2. Gibson Implies Giuliani's Ad 'Nastier' Than Move-On's 'Betray Us'
3. Sarandon Wallops the War in Washington Post, on ABC's The View
4. ABC's Stossel Provides a Welcome Change to Usual Health Care Spin
5. Field: 'If Mothers Ruled World, There Would Be No Goddamned Wars'
Three weeks ago, when Republican Senator John Warner suggested a withdrawal of about 5,000 U.S. forces from Iraq by Christmas, the networks trumpeted the idea as evidence of a major "turning point" in the war. Thursday night, President Bush announced he would, in fact, lower U.S. troop levels by 5,700 by Christmas, but those same networks were dissatisfied, with NBC's Tim Russert grumbling that the President's idea was really "U.S. military involvement in Iraq this year, next year, and well after I leave the presidency."
Back on August 23, as noted in a CyberAlert, Warner's suggestion of a small withdrawal was met with giddy excitement: "CBS's Katie Couric touted a 'major blow tonight to President Bush's Iraq policy' and ABC's Martha Raddatz saw a 'stunning announcement that could have a powerful effect on the war' as the NBC Nightly News, for the fifth time in two years, heralded a 'turning point' against the war." For the August 24 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
But during their live coverage of the President's Thursday night speech, the networks were hardly pleased that Bush had basically taken Warner's suggestion. CBS's Couric called it a "limited" withdrawal, "not enough of a reduction to satisfy critics," while NBC's Williams emphasized how "the plan would remain in place, with a large robust U.S. force." ABC's George Stephanopoulos saw the speech as "a mixed message," with some troops coming home, but also that "America is going to be in Iraq and in the region for a very long time."
[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org
Here's more on how the three broadcast networks reacted to the President's decision to begin lowering troop levels in Iraq.
# On CBS, just before the September 13 speech began:
Katie Couric: "Good evening, everyone. President Bush is about to give what amounts to a state of the war address. It's his eighth prime time address to the nation about the situation in Iraq. This time, he'll announce a troop withdrawal -- a limited one that will begin this month and bring 5,700 troops home by Christmas. By next summer, troops would be back to about pre-surge levels. Not enough of a reduction to satisfy critics, and after the President speaks we'll bring you the Democratic response."
George Stephanopoulos: "Charlie, this was a first for the President -- the first time in four and a half years of war that he announced that troops are coming home. He was also less confrontational than he's been in the past with Congress, but fundamentally, Charlie, the President was delivering a mixed message tonight. He said troops are going to start to come home, but America is going to be in Iraq and in the region for a very long time."
Brian Williams: "His eighth Oval Office speech on the war, the President tonight embracing the plan that would begin the first drawdown of U.S. fighting soldiers from Iraq, in this case Marines, actually. The plan would remain in place, with a large robust U.S. force."
ABC anchor Charles Gibson on Friday night suggested the Rudy Giuliani campaign's New York Times ad, not Monday's "General Betray Us" ad from MoveOn.org ad to which the Giuliani ad responded, meant "a fierce new political fight...got even nastier today." Gibson did acknowledge: "It started with a single newspaper ad targeting General David Petraeus, as the war's top commander reported to Congress this week. And it has snowballed very quickly." Jake Tapper's subsequent story recounted how the MoveOn ad "accusing General Petraeus of becoming 'General Betray Us'" was "paid for by influential, in-your-face liberal group MoveOn.org." But Tapper's piece contained only three elements which occurred on Friday and thus could be what Gibson was referring to that "got even nastier today" -- video scanning over Giuliani's "own counter-ad in today's New York Times," this soundbite from Giuliani: "MoveOn.org, which is well known for its character assassination of Republicans, decided to participate in character assassination of an American General in time of war. This is unprecedented" and, in the very last sentence, Tapper reported how MoveOn has "decided in newspaper ads and on TV to accuse supporters of the Iraq war of betraying the nation."
The big type at the top of Giuliani's full-page ad quoted Hillary Clinton: "The willing suspension of disbelief." The key line below: "Who should America listen to...A decorated soldier's commitment to defending America, or Hillary Clinton's commitment to defending MoveOn.org?" How is the comment from Giuliani about an activist group that struck first and ad copy critical of a candidate in a political contest "nastier" than MoveOn's first-strike attack on an Army General running a war? "GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US? Cooking the Books for the White House," read big type in MoveOn's ad.
Giuliani's ad: https://www.joinrudy2008.com/contribute/index/times
MoveOn.org's ad: cdn.moveon.org
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Maybe Gibson intended to describe both ads as "nasty," but ABC didn't label MoveOn's ad as "nasty" on Monday night, the day it ran in the New York Times, and General David Petraeus appeared before two House committees meeting jointly. On the September 10 World News, reporter Jonathan Karl related: "War critics inside and outside the hearing room attacked Petraeus, saying he had manipulated statistics -- failing, for example, include many killings in his calculation of ethnic violence. The anti-war group MoveOn.org went further, accusing the General of cooking the books for the White House. Petraeus faced that criticism head-on."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the September 14 story on ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: The war in Iraq is the focus of a fierce new political fight in this country, one that got even nastier today. It started with a single newspaper ad targeting General David Petraeus, as the war's top commander reported to Congress this week. And it has snowballed very quickly. Here's our senior political correspondent, Jake Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER: It was an in-your-face full-page ad in the New York Times, accusing General Petraeus of becoming "General Betray Us" by allegedly not being honest in his testimony before Congress, paid for by influential, in-your-face liberal group MoveOn.org, and condemned by Republicans during those hearings.
FRED THOMPSON: To disavow this libel against this brave American.
Susan Sarandon's making the publicity rounds for her latest anti-war movie, titled In the Valley of Elah. In Friday's Washington Post, staff writer Ellen McCarthy profiled Sarandon and this movie, "inspired by a 2004 Playboy magazine story about a returning soldier who was killed by his close friends and fellow Iraq war vets after a rowdy night of beers and strippers near their base in Fort Benning." Sarandon denounced the war as usual, but now she's claiming to speak for returning soldiers, who she claimed are "asked to kill children and women in order to stay alive."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Here's how her Post quotes unfolded:
"The main reason I wanted to do it was that I felt that there has been a huge disconnect between the real war and the politicized war," says the 60-year-old actress, who has been a hugely vocal critic of the conflict since the 2003 invasion. "And I felt that this movie acknowledges that war takes really decent people and changes them." [Read: warps them, ruins them.]
..."It's really important to listen to what the veterans are telling us about what they need. What they've seen, what they've done," she says in a phone interview during a promotional blitz. "A lot of these vets who are taking it upon themselves to educate us as to their needs and the actual experiences of this war are very articulate, but the press is not really listening for whatever reason."
"A lot of people aren't listening," she adds. "And I thought that this was a great opportunity to trigger a real dialogue."
After claiming she's now spent a lot of time with soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, she apparently learned they are ordered to slaughter the innocent:
"I think we need to acknowledge the toll that it takes on them physically and psychologically and spiritually," she says. "It's this surreal experience of going from this intense environment where you're just trying to stay alive and you're asked to kill children and women in order to stay alive. And then you come back into this world that has no idea what's been going on over there."
For the Washington Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Sarandon also appeared on ABC's The View on September 11 (a perfect occasion for an anti-war rant, apparently), and co-host Whoopi Goldberg declared of her film, "I gave it a standing ovation when I watched it."
Sarandon sounded the same themes about how the "huge disconnect" and we're all ignoring the savage real war and playing with the politicized war instead. She added this numerical claim: "We've really been ignoring, I think the statistics are 55 soldiers a day are killed, injured, or sick in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. And we are not stepping up to the plate. We're not discussing it. Our presidential candidates are not discussing it. Definitely our president [is not]. None of these guys that are so eager to get them over there but have never been in a war are really dealing with the actual cost."
Elisabeth Hasselbeck tried to praise her, and raised no questions about her wild statistics, even as Sarandon suggested our soldiers are young and stupid: "It's just heartbreaking to see these photos of these smiling eager young, young kids who have been sacrificed and are not even clear why they're there."
As for the 9/11 anniversary, Sarandon added: "In the rubble of 9/11, our president said 'Let's shop.' There's no war tax, there's no GI Bill, you know we're making the same mistakes that we made." Sarandon also claimed the role of veteran's activist, complaining about how they can't see doctors, that there's a stigma toward their post-traumatic stress disorder, and how "There's hundreds and hundreds of suicides from this war already."
She also said she liked John Edwards for President, which tells you how far out on the left he is standing in this campaign.
Prodded by co-host Sherri Shepherd to repeat her backstage chatter, Sarandon began on the subject of Kathy Griffin's "Suck it, Jesus" Emmy speech. She thought Griffin's critics had a tiny, humorless God -- and her God was a Goddess:
On Friday's Good Morning America, token conservative reporter John Stossel told portly filmmaker Michael Moore, "Forgive me. More of us look like you" and that obesity explains why Canadians live longer than Americans, not universal health care. Stossel appeared on the morning show to promote his program debunking the myth of "free," government-run health care. His 20/20 special, which aired September 14 on ABC, included a quarrel with the left-wing director.
Stossel's appearance on GMA, and his conservative take, also strongly contrasts with the morning show's own coverage of government controlled health care. In June, Moore appeared on the program to promote Sicko, his film bashing the United States system of private care. Back then, GMA co-host Chris Cuomo mildly questioned the filmmaker's trip to Cuba to lavish praise on the communist country's health system. After the director noisily objected to this offense, Cuomo backed down, saying, "Look, I like the stunt." See the June 13 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Another example that demonstrates the difference between Stossel's take and the usual liberal spin provided by Good Morning America is the case of Karen Jepp. The 20/20 host explained, "Government rationing in Canada is why, when Karen Jepp was about to give birth to quadruplets last month, she was told all the neo-natal units she could go to in Canada were too crowded. She flew to Montana to have the babies." And yet GMA covered this exact story in August and the show's hosts never managed to explain why the Canadian hospitals were too crowded. See the August 23 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
ABC and 20/20 should certainly be applauded for airing a non-liberal take on universal health care. In the special, Stossel made points rarely heard on network television, such as noting that Canadians wait an average of 17 weeks for treatment, that one town in that country has "a lottery just to get an appointment with a family doctor." However, it would also be nice if John Stossel wasn't such a lonely voice in providing a different perspective on this (and other subjects).
Perhaps conservatives shouldn't be too optimistic about such a change. On Friday, Cuomo teased the contrarian segment by wondering, "Is free health care really the best health care?" As John Stossel demonstrated on Friday night, calling it "free" health care, doesn't make it so.
A transcript of the September 14 segment, which aired at 8:43am:
Chris Cuomo: "Now, when we come back, this is a very interesting question for us to look at. This doctor, when you go to see your doctor, what can happen in a country with free health care other than everyone being frozen in time. Like what you're seeing right now. [Footage of people waiting in long lines to see a doctor.] Why are these people waiting in line? Is free health care really the best health care?"
ABC Graphic: "Does Free Health Care Really Work? John Stossel Investigates"
Diane Sawyer: "As we know, it's one of the single most important decisions Americans have to make: What should the health care in this country be? Can it be made better? Is government health care the answer? '€˜20/20's' John Stossel has been asking that question and a lot more in tonight's special hour '€˜Whose Body is it Anyway? Sick in America.' John looked at other countries' health care systems to see if they have better ideas. And he's here to tell us some of what he found. John?"
Using her Emmy acceptance comments on stage to praise mothers, Sally Field turned political Sunday night as she declared: "Let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no Goddamned wars in the first place." At least that's what the AP reported she said, since Fox cut her off at "no" and, taking advantage of time-delay, jumped to silence and a wide-shot of the theater. Field won best lead actress in a drama series for her role as matriarch "Nora Walker" on ABC's Brothers and Sisters, a show on which this past season one pro-Iraq war adult daughter turned against the war and a son left for Army duty in Iraq.
Her claim about how mothers would prevent war, followed this praise of motherhood: "At the heart of Nora Walker, she is a mother. So surely this belongs to all the mothers of the world. May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised, and especially to the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait -- wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm's way and from war."
At that point, the audience broke into applause and the music started to signal her time was up, flustering Field who pleaded for more time and fretted she had forgotten what she wanted to say. But she regained her composure and finished her point: "I am proud to be one of those women. And, let's face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no." That's where Fox cut her off.
The AP story which provided what Fox viewers missed, misquoted a part of her comments that Fox did air. The AP story quoted her as saying "And, let's face it, if the mothers ruled the war, there would be no (expletive) wars in the first place." She said if mothers ruled the "world," not "war."
Field's comments backstage reveled her use of "Goddamned." AP quoted Field: "I think probably shouldn't have said the God in front of the...I would have liked to have said more bleeped-out words."
For the AP dispatch as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com
As posted by Google: ap.google.com
It didn't take ABC long to use the drama starring Field to make a political point about the Iraq war. The November 20, 1996 CyberAlert item, "ABC's Conservative Character: 'Acknowledge the War Was a Mistake,'" recounted:
It took ABC until just the ninth episode of its new Sunday night drama, Brothers & Sisters, to have its sole conservative character "grow" -- as they say of conservatives who move to the left -- from a pro-war right-winger to a critic of the Iraq war who declared it "a mistake." The show evolves around the "Walkers," a southern California family of two adult sisters and three adult brothers with Sally Field playing "Nora," the liberal widowed matriarch who regularly clashes with daughter "Kitty," the conservative half of a left/right daily TV show, played by Calista Flockhart.
On Sunday's episode, Nora was very upset by the Army's decision to recall her son, "Justin," who had served in Afghanistan, to go to Iraq. Feeling guilty about her pro-war sentiments which may have influenced Justin to enlist in the first place, before an interview with "Senator Robert McCallister," a California Republican played by Rob Lowe, Kitty pleaded with him to get the order rescinded. He refused, but she did him the favor during the interview of not asking about his divorce and rumors he had sex with his family's nanny. Before the taped interview aired, she introduced it with an apology as she asserted: "I made a mistake in compromising the interview that you're about to see, and I made a mistake in continuing to defend a war that is in a desperate need of re-examination, re-examination which cannot come until we acknowledge that the war itself was a mistake."
For the previous CyberAlert in full: www.mrc.org
ABC's page for Brothers & Sisters: abc.go.com
-- Brent Baker