle East. We have taken him out of central control of the Middle East and we're putting, trying to place a democracy in the center of the Middle East."
Curry: "Was all of that worth the price you have paid?"
Feldbusch: "Yes."
Curry: "The price you will pay for the rest of your life?"
Feldbusch: "If I would have died while I was over there that would've been worth everything that I've done."
Curry: "That commitment and caring brought him back recently to the hospital where his life was saved to say thank you and to cheer up the troops. Many waiting for reconstructive surgery...."

Following Curry's piece, live in studio, Matt Lauer talked with Feldbusch and WWII vet Tom Broderick who was blinded during that war. (NBC Nightly News ended Tuesday night with a story about the two.)

Via a Google search I learned that Feldbusch is a popular war victim with anti-war groups. Mother Jones magazine, for instance, showcased him, but they do provide a good photo: www.motherjones.com

For Pittsburgh Tribune Review article about him with a photo: www.pittsburghlive.com

On Tuesday night Feldbusch was to be honored in New York City by the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. Their Web site: www.dvlmf.org

Wash Post Reporter "Against the War Before,
During and After It"

"I was against the war before, during and after it," Washington Post military reporter Rick Atkinson, who has written a book about his experiences as an embedded reporter in Iraq, told Editor & Publisher magazine. He complained: "I have no mixed feelings about the hundreds of dead soldiers -- it was a poor use of their lives. I was certain last March that we as a nation had not done all we could to make sure lives were not lost."

Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell related how Atkinson told him that "the casus belli for the war, that Iraq posed an imminent threat to America, 'was inflated and perhaps fraudulent.'"

Romenesko ( www.poynter.org ) on Tuesday posted a link to the E&P article in its May 1 edition, "Atkinson Offers an Inside Look at War: Why did the 'Washington Post' reporter/author/military scholar risk his life covering a conflict he opposed from the start?" An excerpt:

When Rick Atkinson learned that he'd won the 2003 Pultizer Prize for history for his book An Army at Dawn, he was in Iraq covering the 101st Airborne's push towards Baghdad for The Washington Post. A year later, at Pulitzer time, he was back in Washington and his acclaimed book about his embedded experience in Iraq, In the Company of Soldiers, was climbing the bestseller charts. One thing had not changed: He still opposed the war he had covered with such distinction....

When I interviewed Atkinson recently, I knew how he felt about the war today but not a lot about his doubts while he was traveling with the troops through the heat and dust storms last spring, "embracing the suck," as the grunts put it. His book concentrates on observing [101st Airborne commander Maj. Gen. David] Petraeus and his division up close without commenting at great length about the run-up to the war or Atkinson's political views at the time.

In the postwar epilogue, however, he speaks frankly. Petraeus and his soldiers had performed well, taking relatively few casualties, and showing both restraint and courage in battle. But they "were better than the cause they served." It was "vital not to conflate the warriors with the war." The casus belli for the war, that Iraq posed an imminent threat to America, "was inflated and perhaps fraudulent." And if "the war's predicate was phony, it cheapened the sacrifices of the dead and living alike."

So I asked Atkinson, who has captured so well the glory-filled allied struggle in World War II, whether he felt the new book was somewhat hollow, documenting the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. Did he have mixed feelings about his own effort?

"There's nothing mixed about it at all," he fired back. "I was against the war before, during and after it. I have no mixed feelings about the hundreds of dead soldiers -- it was a poor use of their lives. I was certain last March that we as a nation had not done all we could to make sure lives were not lost, but I'm dogmatic about it now."...

Now, as a scholar of World War II, the lesson he draws is "that if you're going to fight a global war, whether it's against the Axis in the 1940s or against terrorism today, nothing is more vital than nurturing a powerful, righteous coalition." Failing to do this has placed a tragically unfair burden on our military. "They took down a country the size of California in three weeks," he pointed out, "but there was not much thought devoted to the question of what happens next. It's astonishing how little thought was given." And he cited Machiavelli's warning, "War begins where you will, but they do not end where you please."...

END of Excerpt

For Mitchell's article in full: www.editorandpublisher.com

For Amazon's page on Atkinson's new book on the Iraq war, "In the Company of Soldiers: A Chronicle of Combat," see: www.amazon.com

For the Washington Post's collection of Atkinson's war coverage, with a picture of him in the field: www.washingtonpost.com

Letterman's "Top Ten Chapter Titles in
Bill Clinton's Memoirs"

From the April 27 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the announcement that former President Clinton's book will be released in late June, the "Top Ten Chapter Titles in Bill Clinton's Memoirs." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "I'm Writing This Chapter Naked"

9. "I Pray Hillary Doesn't Read Pages 6, 18, 41-49, 76 And Everything Past 200"

8. "Protecting The Constitution: How To Get Gravy Stains Out Of The Parchment"

7. "A Few Of My Favorite Subpoenas"

6. "From Gennifer to Paula to Monica: Why It Pays To Keep Lowering Your Standards"

5. "1995-1998: The Extra-Pasty Years"

4. "Kneel To The Chief"

3. "What's The Deal With That Moron You Guys Replaced Me With?"

2. "NAFTA -- Bringing America Into... Ah Screw That, Who Wants To Read Some More About Bubba Gettin' Down?"

1. "The Night I Accidentally Slept With Hillary"

They all sound plausible to me.

# Scheduled to appear tonight, Wednesday, on Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart: Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek International and a regular on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

-- Brent Baker