2. NBC's Mitchell Mangles Armey, Lauer Misrepresents Liberals
3. Couric: Hillary Coverage 'Most Unfair, Hostile...I've Ever Seen'
4. CNN's Obsession With 'Big Oil' Profits and Windfall Profit Taxes
5. NYT: GOP 'Death Tax' in Quotes, Democratic 'Windfall Profits' Not
6. Letterman on Bush/Cheney: 'Any Humanity in Either of These Guys?'
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday, only ABC's World News judged Jim Johnson's resignation from the Obama campaign as worth a full story. CBS and NBC limited coverage to brief items that failed to inform viewers of how Obama was caught in hypocrisy. ABC's Jake Tapper, however, explained the reason for the "big headache for Barack Obama," that "the head of his vice presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, resigned amidst criticisms that Johnson personified the very special interests and Washington insiders whom Obama campaigns against."
Tapper played a clip of Obama's "lofty" rhetoric from February: "The stakes are too high and the challenges are too great to play the same old Washington games with the same old Washington players." Tapper reported Obama picked Johnson while "not knowing of Johnson's ties to Countrywide Financial, a mortgage lender Obama had rallied against on the campaign trail." Viewers then heard from Obama earlier in the campaign: "Countrywide Financial was one of the folks, one of the institutions that was pumping up the sub-prime lending market."
Tapper outlined Johnson's insider deal: "Johnson got up to $7 million in special loans for mortgages, some below market averages, through a program for friends of Countrywide CEO, Angelo Mozilo, whom Obama has also criticized." And Tapper had an Obama soundbite: "They get a $19 million bonus while people are at risk of losing their home. What's wrong with this picture?"
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
None of the newscasts highlighted Johnson on any previous night.
Wednesday's CBS Evening News limited coverage to this short item read by Katie Couric: "The man heading Barack Obama's vice presidential search stepped down today. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Jim Johnson received questionable personal loans from Countrywide Financial, a lender involved in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Johnson says he did not want to become a distraction."
On the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell squeezed in a mention during a story on a new presidential preference poll: "In a setback for Obama today, the leader of his vice presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, stepped down, after criticism of personal mortgage loans and his work on corporate boards. The resignation was done hastily only hours after the campaign had vigorously defended him."
Mitchell's story was centered on a NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that found Obama weak with white men and suburban women. Mitchell offered a sure-fire solution to ensure victory: "Our poll suggests Obama could win them over by putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket. With Clinton, Obama would easily defeat a hypothetical ticket of McCain and Mitt Romney [51-42%]. What is McCain's biggest draw back? According to the poll: George W. Bush...."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of Tapper's story on the Wednesday, June 11 ABC's World News:
CHARLES GIBSON: Well, next, we're going to turn to presidential politics. Choosing a running mate is perhaps the most important issue facing Barack Obama between now and the Democratic convention in August. Today, the man Obama picked to lead his search resigned after questions were raised about his personal associations and finances. Our senior political correspondent, Jake Tapper, is in Washington tonight. Jake, good evening.
JAKE TAPPER: Good evening, Charlie. A big headache for Barack Obama. The head of his vice presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, resigned amidst criticisms that Johnson personified the very special interests and Washington insiders whom Obama campaigns against. The rhetoric is lofty.
Talk about playing cute with soundbites. On Wednesday's Today, Andrea Mitchell pounded away at John McCain's economic proposals by airing this quote from former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey against a gas-tax holiday: "It's pure demagoguery. I mean John McCain has shown some capacity to understand some economics." Armey said this on Mitchell's midday MSNBC program. But the soundbite cut out the other half of Armey's thought. Here's the half that was spiked: "Barack Obama is demonstrating daily that he's an economic illiterate." In an interview with McCain that followed, co-host Matt Lauer pressed McCain on his plan for tax cuts, saying a "nonpartisan research group in Washington" called the Tax Policy Center said most of his tax cuts would go to the wealthy. Lauer never explained the Center is a joint project of two liberal think tanks, the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute. This means they're as "nonpartisan" as NBC News.
[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Andrea Mitchell gave Lauer a setup piece offering a critique of McCain's economics:
ANDREA MITCHELL: Good morning, Matt. John McCain and Barack Obama have been debating the economy all week, as McCain tries to set himself apart from the economic policies of George Bush. Even while running for President John McCain can't help joking about his lack of business experience.
Lauer seemed a little embarrassed by the hard-hitting report as he began with McCain:
LAUER: Senator John McCain joins us in the studio. It's always interesting to sit here across from you as you're watching that. Other than that the Democrats have really nice things to say about you.
Lauer should have been more embarrassed. In his interview with Mitchell, Dick Armey was generally complimentary about McCain, and quite negative about Barack Obama. First, there's this exchange at the very end of the June 10 interview, the part that Mitchell extracted her half a soundbite from:
MITCHELL: One last quick question. The gas tax holiday. John McCain is for it. Smart economics?
There's nothing wrong with a reporter noting that conservatives and libertarians dislike a gas-tax holiday, just like liberals. But when you line up critics from all ideological directions, the viewer might wonder if President Clinton would have been sandwiched with negativity like that, from a Newt Gingrich and then a Ralph Nader. If it happened, liberals would surely complain that it's the biased media organizing a pile-on story.
In fact, Armey praised McCain earlier in the interview when asked by Mitchell how he would advise McCain on what was currently missing from his economic plan:
He suggested Social Security private accounts.
Lauer pressed McCain to go beyond that outdated resource known as oil, and McCain gladly agreed:
LAUER: So enough of the debate about whether we, we drill in the wilderness areas because that's still oil, oil, oil. You, your energy plan will take us away from oil?
Then Lauer bashed Bush for disparaging in February the predictions of $4 a gallon gas, which Lauer said showed "he didn't have a real good handle on the scope of the problem." Later, Lauer shifted to tax cuts:
LAUER: Two quick subjects. Tax cuts. You've been hammered by some on the Republican and Democratic side about flip-flopping on these tax cuts. The Tax Policy Center, which is a non-partisan research group in Washington, says that your plan for tax cuts would, 80 percent of the benefit would go to the top 10 percent of earners. Given the, the situation right now with the middle class and the working class, gasoline, foreclosures, is that where those benefits should go?
Lauer even mangled that. The New York Times reported that the TPC only calculated that benefit in a cut of the alternative minimum tax, a tax designed to soak the rich, not the entire McCain economic proposal: "His call for repealing the alternative minimum tax, while it would still help some middle-class taxpayers, would still largely benefit the wealthy: Some 80 percent of the benefit would go to the top 10 percent of earners, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington."
In other words, Lauer could suggest that he didn't mean to hide the liberalism of the group he was citing. He and his harried morning producers were merely ripping and reading biased sentences from the New York Times. But couldn't someone at NBC have enough sophistication to distinguish between the AMT and the larger McCain tax proposal?
And they say McCain's not educated enough on economics.
The New York Times story: www.nytimes.com
As reported by FishBowl DC's Patrick Gavin at mediabistro.com, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was honored at a luncheon held by Sewall-Belmont House and Museum in Washington DC on Wednesday and remarked that: "However you feel about her politics, I feel that Senator Clinton received some of the most unfair, hostile coverage I've ever seen." Couric of course has a long history of defending Hillary Clinton against such "hostility."
Couric devoted her Wednesday "Katie Couric's Notebook" to making the same charge, echoing the views of Clinton-backers she featured on her June 3 newscast. In the online video commentary posted Wednesday night, Couric argued (transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth):
For Couric's featuring of venting Clinton-backers, check the June 4 CyberAlert item, "Couric Provides Forum for Female Clinton Backers to Vent," online at: www.mrc.org
When Couric talked to Ohio voters in March who were concerned about Clinton's crying prior to the New Hampshire primary, Couric jumped in with: "But some of the male candidates, like Mitt Romney, have gotten misty eyed as well." In a February "60 Minutes" interview, Couric tossed the New York Senator softballs like: "What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and always raising your hand?"
[This item is adapted fro a Wednesday afternoon post, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
MediaBistro post: www.mediabistro.com
Most recently, in an interview with Barack Obama, Couric pushed for Clinton as the VP: "In our latest poll, 59% of Democratic primary voters, including 46% of your voters, think you should select Senator Clinton to be your running mate. So in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Senator Clinton?" In addition, at the end of a story about Clinton supporters on June 3, Couric declared: "By the way, a new CBS News poll shows many voters nationwide believe Clinton faced an uphill battle because of her gender. We asked, 'Who faces more obstacles in presidential politics?' -- 46 percent said a woman candidate, 32 said a black candidate."
CNN continued to harp about "big oil's" record profits and the Democrats' proposed windfall taxes on companies like ExxonMobil on Wednesday. In an interview of Kansas Senator Sam Brownback on American Morning, co-host John Roberts was amazed over the Republican's opposition to the tax proposal: "There were a couple of other provisions in this bill. One of them were to roll back the $17 billion in annual tax breaks so that these five biggest oil companies get. Together, they made...$36 billion in profits in the first quarter this year. Why do they need $17 billion in tax breaks?" Later, during The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer returned to his laser-beam focus on ExxonMobil as a particularly "guilty" part of "big oil." He asked former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: "Explain why it's appropriate at this time of rising gas prices, for ExxonMobil, for example, to get additional tax cuts."
[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Wednesday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Roberts asked a series of questions which reflected the liberal viewpoint on "big oil" during his interview of Brownback, which began 26 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of American Morning. After the Senator explained why he opposed the Democrats' windfall tax proposal in the Senate, that it was a "partisan shot at the oil companies that's going to raise the price of gasoline, not cut it," Roberts asked for a further explanation: "Why do you say it would raise the price of gasoline and not cut it?" Brownback replied, "Whenever we put a tax on things, things go up in price. They don't get -- become more available, and we tried this before with Jimmy Carter." Roberts, however, wasn't satisfied by this answer: "But you're putting a tax on their profits above a certain point, so the money has already been spent. This is just money that they're taking out of the system."
Later, Roberts brought up the "$36 billion in profits in the first quarter this year" for the five largest oil companies and asked Brownback why they needed the "$17 billion in tax breaks," as quoted above.
Unlike Roberts, who didn't name any specific oil company in his segment with Brownback, Blitzer continued his obsession with ExxonMobil on The Situation Room. He named the corporation five times during his interview of Romney, the same number of times he named them during his segment with McCain adviser Carly Fiorina on Tuesday. The CNN host brought up the issue of taxes during the second half of the interview, at the 19 minute mark of the 4 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program: "Obama makes the point that under the new tax cuts that Senator McCain is proposing -- cut corporate tax rates out there, ExxonMobil and some of the other big oil companies, they'd reap a bonanza of additional tax breaks right now. Explain why it's appropriate at this time of rising gas prices, for ExxonMobil, for example, to get additional tax cuts."
June 11 CyberAlert item on Blitzer's interview of Fiorina: www.mrc.org
After Romney gave the conventional Republican/conservative argument, that "[l]owering taxes adds jobs; it adds businesses; it adds employment," Blitzer brought up how Barack Obama "says there should be a windfall profits tax on ExxonMobil and some of these other big oil companies." He then asked the former Massachusetts governor, "But would it be appropriate, do you think, that Senator McCain should have an exemption for ExxonMobil and other oil companies so they won't benefit from a reduction in overall corporate tax rates?" Romney answered by bringing up how "the people making the big money are Russia and Iran and Venezuela -- the people that have the oil." Blitzer then countered, "But ExxonMobil had huge record profits every quarter in recent years."
Liberal conventional wisdom was on display on Wednesday's New York Times front page, with "death tax" and the idea of "victory" in Iraq surrounded by quotation marks, but liberal phrases run unencumbered. In the June 11 off-lead story by Michael Cooper and Larry Rohter, the Times found both McCain and Obama retreating to home base when it comes to economic solutions. But the Times' unconscious embrace of liberal conventional wisdom was evident in how it treated much-argued political terms like "windfall profits", "the death tax," and even "victory" in Iraq.
Bush's mild tax cuts were seen as only benefiting "the wealthy" (by whose definition?), an assertion the Times underlined by repeating it three times.
And look how the Times used quotation marks as warning flares or to suggest a conservative position was dubious. While "victory" and "death tax" were seen as partisan Republican terms and secured in protective quotes, Democratic-loaded terms like "windfall profits of oil companies" weren't put in quotes but stood unencumbered and presented as fact, even though the phrase "windfall" is calculated to make it appear oil company profits are somehow unjust or unearned.
[This item, by the MRC's Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
An excerpt from the article:
The economy has emerged as the top concern of voters in the presidential race, supplanting terrorism and the Iraq war as gasoline prices and unemployment have gone up and housing values and stock prices have gone down.
Their differences on the economy are every bit as stark as the difference on the Iraq war, where Mr. Obama favors beginning to withdraw United States troops while Mr. McCain wants to keep them there until they achieve "victory."
Mr. McCain wants to extend the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, cut corporate taxes and keep capital-gains taxes low. The tax cuts he promotes as benefiting the middle class include doubling the size of the exemption people can claim for each child. And his call for repealing the alternative minimum tax, while it would still help some middle-class taxpayers, would still largely benefit the wealthy: some 80 percent of the benefit would go to the top 10 percent of earners, according to the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.
Mr. Obama wants to let the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy lapse, and he wants to raise the tax on capital gains and dividends and to tax the windfall profits of oil companies. He also wants to keep the estate tax, which many Republicans deride as the "death tax," on people with estates valued at more than $3.5 million; Mr. McCain would exempt people with estates valued at up to $10 million and would impose a much lower tax rate. Mr. Obama wants to use some of that money to pay for his middle-class tax cut and for the elimination of income taxes on retirees.
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: www.nytimes.com
For the latest on liberal bias in the New York Times, check TimesWatch regularly: www.timeswatch.org
Channeling Keith Olbermann, David Letterman on Wednesday night proposed to guest Scott McClellan that President Bush and Vice President Cheney "just couldn't care less about Americans" since "all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office," and so he marveled: "Is there any humanity in either of these guys?" Letterman's conspiratorial rant:
McClellan only disagreed about Bush: "Oh look, I still have personal affection for the President. I can't speak to the Vice President's thinking that well because he's someone who keeps things to himself and he believes in doing it his way and he doesn't care what anybody else thinks. He's going to do it the way he feels is best and that's not always what's in the best interest of this country -- as we've seen."
Video: The "Big Show Highlight" for the Wednesday program includes the above exchange. It starts about 45 seconds into the 1:40 in length Flash video clip. Go to the Late Show video highlights page and click on the top left clip titled "What's the Deal With Dick?" That's at: www.cbs.com
[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted late Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Earlier in the interview on the June 11 show, Letterman wondered: "Is Cheney a goon? I don't mean that to be like a smart ass, but he seems like he might be a goon." McClellan, the former Bush White House Press Secretary hawking his Bush administration-bashing book, didn't disabuse Letterman of the notion.
On Monday's show, Tom Brokaw chided Letterman with some historical context after Letterman forwarded standard liberal claims about how the America of 2008 is in a "horrible" state thanks to the awful President George W. Bush, and when Letterman fretted about government inaction on global warming, Brokaw pointed out how he's a big carbon-producer since he drives a big vehicle and flies executive jets.
The June 10 CyberAlert item, with video, "Brokaw Scolds Letterman on 'Horrible' U.S.; Environmental Hypocrisy," recounted:
Tom Brokaw came aboard Monday's Late Show to promote his book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today, but soon chided David Letterman with some historical context after Letterman forwarded standard liberal claims about how the America of 2008 is in a "horrible" state thanks to the awful President George W. Bush, and when Letterman fretted about government inaction on global warming, Brokaw embarrassed the late night host by pointing out how he's a big carbon-producer since he drives a big vehicle and flies executive jets.
On the terrible state of the nation, Letterman contended "everything...has gone so lousy in the last eight years" so "things are horrible in ways they shouldn't be horrible." Brokaw pointed to his book about 1968, and delivered a friendly lecture:
Let me remind you that forty years ago this year, Doctor King was killed, Bobby Kennedy was killed, we had the Chicago riots, 16,000 people were killed in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election, the Kerner Commission said we are two societies -- one white, one black, separate and unequal -- we had urban riots and in the fall we had as cantankerous and as contentious and in many way as mentally violent an election as we've ever had...
Similarly assuming the present is the worst ever, Letterman complained: "People are all talking about, 'okay we're going to change the emissions by 2035, by 2020.' That's too late. I mean, it's a hundred degrees now!" Letterman pleaded: "It's got to come from the government. They have to lead us." Brokaw agreed, but then made the host uncomfortable:
BROKAW: The government has to lead and those of us who drive -- uhh uhh -- big carbon-emitting vehicles or fly in airplanes that have only two passengers on them-
LETTERMAN: Alright, alright, that's fine Tom.
For the full rundown, and a video clip: www.mrc.org
-- Brent Baker