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Olbermann: Hearing Timed So Bush-Damaging Disclosure Buried --7/19/2006


1. Olbermann: Hearing Timed So Bush-Damaging Disclosure Buried
Though the Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified was scheduled more than two weeks ago, noting the focus on the war in the Middle East the conspiratorial-minded Keith Olbermann called it "a perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration." On MSNBC's Countdown, Olbermann fretted that Friday is usually the "take out the trash" day for a White House to put out "damaging" information, but it "could also be a Tuesday if much of the news-consuming public is monitoring a war far from the halls of the Capitol, where a Senate Committee just happened to hear that the reason there was no Justice Department review of the warrantless NSA domestic spy program is that the President ordered that there not be one." Of course, no one forced MSNBC and other media outlets to go wall-to-wall on the Israel-Hezbollah battle. MSNBC could have covered the hearing live, so Olbermann's quibbles should be with his fellow journalism decision-makers and not Arlen Specter's committee or the administration.

2. NYTimes Coverage of Mid-East War Fairer Than Usual, But in Past
"The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual," Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site observed Tuesday. But in the posting, Waters recited the paper's history of describing anti-Israel terrorist groups as made up of "militants" and "martyrs." Waters recalled, for instance, how "Steven Erlanger, the Jerusalem Bureau chief of the Times, talked of PLO terrorist leader Yasir Arafat's 'heroic history' in January 2005 and has issued sympathetic profiles of Palestinian terror bombers. Erlanger once opened a story by referring to Hamas as 'the Islamic group that combines philanthropy and militancy.'"

3. CNN's Confused Carol Costello: Embryos Are 'Not Fertilized?'
During a July 18 segment on the science behind stem cell research with CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, American Morning substitute host Carol Costello displayed a shocking lack of knowledge of basic reproductive science. Costello, in New York, was questioning Cohen, who appeared from the CNN Center in Atlanta, on what federal funding for stem cell research would mean for those who had frozen embryos. Cohen explained that scientists with federal grants would seek out these embryos, and it would be up to individuals to decide whether or not to make a donation. Costello showed her confusion on the topic after Cohen pointed out: "These are four-day old embryos. We're talking about very tiny, tiny embryos." Costello then wondered: "And they're not fertilized either, right?"

4. Brad Pitt Warns: We're 'Consuming Ourselves Into Extinction!'
If you are a celebrity, businessman or ex-President with a liberal persuasion and you have a cause to promote chances are someone from NBC's Today will traverse many miles to place a microphone in front of your face. On Tuesday's Today show, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates all got face-time to promote their causes. However it was Pitt who stole the show with this piece of Greenie hyperbole: "We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction."

5. Hollywood Celebrities Donate to Lieberman's Opponent Ned Lamont
In his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on a Stamford Advocate story on how 70 percent of the donors to the campaign of Ned Lamont, the anti-Iraq war candidate trying to beat incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in next month's Connecticut primary, are from outside of the state -- with several Hollywood celebrities in the mix. Amongst the left coast donors: Barbra Streisand, Norman Lear and Baywatch star Alexandra Paul. Plus, incoming The View quad-host Rosie O'Donnell and Connecticut resident Paul Newman.


Olbermann: Hearing Timed So Bush-Damaging
Disclosure Buried

Though the Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified was scheduled more than two weeks ago, noting the focus on the war in the Middle East the conspiratorial-minded Keith Olbermann called it "a perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration." On MSNBC's Countdown, Olbermann fretted that Friday is usually the "take out the trash" day for a White House to put out "damaging" information, but it "could also be a Tuesday if much of the news-consuming public is monitoring a war far from the halls of the Capitol, where a Senate Committee just happened to hear that the reason there was no Justice Department review of the warrantless NSA domestic spy program is that the President ordered that there not be one."

Of course, no one forced MSNBC and other media outlets to go wall-to-wall on the Israel-Hezbollah battle. MSNBC could have covered the hearing live, so Olbermann's quibbles should be with his fellow journalism decision-makers and not Arlen Specter's committee or the administration.

Back on June 30, long before the new war in the Middle East, the Senate Judiciary Committee posted a notice about the July 18 hearing: judiciary.senate.gov

[This item is adopted from a Tuesday night posting by Brad Wilmouth on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Referring to "President Josiah Bartlet" from NBC's The West Wing, Olbermann reviewed the show's coining of the term "take out the trash day," the practice of releasing information damaging to the administration on Friday to minimize press coverage. Olbermann declared that "'take out the trash day' could also be a Tuesday." Olbermann: "Our number two story in the Countdown, 'take out the trash' day could also be a Tuesday if much of the news-consuming public is monitoring a war far from the halls of the Capitol, where a Senate Committee just happened to hear that the reason there was no Justice Department review of the warrantless NSA domestic spy program is that the President ordered that there not be one."

Below is a transcript of relevant portions from the July 18 Countdown.

Keith Olbermann, in opening teaser: "A perfect day then to bury the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on warrant-free domestic spying by the Bush administration. A perfect day then for the Attorney General to reveal that the Justice Department was blocked from reviewing the legalities on the personal instructions of the President."

Olbermann, introducing the segment: "It will perhaps be the enduring contribution to American political speak by the creators of the just concluded NBC series The West Wing: 'Take out the trash' day. In the fictional Bartlett White House, the day, usually a late Friday afternoon when bad or damaging news is released by the press office to be lost amid the traditional diffusion of a weekend. Our number two story in the Countdown, 'take out the trash' day could also be a Tuesday if much of the news-consuming public is monitoring a war far from the halls of the Capitol, where a Senate Committee just happened to hear that the reason there was no Justice Department review of the warrantless NSA domestic spy program is that the President ordered that there not be one. Our Justice correspondent Pete Williams has been good enough to stay late with us tonight. Good evening, Pete."

NYTimes Coverage of Mid-East War Fairer
Than Usual, But in Past

"The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual," Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site observed Tuesday. But in the posting, Waters recited the paper's history of describing anti-Israel terrorist groups as made up of "militants" and "martyrs." Waters recalled, for instance, how "Steven Erlanger, the Jerusalem Bureau chief of the Times, talked of PLO terrorist leader Yasir Arafat's 'heroic history' in January 2005 and has issued sympathetic profiles of Palestinian terror bombers. Erlanger once opened a story by referring to Hamas as 'the Islamic group that combines philanthropy and militancy.'"

A reprint of Clay's July 18 posting:

The Times on Israel: Still Searching for Balance

The Shiite anti-Israeli terror group Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel on July 12, killing eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapping two others. Israel is responding with force, unleashing targeted air strikes against Hezbollah positions in Lebanon in an effort to get the kidnapped soldiers back. The New York Times' coverage of Israel's counterattack has been generally fair, or at least more balanced than usual -- the prospect of wide-scale war appears to have clarified somewhat the paper's often-wishful thinking about the true aims of Israel's foes.

One major annoying tic that remains is the paper's use of the term "captured" to describe kidnapped Israeli soldiers, when it comes to covering the June kidnapping by Hamas of Gilad Shalit at an Israeli Defense Forces outpost, and the two kidnapped soldiers resulting from the incursion by Hezbollah. "Captured" is a phrase used by anti-Israeli leftists like ANSWER and implies these soldiers were prisoners of war captured on the field of battle, not abducted over a border by a terrorist group.

Another taste of the Times' old labeling ways comes in Tuesday's front-page story by Middle East reporter Hassan Fattah, "Bombings Bring Season of Fear To Sea Resort." It brings a little reminder of the paper's standard non-judgmental treatment of the groups currently invading Israel's borders, kidnapping soldiers, and killing Israeli civilians with rocket attacks.

"Just a week ago, Tyre was an idyllic seaside town on the Mediterranean Sea, a fledgling tourist spot with everything from scuba diving to fishing cruises, populated by a mixture of Christians and Shiite Muslims. Posters herald a concert by Nancy Ajram, one of the hottest pop singers in the Arab world. But this town is also the gateway to Hezbollah country, where Hezbollah controls everything from local administration and schools to security. Hezbollah has its footprint everywhere here, from its signature yellow banners to portraits celebrating fallen martyrs."

Stephen Spruiell at National Review Online, who remembers history, wonders, "Would that include the 'martyrs' who killed themselves along with 241 U.S. military personnel in 1983? The ones who murdered 17 Americans when they blew up the U.S. Embassy in Beirut the following year? Not to mention the countless Israeli civilians Hezbollah 'martyrs' have blown to pieces?"

"Martyrs" is worse than the Times' usual descriptive word for Hezbollah and the Palestinian terrorist group, Hamas. The Times term for these groups, whose sole aim is the destruction of the state of Israel? "Militants."

Conventional wisdom aside, the Times can in no way be described as pro-Israel, especially not in its news columns.

Steven Erlanger, the Jerusalem Bureau chief of the Times, talked of PLO terrorist leader Yasir Arafat's "heroic history" in January 2005 and has issued sympathetic profiles of Palestinian terror bombers. Erlanger once opened a story by referring to Hamas as "the Islamic group that combines philanthropy and militancy."

While marking the fourth anniversary of the deadly Palestinian Intifada, Erlanger lamented (under the suspiciously positive headline, "Intifada's Legacy at Year 4: A Morass of Faded Hopes"): "Among the more than 3,000 dead, more than three Palestinians die for every Israeli, and among the Palestinian dead, though figures are hard to come by, easily more than half are civilians." Erlanger is lumping Israeli victims in with Palestinian terrorists and citizens.

Erlanger's sympathies seemed evident in a December 2005 on the necessary Israeli security checkpoints: "Current checkpoints were thrown together in 2000 after the violent Palestinian uprising, known as the second intifada. The experience, monitored by various groups like Machsom Watch (machsom means checkpoint in Hebrew), is often humiliating, with young soldiers sometimes treating individuals with contempt."

A text box accompanying the story fed into the pro-Palestinian line that the barrier was an intolerable insult to Palestinians crossing from the West Bank into Israel: "Easier passage for people and goods, or just new wallpaper for the prison?"

Erlanger's predecessor on the beat, James Bennet, was almost as biased. Bennett also belabored the "charitable" aspect of Hamas, as if it was primarily a widows and orphans society (as opposed to one that made widows and orphans of Jewish civilians). "Hamas does not operate only underground but maintains schools, health clinics and a steady, even celebrity presence on satellite television."

Bennett carried even-handedness to an extreme on May 21, 2004, lumping in Israeli soldiers and Palestinian "militants" (not terrorists) in a general "fog of war," and deploring the cycle of violence without fingering anti-Israeli terrorism for blame:

"Some things here are what they seem, and some are not. Israeli soldiers have camouflaged themselves in Palestinian vehicles. Militants have hidden smuggling tunnels in the basements of houses. Each side plays on what it considers the other's habit of deception to cast doubt on claims about the killing....Many of these differing accounts will never be balanced. Each side prefers its version of the facts. The violence continues, and the accounting can seem beside the point."

But in the "fog" of what is now shaping up to be genuine war in Israel and Lebanon, an honest "accounting" by America's most influential newspaper becomes all the more important -- including accurate labeling and descriptions of groups bent on Israel's destruction.

END of Reprint from TimesWatch.

For daily TimesWatch postings, go to: www.timeswatch.org

To subscribe to the daily TimesWatch Tracker e-mail: www.timeswatch.org

CNN's Confused Carol Costello: Embryos
Are 'Not Fertilized?'

During a July 18 segment on the science behind stem cell research with CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, American Morning substitute host Carol Costello displayed a shocking lack of knowledge of basic reproductive science. Costello, in New York, was questioning Cohen, who appeared from the CNN Center in Atlanta, on what federal funding for stem cell research would mean for those who had frozen embryos. Cohen explained that scientists with federal grants would seek out these embryos, and it would be up to individuals to decide whether or not to make a donation. Costello showed her confusion on the topic after Cohen pointed out: "These are four-day old embryos. We're talking about very tiny, tiny embryos." Costello then wondered: "And they're not fertilized either, right?"

Cohen, forced to correct Costello, gave her a quick explanation of how an embryo is formed: "Well no, an embryo is fertilized."
Costello: "Just to make it clear'€""
Cohen: "Its sperm and egg have met each other'€""
Costello: "So, it is?"
Cohen: "'€"and they, they've grown for about four days. So, they've formed a very, very small embryo."
Costello: "Ok, so I feel silly now."
Cohen: "Don't feel silly."

[This item, by Megan McCormack, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Perhaps someone at CNN should give Costello "the talk" about the birds and the bees before her next report on reproduction.

(Hat tip to National Review Online's The Corner: corner.nationalreview.com )

Brad Pitt Warns: We're 'Consuming Ourselves
Into Extinction!'

If you are a celebrity, businessman or ex-President with a liberal persuasion and you have a cause to promote chances are someone from NBC's Today will traverse many miles to place a microphone in front of your face. On Tuesday's Today show, Brad Pitt, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates all got face-time to promote their causes. However it was Pitt who stole the show with this piece of Greenie hyperbole: "We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction."

[This item, by Geoff Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In the first half-hour of Today, NBC's Campbell Brown highlighted Bill and Melinda Gates and Clinton's efforts to combat disease in Africa and in the 8:30 half-hour Ann Curry trudged through flood-ravaged New Orleans to promote Brad Pitt's effort to rebuild the city. On the surface one has to applaud any charitable effort to fight disease in Africa or reconstruct New Orleans but it would be nice if viewers were spared the liberal hero worship such as Brown calling Gates and Clinton, "two of the most fascinating people in the world."

But Brown's brown-nosing was nothing compared to Curry who devoted time on the Monday and Tuesday programs to Pitt's effort, along with Global Green, to rebuild New Orleans in an "eco-friendly" way.

A quick visit to Global Green's Web site reveals its founder is none other than Mikhail Gorbachev, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when Pitt's preaching took a rather anti-capitalistic tone. The home page: www.globalgreen.org

Pitt, who is overseeing the "Green Design" entries in a Global Green-sponsored architectural competition, waxed: "Understand this is the wave of the future. We've got to address these issues. Just, it's just a matter of time. We might as well start here. There's just a great opportunity to do so with this rebuilding effort."
Curry: "What convinces you that this is the wave of the future?"
Pitt: "Oh because it's inevitable. Dependency on oil, look at our gas prices, look at health rates. We just can't keep consuming ourselves into extinction. We, we, we've got to regroup and adopt a new paradigm, a new wave of thinking."

Hollywood Celebrities Donate to Lieberman's
Opponent Ned Lamont

In his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, FNC's Brit Hume picked up on a Stamford Advocate story on how 70 percent of the donors to the campaign of Ned Lamont, the anti-Iraq war candidate trying to beat incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman in next month's Connecticut primary, are from outside of the state -- with several Hollywood celebrities in the mix. Amongst the left coast donors: Barbra Streisand, Norman Lear and Baywatch star Alexandra Paul. Plus, incoming The View quad-host Rosie O'Donnell and Connecticut resident Paul Newman.

In the July 18 Stamford Advocate article, about who donated in May and June, Brian Lockhart reported:
"Streisand is one of the celebrities who gave $1,000. The entertainer was joined by talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, All In the Family producer Norman Lear, Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and film director Richard Donner.
"Actor Paul Newman, a Westport resident, topped those donations with a $2,100 contribution.
"Former Baywatch actress Alexandra Paul, whose Web site features her career highlights and her social activism, including demonstrating against the Iraq war, gave Lamont $250."

Indeed, her site features an "in-depth account of the 5 days Alexandra spent in jail, protesting the war in Iraq." Her home page: www.alexandrapaul.com

For the Stamford Advocate news story in full: www.stamfordadvocate.com



# Correction to the "Top Ten Answers to the Question: 'How Hot Is It?'" from the July 17 Late Show with David Letterman, as reprinted in the July 18 CyberAlert. Number 6 was listed as: "It's so hot, President Bush told the sun to stop doing this." That should have read: "It's so hot, President Bush told the sun to 'Stop doing this sh**'"

-- Brent Baker