Rather Pounces on "Hitting Below the Belt in the Bible Belt" --9/27/2004
2. Now CBS Decides It's "Inappropriate" to Influence Election
3. Dan Rather's Ratings Simultaneously Plummeting and Rising
4. Confidence in Media Falling, Major Media "Biased to Help Kerry"
5. NPR Delivers Glowing Look at Edwards, Critical Take on Cheney
6. Cox on MRC: "Watchdog Group Sees Vindication in CBS Scandal"
The Kerry campaign complains and CBS News jumps in line to castigate Republicans. "The Kerry campaign is accusing the Republican National Committee today of hitting below the belt in the Bible Belt," Dan Rather intoned on Friday's CBS Evening News in introducing a full story devoted to a campaign flyer with the word "Banned" over a Bible. John Roberts asserted that "the claims are dramatic and alarmist: A Kerry White House would ban the Bible and undermine the moral fabric of America by appointing 'activist judges' who would legalize 'same-sex marriage.' That's the message in flyers targeting Christian conservatives in Arkansas and West Virginia." Roberts relayed how "they were mailed out by the Republican National Committee, part of a voter registration drive -- and nothing but a Republican dirty trick, according to John Kerry's running mate." Roberts lamented that "the flyers exploit a proven political tactic: It's not necessarily about what's true, it's about what people believe might be possible."
Rather set up the September 24 CBS Evening News story: "The Kerry campaign is accusing the Republican National Committee today of hitting below the belt in the Bible Belt. CBS News chief White House correspondent John Roberts reports on a get-out-the-vote flyer that's meant to motivate some core Republicans."
CBS News Scandal Update. Better late than never, two-and-a-half weeks after running its hit job on Bush using forged documents, CBS News has decided, the AP reported Saturday, that it would be "inappropriate" to air so close to the presidential election a 60 Minutes story about how the Bush administration used forged documents to justify the Iraq war. That and viewers would laugh at CBS's chutzpah. And despite his role in trying to undermine the Bush candidacy, Rather will anchor CBS's debate coverage. Plus, Walter Cronkite called the scandal an "embarrassment" to CBS News and CBS's own David Letterman featured a fake book with a picture of Dan Rather on the cover: "The Complete Collection of Stories, Tales, and Fables from CBS News."
Isikoff and Hosenball acknowledged: "Some CBS reporters, as well as one of the network's key sources, fear that the Niger uranium story may never run, at least not any time soon, on the grounds that the network can now not credibly air a report questioning how the Bush administration could have gotten taken in by phony documents. The network would 'be a laughingstock,' said one source intimately familiar with the story."
For the rest of the CyberAlert item and a link to the Newsweek posting: www.mediaresearch.org
The AP story added: "Meanwhile, the network announced that Rather would anchor the network's coverage of all three presidential debates, starting Sept. 30."
For the AP article: story.news.yahoo.com
Famed anchorman Walter Cronkite, once widely considered the most trusted figure in news, called the journalistic mistake that has marred CBS' credibility "embarrassing," but stopped short of placing blame or predicting the network's future.
"We must wait while CBS management conduct the investigation they have promised. We can then decide what our reaction to it should be," said Cronkite, 87, whose CBS newscasts reached millions of Americans for more than three decades.
"The reaction at the moment of course is embarrassment for everyone who is connected to CBS, and that embarrassment I hope will be squashed in time as we know what happened."
Anchor Dan Rather has apologized for using bogus documents to raise questions about President Bush's military service, but media watchers have signaled it won't be enough to pull the legendary anchorman and CBS out of a downward spiral. Rather used the documents provided by retired Texas National Guard official Bill Burkett on the Sept. 8 60 Minutes broadcast....
Cronkite was at the Boston Harbor Hotel last night to receive the Samuel Eliot Morison Award from the board of trustees of the USS Constitution Museum. Cronkite, one of the few private citizens to take the helm of the 200-year-old ship, is one of 25 people honored with the award since 1977....
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For the Boston Herald story in full: news.bostonherald.com
On Friday night, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, though anchored by Jm Angle, ended by playing a clip of Letterman presenting the book.
Check the posted version of this CyberAlert for a shot of the book cover.
For the daily Wahoo Gazette rundown of the Late Show: www.cbs.com
Dan Rather's ratings plummeting? Or, maybe not. Viewership for the CBS Evening News fell 49 percent on WCBS-TV channel 2 in New York City on Monday September 20, the day Rather acknowledged CBS shouldn't have aired the Bush National Guard story, compared to a week earlier, the New York Post reported. On Friday, Broadcasting and Cable magazine relayed how nationally "Rather's overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings have slipped each day since Sept. 20." A few days earlier, the Chicago Tribune reported that "ratings for CBS Evening News With Dan Rather fell by 10 percent last week compared to a year ago." But, maybe not so. "CBS Evening News' ratings in the top 10 markets were actually up Sept. 14, 15 and 16 by about 7 percent compared with the same days the week before," Television Week related last week and the Hollywood Reporter determined that in the week ending September 19, CBS Evening News viewership was up from the week before.
A collection of ratings numbers for the CBS Evening News I saw reported last week, numbers which seemingly contradict each other, but which each probably just reflect a different demographic measure:
-- New York Post, September 23, story by Michael Starr and Don Kaplan:
Ratings for Dan Rather's "CBS Evening News" have plummeted drastically in New York since the Bush-documents scandal broke wide open this week.
The perennially third-place 6:30 p.m. newscast averaged 135,000 viewers on WCBS/Channel 2 Monday -- the day Rather issued an on-air apology for the mess.
That's down 49 percent from the 266,000 viewers who tuned in to Rather's newscast the previous Monday, Sept. 13, according to Nielsen.
Rather's numbers rose to 176,000 viewers this past Tuesday -- but that was still down from the 213,000 viewers who tuned in to the previous Tuesday's broadcast.
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For the article in full: www.nypost.com
Three days may not yet be a trend, but Dan Rather's overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings have slipped each day since Sept. 20.
That was the day when Rather and CBS conceded the documents it used in a story on President George W. Bush's National Guard Service might be forgeries.
The CBS Evening News, which was in third-place among the newscasts already, averaged a 5.1 rating/10 share in weighted metered market averages on Monday, even with its previous week's average, when CBS was still standing behind the story. Tuesday, the average dropped to a 4.7/9, then slipped to a 4.6/9 on Wednesday, a 10% drop over the three days....
Broadcasting and Cable is a subscription site. Its home page: www.broadcastingcable.com
Ratings for "CBS Evening News With Dan Rather" fell by 10 percent last week compared to a year ago, a drop that network sources privately attributed to the steady erosion of news viewers rather than the controversy surrounding CBS' decision to air dubious documents attacking President Bush's National Guard service.
Rather's newscast averaged 7.4 million viewers last week, ranking third behind NBC and ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research data released Tuesday....
ABC and NBC's newscasts were also off for the week compared to a year ago -- ABC's by 8 percent and NBC's by 4 percent -- and last week's numbers were consistent with a long-term drop-off in news viewers....
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For the Tribune story in full: www.chicagotribune.com
Hollywood Reporter is a paid site to which I do not have a subscription, so I've not seen the original article.
New surveys have found that public perception of media credibility has fallen and that by two or three-to-one, more see major networks and newspapers as "biased to help Kerry" over Bush. A Gallup poll "conducted after the CBS News report was questioned but before the network issued a formal apology," determined that "just 44 percent of Americans express confidence in the media's ability to report news stories accurately and fairly," a "significant drop" from 54 percent a year ago. In addition, "the poll found that 48 percent of Americans view the news media as 'too liberal,' while 15 percent viewed it as 'too conservative.'"
Meanwhile, a Rasmussen poll found that many more see ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC as biased in favor of Kerry over Rather with CBS "seen as the most biased -- 37 percent believe that network news team is trying to help the Kerry campaign" compared to just 10 percent who believe CBS is trying to help Bush. On the print side, Rasmussen discovered a public perception of a similar slant in the New York Times, USA Today and Washington Post with the New York Times "seen as the most biased -- 35 percent believe its coverage is biased to help Kerry" while a piddling 7 percent think it's biased in Bush's favor.
Those polled by Rasmussen saw only the Fox News Channel and Wall Street Journal as biased toward Bush.
In an insight into who the media most influence, Gallup discovered that "those with lower levels of education and income are more likely to have confidence in the media's accuracy and fairness."
An excerpt from a September 23 Gallup posting, "Media Credibility Reaches Lowest Point in Three Decades: CBS News incident latest in long history of media mistakes," by Mark Gillespie of the Gallup News Service:
As media analysts and journalists wring their hands over the fallout from CBS News' faulty reporting relative to President George W. Bush's Vietnam-era National Guard service, a new Gallup Poll finds the news media's credibility has declined significantly among the public. The Sept. 13-15 poll -- conducted after the CBS News report was questioned but before the network issued a formal apology -- found that just 44% of Americans express confidence in the media's ability to report news stories accurately and fairly (9% say "a great deal" and 35% "a fair amount"). This is a significant drop from one year ago, when 54% of Americans expressed a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the media. The latest result is particularly striking because this figure had previously been very stable -- fluctuating only between 51% and 55% from 1997-2003.
Conversely, 39% currently say they have "not very much" confidence in the media's accuracy and fairness, while 16% say they have "none at all."...
As one might expect, given the highly polarized nature of American politics, there are clear differences along ideological lines. However, despite the existence of the often-used term "liberal media", even liberals can be critical of the media's reliability. Just 48% of those who identified themselves as politically liberal expressed confidence in the media, compared with 38% of those who identify themselves as conservative. On the other hand, 52% of liberals expressed little or no confidence in the media, compared to 60% of conservatives.
Apparent distrust of the media is consistent among other demographic groups, with one exception: those with lower levels of education and income are more likely to have confidence in the media's accuracy and fairness than those with more education and higher incomes. As an example, 51% of those earning less than $20,000 annually express confidence in the media's accuracy and fairness, compared with 36% of those earning more than $75,000. Also, 51% of those with a high school diploma or less express confidence in the media, while just 40% of those who have attended college do.
The poll found that 48% of Americans view the news media as "too liberal", while 15% viewed it as "too conservative" and another 33% perceived the media as "just about right." Clearly, one would expect to find ideological differences on this question. Nearly three out of four conservatives (74%) say the media are too liberal, 6% too conservative, and 19% just about right. However, liberals may look at the large corporations that own many major media organizations and see a much different picture: just 11% say the media are too liberal, 37% say too conservative, and 49% say just about right.
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For the summary in full with the polling methodology: www.gallup.com
....Between 33% and 39% of Americans believe that each of the five major broadcast news outlets is unbiased. On balance, four of the five are believed to be helping the Kerry campaign. One, Fox News, is believed to be helping the Bush campaign.
CBS is seen as the most biased -- 37% believe that network news team is trying to help the Kerry campaign. Only 33% believe it presents the news in an unbiased manner. This may be a reaction to the recent flap over memos aired by CBS -- 38% believe that Dan Rather used his broadcasts to help the Kerry campaign.
Bias is clearly in the eye of the beholder and there is a very strong partisan tint to all the data. Fifty-four percent (54%) of all Kerry voters believe that Fox News is trying to help elect Bush. At least 50% of Kerry voters believe that each of the other four news sources are unbiased.
At the other end of the spectrum, 60% of Bush voters believe Fox News is unbiased. Seventy percent (70%) of Bush voters believe that CBS is trying to help Kerry. Between 48% and 55% believe the same is true about CNN, ABC, and NBC.
Twenty-one percent (21%) of Kerry voters believe CNN is biased to help Bush. That may shock conservatives who used to routinely dismiss CNN as the "Clinton News Network."
At the same time, those who dismiss Fox as propaganda may be shocked that the other networks are viewed by voters in essentially the same light....
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An accompanying table asked: "Is Presidential campaign coverage unbiased, biased to help Kerry, or biased to help Bush?"
For each network, the table listed the percentages for "No Bias," "Help Kerry" and "Help Bush." Since putting those as headers will never line up, here are just the three numbers for each network in that order (columns line up in 12 point Courier):
For Rusmussen's report in full: www.rasmussenreports.com
Forty percent (40%) of voters see the campaign coverage of their local newspapers as unbiased. However, only 20% to 29% view national papers as unbiased.
Among five different papers, the New York Times is seen as the most biased -- 35% believe its coverage is biased to help Kerry while only 22% believe it is unbiased. This may be a lingering response to the Jayson Blair scandals from last year. At that time, only 46% of Americans viewed the New York Times as a reliable source of information.
The Wall Street Journal is seen as the most balanced. Twenty-nine percent believe it is unbiased, 17% say it is biased to help Bush, and 13% believe it is biased to help Kerry. In addition to being seen as the most balanced, it is the only newspaper not seen as trying to help Kerry....
Twenty-four percent (24%) of voters believe that USA Today is biased to help Kerry. Only 9% believe it leans towards Bush. The numbers are virtually identical for the Washington Post (24% biased to help Kerry, 10% biased towards Bush)....
Partisan perceptions clearly play a role in this media evaluation. Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all Bush voters believe that the New York Times is biased to help Kerry. Among Kerry voters, 32% believe that the paper is unbiased. Not only that, 13% of Kerry voters believe the NY Times is biased to help their man while 12% believe it is biased towards Bush....
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An accompanying table listed the numbers for: "Is Presidential campaign coverage unbiased, biased to help Kerry, or biased to help Bush?" As above, from left to right, "No Bias," "Help Kerry" or "Help Bush"
Longtime National Public Radio legal-affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg put on her campaign reporter's hat last week, filing profiles of vice president Dick Cheney and Democratic VP nominee John Edwards for NPR's Morning Edition. Totenberg's liberal leanings are well known to NPR listeners, viewers of the political chat show Inside Washington, and, for that matter, readers of the MRC's publications, so no one in any of those groups should be surprised that she treated Edwards more favorably than she treated Cheney.
[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item by CyberAlert.]
The Edwards piece, which aired last Monday, September 20, played up the routing of the North Carolinian's campaign through relatively small, downscale towns, locales in which, Totenberg hinted, Edwards' "populist message" may fall on receptive ears: "These are often places of quiet desperation, where the unemployment rate can run as high as 14.8 percent...In many places, basic services have been cut beyond the bone." She described the candidate's typical entrance in terms first merely upbeat and then semi-erotic: "The eternally sunny, youthful-looking Edwards bounces off the bus...He wades into the crowds, touching, grasping, hugging, and kissing."
Later, Totenberg remarked, "Although Edwards blasts Bush daily, he still seems unable to demonstrate the nasty streak that is the traditional stock-in-trade of vice presidential candidates." (Republicans, however, have no such inability: "Back in Washington, the GOP is not hesitating to take a sledgehammer to Edwards and his occupation as a trial lawyer.") She closed enthusiastically: "Win or lose, though, there's no doubt that Edwards plans to be back again in a future campaign, and not as number two."
By contrast, Totenberg's Cheney profile, which aired this past Thursday, began: "In this campaign, Dick Cheney is the hit man whose task is to discredit the Democratic presidential candidate. It's an assignment he's carried out with a monotoned zeal." Totenberg referred to "seemingly orchestrated" responses from Cheney's audiences (e.g., the "flip-flop" chant) and mis-characterized the Vice President's "the danger is that we'll be hit" comment regarding John Kerry. In her account, Cheney "even suggested that if Kerry wins, the country will be attacked," a paraphrase to which she added: "Within days, Cheney backpedaled on the statement, but in truth it's only marginally more harsh than what he says every day."
Much of the report's second half dwelled on the standard anti-Cheney talking points: his penchant for secrecy, his missteps on Iraq, his involvement with Halliburton, his confrontation with Senator Patrick Leahy. Toward the end, Totenberg returned to her Cheney-as-hit-man theme, stating that he "stays on the attack on social issues, too. He's a cheerleader against gun control, against abortion."
"Watchdog group sees vindication in CBS scandal," read the headline over a September 24 Cox News profile of the MRC which ran on Friday in many Cox Newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Austin American-Statesman. Reporter Julia Malone, whom I guided around the MRC last Tuesday, touched on CyberAlert as she described how the bias documented by MRC staffers becomes "grist for the torrent of daily, weekly and twice monthly newsletters, including e-mailed 'alerts' that go out to 14,000 subscribers, including many in the news media."
The newspapers owned by Cox, which most likely carried the story on Friday, Saturday or Sunday:
Colorado: The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction
Florida: Palm Beach Daily News and Palm Beach Post
Georgia: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
North Carolina: The Daily Advance in Elizabeth City, The Daily Reflector in Greenville and Rocky Mount Telegram
Ohio: Dayton Daily News, Hamilton Journal News, The Middletown Journal and Springfield News-Sun
Texas: Austin American-Statesman, The Daily Sentinel in Nacogdoches, Longview News-Journal, Lufkin Daily News, The Marshall News Messenger and Waco Tribune-Herald
Now, an excerpt from the article:
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- After years of tracking what he sees as liberal bias in the nation's network news media and at CBS-News in particular, L. Brent Bozell III is having an "I told you so" moment.
His Media Research Center, where staffers scour 80 hours of television news daily, has amassed thousands of examples that Bozell says bolster his long-held contention that the news media favor Democrats and liberal causes....
"The whole world has seen what conservatives have been talking about for, lo, these many years -- the blind bias of CBS," held Bozell earlier this week, shortly after learning that a CBS producer had arranged a telephone call between her source and the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.
"What CBS did was indefensible," Bozell said. "Their stonewalling was even worse. And their credibility is zilch. Welcome to the meltdown."
Bozell's own operation responded quickly to the docu-scandal. Within hours of the "60-Minutes II" broadcast on Sept. 8, bloggers on the Internet were questioning the documents. By the next day, one of Bozell's staff writers, Robert Bluey, had contacted three typography experts, who said the documents on the CBS Web site appeared to be frauds. Bluey's report was promptly posted by Matt Drudge on his widely seen Internet news site....
Some media critics also have said the network and Rather were guilty of bad journalism, not bias. "It looks to me that in the zeal to air an explosive story, the network moved too quickly," said Rem Rieder, editor of the American Journalism Review. He added that CBS invited suspicion by connecting its source with the Kerry campaign.
But such reassurances don't satisfy the 49-year-old Bozell, who 17 years ago concluded that the major news media leans toward big government, high taxes and liberal candidates and sets the agenda for the country....
What began on a shoestring budget has grown to a $6.8 million-a-year enterprise, financed by small donations and large gifts from like-minded foundations.
At the northern Virginia headquarters, a half-dozen analysts spend their work hours gazing into TV monitors, listing for anything they believe to be tainted by liberal bias. They enter questionable passages into computers equipped with red, white and blue mousepads that say "Don't believe the Liberal media."
These quotations and video excerpts become grist for the torrent of daily, weekly and twice monthly newsletters, including e-mailed "alerts" that go out to 14,000 subscribers, including many in the news media.
He welcomes the arrival of the cable outlet Fox News, which has come under fire from the left. But Bozell said the newcomer is still a "bit player" compared to the viewership of the big three broadcast networks.
NBC anchor Tom Brokaw recently gave the group a back-handed compliment. "There's a guy by the name of Brent Bozell, who makes a living at, you know, taking us on every night," he said. "He's well-organized, he's got a constituency, he's got a newsletter. He can hit a button and we'll hear from him."
Brokaw said such pressures "come with the business" but are growing larger in the era of the Internet and e-mail.
The comments, made at a forum at Harvard University in July, were not missed by Bozell's ever watchful staffers, who recorded them from C-SPAN....
Bozell's growing enterprise not only monitors television but includes a Web site devoted to tracking The New York Times. He recently added a new project, "Tell the Truth" 2004, which seeks to enlist fellow conservatives around the country to lend their names for a national ad campaign to criticize the news media....
But the effects of such critics are difficult to gauge.
"It doesn't make me do my job any differently," said ABC newsman Sam Donaldson, who has been a favorite target of conservative critics, in an interview.
Nevertheless, Donaldson has an odd-couple friendship with Bozell and occasionally reads the center's newsletter and calls it the "most responsible" of the conservative media monitors.
"I don't agree with many of his criticisms. I think he's off base," Donaldson said. "But I think it's arguable."...
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For Malone's story in full: www.coxnews.com
-- Brent Baker