Schieffer Forwards Canard Iraq Made McCain Go from 1st to 4th --8/20/2007
2. NYT Questions Giuliani on 9/11, Never Disputed Kerry on Vietnam
3. Only GMA Notes Obama's 'Killing Civilians' in Afghanistan Charge
4. Liberals Used 'Fairness Doctrine' to 'Harass' Right Wing Radio
CBS's Bob Schieffer, on Sunday's Face the Nation, resurrected the media canard that John McCain's support of the Iraq war is what cost him the frontrunner status in the Republican presidential contest. Unlike Schieffer and other members of the press corps, McCain himself recognized that it was his lax stand on what to do about illegal immigration which plummeted him amongst GOP primary voters, a position where he is well to the left of the rest of the Republican field that, just like McCain, has backed the decision to go into Iraq and opposes withdrawal plans pushed by Democrats.
After pointing out to McCain how "you started out this campaign season basically as the front-runner," but "you are no longer the front-runner, by a long stretch. You're running fourth in some polls," Schieffer proposed: "Do you think the fact that you have been so steadfast in support of this war is what has cost you in those polls?" McCain realized: "I think, frankly, the immigration issue has caused me some difficulties with our base, because I think we still, we've failed to convince the American people that we're serious about securing our borders."
[This item was posted late Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Schieffer advanced the same media line popular just over a month ago. The Wednesday, July 11 CyberAlert item, "Nets Blame Stance on Iraq, Not Immigration, for McCain's Setbacks," recounted:
Tuesday's CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain's reduced fundraising and low rank in the polls, which led two top advisers to leave the campaign, on McCain's view that U.S. troops must stay in Iraq -- not on how out of step he is with conservatives on the immigration bill he crafted with Ted Kennedy. CBS anchor Katie Couric declared: "No public figure has supported the President's Iraq policy more than Senator John McCain, and he's paid a heavy price for that. His presidential campaign is struggling and today, Jeff Greenfield reports, there was a big shakeup." Greenfield, at least, paired Couric's spin with the immigration issue: "Money woes are only part of the problem. His Iraq views are at odds with more and more in his own party and McCain's a sponsor of the dead for now immigration reform bill that has incensed many conservatives."
Over on NBC, in a story about the political fight over whether to withdraw troops from Iraq, David Gregory framed McCain's Tuesday morning Senate floor comments around how his stance on Iraq is what has "undermined" his campaign: "Just back from Iraq, Senator John McCain, whose presidential campaign has been undermined by his support for the war, gave the President a big boost."
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For the July 11 CyberAlert item in full: www.mrc.org
The Thursday, July 12 CyberAlert, "NBC's Today Blames Iraq for McCain's 'Dwindling Poll Numbers,'" reported:
NBC's Today show on Wednesday blamed Republican presidential candidate John McCain's support for the Iraq war and keeping troops in Iraq, not the Senator's frequent support for liberal policies, such his advocacy of the immigration bill which enraged conservative primary voters, for his plummeting poll numbers. Andrea Mitchell asserted in a story on the battle between President Bush and Congress over Iraq: "John McCain, just back from Iraq, defended the White House strategy, despite the political cost to his own campaign." Moments later, co-host Matt Lauer insisted: "Arizona Senator John McCain has been one of the President's staunchest allies when it comes to the war in Iraq and now that support may be partly responsible for dwindling poll numbers." Reporter Chip Reid maintained that McCain's "unwavering support of the Iraq war is unpopular with moderate Republicans," but Reid at least acknowledged how "another issue dragging him down" is "immigration reform. Many conservatives deeply resent his support for what they call amnesty."
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For the July 12 CyberAlert article in full: www.mrc.org
The exchange on the August 19 Face the Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER: "You started out this campaign season basically as the front-runner. You are no longer the front-runner, by a long stretch. You're running fourth in some polls. You've had to shake up your campaign. You collected money and spent a lot, and didn't get much for it, it seems. Do you think the fact that you have been so steadpast in, so steadfast in support of this war is what has cost you in those polls?"
Rudy Giuliani's presence at Ground Zero after 9/11 got scrutiny completely absent from the New York Times' coverage of John Kerry's Vietnam record. Russ Buettner, who earlier this month penned a less than earth-shattering expose on the friendship between Rudy Giuliani and Fox News President Roger Ailes (a story even some liberals found ridiculous), returned to the Times' front page Friday with, "For Giuliani, Ground Zero as Linchpin and Thorn," taking aim at the heart of Giuliani's candidacy by alleging that Giuliani has exaggerated the amount of time he spent at Ground Zero in the days after the attack on the World Trade Center.
For more on Buettner's Giuliani/Fox News paranoia, check: www.timeswatch.org
For how Newsweek's Evan Thomas ridiculed it: newsbusters.org
An excerpt from Buettner's August 17 news story:
As Rudolph W. Giuliani campaigns around the country highlighting his stewardship of New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks, he is widely hailed for bringing order to a traumatized city. But he has also raised the hackles of rescue and recovery workers by likening his experience to theirs.
On at least three occasions, in responding to accusations that the city failed to adequately protect the health of workers in the wreckage, he has boasted that he faced comparable risks himself. In one appearance he declared that he had been in the ruins 'as often, if not more' than the cleanup workers who logged hundreds of hours in the smoldering pile.
Another time he brushed aside safety claims by asserting that his long hours at the site had left him susceptible to "every health consequence that people have suffered."
So, how much time did Mayor Giuliani spend at ground zero?
A complete record of Mr. Giuliani's exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts...
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For the August 17 story in full: www.nytimes.com
The New York Times' interest in and scrutiny of Giuliani's 9-11 leadership is understandable, given Giuliani was a successful mayor of the city for eight years (no thanks to the Times). But the criticism does seem outsized, especially considering that the Times never applied similar scrutiny to another candidate running on a record of heroism during war time.
That would be Sen. John Kerry, who during the 2004 campaign for President based his entire run on his brief stint in the Vietnam War, in which he received several service medals, including three Purple Hearts. The Times' Adam Nagourney noted that in the first Democratic debate of the campaign, held on May 4, 2003: "On at least three separate occasions...Mr. Kerry reminded voters that he had served in Vietnam."
Even when a group of fellow Vietnam Veterans, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, challenged Kerry's medals and memories (and got Kerry's campaign to admit their candidate did not spend Christmas in Cambodia, as he'd claimed on several occasions, including on the Senate floor in 1986), the Times never looked into the accusations raised by the Swift Boat Veterans, instead attacking the group on numerous occasions for relaying "unsubstantiated" charges and being funded by conservatives. See this TimesWatch report for more on 2004 campaign coverage: www.timeswatch.org
Of the three broadcast network morning shows, only ABC's Good Morning America reported the comment by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama that part of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is made up of "air-raiding villages and killing civilians." Through Friday, both CBS's Early Show and NBC's Today have ignored the August 14 charge, as have the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts. On Friday's GMA, however, reporter David Wright filed a report on the statement and wondered if Obama is ready to be President. An ABC graphic pointedly asked: "Obama's Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced for Campaign?"
After playing a brief clip of the Illinois Senator's comment, which he made during a speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, Wright mentioned previous impolitic statements by Obama, such as threatening to invade Pakistan. The ABC journalist noted that Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, raised the issue of civilian casualties with President Bush: "Presumably, Hamid Karzai used language that was more diplomatic, more presidential." Wright did qualify his analysis of the presidential candidate by soft pedaling the critique slightly: "There is no question Obama is smart and well-briefed, but is he ready to be President?" However, GMA has at least publicized the comment, unlike the Early Show or Today.
[This item is updated from a Friday posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:12am on August 17:
Diane Sawyer: "And now we turn to the race for the White House. This weekend in Iowa, George Stephanopoulos and ABC News holding, sponsoring a Democratic presidential debate. And this time, the spotlight is sure to be on Illinois Senator Barack Obama who has spent the past few days defending himself, but, about his own words. Here's ABC's David Wright."
ABC Graphic: "Obama's Foot in Mouth Disease? Too Inexperienced for Campaign?"
Wright: "When Obama said he'd chase Osama bin Laden into Pakistan, with or without that country's approval, Pakistan protested and his rivals questioned his experience. Would any of them actually wait to act on actionable intelligence? Probably not. They just might not say so out loud."
Liberal Democrats and their allies on the Left are eager to restore the "Fairness Doctrine," which would empower the FCC to regulate the content of broadcast media, particularly talk radio. Besides their addiction to government regulation, the Left may be remembering "the good old days" when they used the "Fairness Doctrine" for partisan advantage in the 1960s.
Former CBS News President Fred Friendly, in his 1976 book, 'The Good Guys, The Bad Guys and the First Amendment,' wrote about the Democrats' organized campaign to use the "Fairness Doctrine" to derail conservative radio. Friendly's account was summarized by the CATO Institute's Thomas W. Hazlett and David W. Sosa in their 1997 paper, "Chilling the Internet: Lessons from FCC Regulation of Radio Broadcast," in which they recalled how the Kennedy administration "and the DNC seized upon the Fairness Doctrine as a way to 'counter the radical right' in their battle to pass" the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In the 1964 campaign, "Democratic Party funding sources were used to establish a professional listening post to monitor right-wing radio," an effort which an administration official hailed: "Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters in the hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue."
The key excerpt from the Hazlett and Sosa paper:
In 1962 President Kennedy's policies were under sustained attack from conservative broadcasters across the country. Of particular concern to the president were vocal right-wing opponents of the nuclear test ban treaty being considered by the Senate at the time. The administration and the DNC seized upon the Fairness Doctrine as a way to "counter the radical right" in their battle to pass the treaty. The Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was established and funded by the Democrats, orchestrated a very effective protest campaign against hostile radio editorials, demanding free reply time under the Fairness Doctrine whenever a conservative broadcaster denounced the treaty. Ultimately, the Senate ratified the treaty by far more than the necessary two-thirds majority.
Flush with success, the DNC and the Kennedy-Johnson administration decided to extend use of the doctrine to other high-priority legislation and the impending 1964 elections. Democratic Party funding sources were used to establish a professional listening post to monitor right-wing radio. The DNC also prepared a kit explaining "how to demand time under the Fairness Doctrine," which was handed out at conferences. As Bill Ruder, an assistant secretary of commerce under President Kennedy, noted, "Our massive strategy was to use the Fairness Doctrine to challenge and harass right-wing broadcasters in the hope that the challenges would be so costly to them that they would be inhibited and decide it was too expensive to continue."
By November 1964, when Johnson beat Goldwater in a landslide, the Democrats' "fairness" campaign was considered a stunning success. The effort had produced 1,035 letters to stations, resulting in 1,678 hours of free airtime. Critical to the campaign was the fact that much of the partisan commentary came from small, rural stations. In a confidential report to the DNC, Martin Firestone, a Washington attorney and former FCC staffer, explained,
"The right-wingers operate on a strictly cash basis and it is for this reason that they are carried by so many small stations. Were our efforts to be continued on a year-round basis, we would find that many of these stations would consider the broadcasts of these programs bothersome and burdensome (especially if they are ultimately required to give us free time) and would start dropping the programs from their broadcast schedule."
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For the 1997 Cato report: https://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-270.html
If liberals succeed in restoring the Fairness Doctrine, history would likely repeat itself. Instead of the "Citizens Committee for a Nuclear Test Band Treaty," organizations like MoveOn.org and CAIR (who already have a track record of pressuring conservative talk shows) would doubtless demand "free reply time," and the dominance of conservative talk radio, which has been driven by real demand and market forces, would be put into a deep freeze.
-- Brent Baker