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O'Donnell: Bush "a War Criminal...Should Be Tried at The Hague" --5/2/2005


1. O'Donnell: Bush "a War Criminal...Should Be Tried at The Hague"
Rosie O'Donnell: President George W. Bush is a "war criminal." In a taped interview with FNC's Geraldo Rivera aired on Saturday night to promote O'Donnell's role in the CBS Sunday night Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Riding the Bus with My Sister, O'Donnell charged that since Bush "invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN, he is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague." In her rant, O'Donnell also insisted it's "scary" how "Dan Rather gets taken off CBS News for writing, for saying a report that essentially was true, that George Bush did not show up." Listen to MP3 audio clip

2. WashPost Ombudsman Cites Biased Poll to Defend Biased Poll
In defending the wording of a Washington Post poll, which the paper plastered at the top of Tuesday's front page under the headline, "Filibuster Rule Change Opposed," Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler cited a March Newsweek poll which also found majority opposition to ending Senate filibusters of judicial nominees. But that poll's formulation was just as slanted as the Post poll's wording, in contrast to a Rasmussen poll, that Getler didn't acknowledge, which used wording that led to a finding of opposition to the Democratic tactic. The Newsweek poll inaccurately told those surveyed that the filibuster "tactic has been used by both Democrats and Republicans to prevent certain judicial nominees from being confirmed." Like the Post poll, Newsweek treated Republicans as the ones wanting to use a political maneuver to their benefit: "Senate Republican leaders, whose party is now in the majority, want to take away this tactic by changing the rules to require only 51 votes..."

3. Matt Drudge Praises MRC as "Front-Runner" and "Revolutionary"
Responding to a caller on Friday's Washington Journal on C-SPAN who wanted to know why C-SPAN had not aired the MRC's DisHonors Awards, Matt Drudge heaped praise on the MRC. Drudge described the MRC as "one of the front-runners on the Internet for media balance" and asserted that MRC President "Brent Bozell is a revolutionary when it comes to using the Internet and media analysis others have followed."


Correction: The April 27 CyberAlert noted how FNC's Fox & Friends picked up on criticism of FNC delivered by CNN's Aaron Brown at the University of Washington's Dart Center. CyberAlert dated Brown's comments as being made on April 22, the date the University of Washington put on their posting of Brown's comments. In fact, the forum took place a week earlier, on April 15.

O'Donnell: Bush "a War Criminal...Should
Be Tried at The Hague"

Rosie O'Donnell: President George W. Bush is a "war criminal." In a taped interview with FNC's Geraldo Rivera aired on Saturday night to promote O'Donnell's role in the CBS Sunday night Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Riding the Bus with My Sister, O'Donnell charged that since Bush "invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN, he is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague.
Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive

" In her rant, O'Donnell also insisted it's "scary" how "Dan Rather gets taken off CBS News for writing, for saying a report that essentially was true, that George Bush did not show up."

Two other celebrities also made clear over the weekend their opposition to President Bush. Friday night on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, actor Martin Short declared: "I voted for John Kerry." And at a Saturday night concert in Glendale, Arizona, the Arizona Republic reported, Bruce Springsteen "ad-libbed a '€˜that's right' after one audience member yelled '€˜(Expletive) the President" at one point." The DrudgeReport.com highlighted the May 1 Arizona Republic story which is online at: www.azcentral.com

The Internet Movie Database's page on Short: www.imdb.com

Comedy Central's page for Short's show, Primetime Glick: www.comedycentral.com

O'Donnell spewed her remarks in a taped session aired on FNC on the April 30 edition of At Large with Geraldo Rivera. As she sat in front of a screen with the title of the CBS movie set to air the next night, Sunday May 1, Riding the Bus with My Sister, she launched into a rant about how "disgusted" she is with President Bush's opposition to same-sex marriage and how Bush's position motivated her to go to San Francisco last year to marry her partner.

O'Donnell proceeded to assert: "The equality that we are all entitled to, as citizens of this democracy, can't be avoided by some religious dogma of a President who's is supposed to believe in the notion of separation of church and state. And he frankly doesn't. And we are losing the democracy that we're trying to sell in the Mideast and everywhere else right here in our own nation."
Rivera: "I adore your outspokenness, as I said at the top, but when you say things about the President, don't you risk alienating half of the country, and especially when you're in a mass medium, doing TV movies and such? Don't you risk kind of crippling yourself in terms of commercial success?"
O'Donnell was undeterred and really let loose: "Well, you know, I don't know. All I know is that when I was a kid the Vietnam war was on and Jane Fonda was the own person standing up and saying what every kid who was nine-years-old like I was knew, war is wrong and we shouldn't go over and kill other people in a country that has nothing to do with us or our democracy.
"You know, this President invaded a sovereign nation in defiance of the UN. He is basically a war criminal. Honestly. He should be tried at The Hague. This man lied to the American public about the reasons for invading a nation that had nothing to do with 9-11. And as a Democrat, as a member of this democracy, as somebody who is a mother who cares very much about the fact that our sons and daughters are being asked to give their lives daily, I feel I have a responsibility to speak out, as does every other person who disagrees with this administration. And it's scary in a country that you can say something against the President and then worry about your career. That Dan Rather gets taken off CBS News for writing, for saying a report that essentially was true, that George Bush did not show up-"
Rivera jumped in to cut her off: "Okay, okay, we get it, we get it!"
O'Donnell: "Okay. There you go. But anyway. It infuriates me."
Rivera: "Riding the Bus with My Sister is going to be a great film. Andie McDowell. Directed by Angelica Huston."
O'Donnell: "See my publicist, she starts screaming, '€˜stop talking about politics.' It's a good movie. It's on CBS. But you know what, Geraldo, you always speak your mind. So when I'm with somebody like you, it encourages me."
Rivera: "I throw you a kiss, I throw you a kiss. Good luck. One and only Rosie O'Donnell. You may not agree with her, probably don't, but she speaks her mind."

CBS's page for Riding the Bus with My Sister, which aired Sunday night: www.cbs.com
The Internet Movie Database's page for O'Donnell: www.imdb.com

WashPost Ombudsman Cites Biased Poll
to Defend Biased Poll

In defending the wording of a Washington Post poll, which the paper plastered at the top of Tuesday's front page under the headline, "Filibuster Rule Change Opposed," Washington Post Ombudsman Michael Getler cited a March Newsweek poll which also found majority opposition to ending Senate filibusters of judicial nominees. But that poll's formulation was just as slanted as the Post poll's wording, in contrast to a Rasmussen poll, that Getler didn't acknowledge, which used wording that led to a finding of opposition to the Democratic tactic. The Newsweek poll inaccurately told those surveyed that the filibuster "tactic has been used by both Democrats and Republicans to prevent certain judicial nominees from being confirmed." Like the Post poll, Newsweek treated Republicans as the ones wanting to use a political maneuver to their benefit: "Senate Republican leaders, whose party is now in the majority, want to take away this tactic by changing the rules to require only 51 votes..."

As the April 26 CyberAlert noted in reporting how the Post and ABC's World News Tonight touted the poll, which found 66 percent supposedly opposed to GOP efforts to end the Senate Democratic filibuster threat, the questions didn't mention the term "filibuster" and failed to point out the unprecedented use of a filibuster to block nominees who have majority support, while they forwarded the Democratic talking point that "the Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush" and painted rules changes as an effort "to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees," not as a way to overcome Democratic obstructionism. For details, see: www.mediaresearch.org

How the Washington Post/ABC News poll questions were formulated:

-- "The Senate has confirmed 35 federal appeals court judges nominated by Bush, while Senate Democrats have blocked 10 others. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right or wrong to block these nominations?" Right: 48 percent; wrong: 36 percent.

-- "Would you support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees?" Support: 26 percent; oppose: 66 percent.

The April 26 CyberAlert suggested that this wording would have led to very different findings:

-- "In a change from long Senate tradition, Democrats have employed the threat of filibusters to block the confirmations of ten federal appeals court judges who would win majority support in an up or down vote. Do you think the Senate Democrats are right or wrong to use such tactics?"

-- "Would you support or oppose restoring the Senate's traditional procedures which provide for a majority vote of Senators to confirm judicial nominees?"

The April 27 CyberAlert relayed how FNC's Brit Hume pointed out how the wording of the Washington Post/ABC News poll led to its finding of overwhelming opposition to blocking Democratic filibusters of judicial nominees, and Hume noted how differently-worded polls led to opposite results. "If you doubt whether the framing of a poll question can influence the outcome," Hume asked, "consider this. When a Republican poll said quote, 'Even if they disagree with a judge, Senate Democrats should at least allow he President's nominations to be voted on,' 81 percent said they agreed." In addition, a Rasmussen survey found that when asked "should the Senate rules should be changed so that a vote must be taken on every person that the President nominates to become a judge?", 56 percent responded affirmatively. See: www.mediaresearch.org

An excerpt from Getler's Ombudsman column, "Debating the Poll Position," in the May 1 Washington Post:

....The story ["Filibuster Rule Change Opposed"], by Post polling chief Richard Morin and top political reporter Dan Balz, was based on the latest Post-ABC News poll of 1,007 randomly selected adults nationwide. The first sentence said, "As the Senate moves toward a major confrontation over judicial appointees, a strong majority of Americans oppose changing the rules to make it easier for Republican leaders to win confirmation of President Bush's court nominees," according to the poll. The lead closely followed the wording of the actual poll question, which asked whether respondents would "support or oppose changing Senate rules to make it easier for the Republicans to confirm Bush's judicial nominees."

A few dozen readers wrote to complain about the wording of the question, which they felt was certain to produce a negative result, and to suggest different wording, such as: "Should a president's judicial nominees be assured of a floor vote, and approved if a majority of senators vote in favor, as required under the Constitution?"...

Readers who challenged the fairness of the polling story, and the question dealing with judicial nominees, made several points. The word "filibuster" was not used in the question, although it was in the headline. They noted that the question was No. 36 in the poll, although it became the lead of the story, and that it came after a series of what some viewed as "setup" questions dealing with such issues as the use of religious beliefs in political decision making. And they noted there were more Democratic respondents (35 percent) than Republican (28 percent). But mostly they challenged the way the question was asked.

Morin defends the wording this way: "The debate over judicial selection currently raging is political and it is deeply partisan. It is a fact that Republicans are trying to change the rules to make it easier to get a vote on the contested Bush nominees. To withhold that information about the partisan cast of the debate would bias the result by completely removing the issue from its context." Also, he says, "no poll conducted this year has found majority or even plurality support for ending the filibuster -- just the opposite has been the consistent finding."

For example, a Newsweek poll two weeks ago used language very similar to that proposed by critical readers. It said: "U.S. Senate rules allow 41 Senators to mount a filibuster -- refusing to end debate and agree to vote -- to block judicial nominees. In the past, this tactic has been used by both Democrats and Republicans to prevent certain judicial nominees from being confirmed. Senate Republican leaders, whose party is now in the majority, want to take away this tactic by changing the rules to require only 51 votes, instead of 60, to break a filibuster. Would you approve or disapprove of changing Senate rules to take away the filibuster and allow all of George W. Bush's judicial nominees to get voted on by the Senate?" The poll found that 57 percent disapproved of changing the rules and 32 percent approved.

The Associated Press reported last week that a private Republican poll showed that 51 percent of Republicans opposed stripping away the filibuster. A Wall Street Journal-NBC News Poll in early April showed 41 percent of Republicans opposed....

END of Excerpt

For Getler's column in full, which also addresses an article about Tom DeLay's situation, go to: www.washingtonpost.com

One wonders about the formulation of those last two poll cited, especially given the slant of the Newsweek question which falsely stated that both parties have used the filibuster to block judicial nominees, when Republicans never have, and then framed the issue around Republicans hypocritically wanting to "take away" the right, instead of framing the question around the Democrats using an obstructionist tactic to block votes on nominees who have majority support.

As noted above, a less-loaded question posed by Rasmussen, found two-to-one support for letting nominees get a vote: "Should the Senate rules be changed so that a vote must be taken on every person that the President nominates to become a judge?" By two-to-one, those asked said yes, 56 percent to 26 percent. For Rasmussen's rundown of the poll released on April 22: www.rasmussenreports.com

Matt Drudge Praises MRC as "Front-Runner"
and "Revolutionary"

Matt Drudge Responding to a caller on Friday's Washington Journal on C-SPAN who wanted to know why C-SPAN had not aired the MRC's DisHonors Awards, Matt Drudge heaped praise on the MRC. Drudge described the MRC as "one of the front-runners on the Internet for media balance" and asserted that MRC President "Brent Bozell is a revolutionary when it comes to using the Internet and media analysis others have followed."

Drudge appeared in-studio with Brian Lamb on the April 29 Washington Journal and the MRC's Megan McCormack took down the relevant comments on the MRC, starting with a woman caller from Ohio who charged that once a conservative gets popular, C-SPAN ignores them.

Caller, picked up mid-question: "Brian, I can actually specifically name three incidences of programming that you used to show that you no longer show, which what it feels like to us out here in -- to me personally out here in Ohio, is the more popular conservative becomes, the more they will become shut out or blacked out."
Lamb: "Name the three."
Caller: "OK. One of them is, you used to do the Media Research Center. You guys used to film the Dishonor Awards, and you have not filmed that in the last three years. I know you used to film it cause it was something that I tuned in."
Lamb prompted her to name another: "What's second? Come on, second..."

Lamb soon responded to the question about the MRC: "There's almost nothing that we do every year. Some years we've done these dinners and some years we haven't..." (In fact, to be fair to C-SPAN, last year our event fell on the same night at C-SPAN's 25th anniversary celebration, and this year our room was so packed with attendees, we couldn't find a spot for C-SPAN.)

Drudge then opined: "Brent Bozell, the caller mentioned, he has a Web site, that's Media Research Center, was one of the front-runners on the Internet for media balance. You know, the new thing with Brock's Web site, the Media Matters, I think he's calling it. Where they're playing almost, you know, ping-pong. 'Your commentator did this, your commentator did that.' You know, back and forth, it is almost hysterical to watch. But Brent Bozell is a revolutionary when it comes to using the Internet and media analysis others have followed."

-- Brent Baker