2. CNN Showcases Marines Frustrated by Media's Bad News Bias on Iraq
3. Scoring Brian Williams's First Year as NBC's Anchor
4. C-SPAN Has Posted Video of Entire Bozell Interview of Mary Mapes
CBS's Bob Schieffer set up his Face the Nation interview with Senator John Kerry by touting it as "his first Sunday interview since January" and by heralding how "a shift of fewer than 100,000 votes in Ohio and John Kerry would have become President. So how would he handle Iraq today and will he run again?" Near the end of the interview, Schieffer played a clip of Kerry in front of the entrance to the West Wing of the White House Tuesday when a reporter asked him: "Do you ever find yourself saying, 'How did I lose to this guy?'" Kerry and others laughed as Kerry responded: "No. I know how I lost." Back live, Schieffer yearned: "Well, I must say, Senator, if there was ever a question that begged a follow-up. So why do you think you lost?" Kerry again demurred.
Schieffer teased his December 4 show, "Today on Face the Nation: Senator John Kerry in his first Sunday interview since January. A shift of fewer than 100,000 votes in Ohio and John Kerry would have become President. So how would he handle Iraq today and will he run again? We'll put those questions and more to the Senator from Massachusetts."
With Kerry sitting across the table from him, Schieffer again marveled as his great catch: "This is your first Sunday appearance I believe, since January, our first face-to-face interview since the presidential debate before the election." Not even Kerry was impressed, feigning a "wow."
The October 14, 2004 CyberAlert Morning Edition detailed how debate moderator Schieffer's questions hit the candidates from the left. An excerpt:
Moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS News skewed the debate topics with a slate of questions tilted ideologically to the left. Of Schieffer's 20 questions, six came explicitly from the left, and that's not even counting three queries to Bush clearly intended to force him into expressing what the media define as unpopular views on divisive social policies: Whether he believes "homosexuality is a choice," whether he'd like to overturn Roe v Wade and what role "faith" plays in his "policy decisions?" While Schieffer hit Kerry from the left in three questions, he never once pressed Bush from the right though many conservatives are upset with Bush's massive education spending and creation of a new entitlement program. Compared to the six to nine questions from the left, Schieffer posed only three from the right, barely -- all to Kerry.
Schieffer challenged Kerry from the left on how he can keep his pledge, made at the last debate, to not raise taxes on those earning less than $200,000 "without running this country deeper into debt?" and he tossed up to Kerry this liberal talking points softball: "The gap between rich and poor is growing wider. More people are dropping into poverty. Yet the minimum wage has been stuck at, what, $5.15 an hour now for about seven years. Is it time to raise it?"
He scolded Bush for not doing more to enact a liberal policy: "You said that if Congress would vote to extend the ban on assault weapons, that you'd sign the legislation. But you did nothing to encourage the Congress to extend it. Why not?"
END of Excerpt
For the rest of the CyberAlert with all of Schieffer's questions: www.mrc.org
Back to Sunday's Face the Nation, Schieffer asked Kerry: "Are you going to run for President next time?"
Friday's American Morning on CNN featured an interview session with two members of a Cleveland-area Marine reserve unit just back from Iraq who outlined how their one-on-one experience with Iraqi people showed the situation isn't nearly as hopeless as the media portray it. Miles O'Brien set up the segment: "The story we get out of Iraq on a daily basis, whether it's through politicians or through the media, is generally a story which doesn't paint a rosy picture of the situation there. A couple of Marines who are just back from some very difficult duty in Iraq would like to tell you a little different story." Corporal Stan Mayer relayed how "we saw a lot of transformation in the towns we went into. They really kind of, they got a lot safer, we got a lot more smiles after we spent enough time in a certain area." O'Brien pressed: "The big picture analysis here is that, that, militarily, this is a -- it may not be a war that the U.S. can win. Do you disagree with that?" Corporal Jeff Schuller shot back: "Definitely."
Doing a search on Yahoo News, I discovered how CNN found them: They were the focus of a Monday Christian Science Monitor story which reported that "soldiers clearly feel that important elements are being left out of the media's overall verdict" on Iraq. Focusing on the 3/25 Marine unit, reporter Mark Sappenfield traveled to Brook Park, Ohio and found that "amid the terrible scenes of reckless hate and lives lost, many members of one of the hardest-hit units insist that they saw at least the spark of progress" and that "their conversation could be a road map of the kind of stories that military folks say the mainstream media are missing." Sappenfield relayed how "the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies."
[This item was posted Saturday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To offer your opinions, go to: newsbusters.org ]
For documentation of the bad news tilt of the TV networks, check the MRC's October study by Rich Noyes, "TV's Bad News Brigade: ABC, CBS and NBC's Defeatist Coverage of the War in Iraq." Go to: www.mrc.org
The MRC's Megan McCormack caught the live interview which aired at 7:35am EST on the December 2 American Morning.
Miles O'Brien: "The story we get out of Iraq on a daily basis, whether it's through politicians or through the media, is generally a story which doesn't paint a rosy picture of the situation there. A couple of Marines who are just back from some very difficult duty in Iraq would like to tell you a little different story. They happen to be with the Third Battalion, 25th Marines, the 3/25. Back in August, you may remember, this particular battalion lost no less than fifteen Marines in a one week period. A terrible, terrible loss. Marine Corporals Jeff Schuller and Stan Mayer returned from Iraq in October, and they join us now from Cleveland to talk about the reality there as they see it. Good to have you both with us, corporals. Corporal Schuller, I'd like to start with you. How did your expectations about what you'd see in Iraq jive with the reality?"
An excerpt from the November 28 Christian Science Monitor story, "The Iraq story: how troops see it," by Mark Sappenfield:
BROOK PARK, OHIO -- Cpl. Stan Mayer has seen the worst of war. In the leaves of his photo album, there are casual memorials to the cost of the Iraq conflict -- candid portraits of friends who never came home and graphic pictures of how insurgent bombs have shredded steel and bone.
Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies.
Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity - if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops' individual experiences.
Yet as perceptions about Iraq have neared a tipping point in Congress, some soldiers and marines worry that their own stories are being lost in the cacophony of terror and fear. They acknowledge that their experience is just that -- one person's experience in one corner of a war-torn country. Yet amid the terrible scenes of reckless hate and lives lost, many members of one of the hardest-hit units insist that they saw at least the spark of progress.
"We know we made a positive difference," says Cpl. Jeff Schuller of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, who spent all but one week of his eight-month tour with Mayer. "I can't say at what level, but I know that where we were, we made it better than it was when we got there."
It is the simplest measure of success, but for the marine, soldier, or sailor, it may be the only measure of success. In a business where life and death rest on instinctive adherence to thoroughly ingrained lessons, accomplishment is ticked off in a list of orders followed and tasks completed. And by virtually any measure, America's servicemen and women are accomplishing the day-to-day tasks set before them.
Yet for the most part, America is less interested in the success of Operation Iron Fist, for instance, than the course of the entire Iraq enterprise. "What the national news media try to do is figure out: What's the overall verdict?" says Brig. Gen. Volney Warner, deputy commandant of the Army Command and General Staff College. "Soldiers don't do overall verdicts."
Yet soldiers clearly feel that important elements are being left out of the media's overall verdict. On this day, a group of Navy medics gather around a table in the Cleveland-area headquarters of the 3/25 -- a Marine reserve unit that has converted a low-slung school of pale brick and linoleum tile into its spectacularly red-and-gold offices.
Their conversation could be a road map of the kind of stories that military folks say the mainstream media are missing. One colleague made prosthetics for an Iraqi whose hand and foot had been cut off by insurgents. When other members of the unit were sweeping areas for bombs, the medics made a practice of holding impromptu infant clinics on the side of the road.
They remember one Iraqi man who could not hide his joy at the marvel of an electric razor. And at the end of the 3/25's tour, a member of the Iraqi Army said: "Marines are not friends; marines are brothers," says Lt. Richard Malmstrom, the battalion's chaplain....
In Hit, where marines stayed in force to keep the peace, the progress was obvious, say members of the 3/25. The residents started burning trash and fixing roads -- a sign that the city was returning to a sense of normalcy. Several times, "people came up to us [and said]: 'There's a bomb on the side of the road. Don't go there,' " says Pfc. Andrew Howland....
To the marines of the 3/25, the explosions clearly do not tell the whole story. Across America, many readers know the 3/25 only as the unit that lost 15 marines in less than a week -- nine of them in the deadliest roadside bombing against US forces during the war. When the count of Americans killed in Iraq reached 2,000, this unit again found itself in the stage lights of national notice as one of the hardest hit.
But that is not the story they tell. It is more than just the dire tone of coverage -- though that is part of it. It is that Iraq has touched some of these men in ways that even they have trouble explaining. This, after all, has not been a normal war. Corporals Mayer and Schuller went over not to conquer a country, but to help win its hearts and minds. In some cases, though, it won theirs.
Schuller, a heavyweight college wrestler with a thatch of blond hair and engine blocks for arms, cannot help smiling when he speaks of giving an old man a lighter: "He thought it was the coolest thing." Yet both he and the blue-eyed, square-jawed Mayer pause for a moment before they talk about the two 9-year-old Iraqis whom members of their battalion dubbed their "girlfriends."
The first time he saw them, Mayer admits that he was making the calculations of a man in the midst of a war. He was tired, he was battered, and he was back at a Hit street corner that he had patrolled many times before. In Iraq, repetition of any sort could be an invitation of the wrong sort -- an event for which insurgents could plan. So Mayer and Schuller took out some of the candy they carried, thinking that if children were around, perhaps the terrorists wouldn't attack.
It was a while before the children realized that these two marines, laden with arms to the limit of physical endurance, were not going to hurt them. But among the children who eventually came, climbing on the pair's truck and somersaulting in the street, there were always the same two girls. When they went back to base, they began to hoard Oreos and other candy in a box....
Whether or not these notes of grace and kindness are as influential as the dirge of war is open to question. But many in the military feel that they should at least be a part of the conversation.
Says Warner of reaching an overall verdict: "I'm not sure that reporting on terrorist bombings with disproportionate ink is adequately answering that question."
END of Excerpt
For the article in full as posted by the Christian Science Monitor, with pictures: www.csmonitor.com
For it as posted on Yahoo News, sans photos: news.yahoo.com
Exactly one year ago Friday night, Brian Williams took over the NBC Nightly News after Tom Brokaw's 21-year run as anchor. Of the three men who dominated network news during the 1980s and 90s, Brokaw wasn't the most biased, but he still reflected the liberal prejudices of his profession.
[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]
A year later, the same could be said of Brian Williams. Bob Schieffer's CBS Evening News is no friendlier to conservatives than Dan Rather's Evening News, and the medley of ABC anchors who have replaced Peter Jennings haven't altered World News Tonight's liberal slant. Indeed, the only big change in network news content in 2005 has been a continuation of the move towards softer, general interest stories and away from more serious topics like U.S. politics and foreign news, a trend that's been underway for years.
By process of elimination, Williams could be seen as the most centrist of the three anchors, but his coverage of the big news stories -- politics, the economy, Iraq, social issues -- is not especially different from the other networks. And Williams has had his share of liberal gaffes this year:
# On March 1, while introducing a report on the Supreme Court's decision to bar the death penalty for those under 18, Williams heralded how the ruling "ends a practice that drew ridicule for years from some of America's closest friends around the world." Would anyone care to guess which side of the issue Williams favored? (For details, see this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org )
# On the May 18 NBC Nightly News, Williams was echoing Democratic talking points when he falsely asserted that the "nuclear" that the Senate was considering would end "the use of the filibuster to block votes on judges used by both sides for years." In fact, Democratic use of the filibuster on multiple judicial nominees was unprecedented and Republicans never employed it in a partisan effort to block a nominee who had majority support. The last time Republicans were in the same alignment as Democrats are now (minority in Senate with President in opposition party), in 1993 and 1994, they did not filibuster any of President Clinton's nominees. (For more, see this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org )
# On June 30, referring to the suggestion that the newly-chosen President of Iran could have been one of the captors of U.S. hostages in 1979 during Ayatollah Khomeini's Islamic revolution, Williams suggested a sickening moral equivalence between the Iranian radicals and America's Founding Fathers '€" both, he thought, could be called terrorists.
He asked reporter Andrea Mitchell: "Andrea, what would it all matter if proven true? Someone brought up today the first several U.S. Presidents were certainly revolutionaries and might have been called terrorists at the time by the British Crown, after all." Mitchell replied: "Indeed, Brian."
It was a twisted take that Williams had actually previewed earlier that same day in the official Nightly News blog, The Daily Nightly. Williams wrote that the notion that the Iranian leader had been personally involved in anti-American terrorism "made for a robust debate in our afternoon editorial meeting, when several of us raised the point (I'll leave it to others to decide germaneness) that several U.S. Presidents were at minimum revolutionaries, and probably were considered terrorists of their time by the Crown in England." (For more, see this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org )
# Williams was on vacation during the first week of August, but he left behind a taped piece for the August 6 Nightly News. To mark the 60th anniversary of the Enola Gay dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, Williams went to the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum annex near Dulles Airport -- where the plane is on display -- and interviewed the plane's navigator, Dutch Van Kirk.
Williams suggested Van Kirk should have a guilty conscience: "Do you have remorse for what happened? How do you deal with that in your mind?" Van Kirk indignantly set him straight: "No, I do not have remorse. I pity the people who were there. I always think of it, Brian, as being, the dropping of the atom bomb was an act of war to end a war." (For more, see this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org )
# And, after Hurricane Katrina, Williams seemed to come dangerously close to endorsing the view that racism was behind the slow rescue of residents in New Orleans. Appearing on Comedy Central's The Daily Show on September 8, he approvingly relayed how, a "refrain" he heard from "everyone watching the coverage all week," was "had this been Nantucket, had this been Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, how many choppers would have-" At that point, applause caused him to cut off his sentence as he gestured toward the audience to cite affirmation of a point. (For more, see this CyberAlert: www.mrc.org )
That sounded suspiciously like a wordier, windier version of the belief uttered by rapper Kanye West just a week earlier on NBC: "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Like Brokaw, Brian Williams is certainly not as biased as, say, Bryant Gumbel or Dan Rather, who could barely conceal their disdain for conservatives and admiration of liberals. Williams is obviously interested in creating a news program that does not repel conservatives in his audience '€" witness the fact that the publicity that surrounded his elevation last year stressed his interest in NASCAR racing.
But the record suggests that Williams' newscast still reflects the liberal assumptions and beliefs that skew the media elite. NBC Nightly News may be the least biased of the Big Three network evening newscasts, but it's still territory more friendly to liberals than conservatives.
-- Brent Baker