In Protest of NBC Expert's Insult of Troops, Allard Resigns --2/19/2007
2. USA Today Founder Al Neuharth Declares Bush Worst President Ever
3. Vieira: Would Have Shot Myself Before Trying to Rein In Rosie
4. Read It Here First: Fox NewsWatch Picks Up Romney & Couric Items
5. Late Show with David Letterman's "Top Ten JetBlue Excuses"
In protest of NBC's lack of action after NBC News military analyst William Arkin used his WashingtonPost.com blog to describe U.S. soldiers as "mercenaries" enjoying "obscene amenities" for ungratefully daring to criticize Americans for not supporting the war effort, retired Colonel Ken Allard last week resigned his position as a military analyst for NBC News. In a February 16 op-ed for the San Antonio Express-News, "NBC sinks too low for this talking head," Allard, an "executive-in residence" at the University of Texas at San Antonio, regretted that "sometimes the only way to show where you really stand is to vote with your feet. And so with great reluctance and best wishes to my former colleagues, with this column I am severing my 10-year relationship with NBC News."
[A screen shot of Allard, on the NBC Nightly News last July, will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. To see it in the meantime, check Matthew Sheffield's NewsBusters posting at: newsbusters.org ]
The February 2 CyberAlert recounted Arkin's screed: Reacting to last Friday's [January 26] NBC Nightly News story in which some Army soldiers in Iraq expressed frustration with opposition back home to the war, including one who made the contention that there's a contradiction between saying you support the troops but don't support the war, WashingtonPost.com columnist William Arkin, an NBC News military analyst, scolded the troops. In his Tuesday [January 30] posting, Arkin lectured: "We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?"
Arkin also took a potshot and the make-up of the armed forces: "The recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary -- oops sorry, volunteer -- force that thinks it is doing the dirty work."
For video and a transcript of the NBC Nightly News story which so enraged Arkin, along with an excerpt from Arkin's WashingtonPost.com blog posting, check the February 2 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org
An excerpt of Allard's February 15 San Antonio Express-News op-ed:
Like some second marriages and most Hollywood sequels, it's usually a bad idea for a columnist to revisit the same topic. But last week's discussion of renegade blogger and NBC military analyst Bill Arkin proved some larger points....
In reaction, many military people and their families wrote in. Some wondered why NBC would continue to give Arkin a platform for spreading slurs about our men and women serving in Iraq -- and as volunteers rather than as mercenaries.
Soldiers treasure humor especially when angry, and a bittersweet correspondence followed about the nature of those supposedly obscene amenities. Did MREs count or, for that matter, heat-resistant Hershey bars with a shelf life measured in decades? What about interceptor body armor? A Marine lance corporal in Iraq reported that their tents were newly equipped with heaters: Did this mean they were pampered?
Writing for the National Review, Michael Ledeen argued this week that only "know-nothings" could call American soldiers mercenaries. "Our fighters are where they are because they believe in something bigger than themselves." And also because soldiers are members of a military community "where virtue does not equal narcissism."
Such communities are increasingly scarce, especially in certain precincts of our national media, where narcissism is apparently becoming a core value. Here, it is probably appropriate to note that for more than 10 years, I served as one of those military analysts you saw on NBC whenever international conflicts were looming.
NBC then was a network comfortably resonating to the rhythms of Tom Brokaw and the greatest generation. Especially after 9-11, our rivals at Fox and CNN scrambled for audience attention by recruiting their own military analysts -- subsequently known as "Warheads." Especially for a post-draft nation where personal military service is increasingly rare, our band of TV brothers helped fill in some of the blanks about this new kind of war.
Being personally affected by the life-cycle of news stories, none of the Warheads was surprised to see our respective networks gradually reining in their coverage of the war as popular support waned. Audiences were wearying of a conflict with no end in sight, and, unlike the greatest generation, this one was being fought by Other People's Kids.
When you don't have skin in the game, war becomes a matter of sheer personal preference. Channel clickers are wielded, the soldier overlooked or, as we saw last week, even maligned as a mercenary without provoking a career-ending scandal.
It is, therefore, possible to argue that NBC is merely undergoing a delicate arabesque in anticipation of changing audience preferences and the long- hoped-for Democratic restoration (although journalists generally seem reluctant to raise the tough questions that should punctuate the 2008 campaign).
But has anyone else noticed the network's precipitous retreat from journalistic and ethical standards? Not only were no apologies given and no pink slips issued for Arkin's outburst, but on his MSNBC show last week, Keith Olberman went out of his way to defend this "valid criticism" of our military....
[S]ometimes the only way to show where you really stand is to vote with your feet. And so with great reluctance and best wishes to my former colleagues, with this column I am severing my 10-year relationship with NBC News.
END of Excerpt
For the op-ed in full: www.mysanantonio.com
Joining the media ranks of Helen Thomas and Keith Olbermann, in his regular Friday column in USA Today Al Neuharth, the founder of the nationwide daily, proclaimed George W. Bush to be the worst ever President. Announcing a "mea culpa," Neuharth recalled how "a year ago I criticized Hillary Clinton for saying 'this (Bush) administration will go down in history as one of the worst.'" At the time, he declared her "wrong," explaining: "I rated these five Presidents, in this order, as the worst: Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan, Ulysses Grant, [Herbert] Hoover and Richard Nixon. 'It's very unlikely Bush can crack that list,' I added. I was wrong. This is my mea culpa. Not only has Bush cracked that list, but he is planted firmly at the top." Neuharth fretted that "Bush didn't learn the value or meaning of mea culpa (acknowledgment of an error) during his years at Yale," but "Bush admitting his many mistakes on Iraq and ending that fiasco might make many of us forgive, even though we can never forget the terrible toll in lives and dollars."
Back in May of 2004, Neuharth used his column to urge Bush to not run for re-election. From the May 18, 2004 MRC CyberAlert:
In Meredith Vieira's interview aired Wednesday night on CNBC's Conversations with Michael Eisner, he asked her in the first few minutes about how hard it was to referee the differing opinions on The View on ABC. He even asked about how Vieira, who left The View last summer to assume her co-host role on NBC's Today, would have handled Rosie. She replied: "I was gonna say I would have gone out into the alley with a gun and done away with me."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Eisner: "How would you have done it if you had been in that same position and Rosie O'Donnell just came in to replace Star Jones. Could you control her?"
You read it here first. FNC's Fox NewsWatch over the weekend picked up two MRC CyberAlert items, which were first posted on our NewsBusters blog. Panelist Jim Pinkerton pointed out how "the Media Research Center counted up the minutes and seconds" CBS devoted to Barack Obama's presidential announcement compared to Mitt Romney's, "and the ratio was 54-to-1." And though he did not cite the MRC, host Eric Burns framed a "Quick Take" segment around a Tuesday CyberAlert item on how a CBS Evening News story previewing the House debate on a non-binding resolution on the Iraq war ignored an even split amongst the public on the resolution as anchor Katie Couric instead focused on how most oppose funding for the surge.
In a segment on media coverage of Romney's religion, Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton cited the MRC and liberal panelist Neal Gabler tried to impugn the MRC:
Jim Pinkerton: "I don't think they [the media] like Romney. I don't think they really want a Republican to win, and they're using his Mormonism as one way to get at him."
The February 14 CyberAlert recounted:
Later, host Eric Burns set up the second of two "Quick Take" segments: "Monday night on the CBS Evening News, Katie Couric reported on a poll conducted by the network about Congress and Iraq. It showed that 44 percent of Americans were in favor of a nonbinding resolution against sending more troops to Iraq and 45 percent were opposed.
The February 13 CyberAlert, "Couric Touts Opposition to Funding Surge, Not Split on Resolution," relayed:
For more: www.mrc.org
From the February 15 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten JetBlue Excuses." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com
10. 10-hour delay? Hey, that's actually pretty good for us
9. It could have been worse...No, wait, it couldn't
8. We don't have an excuse right now, but sit here for ten hours while we come up with one
7. Hey, it takes that long to open a bag of airline peanuts, am I right, ladies and gentleman?
6. You gotta admit, after 6 hours it became a little funny
5. It's still better than flying Delta
4. There was a monster on the wing!!!
3. (No number 3 -- writer still stuck on the plane)
2. Who could leave New York in the middle of Ventriloquist Week?
1. Pilots too drunk to fly
-- Brent Baker