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Nets Thrilled by Warner 5,000 Fewer Troops Call, But Not Bush's --9/17/2007


1. Nets Thrilled by Warner 5,000 Fewer Troops Call, But Not Bush's
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."

2. Gibson Implies Giuliani's Ad 'Nastier' Than Move-On's 'Betray Us'
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."

3. Sarandon Wallops the War in Washington Post, on ABC's The View
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."

4. ABC's Stossel Provides a Welcome Change to Usual Health Care Spin
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.

5. Field: 'If Mothers Ruled World, There Would Be No Goddamned Wars'
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."


Nets Thrilled by Warner 5,000 Fewer Troops
Call, But Not Bush's

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."
Bob Schieffer: "He'll talk about bringing home some troops, but he's not backing away. In fact, he will talk tonight about a long-term military commitment to Iraq that goes far beyond his own presidency."


# On ABC, immediately following the President's address:

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."
Charles Gibson: "He has used, did use today, the Korean model, where there have been American troops stationed for so many years. That he foresees as a possibility, indeed a probability, in Iraq."


# On NBC, immediately after the President finished speaking:

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."
Tim Russert: "The President has drawn the line, and he's saying, 'No matter a majority of Congress, or a majority of the American people want to disengage, I have decided there will be U.S. military involvement in Iraq this year, next year, and well after I leave the presidency. Democrats, your move.'"

Gibson Implies Giuliani's Ad 'Nastier'
Than Move-On's 'Betray Us'

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.
REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R-FL), AT MONDAY'S HEARING: Calling this man of honor and courage "General Betray Us" in a full-page ad in the New York Times is outrageous and it is deplorable.
TAPPER: Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani took out his own counter-ad in today's New York Times.
RUDY 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.
TAPPER: Despite calls by Republicans to condemn the ad:

FRED THOMPSON: To disavow this libel against this brave American.
TAPPER: Not one of the Democratic presidential candidates has done so.
MARK HALPERIN, ABC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: Most of the Democrats running for President are not going to rush to speak out against MoveOn. They're simply too powerful. They play too big a role in the Democratic nominating process.
TAPPER: Some Democrats on Capitol Hill disapprove of MoveOn.org's tactics.
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI: I would have preferred that they not do such and ad.
TAPPER: That's at least partly because the ad allowed Republicans to talk about the rhetoric of war opponents instead of failures in Iraq. MoveOn.org thrives on pressuring Democrats, today instructing Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to vote against any funding for the war without a timeline for withdrawal.
ELI PARISER, MOVEON.ORG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: We're responsible to our 3 million members who want to see an end to this war, like most Americans do. And that's, you know, how we make the decisions about what we do.
TAPPER, OVER NEW ANTI-BUSH AD: And they've decided in newspaper ads and on TV to accuse supporters of the Iraq war of betraying the nation, hoping they influence more than they offend. Jake Tapper, ABC News, Washington.

Sarandon Wallops the War in Washington
Post, on ABC's The View

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:
"I just said my God has a big sense of humor. It's much bigger than that. And I wonder if somebody had actually gone down and thanked Allah, what would have happened? I mean, a God other than the one that's accepted for the most part in this country, a Wiccan? I don't know. We're very specific in our gods, but I really think She has a much bigger sense of humor." [Laughter]

ABC's Stossel Provides a Welcome Change
to Usual Health Care Spin

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?"
John Stossel: "And a lot of Americans say government care is the answer, that health care in countries like France, Germany, Britain, Canada is great because it's free. Government pays and no one has to worry because free is great, right? But not so fast. It's why the British National Health Service made news by promising it would reduce wait times for hospital care to fewer than 18 weeks. But that's still more than four months. [Video of people waiting in line.] These people are waiting for a dentist appointment. Waits are so long, some people do it themselves. [Picture of a man with a missing tooth.] He used super glue. People pull their own teeth. Dental tools? Pliers and vodka. 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."
David Gratzer, author, The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care: "People line up for care. Some of them die. That's what happens."
Stossel: "Canadian doctor David Gratzer, author of The Cure, thought the Canadian system was great until he started treating patients."
Gratzer: "The more time I spent in the Canadian system, the more time I came across people waiting for radiation therapy, waiting for the knee replacement so they could finally walk up to the second floor of their house."
Stossel: "People wait in line?"
Gratzer: "You want to see your neurologist because of your stress headache? No problem. You just have to wait six months. You want an MRI? No problem! Free as the air! You just got to wait six months."
Stossel: "But fans of Canada's system, like Michael Moore, point to the fact that Canadians live longer. Isn't that proof that the Canadian system is better, even if they have to wait in line?"
Michael Moore: "That's the line where they live three years longer than we do. That's the line I want to be in."
Stossel: "But Canadians live longer because of things unrelated to health care. Americans are three times as likely to die in car accidents and ten times as likely to be murdered. Take those factors into account, not to mention obesity, and Americans live longer than Canadians. In America, we kill each other more often. We shoot each other. We have more car accidents. Forgive me. More of us look like you."
Moore: "Me, yeah."
Stossel: "That's the reason they're living longer in Canada."
Moore: "I will say, in part, it's because they never have to worry about paying to go see the doctor."
Stossel: "They may not worry about paying to see a doctor, but they do have to wait on average 17 weeks to see a specialist. We found one town in Canada where they have a lottery just to get an appointment with a family doctor. But you can be seen within 24 hours if you meow or woof, because if you're a dog or cat, vet care is privately run."
Sawyer: "Privately run. All right. It is so hard to get perspective on this! Thank heaven you're doing it. And it is tonight you can see all of it. 'Whose body is it anyway? Sick in America,' a special edition of ABC's 20/20 tonight at 10:00, 9:00 central. Good to see you, John."

Field: 'If Mothers Ruled World, There
Would Be No Goddamned Wars'

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