Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Olbermann Rues Wasteful "Destruction" of Soldiers, Wilson's Wife --1/29/2004


1. Olbermann Rues Wasteful "Destruction" of Soldiers, Wilson's Wife
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night delivered a snotty take on CIA weapons inspector David Kay's conclusion that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as if the war could not be justified on any other grounds. On his Countdown show, Olbermann rued how "no WMD does not mean no destruction. Ask the 500 American service personnel dead in Iraq or the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson."

2. CBS Cuts "Another McGovern...Ted Kennedy Disciple" Kerry Label
Describing John Kerry as "another McGovern, he's a Ted Kennedy disciple," is too upsetting to the producers of CBS's Early Show? In running Dan Rather's Tuesday night interview with John Kerry following his New Hampshire primary victory, the Early Show on Wednesday edited out that part of Rather's question, a cut which saved barely two seconds.

3. ABC's Nightline Champions "Burgeoning Internet Group" MoveOn.org
The hour-long Nightline on Tuesday night, after the New Hampshire primary, featured a lengthy taped piece by Judy Muller admiring the influence of the far-left group, MoveOn.org, though she never once tagged them as liberal. Instead, she trumpeted how "nearly two million Americans are members of this burgeoning Internet group," gushed about how "they want to re-engage people in the democratic process as a whole," and championed their contest in which members created anti-Bush TV ads as she giddily oozed, "that ordinary citizens could create such sophisticated ads may seem surprising, but this group is full of surprises."


Olbermann Rues Wasteful "Destruction"
of Soldiers, Wilson's Wife

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday night delivered a snotty take on CIA weapons inspector David Kay's conclusion that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as if the war could not be justified on any other grounds. On his Countdown show, Olbermann rued how "no WMD does not mean no destruction. Ask the 500 American service personnel dead in Iraq or the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson."

At the top of his January 28 show, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, Olbermann asserted:
"Good evening. Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. Nothing newer than 1991 at worst. But no WMD does not mean no destruction. Ask the 500 American service personnel dead in Iraq or the wife of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson or whoever is going to end up at the wrong end of the inevitable Washington game of 'pin the tail on the scapegoat.' Our fifth story on the Countdown tonight, chief U.S. weapons investigator, Dr. David Kay, testifies to the Senate. His message today: Though U.S. intelligence agencies misjudged the threat posed by Saddam, Saddam Hussein was still worth deposing. Rather than summarize Dr. Kay's testimony, we're going to give you highlights of it, about two-and-a-half minutes worth."

CBS Cuts "Another McGovern...Ted Kennedy
Disciple" Kerry Label

Describing John Kerry as "another McGovern, he's a Ted Kennedy disciple," is too upsetting to the producers of CBS's Early Show? In running Dan Rather's Tuesday night interview with John Kerry following his New Hampshire primary victory, the Early Show on Wednesday, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, edited out that part of Rather's question, a cut which saved barely two seconds.

As recounted in the January 28 CyberAlert, Rather posed this question as the interview was played on CBS's overnight show, Up to the Minute:
"Senator, you know what they say about you at the White House. They say, 'Listen, he's just a tall Dukakis. He's another McGovern. He's a Ted Kennedy disciple, he's just another Northeastern liberal' and they intend to run against you that way. Do you think you can win and, if so, how against that kind of characterization?"

But a few hours later when the January 28 Early Show viewers saw the very same exchange, they heard this from Rather:
"Senator, you know what they say about you at the White House. They say, 'Listen, he's just a tall Dukakis. He's just another Northeastern liberal' and they intend to run against you that way. Do you think you can win and, if so, how against that kind of characterization?"

ABC's Nightline Champions "Burgeoning
Internet Group" MoveOn.org

The hour-long Nightline on Tuesday night, after the New Hampshire primary, featured a lengthy taped piece by Judy Muller admiring the influence of the far-left group, MoveOn.org, though she never once tagged them as liberal.

ABC's Judy Muller Instead, she trumpeted how "nearly two million Americans are members of this burgeoning Internet group," gushed about how "they want to re-engage people in the democratic process as a whole," championed their contest in which members created anti-Bush TV ads as she giddily oozed, "that ordinary citizens could create such sophisticated ads may seem surprising, but this group is full of surprises," only much later in her piece acknowledging how "two of those ads raised hackels because they compared President Bush to Hitler." But the real blame lied not with MoveOn.org but with those who dared criticize them: "MoveOn apologized on its Web site, but maintains that the RNC was overreacting."

Anchor Ted Koppel justified the story by claiming that "there's little question that this will be remembered as the first year that the Internet played such a significant role in a presidential election. Specifically, the organization Moveon.org, is already flexing its political muscle."

In avoiding MoveOn.org's left-wing record, Muller failed to inform viewers of how the group's founders are so radical that they opposed going to war against the Taliban following 9/11. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd passed along a September 21, 2001 Charlotte Observer story which reported:
"Small but growing numbers of college students, liberal groups and religious leaders are bucking public sentiment and urging the United States not to retaliate for last week's terrorist attacks.
"Joan Blades of Berkeley, Calif., co-founder of MoveOn.org, an online network of liberal-leaning activists, said her group had collected 30,000 signatures on a statement calling for 'justice, not escalating violence that would only play into the terrorists' hands.'
"'It's a frightening thing to find out there are nations of people that think we're evil,' Blades said. 'We don't want to support that imagery. We want to turn it around.'"

Now, the five-minute-long January 27 Nightline story, as taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson:

Ted Koppel: "Whatever the final results of this campaign turn out to be, there's little question that this will be remembered as the first year that the Internet played such a significant role in a presidential election. Specifically, the organization Moveon.org, is already flexing its political muscle. ABC's Judy Muller takes a look at this virtual democratic phenomenon."

Muller began: "Members of Moveon.org usually meet in cyberspace, but on this rare occasion, they met in a real space: New York's Hammerstein Ballroom."
Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org campaign director: "You know, I spend most of my time behind my computer, writing e-mail to you folks and I've never been in a room with this many MoveOn members before."
Muller: "Nearly two million Americans are members of this burgeoning Internet group. Only a relative handful were present this night, but they were all invested in the outcome: the recognition of the winner of the 'Bush in 30 seconds' contest for a political ad produced by a MoveOn member. About 1,500 people submitted entries, from the hard-hitting [clip of ad] to the humorous [clip of second ad]. That ordinary citizens could create such sophisticated ads may seem surprising, but this group is full of surprises."
Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation: "I think it's potentially revolutionary. For one, it's going to bring younger people back into the system. Two, it's going to break the power of the big media. It's going to allow citizens to come forth with messages, as we see with these ads, and it's going to allow small donations to break the power of big money in this country and that could have a potentially revolutionizing effect on our politics."
Muller: "That might sound like hyperbole, but even Luddite politicians are paying attention to the way MoveOn.org has changed the political landscape, especially in the area of fund-raising. Howard Dean got his first big boost when he garnered the most votes in MoveOn's online primary election last year."
Zack Exley, MoveOn.org organizing director: "We told everybody who was participating the MoveOn primary means nothing. If you really want to have an impact, you have to participate in the money primary, which is taking place right now, without you."
Muller: "And they did. With small contributions, members filled the campaign coffers of their favorite candidates. Dean raised millions of dollars from people his campaign had never identified as supporters."
Steven Johnson, author: "And so, in a sense, the following did find Dean. His flock, you know, found a shepherd, rather than the reverse, and that's the promise of these technologies, is that they will let groups truly make decisions in a way that they haven't been able to make before."
Muller: "In fact, MoveOn has never endorsed Dean. They believe their mission is broader than a single candidate. They want to reengage people in the democratic process as a whole."
Wes Boyd, MoveOn.org co-founder: "We see our mission, maybe it's because we come from business, but more as a service. We see it as, we're not telling you what to think. You tell us what's important, and then we give the service of, here's how you can be effective."
Muller: "MoveOn.org may have more than 1.5 million members, but it has no headquarters. Its small staff operates out of a virtual office, connected by phone and e-mail. The two who founded the organization work out of their home, here in Berkeley, as unpaid volunteers. Joan Blades and her husband, Wes Boyd, sold their profitable software company in 1997. Berkeley Systems was best known for its flying toaster screensaver, but it wasn't until the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal that they became involved in political activism. They thought the impeachment effort was a dangerous distraction, and they sent out an e-mail petition to a hundred friends."
Boyd: "The petition was 'censure President Clinton, move on to pressing issues facing the country.'"
Muller, being very generous to their position: "So, you weren't saying just ignore the issue?"
Boyd: "No, no. We were saying, let's get on with it."
Muller: "Move on."
Boyd: "Move on. Right."
Muller: "Those 100 friends circulated the petition. In a matter of days, 100,000 had responded."
Boyd: "And then, it was oh, my gosh, what do we do? How do we help these people who we now know really want to be a part of this, who really want to be heard?"
Muller: "The answer: MoveOn.org, an organization with a Web site that used technology to empower and connect members. Membership surged during the run up to the war in Iraq. While many members attended actual anti-war marches, others jammed congressional phones and in-boxes in a one-day virtual march on Washington. In March, MoveOn urged members to come together for a candlelight vigil against the war. Hundreds of thousands of people turned out at thousands of different locations in the U.S. and abroad."
Exley: "How could we have organized something like that without the Internet? And we did it with four days lead time."
Johnson: "It's a great revival of something that people thought that the Internet was gonna kill off. I mean, if you rewind the tape ten years, and you would hear lots of people saying, 'Oh no, you know, the Internet is going to kill public space. It's going to kill the common special places where people would get together and share ideas in public.' In effect, the Internet has been a great enabler for them."
Muller: "But Internet democracy is sometimes messy, as MoveOn discovered when it held its 'Bush in 30 seconds' ad contest. Members were able to view the ads online and vote, but two of those ads raised hackels because they compared President Bush to Hitler [clip of ad]."
RNC spokesman: "I think that the fact that they had a screening process, that two ads comparing the President to Adolf Hitler managed to get through, reflects a very disconcerting lack of judgment on the part of MoveOn.org."
Muller: "MoveOn apologized on its Web site, but maintains that the RNC was overreacting."
Boyd: "We mostly presented the ads as-is to our membership to ask them to tell us which ones are the good ones and which ones are the bad ones. The ads that he's referring to were quickly ranked very low, and almost nobody saw them. It's about 200 or 300 people that even saw them."
Muller: "In fact, the ad that won did not personally attack the President, and it focused not on the war, but on the deficit [clip of winning ad]."
Joan Blades, MoveOn.org co-founder: "It's an elegant ad, and it's about the long-term picture. People care about our future, and they believe that this is the ad that should speak to all Americans, and I think it does."
Pariser: "We have an opportunity to run the winning ad in this contest during the Super Bowl."
Muller: "MoveOn members contributed enough money to buy time for the ad on the Super Bowl, but CBS, which is airing the Super Bowl, said no, citing its policy against airing ads that take a stand on controversial issues. After airing its ad on CNN last week, MoveOn is still showing it on its Internet site and in the future, says Boyd, television will matter less and less in political discourse because everyone will have access to the Internet."
Boyd: "Essentially, you'll have the Internet on your telephone, and there's been talk about this digital divide problem, where some people don't have access to the Internet. That will be cured because everybody, more or less, will have these telephones."
Muller concluded: "Looking to the immediate future, the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign has opened a Web site that mimics some of the features of MoveOn.org. It's being promoted as a portal for grassroots activities. The 'cyber grass' apparently looked greener on the other side of the fence, and green is something all politicians understand [clip of another ad]."

MoveOn's Web site: www.moveon.org

Muller is probably personally sympathetic to MoveOn.org's cause. The Web site for the far-left group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting carries this endorsement from Muller: "I believe the work of FAIR is, indeed, extremely fair...I say this as an ABC correspondent (based in Los Angeles for World News Tonight and Nightline) whose network is often skewered by this organization. Often (too often!) I agree with their criticism."

For a bio and picture of Muller: abcnews.go.com

# Just a few more days for CyberAlert subscribers to qualify for $50 off tickets to the MRC's March 18 "DisHonors Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2003." Through Monday you can get $250 tickets for $200. See the January 27 CyberAlert Special for details.

-- Brent Baker