2. Lauer Cites Amnesty International in Scolding Bush on Prisons
3. Olbermann Skips Own Hypocrisy, Castigates Bozell on 9/11 Movie
4. Flashback: Media Upset by Efforts to Yank CBS's The Reagans Film
5. Nightline Finds Hillary-Loving Republican, Tosses Her Softballs
6. In 'Stinging Rebuke,' 'Central Argument' for Iraq War 'Shredded'
7. WashPost Humorist: 'Is Bush Worst President in American History?'
Rooney delivered his remarks on the season premiere of the program (delayed in the EDT/CDT zones by tennis for nearly a half hour) which gave two of the show's three segments to Katie Couric's piece on World Trade Center first responders who are suffering from the air they inhaled.
[This item was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Rooney's commentary at the end of the September 10 60 Minutes:
"There have been a lot of memorable days in our country's history, but some of them we'd rather forget. September 11th, 2001 is one of those. It isn't a day to celebrate, but it's a day we shouldn't forget, either.
CBSNews.com has posted video and text of the commentary titled, "Why 9/11 Was So Different" (which does not exactly match the above since the above is what is actually said on the air): www.cbsnews.com
Friday's NBC Nightly News previewed an exchange between President Bush and Matt Lauer in the Oval Office, part of a longer session that will air on Monday's Today show, in which Lauer cited Amnesty International as the authority to undermine Bush's assertion that secret prisons to hold al-Qaeda operatives are legal. When Lauer indicted Bush, painting Bush as guilty of some kind of misdeed -- "You admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities" -- Bush scoffed: "So what? Why is that not within the law?" Lauer then retorted: "The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law." Bush countered: "Most American people, if I said that we had who we think's the mastermind of the 9/11, they would say, 'Why don't you see if you can't get information out of him without torturing,' which is what we did."
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The 25 second exchange, excerpted from Lauer's interview with Bush conducted Friday and set to air on Monday's Today, aired on the September 8 NBC Nightly News:
Matt Lauer: "You admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities. Okay?"
A MSNBC.com posting plugging the interview adds one more exchange:
Matt Lauer: "I don't want to let this 'within the law issue' slip though. I mean, if, in fact, there was water boarding used with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and for the viewers, that's basically when you strap someone to a board and you make them feel as if they're going to drown by putting them underwater, if that was legal and within the law, why couldn't you do it at Guantanamo? Why did you have to go to a secret location around the world?"
For the MSNBC.com page: www.msnbc.msn.com
Olbermann ignored how saying the movie takes "poetic license" is acknowledging inaccuracies and how on Wednesday's Scarborough Country, Bozell asserted: "I think that if you have a scene or two scenes or three scenes, important scenes, that do not have any bearing on reality and you can edit them, I think they should edit them."
[This item was posted, with video, Friday night on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, or MP3 audio, go to: newsbusters.org ]
Bozell's contention, I believe, is that the two movies are not equivalent since The Reagans, which aired on Showtime, was riddled throughout with misrepresentations and was set to air when Ronald Reagan, suffering from Alzheimer's, could not respond; while The Path to 9/11 is about 98 percent accurate with just a few scenes in question and Bill Clinton is fully capable of responding. Plus: the media are making sure everyone knows about Team Clinton's take on the ABC movie.
On Wednesday's Scarborough Country, Bozell also lamented: "I wish that this had stuck to being a documentary and not gone the way of docudramas, but it did. There will be some things that people on the Clinton side disagree with, as do the Bush people, as well. But I don't think, from what I saw, I didn't see any deliberate attempt to bash either the Clinton side or the Bush side. Look, both administrations do bear a degree of responsibility with all the warning signals that we had that were overlooked."
Olbermann's September 8 Countdown item, which followed his runner-up to a man in Slovakia who, after an auto accident, police found "unconscious with head injuries, his pants off, and a pump on his penis," which he called a "related topic" to Bozell:
Olbermann's contemporary quote of Bozell's came from Bozell's September 6 column. The paragraph in full:
Bozell's column: www.mrc.org
I can't imagine Olbermann tracked down these two quotes himself, and several left-wing bloggers have pointed out the supposed Bozell hypocrisy, but none that I've seen have cited both comments cited by Olbermann.
It's been natural for some to link the Clintonista campaign against ABC's The Path to 9/11 with the efforts of MRC and other groups protesting in late 2003 CBS's flimsy biopic on The Reagans. The MRC's Rich Noyes makes one obvious point of difference: Clinton is cogent enough to defend himself. In the fall of 2003, Reagan was deep into his Alzheimer's disease and dying.
For anyone who needs specifics on how the liberal media reacted to the conservative protests against The Reagans, which Viacom moved from CBS to Showtime, below is a set of quotes from the November 10, 2003 edition of our Notable Quotables newsletter. Back then, journalists fretted about "artistic freedom" with USA Today's TV critic declaring: "This act of creative sabotage should put to rest the idea that the media are liberal." Brian Williams asked: "Do you believe what has happened here with this mini-series on CBS amounts to extortion?" And a New York Times editorial referred to a "Soviet-style chill embedded in the idea that we, as a nation, will not allow critical portrayals of one of our own recent leaders."
The MRC's Tim Graham gathered these quotes for a Friday morning item on NewsBusters: newsbusters.org
Liberal Film Disproves Liberalism?
"Under pressure from conservative groups, CBS has exiled its highest-profile sweeps project, The Reagans, to Showtime....If nothing else, this act of creative sabotage should put to rest the idea that the media are liberal." -- USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco, November 5.
CBS Feared Conservative Bullies
Jerry Bowen: "Some analysts contend the conservative pressure is part of the nation's ongoing culture war." Martin Kaplan, USC Annenberg School: "There's a well-organized conservative movement in this country that's in charge of its version of the truth, and they swing a big bat." Bowen: "James Brolin, who plays Reagan, wasn't talking, but his manager was." Jeff Wald, James Brolin's manager: "And we seem to be in a very oppressive era where they can censor something before they even see it." -- CBS Evening News, November 4.
Brian Williams: "Do you believe what has happened here with this mini-series on CBS amounts to extortion?" Media critic Michael Wolff: "Certainly capitulation...." Williams: "So is it hyperbolic to say, you know, when we give all these speeches about freedom in the United States, you can go ahead and stretch your artistic freedom, make a movie about whatever you wish as long as it doesn't cross a certain political or societal group?" Wolff: "Absolutely. If the group is well-organized and there is no group as well-organized as the right wing in America at this point in time, you're going to be in big trouble." -- CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, November 4.
Creating a "Soviet-Style Chill"
"His [Ronald Reagan's] supporters credit him with forcing down the Iron Curtain, so it is odd that some of them have helped create the Soviet-style chill embedded in the idea that we, as a nation, will not allow critical portrayals of one of our own recent leaders." -- Editorial in the November 5 New York Times.
Reagan Deserved Hitler Treatment
"If Hitler had more friends, CBS wouldn't have aired [its Hitler mini-series] either." -- Philadelphia Daily News TV critic Ellen Gray, as quoted by the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes in a November 4 column.
Would He Appreciate the Lies?
"Michael, your dad comes, came from the Hollywood community, and he knows what the issues of artistic freedom are. How do you think he'd react?" -- ABC's Charles Gibson to Michael Reagan on Good Morning America, November 4.
Victory for the "Unholy Trinity"
"Hallelujah! The Gipper is safe and the hated liberal media humbled. It's a big victory for the 'Elephant Echo Chamber,' the unholy trinity of conservative talk radio, conservative Internet sites and the Republican National Committee....It's good to know that network docu-dramas are, forthwith, supposed to be 'true,' unless, of course, the truth is somehow 'offensive' to the myth, then we'll take the myth, as long as the myth corresponds to the reigning politics of the moment. One thing's for sure: When they make The Bush Dynasty docu-drama, that 'Mission Accomplished' banner won't be visible in the scene on the aircraft carrier." -- Senior Editor Jonathan Alter in a column posted on Newsweek's section of MSNBC's Web site, November 4.
While former President Bill Clinton is angry with ABC over the content of it's miniseries, The Path to 9/11, he shouldn't find much to complain about regarding the network's news coverage of his wife. The entire Thursday edition of ABC's Nightline was devoted to anchor Cynthia McFadden's day of campaigning with Senator Hillary Clinton in upstate New York. The September 7 half hour was full of softball questions and Bush-bashing. While no Clinton critics were highlighted in her report, McFadden did find a New York Republican supporter who gushed over Hillary Clinton and gave Clinton plenty of opportunities to criticize the Bush administration. The only tough questions McFadden had for Clinton were those that hit her from the left, such as on her Iraq war vote, and McFadden tossed softballs, such as: "If you could pick an adjective that you hope people would use to describe you, what would it be?"
[This item is adopted from a Friday afternoon posting, by Megan McCormack, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
McFadden featured a Republican woman who gushed: "I think she's fabulous. I think she's more beautiful in person. But more than her beauty, she's genuine and very intelligent and well-spoken."
McFadden gave Clinton plenty of opportunities to criticize the Bush administration (again, with no Clinton critics featured in the piece):
McFadden: "So, an association game, if you'll, if you will. A word or two about the following political folks, okay? President George Bush."
Clinton also described the administration as living in an "evidence-free zone," and is "not exactly connected with what's going on in terms of facts and evidence, here or around the world."
McFadden went on to ask Clinton about a New York Times article from May, which discussed the amount of time the Clintons' spend together: "I want to ask you about something that's on the minds of a lot of people, which is, is your marriage fair game? The New York Times clearly thinks so. Front-page article about how many days you spend with your husband, 14 is their answer, a month. How angry did that article make you?"
McFadden seemed taken aback when Clinton replied that she doesn't pay attention to those kinds of stories: "Really? It doesn't hurt? It doesn't make you mad? I mean, it would sure make me mad, I think."
The only tough questions McFadden had for Clinton were those that hit her from the left:
McFadden: "You were one of the Democrats who cast a vote in favor of enabling the President to go into Iraq. Do you, as we sit here today, with the information we have today, regret casting that vote?"
The majority of McFadden's questions for Clinton, however, were less hard-hitting:
-- "Do you actually like campaigning?"
-- "If you could pick an adjective that you hope people would use to describe you, what would it be?" (Clinton's answer? "Real.")
-- "Why would anyone want to be President? Can you help me understand that?"
Of course, McFadden had to ask the Senator about a potential run for the White House. Clinton deflected the questions and said "stay tuned" when asked if America is ready for a female President, a statement that many interpreted as a hint that Clinton is going to run for the office in '08. Apparently, McFadden seemed to agree, based on her summation of her day:
Friday's broadcast network evening newscasts delivered three different levels of priority to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's report which concluded there were no connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda, hardly fresh news. The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric didn't air a syllable about it, though CBS led with it on Saturday evening, ABC's World News with Charles Gibson teased it and made it the newscast's second story (after the suicide bombing in Kabul) and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams led with it. Gibson teased: "A Senate report rejects a central argument for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying there is no Iraqi link to al-Qaeda." Reporter Martha Raddatz characterized the report as "a stinging rebuke to those assertions made by the White House leading up to the war...and long afterwards. In four years, the administration has argued that Saddam Hussein was tied to Abu Musab Zarqawi and al-Qaeda."
Williams opened his program by mocking the naivete of many Americans: "Good evening. According to an opinion poll just released this week, 43 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. That is almost half the country. Linking Iraq and al-Qaeda has been a tricky business. Some in the administration have made the tie. Tonight the notion of any link between the two has been shredded by a big new report issued by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee."
Russ Mitchell led Saturday's CBS Evening News: "A newly released report on prewar intelligence about Iraq is still spreading shockwaves this evening and moving a key Democratic Senator to make a dramatic claim."
[This item is adopted from a Friday night posting on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down the beginnings of the September 8 ABC and NBC coverage, plus the entirety of CBS's September 9 story:
# ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:
Charles Gibson, in opening teaser: "The case for war: A Senate report rejects a central argument for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying there is no Iraqi link to al-Qaeda."
Gibson introduced the subsequent story: "From Afghanistan to Iraq. In the lead-up to the war there, and for a long time afterward, members of the administration, including the President, have maintained there was a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Today a declassified Senate report said that was not true, that, in fact, Saddam Hussein mistrusted al-Qaeda and thought it a threat to his power. Our chief White House correspondent, Martha Raddatz, is joining us tonight. Martha?"
Williams, in opening teaser: "No link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. That's the conclusion of a declassified report of the Senate Intelligence Committee."
Williams led his newscast: "Good evening. According to an opinion poll just released this week, 43 percent of Americans believe Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks. That is almost half the country. Linking Iraq and al-Qaeda has been a tricky business. Some in the administration have made the tie. Tonight the notion of any link between the two has been shredded by a big new report issued by the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee. It finds no link between Iraq and al-Qaeda. In fact, it says the two have very little in common. There's even evidence Saddam Hussein used to criticize Osama bin Laden. What will change, as a result? Not much. But it will be seen as proof that there was a whole lot of bad intelligence floating around, some of which was used to launch a war. This is where we'll begin tonight with NBC's Lisa Myers in Washington. Lisa, good evening."
Lisa Myers: "Good evening, Brian. The Senate report finds that the Bush administration repeatedly disregarded warnings that key intelligence might be wrong, even a warning that information had been fabricated. The Bush administration repeatedly claimed there were ties between Saddam and al-Qaeda."
Anchor Russ Mitchell teased: "Would America be safer with Saddam still in power in Iraq? That's Senator John Rockefeller's surprising claim in tonight's exclusive interview."
Mitchell soon opened: "And good evening. A newly released report on prewar intelligence about Iraq is still spreading shockwaves this evening and moving a key Democratic Senator to make a dramatic claim. The Senate Intelligence Committee found no evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, and no proof that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction. But it does quote former CIA chief George Tenet as testifying that the White House had pressured him to back up the case for war. Congressional correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has more on the reports and an exclusive interview."
Sharyl Attkisson: "When the Senate Intelligence Committee released a declassified version of its findings, the Republican chairman of the committee, Pat Roberts, left town without doing interviews, calling the report a rehash of unfounded partisan allegations. It's statements like this one from then-Secretary of State Colin Powell that have become so controversial, implying Iraq was linked to terror attacks."
Colin Powell, at the UN in 2003: "Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda lieutenants."
In Sunday's Washington Post Magazine, on the back page of an issue with a cover story devoted to solemn memorials of 9/11, Gene Weingarten's "Below the Beltway" humor column lived up to its cheeky title with a column comparing George W. Bush to Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Warren Harding. The headline: "The Bush League: How low can he go?" Weingarten, a former editor of the Post's Sunday Style section, clearly had fun with this column, which began with a dash of whimsey mixed with venom:
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Weingarten was trying to be funny here. (And he can be quite funny.) But he's doing a dead-on impression of the liberal media "mainstream." And after you read him make fun of Pierce, Buchanan, and Harding, Weingarten seems to be making quite a serious case when he gets to the current President:
SO WHAT ABOUT GEORGE W.? Can he take a rightful place among these dwarfs?
Consider some testimonials.
About the President acting unilaterally, without seeking advice or consent: "The incompetence of his administration [has not stopped] it from vigorously defending the President's sole authority to control the execution of the law."
About the President's response to crisis: "He acted with his usual strong determination, dogged stubbornness and confused insight."
About the President's mangling of the English language: "It reminds me of stale bean soup, of college yells, of dogs barking idiotically through endless nights. It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it...It is rumble and bumble. It is flap and doodle. It is balder and dash."
Okay, ready? The first two were by historians, about Pierce and Buchanan, respectively. The last was by H.L. Mencken, about Harding. If they sounded contemporary, you may have your answer.
END of Excerpt
For Weingarten's September 10 piece in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Is he quoting from liberals? No. Calabresi is a co-founder of the conservative Federalist Society and served in several GOP administrations. Yoo has written briefs in favor of keeping the Internet deregulated for the Progress and Freedom Foundation.
-- Brent Baker