2. NY Times Confesses: Mistake to Grant MoveOn.org Deep Discount
3. Olbermann Suggests 'White Wing' GOP Racist, Want to Re-Segregate
4. Rather Praises Arnett, Claims 'Most People' Believe His Story
5. Dan Rather's Legal Brief Displays Extreme Egotism
6. Garofalo Backs Rather, Declares of Petraeus: 'He is Betraying Us'
Democratic presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton appeared on all five Sunday morning interview shows, but not all raised two controversies of interest to conservatives and, even when they did, not all took a tough approach to her lack of condemnation of MoveOn.org's "General Betray Us" ad and the donations gathered for her by now-captured fugitive Norman Hsu. ABC's George Stephanopoulos and NBC's Tim Russert brought up both matters -- though Stephanopoulos did so in the gentlest way -- CBS's Bob Schieffer asked about Hsu and not "Betray Us," while Fox's Chris Wallace and CNN's Wolf Blitzer skipped Hsu but raised "Betray Us."
No one pressed Clinton on how at the hearing with General Petraeus she said his report required "the willing suspension of disbelief." Only Wallace, on Fox News Sunday, pointed out how Clinton had voted against a Senate resolution condemning the MoveOn ad: "Senator, you have refused to criticize the MoveOn.org ad about General Petraeus. And in fact, this week you voted against a Senate resolution denouncing it." In contrast, on ABC's This Week, Stephanopoulos presumed Clinton was disturbed by the ad as he asked: "Why not speak out earlier?" On the Hsu case, Stephanopoulos approached the issue from the concerns of other Democrats: "A lot of people look at this and say they're afraid they're going to go back to the days of 1996 when there were some campaign finance violations that many Democrats feel cost President Clinton a couple of points in the final days of the election. How do you assure them that's not going to happen again?" Only NBC's Russert, on Meet the Press, used Hsu to remind viewers of Johnny Chung's illegal 1996 donations to the Bill Clinton campaign.
[This item was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Whenever asked about the MoveOn.org ad, Clinton responded with how she voted for Senator Barbara Boxer's alternate resolution that went back in time to condemn Republican political campaign ads against Democratic candidates, a far different matter than impugning a sitting General running a war. An exchange on CNN's Late Edition:
WOLF BLITZER: The President also this week blasted Democrats for in effect supporting or at least remaining silent in the face of that MoveOn.org New York Times ad questioning General David Petraeus as "General David Betray Us." Listen to what the President said.
- Mayor Giuliani also hit you pretty hard for failing early on to condemn that MoveOn.org ad which called General Petraeus 'General Betray Us.' Why not speak out earlier?
- Let me ask you a question about campaign finance and Norman Hsu, we're going to show him now, of course he's the gentleman who's now been arrested. You had to return about $850,000 that he raised for your campaign and I know that you returned the money, but a lot of people look at this and say they're afraid they're going to go back to the days of 1996 when there were some campaign finance violations that many Democrats feel cost President Clinton a couple of points in the final days of the election. How do you assure them that's not going to happen again?
- Let me show you an ad that has caused a lot of controversy in this debate about Iraq. MoveOn.org took this ad out, "General Petraeus or General Betray Us?: Cooking the Books for the White House." Do you believe that General David Petraeus has betrayed the American people?
- Let me turn to campaign fundraising, because it's been -- politics and money has been an issue that is of grave concern to the American people. As you well know, this gentleman, Norman Hsu, was a big fundraiser for you. This is how the Wall Street Journal reported on it. "Senator Hillary Clinton will return $850,000 in campaign contributions raised by a major fund-raiser who has come under federal investigation on multiple fronts. Clinton said she would refund contributions to about 260 donors who were recruited by Norman Hsu, a businessman and Democratic fund-raiser. The $850,000 is the largest ever returned by a candidate because of questionable fund-raising methods." Also, Mr. Hsu gave free trips to Las Vegas for several of your campaign aides, all expenses paid. You talk about the politics of change. Is this changing the way Washington does business?
- But, Senator, as you well know, back in 1996 campaign, this man, Johnny Chung, a -- very similar circumstances and he plead guilty to illegally funding of money, and he was quoted as saying, "I see the White House is like a subway. You have to put in coins to open the gates." How do you convince the American people that you have changed, that you are not going to be the recipient of this tainted money?
- Senator, you have refused to criticize the MoveOn.org ad about General Petraeus. And in fact, this week you voted against a Senate resolution denouncing it. President Bush said that you and other Democrats are more "afraid" -- his word -- "afraid" of irritating the left wing and MoveOn than you are about insulting the American military. Does he have a point?
- But, Senator, I want to follow up on this question of the real debate, and I want to put up an article by liberal columnist Richard Cohen this week. He wrote, "When the entertainment mogul David Geffen, once a Clinton supporter, called both Bill and Hillary liars, Hillary not only decried the remark as a particularly vivid example of the politics of personal destruction, but she demanded that Barack Obama do the same and return a $2,300 donation Geffen had given him. Yet when Clinton herself was asked to repudiate the abuse of Petraeus, she either saw no reason to do so or, much more likely, was afraid to alienate an important constituency, the 3.3 million members of MoveOn.org." So let me ask you specifically. Do you repudiate the MoveOn.org ad?
- Earlier this month your campaign had to give back $850,000 in contributions that had been given, or gathered up for your campaign by a fundraiser who turns out to be an indicted swindler. Senator, what happens when these people come to you with these enormous sums of money? Do you just take it with no questions asked and is this going to change the way you do fundraising in the future?
New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt got results where the paper's own reporters failed, writing in his Sunday column: "The Times had maintained for a week that the standby rate was appropriate, but a company spokeswoman told me late Thursday afternoon that an advertising sales representative made a mistake."
[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]
We've been pretty hard here on Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt -- finding most of the biweekly columns from the paper's inside watchdog to suffer from either an excess of corporate loyalty or simply pointless (when he's not sniping at the paper from the left).
So it was particularly surprising when Hoyt actually unbuckled his company badge to tackle an issue raised by conservatives -- the inflammatory MoveOn.org ad -- in his Sunday Week in Review column. Hoyt did some actual reporting and got a belated admission of error that the paper's actual news reporters were unable to uncover: It was a mistake to grant MoveOn.org a deep discount for its infantile attack ad against Gen. David Petraeus that appeared the very day he testified before Congress:
"For nearly two weeks, The New York Times has been defending a political advertisement that critics say was an unfair shot at the American commander in Iraq.
That just about sums it up.
For Hoyt's September 23 column: www.nytimes.com
Hoyt also seemed to contradict what ad executive Jespersen said last week in an online chat, no doubt set up to head off criticism about the ad. Indeed, the first question out of the box (excerpted below) dealt with MoveOn.org:
Q: "When the controversy came to a head, the Times spokeswoman explained that with advocacy groups, any customer willing to buy space on a 'standby' basis will get the same discounted price; while The Times does its best to accommodate with respect to the preferred date and placement, it cannot be guaranteed. Once the run date is known, the customer is usually informed. This is evidently what happened with the MoveOn ad.
Jespersen's response appeared to address the matter:
That's online at: www.nytimes.com
(Kate Phillips, an editor for the Times political blog, doesn't seem too pleased with Hoyt for refusing to "move on" past the controversy: thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com )
Reporter Charles Hurt of the New York Post added to the fun Monday, describing the response from MoveOn.org: "MoveOn.org yesterday said it would pony up the full price it should have paid The New York Times for a full-page ad slamming Gen. David Petraeus, a day after the paper admitted giving the left-wing activist group a huge discount.
For the New York Post article: www.nypost.com
Well, the George Soros-backed MoveOn.org can certainly afford it. For a 2003 Washington Post story on the link: www.washingtonpost.com
On Friday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann questioned why Democrats are not accusing Republicans of racism because of the decision by GOP presidential candidates to reject invitations to debate at black and Hispanic events, as he asked: "When the Republican presidential candidates refuse to debate at black or Hispanic venues, why are they not being asked if they're as racist as that seems?" As he discussed the issue with liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson, during which the words "White Wingers" were displayed at the bottom of the screen, the Countdown host raised the possibility Republicans are interested in re-segregating schools by overturning Brown versus Topeka Board of Education: "Is it possible they're actually hoping to move backwards in this, that there is some part of the Republican party that says, you know, we got to roll back, those activist judges in Brown versus Board of Education, we got to get rid of them?"
[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted over the weekend on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Olbermann began the segment by bringing up criticism faced by Democratic candidates for their refusal to appear in a debate hosted by Fox News, as he recounted that they were asked, "If you can't stand up to Brit Hume, how can you stand up to Osama bin Laden?" The MSNBC host then raised the possibility of GOP racism as he continued: "Leaving aside the budding analogies ripe there, in our third story on the Countdown, when the Republican presidential candidates refuse to debate at black or Hispanic venues, why are they not being asked if they're as racist as that seems?"
After reading statements by former Congressman Jack Kemp and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich criticizing GOP candidates for avoiding minority venues, Olbermann accused President Bush of having "a six-year record of dismantling minority initiatives and neglecting the plight of a minority city engulfed by a hurricane" as he introduced clips of the President encouraging Republican candidates to talk to minorities: "And a President with a six-year record of dismantling minority initiatives and neglecting the plight of a minority city engulfed by a hurricane, seemed even he to recognize the folly."
Olbermann then brought aboard Robinson and asked "how big a slap is this to black voters?" Robinson described Karl Rove's political strategy as being to "pay lip service to minority issues" and to "at least pretend to care about" minority issues to appeal to suburban voters who "don't like to associate with a party that's racist."
Although it may have been intended as some sort of bad joke, the MSNBC host then suggested the possibility that Republicans would like to re-segregate American schools by overturning Brown versus Topeka Board of Education: "Is it possible, are we giving them too much credit? Is it possible they're actually hoping to move backwards in this, that there is some part of the Republican party that says, you know, we got to roll back, those activist judges in Brown versus Board of Education, we got to get rid of them?"
After Robinson raised the possibility that Republicans have an instinct to "play to the antediluvian base of the party," Olbermann suggested that Democrats should be criticized for not attacking Republicans over the issue. Olbermann: "It's tough to criticize the Democrats on minority interests -- there's a black running, there's a Hispanic running, there's a woman running -- but do they deserve criticism for not pounding the Republicans for their disengagement of minorities the way the Republicans pounded the Democrats for something that seems a little bit more benign than not going on one offshoot of the Republican party in FOX?"
In Robinson's answer, he begged, "Somebody please take a shot. Somebody please point this out." As he concluded his answer, he remarked, "Wake them up, Keith."
Olbermann responded: "I do what I can. I was out sick. I'm sorry. I'll put my appendix back in."
Robinson complimented Olbermann: "Yeah, you know, you play hurt, and that's why you're an MVP."
Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the Friday, September 21 Countdown show:
KEITH OLBERMANN: When the Democratic presidential candidates refused to debate on FOX, they were asked with some sliver of logic, "If you can't stand up to Brit Hume, how can you stand up to Osama bin Laden?" Leaving aside the budding analogies ripe there, in our third story on the Countdown, when the Republican presidential candidates refuse to debate at black or Hispanic venues, why are they not being asked if they're as racist as that seems? Candidates Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, and John McCain had committed to joining their rivals at five debates and forums from California to New Hampshire in the last six months. That is fewer debates than the Democrats, yet they say they are too busy to appear at a PBS forum for black voters next week. Last week, a forum for Hispanic voters was cancelled due to a lack of Republican interest. Only John McCain even answered the invitation. It's a pattern of minority avoidance that is alarming some Republicans, such as former vice presidential candidate and Congressman Jack Kemp. "We sound," he says, "like we don't want immigration. We sound like we don't want black people to vote for us. What are we going to do, meet in a country club in the suburbs one day? If we're going to be competitive with people of color, we've got to ask them for their vote." Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has noticed. "I think it is a terrible mistake," he says. "I did everything I could do to convince them it was the right thing to do, but we are in this cycle where Republicans don't talk to minority groups." And a President with a six-year record of dismantling minority initiatives and neglecting the plight of a minority city engulfed by a hurricane, seemed even he to recognize the folly.
On CNN's Larry King Live Thursday night, Dan Rather insisted that his $70 million lawsuit against CBS was an attempt to save "our democracy" from "big government interference and intimidation in news;" claimed once again that his 2004 60 Minutes story on President Bush's National Guard service was correct "and I think most people know by now that it was correct;" and charged that CBS's investigation was "a fraud. It was a setup."
And when Larry King asked him about Peter Arnett -- whose career at CNN ended over a fraudulent 1998 report alleging the U.S. murdered defectors and used nerve gas in Vietnam, and who was last seen making propaganda films for Saddam Hussein during the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- Rather embraced him: "Peter Arnett is a great reporter. He was then and he is now."
For a summary of the Arnett case: www.mrc.org
For Rather's 2003 praise of Arnett: www.mrc.org
[This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Key exchanges during the September 20 Larry King Live. The full transcript is available here: transcripts.cnn.com
KING: Why are you suing?
KING: In essence, you are saying that that network got rid of you -- copped out on the report, etc. Because of appealing to the Bush White House? Is that what you're saying, they were trying to appeal to the Bush White House?
...[After showing a clip from the 2004 60 Minutes report]
King read Rather a quote from former 60 Minutes executive Josh Howard, who disputed Rather's claim that he was simply the narrator on the National Guard story, suggesting Rather had "gone off the deep end":
KING: Josh Howard, who resigned as executive producer of "60 Minutes" in the aftermath of the controversy, is quoted as saying this about you in "The Washington Post": "I think he's gone off the deep end. He seems to be saying he was just the narrator. He did every interview. He worked the sources over the phone. He was there in the room with the so-called document experts. He argued over everything in the script. It's laughable." Comment?
King eventually returned to the motivations for Rather's lawsuit:
RATHER: I want to find out the truth.
Referring to CBS's investigation, which was led by former Associated Press chief Louis Boccardi and former U.S. Attorney General Richard Thornburgh. Rather singled out Thornburgh, a Republican, as evidence of CBS's bias against him:
RATHER: There was this effort to scapegoat myself and others in the news division. We haven't even talked about this so-called alleged independent commission that investigated it....They spent months and they spent tens of millions of dollars-
For the MRC's "Dan Rather File" with dozens of quotes and videos, and a whole section on Rather's defense of his National Guard story: www.mrc.org
Reading the actual legal complaint in the Dan Rather lawsuit quickly (but repeatedly) reveals the extreme egotism of the disgraced CBS anchor. The first finding began: "Plaintiff, Dan Rather, one of the foremost broadcast journalists of our time, seeks to recover damages from CBS, his employee of 44 years" for "CBS's intentional mishandling of the aftermath" of the fake-documents story.
It added: "Throughout his career, Mr. Rather has promoted, championed, and been emblematic of journalistic independence and journalistic freedom from extraneous interference such as governmental, political, corporate, or personal interests. Defendants' improper responses to the attacks on the Documents wrongfully damaged Mr. Rather and these values which he championed."
Rather's brief still claimed "The Broadcast incorporated copies of documents written by Mr. Bush's commanding officer" and complained of a vast right-wing conspiracy: "A broad, and in many instances well-organized attack on the authenticity of the Documents immediately followed the Broadcast, led by conservative political elements supportive of the Bush administration. The purpose of this attack was to deter CBS News from reporting news in a manner unfavorable to the Bush administration."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The complaint seemed to speak out of both sides of Rather's mouth on the official CBS investigation, calling it a "biased investigation with controlled timing and predetermined conclusions in order to prevent further information concerning Bush's TexANG service from being uncovered." The very next sentence states: "That investigation, controlled as it was, exonerated Mr. Rather."
Rather claimed that by being removed as anchorman in 2005, "the defendants sacrificed Mr. Rather's journalistic integrity by falsely blaming him for alleged errors in the Broadcast." In the middle of the filing, Rather even claimed "Few, if any, of the blogs or media stories disputed the substance of the story that Bush received preferential treatment in connection with his Air National Guard service."
True to Rather's titanic ego, the filing explicitly married the success of CBS to the amount of air time it provided Rather. His contract provided a "right to optimum exposure" since it was "important to CBS and Mr. Rather cooperate in enhancing such exposure so that CBS could benefit from Mr. Rather's experience in and reputation for covering the news." It recognized "the obligations of CBS to maximize Mr. Rather's television exposure for the mutual benefits of the parties."
Rather's brief also claimed that he followed network directions "because he relied upon CBS's false assurances tht it would fully utilize his services and provide him with the opportunity to restore his public image as a preeminent television journalist." He's especially bitter about not covering Hurricane Katrina, since the filing boasts "Mr. Rather is the most experienced reporter in the United States in covering hurricanes" and had done so "throughout his long tenure at CBS, to much acclaim."
In outlining his charge of fraud against his bosses, Rather claimed that CBS boss Les Moonves and News president Andrew Heyward falsely assured him "that at all times CBS would take all necessary and appropriate steps to preserve and enhance Mr. Rather's reputation."
It added in the next section that "CBS has continuously acted to Mr. Rather's detriment by, inter alia, directing him to publicly apologize, and thus accept the blame, for CBS's mishandling of the Broadcast, despite his blameless conduct."
For PDF of Rather's filing: graphics8.nytimes.com
On the Dan Rather lawsuit, she fretted incoherently about how "it's amazing how the right wing has done it in this country and it doesn't seem like it's a democracy at all when you let that happen." On Petraeus and the MoveOn.org ad, she ludicrously saw the "mainstream media" as colluding with those who considered the ad over the line: "The thing is is to pretend that it's MoveOn.org that has the problem, and that the mainstream media allows that nonsense to continue. Yet, he is betraying us."
[This item was posted late Friday night, with video, on the MRC's blog. The video and audio will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or to hear the MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Garofalo was part of the show's all-liberal panel along with author Salman Rushdie and musician Rob Thomas. HBO's page for Maher's show: www.hbo.com
The exchange, which matches the video clip, on the September 21 Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, a weekly Friday night 11pm EDT show produced at CBS's studios in Los Angeles:
JANEANE GAROFALO: The CBS thing, Dan Rather's lawsuit. I have no doubt that there were executives at CBS that folded under right wing coercion and did it very readily, you know, fired him, or covered up the truth that the National Guard did provide preferential treatment to George Bush Junior. And it's amazing how the right wing has done it in this country and it doesn't seem like it's a democracy at all when you let that happen.
-- Brent Baker