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Spinning Odierno; CBS: Surge Will Fail v ABC: Insurgents May Quit --6/1/2007


1. Spinning Odierno; CBS: Surge Will Fail v ABC: Insurgents May Quit
CBS and ABC on Thursday night offered very different spins on the press conference in Iraq held by Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, with CBS painting a dire picture and ABC seeing hope ahead. On the CBS Evening News, David Martin framed a story around how "U.S. military officers tell CBS News the troop surge, which has now reached full strength, stands no chance of succeeding by September." Martin cited how, "in a briefing from Baghdad, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno began lowering expectations by warning September may be too soon to judge whether the surge is having any effect at all." On ABC's World News, however, anchor Charles Gibson introduced a story on how in Iraq the "U.S. military's number two commander, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, made a dramatic assertion today saying that he believes 80 percent of the Sunni and Shiite insurgents can be convinced to lay down their arms."

2. Caving on Warming Earns Bush No Praise: Too Little, Too Late
Reporting how President Bush "called on 15 other nations to join the U.S. in taking new steps to reverse climate change" by reducing "greenhouse gas emissions," the NBC Nightly News demonstrated how caving in to liberal demands will not generate positive press coverage as NBC focused on those who complained Bush's plan "doesn't go far enough." From Chicago, anchor Brian Williams marveled Thursday night at how "President Bush today underwent something of a conversion. He called for new action on global warming, something he resisted doing for a long time." Williams proceeded to devote an entire report to how "the reaction to the President's global warming speech today was cold in some quarters." Anne Thompson, identified as NBC's "chief environmental correspondent," relayed how "environmental leaders I talked to today certainly weren't impressed. One said it was worse than too little, too late, and several agreed that it was a PR strategy, designed to keep President Bush from looking like an obstructionist at next week's G-8 meeting."

3. CBS Havana Producer Reveals Cuban Regime Likes to Air CNN Stories
Castro's censors like CNN in Spanish. That's one of the nuggets in CBS News "Public Eye" blog interview, posted Thursday, with Havana-based CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum. Explaining the resources used by Cuba's state media, Siegelbaum observed that "you will see CNN in Spanish stories in the Cuban television news at night. They'll take CNN in Spanish."

4. Rose Hosts Cozy Draft-Gore Manhattan Event, Then Airs It on PBS
Demonstrating the insular liberal world of New York public television, PBS late-night talk show host Charlie Rose hosted an interview for Al Gore in front of a very supportive draft-Gore-for-President audience at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and then made it his Friday night national television broadcast. He asked Gore if the election was stolen in Florida, if Gore would consider running in 2008 now that he's speaking his mind freely without consultants, and how the network news elite has played a part in "The Assault on Reason," the title of Gore's new book. The whole thing had the air of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, with Charlie Rose playing James Lipton and a supportive audience bathing the guest in adulation. Rose began with an effusive tribute, reading purple prose about how right he is on the issues and how graciously accepted defeat in 2000 (apparently leaving out the six weeks of desperate pleading and lawyering?) from two liberal columnists from The Washington Post and a liberal venture capitalist.


Spinning Odierno; CBS: Surge Will Fail
v ABC: Insurgents May Quit

CBS and ABC on Thursday night offered very different spins on the press conference in Iraq held by Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, with CBS painting a dire picture and ABC seeing hope ahead. On the CBS Evening News, David Martin framed a story around how "U.S. military officers tell CBS News the troop surge, which has now reached full strength, stands no chance of succeeding by September." Martin cited how, "in a briefing from Baghdad, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno began lowering expectations by warning September may be too soon to judge whether the surge is having any effect at all."

On ABC's World News, however, anchor Charles Gibson introduced a story on how in Iraq the "U.S. military's number two commander, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, made a dramatic assertion today saying that he believes 80 percent of the Sunni and Shiite insurgents can be convinced to lay down their arms." Jonathan Karl highlighted how "relatively junior commanders, Lieutenant Colonels, have been given authority to negotiate directly with insurgents." Viewers then heard from Odierno: "I'm empowering them and trying to give them some tools to reach out because there are insurgents reaching out to us."

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide transcripts of the May 31 stories:

# CBS Evening News:

ANCHOR ANTHONY MASON: In Iraq today, the U.S. military reported three more American soldiers were killed by roadside bombs. At least 123 Americans have died in May, making it the third deadliest month of the war. At the White House, President Bush met with Iraq's President. Both men expressing hope that Iraq could meet the benchmarks set by Congress for progress by September. But at the same time, U.S. military commanders are painting a much darker picture. David Martin reports from the Pentagon.

DAVID MARTIN: U.S. military officers tell CBS News the troop surge, which has now reached full strength, stands no chance of succeeding by September. That's the critical month General David Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, is scheduled to report to Congress. Petraeus wants to deliver that report before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins on September 13. That's because Ramadan usually brings a spike in violence that would make it harder for Petraeus to claim even modest progress. In a briefing from Baghdad, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno began lowering expectations by warning September may be too soon to judge whether the surge is having any effect at all."
LIEUTENANT GENERAL RAYMOND ODIERNO: It will take new units anywhere from 30 to 60 days to really get a feel for their sectors so they truly can have an impact on security and stability in their area.
MARTIN: Odierno said one encouraging sign is that some insurgents have shown interest in peace talks.
ODIERNO: We're talking about cease-fires and maybe signing some things that say they won't conduct operations against the government of Iraq or against coalition forces.
MARTIN: But as American troops move into new parts of the country, they're suffering higher casualties as they run into deeply buried, impossible-to-see explosive devices, the infamous IEDs.
ODIERNO: They're getting bigger and bigger. And it has a lot to do with because we were not in these areas, so it gave them time to make bigger IEDs and bury them.
MARTIN: By September, American commanders hope to show just enough progress to justify continuing the surge. But if you're looking for major changes in how the war is going, one officer said, it won't happen. David Martin, CBS News, the Pentagon.


# ABC's World News, from Charlotte:

CHARLES GIBSON: Next we turn to Iraq, where the U.S. military's number two commander, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, made a dramatic assertion today saying that he believes 80 percent of the Sunni and Shiite insurgents can be convinced to lay down their arms. Our national security correspondent Jonathan Karl has exclusive details tonight about the military's secret effort to make that happen.

JONATHAN KARL: This video was posted by the 1920s Revolution Brigade, a Sunni insurgent group that has bragged of repeated attacks on Americans, including this just three weeks ago. Now ABC News has learned that U.S. and British officials have been having secret face-to-face talks with that same group. It's part of a major effort to negotiate cease-fires with some of Iraq's most dangerous insurgents. A source familiar with the effort tells ABC News, 'You name a mainstream insurgent group, and we're talking to them.' The CIA is involved, identifying the insurgent leaders and bringing them in for talks with the military. And relatively junior commanders, Lieutenant Colonels, have been given authority to negotiate directly with insurgents.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL RAYMOND ODIERNO, MULTINATIONAL CORPS IRAQ: I'm empowering them and trying to give them some tools to reach out because there are insurgents reaching out to us.
KARL: This crowd of 2,000 Sunni tribesmen, many suspected of supporting the insurgency, met one Lieutenant Colonel earlier this month in the outskirts of Baghdad, their leader saying they all wanted jobs with the local police. So far, the talks have not included anyone tied to al-Qaeda, but General Odierno says he doesn't rule that out.
ODIERNO: I believe little, very few of al-Qaeda are reconcilable, but there might be a small portion.
KARL: As a price for peace, the insurgents are demanding jobs, pension and amnesty for their fighters, including those who have killed Americans. That's hugely controversial, Charlie, but it may simply be necessary. As one senior Pentagon advisor told me, "If we reconcile with them, they will stop killing us."

Caving on Warming Earns Bush No Praise:
Too Little, Too Late

Reporting how President Bush "called on 15 other nations to join the U.S. in taking new steps to reverse climate change" by reducing "greenhouse gas emissions," the NBC Nightly News demonstrated how caving in to liberal demands will not generate positive press coverage as NBC focused on those who complained Bush's plan "doesn't go far enough." From Chicago, anchor Brian Williams marveled Thursday night at how "President Bush today underwent something of a conversion. He called for new action on global warming, something he resisted doing for a long time." Williams proceeded to devote an entire report to how "the reaction to the President's global warming speech today was cold in some quarters." Anne Thompson, identified as NBC's "chief environmental correspondent," relayed how "environmental leaders I talked to today certainly weren't impressed. One said it was worse than too little, too late, and several agreed that it was a PR strategy, designed to keep President Bush from looking like an obstructionist at next week's G-8 meeting."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts, NBC was the most aggressive in taking on Bush from the left over global warming.

A partial transcript from the May 31 NBC Nightly News:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: Back in Washington, President Bush today underwent something of a conversion. He called for new action on global warming, something he resisted doing for a long time. In fact, the use of the term global warming has been frowned upon in some quarters of the Bush administration for years. Today the President called on 15 other nations to join the U.S. in taking new steps to reverse climate change. We get more on this story from our chief White House correspondent David Gregory.
DAVID GREGORY: Brian, you can imagine that critics are already saying this doesn't go far enough, but this is what is significant -- you've already said it: For the first time, this President has committed the U.S. to lowering the emissions that scientists insist cause global warming. It was an attempt today to end the administration's isolation on climate change. It comes just days before the President will meet allies in Europe who have long criticized the U.S. for failing to join the Kyoto treaty, an international agreement mandating a cap on greenhouse gas emissions....

Gregory ran a soundbite from Bush before moving on to other G-8 matters without including the views of anyone who thinks Bush is going too far. Williams then set up a second report with just the liberal point of view:

BRIAN WILLIAMS: The reaction to the President's global warming speech today was cold in some quarters. We get more on that tonight from NBC News chief environmental correspondent Anne Thompson, who's with us tonight from British Columbia, where she is on assignment. Anne, good evening.
ANNE THOMPSON: Good evening, Brian. Environmental leaders I talked to today certainly weren't impressed. One said it was worse than too little, too late, and several agreed that it was a PR strategy, designed to keep President Bush from looking like an obstructionist at next week's G-8 meeting. David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that the world is full of lots of international meetings and summits, the question is whether you're ready to lead at home. Environmentalists want the President to get behind legislation that would mandate cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that scientists believe contribute to global warming. The United States is the largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the world and environmentalists believe only after the U.S. makes cuts at home can it pressure countries like China and India to do the same. Brian?

CBS Havana Producer Reveals Cuban Regime
Likes to Air CNN Stories

Castro's censors like CNN in Spanish. That's one of the nuggets in CBS News "Public Eye" blog interview, posted Thursday, with Havana-based CBS News producer Portia Siegelbaum. Explaining the resources used by Cuba's state media, Siegelbaum observed that "you will see CNN in Spanish stories in the Cuban television news at night. They'll take CNN in Spanish."

This item is based on a NewsBusters posting by the MRC's Ken Shepherd, who caught Siegelbaum's comment: newsbusters.org

The relevant excerpt from the interview posted on May 31:

Brian Montopoli: Is there any form of alternative or underground media in Cuba?
Portia Siegelbaum: No.
Brian Montopoli: So there are no real voices of a free press that are in Cuba, for Cuba, specifically?
Portia Siegelbaum: No. The Cuban media is basically an information service of the government. Especially in domestic news. What the Cuban media does do is they cover world news. You will see CNN in Spanish stories in the Cuban television news at night. They'll take CNN in Spanish, they'll take Spanish TV. So Cubans in general get a lot of international news, and that comes from outside sources. But in terms of domestic news, the source is the Cuban government, or Cuban government ministry functionaries, and they're feeding information to their press.

For the entire interview: www.cbsnews.com

Siegelbaum is hardly unsympathetic to the Cuban regime. She led an April 24 posting on CBSNews.com: "Thanks to the socialist island's free health care system -- which emphasizes preventive medicine -- Cubans enjoy a very high life expectancy. The average life span in Cuba is 77.08 years. As a result, the island's population is one of the oldest in the Americas, surpassed only by Uruguay...." See the May 1 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Back in 2002 the MRC produced a study, "Megaphone for a Dictator: CNN's Coverage of Castro's Cuba, 1997-2002," online at: www.mrc.org

Rose Hosts Cozy Draft-Gore Manhattan
Event, Then Airs It on PBS

Demonstrating the insular liberal world of New York public television, PBS late-night talk show host Charlie Rose hosted an interview for Al Gore in front of a very supportive draft-Gore-for-President audience at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and then made it his Friday night national television broadcast. He asked Gore if the election was stolen in Florida, if Gore would consider running in 2008 now that he's speaking his mind freely without consultants, and how the network news elite has played a part in "The Assault on Reason," the title of Gore's new book.

The whole thing had the air of Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, with Charlie Rose playing James Lipton and a supportive audience bathing the guest in adulation. Rose began with an effusive tribute, reading purple prose about how right he is on the issues and how graciously accepted defeat in 2000 (apparently leaving out the six weeks of desperate pleading and lawyering?) from two liberal columnists from The Washington Post and a liberal venture capitalist.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Thursday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org MRC intern Joe Steigerwald first reviewed the PBS show.]

Rose opened the May 25 program:
"Welcome. Albert Gore. Nashville, Tennessee. Married to Tipper Gore. Four children, two grandchildren. Written two best-sellers. Earth in Balance and An Inconvenient Truth. Filmmaker, best-selling author, speaker.
"There's more. Here's what some people -- you think there is. Here's what some people have been saying. Richard Cohen: 'Somebody ought to make a movie about Al Gore. I would call it 'An Uncomplaining Life.' The movie would be about a man who did not quit, who came out of -- came off the canvas after a painfully close election -- he won the popular vote after all -- who accepted defeat graciously and tried to unite the nation, who returned to the consuming passion of his early days, the environment, and spoke endlessly on the topic almost always for free. Who starred in a documentary based on his speech and who before a billion or so people won an Academy Award for his effort. This may or may not be a stepping stone to the presidency, but Gore gives us a lesson on how to live one's life. With an Oscar in his fist and triumph on his face, Al Gore is a man you can tell your kid about. That maybe is even better than being president.' Richard Cohen.
"There is more. There is Richard Branson: 'I think Al Gore has almost single-handedly brought global warming to the forefront of the world.'
"E.J. Dionne, columnist. 'Gore, to his credit, won't talk about Florida, but I will. Whatever flaws he has, Gore suffered through an extreme injustice with great dignity. His revenge is to have been right about a lot of things, right about the power of the Internet, right about global warming, and right about Iraq."
"We will talk about all of that, but we will begin talking about The Assault on Reason by Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States. Please welcome him to the 92nd Street Y."
Al Gore, to cheers and ongoing applause: "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
Rose: "Let me just begin with this small question. Why would you ever think about running for President?"

Gore demurred, saying "I actually don't think I'm particularly good at politics." Rose responded with shock: "And why would you say that?" Gore said it's because our "public forum" is trivial and "a politics of reason faces a head wind. There is more time spent in the public forum now on Anna Nicole Smith and Joey Buttafucco, and whether or not Britney shaves her head, and whether or not Russell Crowe threw a telephone at the hotel concierge, than there is on whether or not the human species is going to safeguard the habitability of all of the Earth for future generations." This spurred more fawning:

CHARLIE ROSE: Let me just point out one thing, though -- "An Inconvenient Truth," a documentary, is one of the best-selling documentaries in the history of documentaries.
AL GORE: Thank you. [Applause]
CHARLIE ROSE: And it's not about Anna Nicole Smith. It's not about Britney Spears. It's about the challenge to the planet.
AL GORE: Yes.
CHARLIE ROSE: So that says something.

This prompted Gore to begin his narrative about how "reason and logic and knowledge" suffered as we refused to see Robert Byrd as a sage before the Iraq war as he apparently asked "Why is the Senate silent, ominously silent? Why is there no effort to lay out the pros and cons of this war? Why?" He then sent the praise back in Rose's direction:

CHARLIE ROSE: But I had one person after another come to my program and say this is an unwise thing to do, to go to Iraq.
AL GORE: Your program is an oasis, Charlie, and it is -- it stands out for that reason.

Smooch smooch. Air kisses all around. It's an oasis where anti-war folks can sit around a table and agree on how Bush and the neo-cons are grossly incorrect. So Rose asked if the liberal media seriously avoided having anti-war spokesmen on their airwaves before the Iraq war, and Gore quoted Dan Rather:

CHARLIE ROSE: If in fact at that time -- I mean, you know, if someone who opposed the war wanted access to Tim Russert or George Stephanopoulos or Face the Nation to question the war, are you saying that not any particular individual, but those programs, which are about the political dialogue, they couldn't have had access to those programs? And those producers and those anchor people are not looking to hear from someone who disagreed with the war because they were somehow afraid of something happening to them?
AL GORE: Well, look at what Dan Rather said at the time. He said that there was serious intimidation that had a dramatic impact on news judgments. Other -- other prominent journalists have said exactly the same thing.

A few minutes later, Rose began suggesting they talk about the contested 2000 election:

CHARLIE ROSE: So I was going to make this question: When did the assault on reason, in your judgment, ending up where it is now, in its most extreme position as you argue, begin? Did it begin 50 years ago? Did it begin 20 years ago? Did it begin in 2000?
AL GORE: No, I don't believe that. I think that -- although there was an important skirmish then. I think-
CHARLIE ROSE: You mean the one in Florida. Who won that skirmish?
AL GORE: Well, it depends on how you interpret the Supreme Court judgment, but-
CHARLIE ROSE: There's no question that you won the state of Florida.
AL GORE: Oh, thank you, Charles.
CHARLIE ROSE: No, it's a question. That's a question.
AL GORE: We will never know because the votes weren't counted. But-
CHARLIE ROSE: And did, in your judgment-
AL GORE: No, I mean, that's it. Unfortunately.
CHARLIE ROSE: But you believe you did?
AL GORE: Well, I don't know. But some day maybe I'll write about that. But-
CHARLIE ROSE: Does anybody in this audience...Does anybody want me to ask him about Florida? [Applause] Okay. Do you believe the Supreme Court stole the election?
AL GORE: You know, I've chosen not to -- to -- to challenge the rule of law, because in our system, there really is no intermediate step between a final Supreme Court decision and violent revolution.

After some more discussion about the decision to go to war in Iraq and what the country needs next, Rose suggested that what the country might need is another Al Gore presidential campaign:

CHARLIE ROSE: Here's what some people say about Al Gore: He would make a much more effective candidate today -- not because he's not good at politics -- because he is somehow free, and he speaks his mind. And when he ran in 2000, he was a captive of spin doctors and consultants and all those people, and that we didn't see the real Al Gore. And if we'd seen the real Al Gore, he would have won.
AL GORE: Well, I think that there are two parts to my answer here. One is, I think that candidates are viewed through a different lens. And that's not always unhealthy, but I do think that's a factor. And, secondly, I think there's a grain of truth to the old cliche of what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and maybe I've gotten a little stronger in the last six years.
CHARLIE ROSE: I just want you to know, these are the kind of questions I'm getting here. And so you can read it aloud or not. I'll let you be the editor.
AL GORE: "What would it take for you to run?" Well, I'm not-
CHARLIE ROSE: No, there's more than that. But whatever it's not -- you edited the question.
AL GORE: I thought you were asking the questions.
CHARLIE ROSE: "What would it take for you to run? Gore-Obama can't lose." Well, that's a different question. That's not "will you run," but "what it will take you to run?"
AL GORE: I'm not looking for factors that will cause me to run. I'm not -- some people here have heard me answer this question enough times-
CHARLIE ROSE: Me too.
AL GORE: -that I'm just worried about being repetitious, but I really am not focused on looking for an opportunity to run. It's true that I haven't completely ruled it out. I don't think that it's necessary to do that. But I don't expect to run. And, I don't, therefore, know how to answer that question. I guess I would know it if I saw it, but I'm not looking for it.

This part, with Rose pointing out how the audience was begging for Gore to run, was highlighted at the very beginning of Rose's show. Rose concluded with one last moment of fawning, reading Gore's own book back to him and the audience, underlining his idealism:

CHARLIE ROSE: I get the last word. "This book is dedicated to my father, Senator Albert Gore Sr., 1907-1998, who had a remarkable influence on his son and his daughters. The rebirth of democracy is a conclusion" -- I quote the last -- the first paragraph of conclusion -- "Almost 3,000 years ago, Solomon warned that where there is no vision, the people perish. But surely, the converse is also true. Where there is leadership with vision and moral courage, the people will flourish and redeem Lincoln's prophecy at Gettysburg, that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Earth." Our thanks to former Vice President Albert Gore. Thank you.

Is there anyone who actually watches public television who has any doubt that it's a cozy, comfy hangout for liberals to pat each other on the back for their sophistication and fine, reasoned opinions?

-- Brent Baker