Networks Stress Anti-Bush Protests in Britain Over Pro-Bush Poll --11/19/2003
2. NBC's Jim Avila Describes Dick Gephardt as a "Moderate"
3. CNN's Brown Worries Gay Marriage Could Become a "Wedge Issue"
4. Gibson Wishes Limbaugh Gentler on Clinton's "Human Weaknesses"
5. ABC Claims Probe of Rush Money Laundering, Could Get 30 Years
6. News Mags Sneer at GOP Highlighting of Dem Judicial Filibusters
7. Jennings Rejects MRC's Take on Him, Boasts of Anti-War Slant
Silencing the silent majority in Britain. A poll published in the left-wing Guardian newspaper in London on Tuesday, the eve of President Bush's arrival in Britain for a three-day visit, discovered that 62 percent believe "that the U.S. is 'generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world'" as "only 15 percent of British voters agree with the idea that America is the 'evil empire' in the world." In addition, "more people -- 43 percent -- say they welcome George Bush's arrival in Britain than the 36 percent who say they would prefer he did not come."
A sarcastic Aaron Brown on CNN's Newsnight Tuesday evening, after noting how a Guardian headline read "Majority Backs Bush Visit," mused: "A cynic might say yes, all the better to protest." John King ignored the Guardian numbers but made time for how "a Daily Mirror poll found only 27 percent of Britons believe the partnership is good for their country."
Like Brown, the other networks on Tuesday night stressed protest and anger at Bush in Britain over the more cordial poll numbers.
ABC's Peter Jennings asserted that "a very large segment of the British public is opposed to Mr. Bush for one reason or another." On the CBS Evening News, John Roberts highlighted a Member of Parliament who rued how the British had to be "subject to the dumb and dumber show across London when the situation in Iraq is seemingly getting worse by the day." Roberts only vaguely alluded to the poll numbers: "But not all Britons are against his visit. In fact, there is strong support for it and an overwhelming sense here that America is a force for good."
"President Bush is the target of massive protests," announced NBC's Tom Brokaw before Dawna Friesen in London echoed how "anti-Bush and anti-war feelings run deep among many here. Only after focusing on protesters did Friesen acknowledge the poll, though again without citing any numbers or source: "But tonight, as the President sleeps in the place, he and his officials are taking heart from a new poll that shows more people welcome his visit than prefer he'd stayed home."
A rundown of how the networks on Tuesday night, November 18, buried the Guardian poll and emphasized the protests against Bush expected in London:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings intoned: "President Bush has arrived for his state visit to Britain. It's going to be a very difficult few days, or potentially very difficult. The President has not made any other overseas visit quite so controversial. This one was planned some time ago. The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, has been his most loyal ally on the war in Iraq. And a very large segment of the British public is opposed to Mr. Bush for one reason or another."
From London, David Wright reported how Bush flew by helicopter in the dark to Buckingham Palace because of the massive security effort prompted by anti-war protesters who "will dog the President." Wright recounted what security concerns have made Bush avoid before he got to the Guardian poll number which undermined the implication of Jennings' premise:
Especially given the media.
-- CBS Evening News. From London, John Roberts began with hostility toward Bush. Over video from the airport, Roberts observed: "President Bush received a royal welcome tonight, Prince Charles leading the British delegation. But some British lawmakers would rather send Mr. Bush back home, saying with Iraq still a mess this is no time for a king-sized photo-op."
Roberts moved on to the protesters and showcased one man: "I think he is a disgrace. He's a disgrace to the American people. And these demonstrations are in solidarity with the American people. It's not anti-American, we're anti-Bush."
Roberts cited "unprecedented precautions" taken, such as no carriage ride with the Queen, before he acknowledged: "But not all Britons are against his visit. In fact, there is string support for it and an overwhelming sense here that America is a force for good. President Bush hopes to build on that sentiment this week and give a boost to the battered Prime Minister who stood by his side. But says political commentator Peter Riddell, that my do more harm than good for Tony Blair." Riddell noted how many in Britain see Blair as "Bush's poodle."
Roberts concluded on the downbeat: "President Bush will insist this week that in Iraq he and Blair were defending the ideals of democracy that the British people hold so dearly. But while support for the war has increased slightly from a recent low, there are plenty of Brits who will never be convinced it was the right thing to do."
Put the majority of U.S. journalists in that category.
-- NBC Nightly News. Dawna Friesen recited how pomp has been kept to minimum for security reasons, with no carriage ride. Friesen asserted: "Anti-Bush and anti-war feelings run deep among many here. The biggest protest is planned for Thursday. Organizers expect 100,000 people."
Next, also from London, David Gregory outlined Bush's goals for the trip: "Aides say the President is interested in taking on the caricature of him, that he's a cowboy and a unilateralist. One advisers said Europeans only know that caricature and not the real person. The White House was heartened, as was mentioned earlier, by this Guardian newspaper survey which found that 62 percent of Britons actually believe that the United States is a force for good in the world. The silent majority, Tom, that the President believes exists in Britain and he wants to tap into that during this visit."
-- CNN's NewsNight. Anchor Aaron Brown hinted at the poll, but never really cited it: "The Guardian, one of Britain's center-left papers, ran this as a headline on its Web site tonight: 'Bush Flies into Fortress London.' The sidebar had a different take: 'Majority Backs Bush Visit.' A cynic might say yes, all the better to protest. But a lot of what people think of the President, the United States, Great Britain's role in the war in Iraq, depends much on who and how you ask the question. And people, protesters aside, seem willing to hear what the President has to say."
Reporter John King didn't cite any of the Guardian numbers and found another poll to stress as he led into a clip of a British cartoon show with a scene making fun of how Bush can't read a clock: "Protesters promise to turn out by the tens of thousands during the three-day visit. A Daily Mirror poll found only 27 percent of Britons believe the partnership is good for their country and Mr. Bush is often the subject of ridicule in British and other media."
-- The Guardian poll. "Protests begin but majority backs Bush visit as support for war surges," read the headline over the November 18 story by Alan Travis and David Gow. An excerpt:
A majority of Labour voters welcome President George Bush's state visit to Britain which starts today, according to November's Guardian/ICM opinion poll.
The survey shows that public opinion in Britain is overwhelmingly pro-American with 62% of voters believing that the US is "generally speaking a force for good, not evil, in the world". It explodes the conventional political wisdom at Westminster that Mr Bush's visit will prove damaging to Tony Blair. Only 15% of British voters agree with the idea that America is the "evil empire" in the world....
The ICM poll also uncovers a surge in pro-war sentiment in the past two months as suicide bombers have stepped up their attacks on western targets and troops in Iraq. Opposition to the war has slumped by 12 points since September to only 41% of all voters. At the same time those who believe the war was justified has jumped 9 points to 47% of voters....
The detailed results of the poll show that more people -- 43% -- say they welcome George Bush's arrival in Britain than the 36% who say they would prefer he did not come.
Labour voters are more enthusiastic about the visit than Tory voters. But it is only Liberal Democrats who are marginally more unhappy about his arrival, with 43% against and 39% willing to welcome him. A majority of "twentysomethings" welcome Mr Bush. Hostility is strongest amongst the over-65s. There is a clear gender gap in attitudes with a majority of men - 51% - welcoming the president's arrival, compared with only 35% of women.
Pro-Americanism, as might be expected, is strongest among Tory voters with 71% saying the US is a force for good. But it is nearly matched by the 66% of Labour voters who say the US is a force for good. Anti-Americanism is strongest among Liberal Democrat voters but is still only shared by 24% of them and the majority see the US as the "good guys"...
END of Excerpt
For the entirety of the article and a link to a PDF of the full poll results: politics.guardian.co.uk
The "moderate" Dick Gephardt? In the midst of a story Tuesday night on the decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that equality under the law compels a right to gay marriage, NBC's Jim Avila tagged Gephardt, a Democratic presidential candidate and former House Minority Leader, as a "moderate." Avila maintained that while Bush backers "are virtually united in their opposition" to gay marriage, Democrats "are split," with "liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage" and "moderates, like Richard Gephardt, who stopped short of backing gay marriage," but still back civil unions.
But in 2002, Gephardt earned higher liberal approval (90 percent) than did Kucinich (80 percent) from Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), who provide the benchmark liberal ratings for votes cast by Congressmen and Senators. And, in ADA's lifetime ratings, Kucinich barely exceeds Gephardt -- 90 percent to 83 percent.
So, being 83 or 90 percent liberal makes you a "moderate" to NBC News.
Avila reported on the November 18 NBC Nightly News: "Republicans consider gay marriage an opportunistic issue in the presidential campaign because George Bush supporters are virtually united in their opposition, while Democrats are split. From liberals like Dennis Kucinich, who support gay marriage."
For ADA's 2002 ratings of Members of Congress, with Kucinich at 80 percent and Gephardt at 90 percent: www.adaction.org
For ADA's "lifetime" rating of 90 percent for Ohio Democratic Congressman Kucinich: www.adaction.org
For Gephardt's "lifetime" rating of 83 percent: www.adaction.org
(Note that ADA last calculated "lifetime" ratings in 2000 for votes through 1999, which only covers two years in Congress for Kucinich.)
CNN's Aaron Brown fretted Tuesday night about how the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision, on how there is a right to gay marriage, could cause an anti-gay marriage backlash. He opened NewsNight by asking if the decision could create "a political rallying cry for those who oppose such things" and, thus, could become "the wedge issue of the campaign ahead?"
NewsNight anchor Brown led the November 18 program with this "Page Two" commentary: "There is a be careful what you wish for quality to our lead story tonight. The Massachusetts Supreme Court decision that all but legalized gay marriage in that state. Could it turn out that that decision creates a political rallying cry for those who oppose such things? And there many. That it becomes the wedge issue of the campaign ahead? That this day becomes the perfect example of the law of unintended consequences?"
The morning after Rush Limbaugh returned to the airwaves ABC's Charles Gibson described Bill Clinton's sexual escapades, which were followed by lying and obfuscation of a criminal probe, as a "human weakness" as he recalled on Good Morning America how "I certainly have heard him [Limbaugh] being very hard on the weaknesses of human beings, particularly obviously Bill Clinton," and told guest Bill Bennett: "It seems to me something like that has to change."
CBS's Harry Smith similarly insulted Limbaugh and then wished for a gentler and more liberal Limbaugh, pressing a guest on Tuesday's Early Show: "Empathy has never been one of Rush's strongest suits. Do you detect anything in his broadcast yesterday that would suggest that Rush is now going to become a kinder-gentler Rush Limbaugh?"
The night before, CNN's Lou Dobbs provided an update for Limbaugh on what he missed during his weeks in drug rehab. Dobbs mocked one assessment made by Limbaugh: "And on this, your first day back from treatment, you said you have learned a lesson. 'I am no longer trying live my life by making other people happy,' you said. Well, Rush, we know one fellow who's pretty happy. Guess what? The fellow you have described as overrated because he's black. Well, over the past five weeks with you in rehab, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb how has a perfect 5-0 record."
-- ABC's Good Morning America, November 18. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down how Charles Gibson approached Bill Bennet in a segment on Limbaugh. Gibson set it up: "As we mentioned at the top of the broadcast, Rush Limbaugh went back on the air yesterday after five weeks of drug rehab. Here's a little bit of what he said to his listeners. [Clip of Rush talking about his time in rehab] Bill Bennett is a close friend of Rush Limbaugh, a conservative writer, former Drug Czar for the first President Bush, and he's joining us this morning from Washington. Bill, good to have you back with us."
# "It was interesting to hear him talk yesterday about his powerlessness to face this without help. Is it, do we expect, can we anticipate a changed Rush Limbaugh in any way?"
# "He said yesterday that his tough on-air comments about drug abusers, that a lot of people had been quoting during these five weeks, had been taken out of context -- I don't know because I didn't hear him make those comments. But I certainly have heard him being very hard on the weaknesses of human beings, particularly obviously Bill Clinton, and it seems to me something like that has to change."
# Gibson: "Bill, he took a shot at the National Enquirer yesterday -- they're the outfit that published a story about his buying vast amounts of prescription drugs -- and he said you can't believe what you read there, but without that story, do you think he'd have gone public with this and gone into rehab?"
-- CBS's Early Show on Tuesday. MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this exchange between quad-host Harry Smith and liberal media watcher Robert Thompson of Syracuse University:
Smith: "Mr. Thompson, empathy has never been one of Rush's strongest suits. Do you detect anything in his broadcast yesterday that would suggest that Rush is now going to become a kinder-gentler Rush Limbaugh?"
-- Lou Dobbs Tonight, Monday night, November 17. The MRC's Boyd also noticed this welcome back, sort of, from Dobbs:
At least he ended on a kind note.
Rush Limbaugh a money launderer? ABC's Brian Ross, on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, put into play the charge that in supposedly getting envelopes from his bank with $9,900 in cash to pay for his drug habit, just below the $10,000 in cash which requires a report to the IRS, "Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws." Ross ominously added: "A conviction on such charges in Florida could mean up to 30 years in prison."
World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings, in Tampa, introduced the November 18 story by reporting how "officials are now looking into whether Limbaugh laundered money to support his drug habit."
Brian Ross began his World News Tonight piece (a condensed version of which aired during the 8am news update on Wednesday's Good Morning America): "Limbaugh makes an estimated $35 million a year and had no shortage of legally-earned money to buy the pain-killers to which he became addicted. But law enforcement officials in Florida and New York tell ABC News, that Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws in the way he handled huge amounts of cash to buy his drugs. A conviction on such charges in Florida could mean up to 30 years in prison."
For the online version of the Ross story: abcnews.go.com
Senate Republicans may have held a 40-hour filibuster to drum up media coverage of the unprecedented Democratic tactic of obstructing Bush nominees by employing a filibuster threat with the use of the 60-vote cloture motion, but the news magazines could only muster a dismissive paragraph or two. In U.S. News & World Report, Terence Samuel sneered: "They would just not shut up...And what on earth were they droning on about?...Senate Republicans threw a hissy fit because they're frustrated at Dems for holding up four of President Bush's nominees to the federal bench." None of the magazines noted the number of filibustered judicial nominees is actually now six.
[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, submitted this item for CyberAlert]
The November 24 issues of the news magazines all skimmed over the judicial-nominations fight in their up-front news-in-brief sections, without a quote from the Republican Senators who created the public-relations gambit. In U.S. News & World Report, "The Week" section began with a large photo of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on a cot, over the snippy headline "YADA YADA YADA YADA YADA." In 128 words, all reporter Terence Samuel conveyed was mockery:
Republicans plot a 40-hour filibuster, but Samuel only quoted a Senate Democrat. You can see the item online at: www.usnews.com
Time's snippet is online at: www.time.com
It's a bad week when Eleanor Clift makes the least biased presentation.
Her piece is available at: www.msnbc.com
The number of judicial nominees the Democrats have filibustered is actually six, beginning with Miguel Estrada (who gave up in September) and now includes William Pryor, Charles Pickering, Priscilla Owen, Carolyn Kuhl, and Janice Rogers Brown. President Bush held a press availability last week standing with the three filibustered females, but the news magazines skipped over that photo showing who one party refuses to let on the bench.
For more on the conservative side of the argument, see: www.committeeforjustice.org
A St. Petersburg Times story on Tuesday, pegged to Peter Jennings anchoring World News Tonight from Tampa on Tuesday and Wednesday, noted criticism of him by "the Washington, D.C., conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which calls Jennings 'Palestine Pete' in one Web page it maintains."
Jennings insisted to TV critic Eric Deggans that "I'm not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations." But he proudly recalled his pre-war hostility toward the Bush Iraq policy: "'I think it's one of the things of which I am rather proud about ABC News: that many of the questions being asked now about the venture in Iraq are questions we asked before the war,' Jennings said. 'And (they were asked) in a sometimes overheated environment in which patriotism and nationalism have been big issues.'"
The MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me to the article in the November 18 St. Petersburg Times, "Jennings, Tampa share spotlight," about his efforts to help shore up affiliate relations with WFTS-TV, channel 28. An excerpt of the relevant portion about Jennings' biases:
....But the same international perspective and worldly skepticism that built his reputation have irked some of Jennings' critics, who accuse him of pro-Arab bias, going soft on terrorism post-Sept. 11 and unfairly criticizing the war in Iraq.
Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales in particular has singled out Jennings for steady criticism, along with the Washington, D.C., conservative watchdog group Media Research Center, which calls Jennings "Palestine Pete" in one Web page it maintains.
Jennings, who has heard such complaints for years, brushes off the barbs. "I think it's admirable for reporters to be skeptical, provided they're not cynical," he said. "But I'm not any more skeptical about Republican administrations than I am about Democratic administrations."
It helps that many mainstream media outlets have grown more skeptical of the Iraq war in recent months as insurgency in the country increases and the death toll for U.S. soldiers rises.
"I think it's one of the things of which I am rather proud about ABC News: that many of the questions being asked now about the venture in Iraq are questions we asked before the war," Jennings said. "And (they were asked) in a sometimes overheated environment in which patriotism and nationalism have been big issues."
The anchor, who was born in Canada, recently removed one criticism leveled by those who dispute his fairness. He became an American citizen (he is keeping his Canadian citizenship).
When asked why it took 40 years to take the leap, Jennings had another succinct answer ready.
"It was time."
END of Excerpt
For the piece in full: www.sptimes.com
# Reminder: The Law & Order with a reporter modeled after Geraldo, who gets shot after he divulges a troop position in Iraq, airs tonight at 10pm EST/PST, 9pm CST/MST on NBC. See: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker