Rather Insists Guard Story True, "Not Fact" to Call Memos "Fake" --6/3/2005
2. Stahl: Felt a "Big Hero" Justified By "Nazis" in the White House
3. Brokaw Chides Buchanan for Calling Felt "Traitor," But He Didn't
4. Woodward and Bernstein Dance Around Felt's Personal Motivations
5. CBS: Suicide Bombings to Decline in Iraq; ABC Warns Growing Worse
6. Judy Woodruff Leaves CNN: A Rundown of Her Most Biased Quotes
7. CNN Ratings Down "Sharply" from Year Ago, FNC Draws Twice as Many
Rather pointed out how the investigatory panel named by CBS said that "the story was not born of any personal or political bias." Rather soon scolded those who presume the memos as forged: "They often say, well, they dealt with fake documents or fraudulent documents. Let's just say gently that that's not known. That's not a fact." Earlier, King asked: "Do you think the Republicans, the right-wing Republicans were after you?" Rather, who insisted he's "independent," ignored the substance of his bad reporting as he again saw a political agenda behind his critics: "Some people for their own partisan, political and ideological reasons want to jump on people that they perceive to be not with them."
As he did in his special in March, Rather again slyly attributed the liberal reputation of himself and CBS News to supporters of segregation as he pointed out how "we led in the coverage of civil rights movement. Not everybody liked it at the time." He also cited Vietnam and Watergate, but nothing he's done in the succeeding 30 years.
The March 10 CyberAlert had recounted: In his Wednesday night prime time special reviewing his career, Dan Rather: A Reporter Remembers, Rather, dismissing bias charges as a just the latest in a series of efforts to "intimidate" him, drew a line from being called "an 'N-lover'" during the civil rights movement to the Vietnam war years when critics tagged him with a "bad name: 'anti-military, anti-American, anti-war,'" and "then, when Watergate came into being was the first time I began to hear this word 'liberal' as an epithet thrown my way." Viewers then saw a montage of video clips and shots of Web sites with text accusing Rather and CBS of being "liberal," including the Media Research Center's logo and a headline over an MRC page on Rather. Without addressing evidence of his liberal tilt on policy, Rather charged that "people who have very strong biases of their own, they come at you with a story: 'If you won't report it the way I want it reported, then you're biased.'" On the memogate affair, the CBS special touted how the review panel found "no political agenda." www.mediaresearch.org
As opposed to his May 22 appearance on CNBC's Topic [A] with Tina Brown, which while in primetime, was not live. The May 23 CyberAlert reported:
Rather soon summed up, "This much we know: Journalism is not a precise science. It's, on its best days, is a crude art. We make mistakes; I make mistakes. With more than 50 years as a journalist, I've at least had the opportunity to blow more stories, make more mistakes than maybe anybody in television. I'm not proud of this, but I do know the reality of reporting, and as good as they were, and they were as good as anybody in my lifetime, Woodward, Bernstein, Bradlee and company -- they're not -- you make mistakes as you go along. What you hope is the public will understand."
Earlier, in the opening segment, King had wondered: "Do you think the Republicans, the right-wing Republicans were after you?"
King asked: "How did you get, you think, the image that you were favoring the liberal side, the Democratic side? That CBS had that image?"
For CNN's transcript of the program: transcripts.cnn.com
(CNN's transcript does not always match my transcript above since I corrected it in a few places.)
CBS's Lesley Stahl proclaimed on Thursday's Hardball that she admires Mark Felt "as a big hero, and I just, I know that he's a very old man and he's had some strokes, I hope he really understands what a great service he did." Chris Matthews chipped in: "I agree with you." Stahl pointed out how Felt thought those in the Nixon White House "were like Nazis. That was in his own mind. So if he knows that he cleaned out that corruption, he shouldn't be called a 'traitor' by anybody, and he certainly shouldn't feel like one."
(Stahl's reference to Felt being called a "traitor" may be a pick up of a false quote attributed to Pat Buchanan. See item #3 below.)
-- Stahl: "This is what distresses me about Felt. If you do something like this, you embrace it, and you say, 'I'm not a traitor, my higher loyalty is to the country, my higher loyalty is to the law, and what I'm doing is good for the country and good for the future and good for the Constitution,' and you get that in your brain, and that becomes essentially you, and I guess I always assumed that Deep Throat would be like that. So I'm a little disappointed that he is so ambivalent about why he did all of this."
-- Stahl, when asked about the contention Felt should have taken his concerns to proper authorities: "Who was he going to turn to? Where could he go if not to the press at that point? That's a whistleblower's role. I look upon him as a big hero, and I just, I know that he's a very old man and he's had some strokes, I hope he really understands what a great service he did."
-- Matthews: "What do you make of the last three or four days' discussion where you have people on television, including on this show, who were involved with Watergate or were in the Nixon White House generally coming on as advocates, more or less defending Nixon implicitly in his behavior, and attacking the whistleblowers, the reporters, and the people who ratted out what happened?"
Will Tom Brokaw, the Today show, Chris Matthews and CBS's Early Show offer a correction? As Brit Hume noted Thursday night, the Washington Post corrected a Wednesday article which reported, that on Hardball Tuesday night, Pat Buchanan had called Mark Felt a "traitor." The correction explained: "Buchanan said that Felt had no personal loyalty to President Richard M. Nixon, 'so I don't consider him a traitor in that sense.'" In fact, it was Matthews who first falsely claimed that Buchanan had tagged Felt a "traitor." On Wednesday's Today, Brokaw was appalled by Buchanan's supposed characterization: "I think Pat said yesterday that Mark Felt was a 'traitor.' A traitor to what? The truth?!" On CBS's Early Show the same day, Wyatt Andrews asserted: "Several former aides to President Nixon still argue what Felt did was wrong with one aide, Pat Buchanan, calling Felt a 'traitor.'"
Hume's June 2 "Grapevine" item on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume: "The Washington Post reported yesterday that after learning that Deep Throat was actually former FBI number-two Mark Felt, quote 'former Nixon speechwriter Patrick J. Buchanan labeled Felt a 'traitor' for having worked with reporters on stories that did severe damage to the administration.' What's more, while chatting with readers about it online later in the day, one Washington Post reporter called Buchanan's reaction quote, 'darkly hilarious.' But Buchanan never called Felt a traitor. In fact, in an interview with Chris Matthews, Buchanan said that because Felt had no personal loyalty to Nixon quote, 'I don't consider him a traitor in that sense.' The Post has now issued a correction."
Indeed, the June 2 Post carried this correction on page A2:
For that news story: www.washingtonpost.com
During a 9pm EDT special edition of Hardball on Tuesday night, May 31, Matthews asked David Gergen: "Let me start with you, David Gergen. I haven't heard from you today. Do you think that Mark Felt was a hero, as his family is describing him, or is he a traitor, as Pat has described him?"
After Gergen answered, Buchanan, a simultaneous guest, corrected Matthews: "I wouldn't of used the term 'traitor,' because I don't know that he was ever a Nixon loyalist." The two agreed Buchanan had castigated Felt as "a snake."
For MSNBC's transcript of the 9pm EDT May 31 Hardball: www.msnbc.msn.com
In their series of Thursday morning interviews on ABC, NBC, and MSNBC, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein tried to dance around the issue of Mark Felt's personal motivations for leaking Watergate information from the FBI (but don't call it "leaking," they protested). They also attacked conservatives for questioning that "the record about Watergate crimes is staggering, voluminous, and irrefutable." Today's Matt Lauer falsely asserted: "On this program yesterday, Pat Buchanan and Chuck Colson, a couple of the President's men, teed off on Mark Felt, saying he's not a patriot, he's a traitor." Neither had uttered the term "traitor."
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item to CyberAlert.]
On NBC in the 7am half hour, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd found Matt Lauer began by telling Woodward his story in the Post was "a fascinating piece." He asked: "Were you so smart at the time that you realized this guy could have an enormous impact on your life and career?" Woodward declined to declare himself a genius.
The duo would not suggest they had any opinion then or now about the heroism of Felt for offering his insights into their anti-Nixon work. Lauer explained: "Let's remember who Mark Felt was during the Watergate scandal. He was the number two guy at the FBI, he was a guy who'd been passed over for the director's job by Richard Nixon. You wrote in the article you thought it pretty much crushed him at the time. So when the meetings are taking place in that dark garage and you're back at the Post and you're writing the stories, were you guys, at the time, viewing him as a great American patriot and a hero or a man with a grudge, but who cares because he's solid gold?"
(In fact, neither Buchanan or Colson used the term "traitor" during their June 1 Today appearance. For more on the "traitor" misquoting of Buchanan, see item #3 above.)
Woodward attacked: "Yeah, but you know, that, I mean Pat is a propagandist. And...this is the old crowd kind of relaunching the wars of Watergate, saying let's make the conduct of the sources that we used-"
The duo crossed Manhattan for a 7:30am half hour appearance together on ABC's Good Morning America. The MRC's Jessica Barnes noticed Charles Gibson followed a similar path. He praised the Thursday Woodward article in the Post as "a really interesting story." He explained: "That's really what's so interesting. He's in the upper echelons of the White House [sic] early on, before Watergate, and you write he thought there was little doubt that Felt thought the Nixon team were Nazis and you write he felt they were a threat to the integrity and independence of the FBI, right from the beginning."
Nazis? In the Woodward story, he explained the reference:
Felt's fascist references suggest he may have had more in common with the liberals than the conservatives.
Once again, Gibson raised the question of Felt's motives, and again, Woodward and Bernstein dodged: "Carl, I asked you if you ever speculated between each other as to why he was cooperating with you, but you leave it unsaid at the end of your article today in the Washington Post as to why Felt cooperated with you, why he was doing this. Did the two of you ever speculate about what his motives were?"
In their interview on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, Don Imus tried to get to Felt's motives. MRC's Jessica Barnes reported he said to Bernstein: "I'm asking Bob about what exactly Felt was doing if he wasn't leaking information. He was providing guidance? I mean, how would you characterize what he was doing?"
CBS versus ABC on suicide bombings in Iraq. On Thursday night, CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts asserted that "there are signs the suicide campaign may finally be running out of steam" and, from Iraq, Kimberly Dozier relayed how "U.S. commanders tell CBS News they're seeing signs the militant bomb makers may be running out of willing delivery men. Commanders believe the recruiting pool is shrinking further as a result of this week's joint U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown." But viewers of ABC's World News Tonight heard only dire news. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas cited how "an unprecedented number of these attacks are now occurring. Military commanders are very concerned." From the Pentagon, Martha Raddatz concurred: "There is great concern the frequency of these suicide attacks is greater than it has ever been" and "the frequency is far greater than anything ever seen in Israel, ever seen in Chechnya" and now we're "seeing more and more Iraqis" acting as suicide bombers -- "homegrown terrorists."
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning, of the contrasting June 2 spins, against the video.
John Roberts teased the CBS Evening News: "Good evening. I'm John Roberts. Iraqis are dying by the hundreds every week, and the suicide bombers keep coming. But there are signs the suicide campaign may finally be running out of steam. That's where we begin tonight, and we'll have these stories."
Roberts set up his lead story: "More than 800 people have been killed in Iraq since the new government took office just over a month ago, with suicide bombers causing the worst of the carnage. And there were more attacks yet again today. Yet some U.S. and Iraqi officials are hopeful the terror campaign may soon begin to ease, as Kimberly Dozier reports now from Baghdad."
Dozier began, from Baghdad, over video of bombing scenes: "Using everything from car bombs to exploding motorcycles, militants killed more than three dozen people today, from Mosul to Kirkuk to Baquba. Most were suicide attacks, continuing a deadly new trend -- there were 69 suicide bombings in April, and 90 in May -- more than in the entire previous year. Nowhere in the world are suicide attacks so frequent. Some of the bombs are more technically sophisticated, a sign the insurgents may be getting extra training and funding from outside the country. And contrary to the popular view that it's only foreign Arabs blowing themselves up, an Iraqi interior ministry official says many of the bombers are Iraqis. Despite the staggering figures, U.S. commanders tell CBS News they're seeing signs the militant bomb makers may be running out of willing delivery men. Commanders believe the recruiting pool is shrinking further as a result of this week's joint U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown. The Iraqis have fought pitched battles in some neighborhoods, and they've sometimes had to call for American backup. They may be getting better and more independent, but they don't have main battle tanks."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, which led with obesity, anchor Elizabeth Vargas introduced a contrasting story: "Overseas now: 38 people were killed today in insurgent attacks across northern and central Iraq. A car bombing south of Kirkuk killed 12 people, including a deputy prime minister's bodyguard. The deadliest assaults were all suicide bombings. An unprecedented number of these attacks are now occurring. Military commanders are very concerned. Our national security correspondent Martha Raddatz joins us now from the Pentagon with more. Martha?"
Raddatz elaborated: "That's right, Elizabeth. There is great concern the frequency of these suicide attacks is greater than it has ever been. Today's three suicide attacks came within one hour, and all the targets had been carefully chosen -- a busy restaurant, an Iraqi official, and a convoy carrying civilian contractors. In May, a staggering 90 suicide attacks contributed to the death toll of more than 750 -- 90 people willing to turn themselves into human bombs and kill themselves and so many others. In April, there were 69 suicide attacks, more than all of the last year. The frequency is far greater than anything ever seen in Israel, ever seen in Chechnya. And today, this audio posting on a Web site purportedly tied to al-Qaeda in Iraq, claiming that a new suicide bombing cell has been created in Iraq and is responsible for a number of the recent attacks. A man says, 'We announced that we have formed the Al Bara bin Malek Brigade. We inform Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi of a new battle in Iraq.'
CNN's Judy Woodruff will anchor Judy Woodruff's Inside Politics for the final time today (Friday) as she departs the network and CNN begins the process of shutting down Crossfire and phasing out Inside Politics, all to be replaced by a 3-6pm EDT block hosted by Wolf Blitzer. To mark Woodruff's departure, the MRC's Rich Noyes collated a collection of some of Woodruff's bias over the years, as documented in the MRC's Notable Quotables. My nomination for her most egregious instance of liberal bias: Anchoring NewsNight on May 15, 2002, she opened the newscast with this ludicrous exaggeration: "We begin with the news from the White House that President Bush knew that al Qaeda was planning to hijack a U.S. airliner and he knew it before September the 11th." My second favorite: When still with PBS in 1992, she fretted: "If the politicians don't have the courage to raise taxes, what are we facing down the road?"
The quotes collected by Rich:
# "Bill Clinton is the quintessential American, super-sized.... Dreaming big. Flying sometimes too close to the sun. Falling hard and coming back strong." -- CNN's Judy Woodruff on the November 18, 2004 Inside Politics a few hours after the official dedication of Clinton's presidential library.
# "Can the Republicans get away with putting these moderate speakers up there?" -- CNN's Judy Woodruff discussing the Republican National Convention, on Inside Politics, August 31, 2004.
# "A post-script: When I asked Governor Weld about the state of civility of politics today versus a decade ago, he told me, quoting here, 'It's a different world now. Civility,' he said, '€˜started to go out the window in '94.' Which, we noted, was the year of the Gingrich Revolution." -- CNN's Judy Woodruff after showing a taped interview with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld on Inside Politics, July 29, 2004.
# "It's silly to make too much of convention tunes, but some years they do provide a fitting soundtrack to a bigger story. Take the 1992 Republican Convention, the one that came to symbolize closed-door intolerance. That show in Houston was all country all the time, hardly a portrait of musical diversity." '€" CNN's Judy Woodruff on Inside Politics, July 27, 2004.
# "The rest of year and for the last three years the President has dominated the news. Don't the Democrats deserve a few days in the sunshine, if you will?" -- CNN's Judy Woodruff to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, asking why the State of the Union was held during the Democratic primaries, on Inside Politics, January 19, 2004.
# "Earlier today, Senator Edward Kennedy gave me his views of the issues involved. And I began by asking him about his signing off on a [Medicare] plan that would leave some seniors with less drug coverage than they need and whether he undercut those seniors and some of his own Democratic allies...."
# "We begin with the news from the White House that President Bush knew that al Qaeda was planning to hijack a U.S. airliner and he knew it before September the 11th." -- Judy Woodruff substituting as anchor of CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown, May 15, 2002.
To watch a RealPlayer clip of that, as posted on the Best of NQ for 2002 page: www.mrc.org
# "While we're talking about church and state, Attorney General John Ashcroft, Margaret, yesterday described in a speech, the war on terrorism in religious terms. He talked about how it's grounded in faith in God. Is this appropriate language for the Attorney General?" -- Judy Woodruff to Time's Margaret Carlson during a discussion of Ashcroft's speech before the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, CNN's Inside Politics, February 20, 2002.
# "We were just reminded in that moving film that we saw here of your lifelong work as an advocate for children's causes. And yet, late last week, your husband signed a welfare reform bill that as you know, Senator Patrick Moynihan and other welfare experts are saying is going to throw a million children into poverty. Does that legislation threaten to undo so much of what you've worked for over the years?....Eleanor Roosevelt, whom you admire, mentioned her again just now, said that much of the time she kept her disagreements with the President to herself in private, but there were times that she felt it was important to disagree publicly. Does there ever come a time with you, and if not welfare reform, then what?" -- Questions from CNN's Judy Woodruff to Hillary Clinton, August 26, 1996 Inside Politics.
# "March madness has begun on Capitol Hill, and almost as predictable as a B horror film, the slashing has begun. House Republicans have made a small down payment on their plan to make massive budget cuts." -- CNN anchor Judy Woodruff on Inside Politics, March 16, 1995.
# "He was a lifelong Republican, but over the years, Harry Blackmun built a reputation as a liberal, sometimes defiant Justice, whose fierce protection of individual rights led some to anoint him the moral conscience of the court." -- Judy Woodruff on CNN's Inside Politics, April 6, 1994.
# "Americans tend not to be too enthusiastic about having their taxes raised again....But if the American people aren't going to accept it, if the politicians don't have the courage to raise taxes, what are we facing down the road?" -- Judy Woodruff interviewing Paul Samuelson, March 10, 1992 PBS MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour.
# A reprint of an article from the MRC's old MediaWatch newsletter of September 1992 which examined convention coverage:
Woodruff vs. First Lady MRS. BUSH FIGHTS BACK
Last month, when PBS anchor Judy Woodruff interviewed Hillary Clinton, Woodruff mentioned the now infamous Harvard Educational Review article and asked: "How important is it that that not enter in, and should it enter in?" During PBS/NBC joint coverage August 18, First Lady Barbara Bush didn't get softballs from Woodruff, but the First Lady fought back.
Woodruff's questions came from the Democratic playbook: "I want to ask you about some of the statements that have been made here at this convention over the last few days starting with this one."
Mrs. Bush interrupted: "You said you weren't going to ask all these same old questions." But Woodruff went on, "Now these questions you've never heard before...Republican Party Chairman Rich Bond saying the views of the Republicans are America, Democrats' views are not America... Well I didn't hear a Democrat say that you're not American if you're Republican?" Democrats "were absolutely vicious and nobody called it a dirty attack. So I'm not going to apologize for Rich Bond," Bush responded.
Unfazed, Woodruff demanded: "Campaign official Charles Black and Pat Buchanan have both said in the past 24 hours those who favor rights for homosexuals have not place in the Republican Party... Were you pleased to have that message going out over television?"
"I'm not sending that message," Bush said. Woodruff continued: "U.S. Treasurer Mrs. Villalpando, who just said yesterday, who joked that Gov. Clinton is a skirt chaser... does that have a place in this campaign?"
The First Lady took Woodruff to task: "Look you're saying nothing nice... where were you during the Democrat convention defending us?" Woodruff returned to her inquiry: "But Mosbacher who said in the last day or so that Gov. Clinton's alleged marital infidelity is a legitimate campaign issue."
After a final attempt to get Mrs. Bush to respond, Bush let loose: "You didn't listen to the Democrat Convention I think... I'm not sure you've been [sic] to the same political year I've been to, Judy. Now c'mon, be fair." Mrs. Bush got in the last word: "I'm going to listen to your questions. I'm going to monitor you."
END of Reprint
CNN may be celebrating its 25th anniversary this week, but the network doesn't have much to celebrate ratings-wise. Broadcasting & Cable reported late Wednesday that CNN's total audience "fell sharply," down 16 percent from a year ago as FNC's grew a bit and MSNBC, while with a much smaller audience than CNN, held even. B&C's John Higgins related: "In the key news demo -- adults 25-54 -- CNN's prime time average dropped 12% to 179,000. Leader Fox News' average fell even more, off 16% to 332,000. MSNBC, on the other hand, was up 11% to 109,000."
A reprint of Broadcasting & Cable's June 1 brief distributed by e-mail on Thursday morning, June 2:
Without the spike from coverage of Pope John Paul II's death and successor, CNN's ratings resurgence faded in May, while Headline News continued to grow in prime.
CNN's total audience fell sharply, during prime time, off 16% compared to May 2004 to an average of 610,000 viewers.
Rival Fox News, meanwhile, increased 11% to 1.4 million. MSNBC was up a hair -- 1% to an average 286,000 viewers.
In the key news demo -- adults 25-54 -- CNN's prime time average dropped 12% to 179,000. Leader Fox News' average fell even more, off 16% to 332,000. MSNBC, on the other hand, was up 11% to 109,000.
CNN's Headline News maintained its gains in prime time, benefiting from the network's spending on promotion and programming, particularly the addition of tabloidish anchor Nancy Grace.
Headline News's prime time audience hit 317,000. That's 82% more than last year and up 16% from April.
END of Reprint
That item is posted online at (registration required): www.broadcastingcable.com
-- Brent Baker