"Thelma and Louise" Real Heroic Villains to CNN's Aaron Brown? --6/4/2003
2. Cronkite to Write Column, Says Reporters Not Politically Liberal Walter Cronkite will begin writing a weekly column in August to be syndicated by King Features, the home of Helen Thomas' rants, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The former CBS News anchorman promised that in his first column he'll be "pointing out what is a liberal and explaining why I think most reporters are liberals." But, by Cronkite's reasoning, journalists are "liberals" because they're neither liberal nor conservative, just not "doctrinaire." Plus, a CyberAlert flashback to "Cronkite's Crockery of the Day," the liberal pontificating in his 1997 book.
3. "Kilroy's Still Here" and Other Sage Thoughts from Sean Penn Actor Sean Penn bought a full page in last Friday's New York Times and used the May 30 broadsheet to print, in a solid page of text in about 8 point type, his thinking. Tony Snow, in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the 4,000-plus word screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft." With Penn's ad text as the source, today CyberAlert inaugurates a new feature: "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day."
4. "Top Ten Things Agreed Upon at the G-8 Summit" Letterman's "Top Ten Things Agreed Upon at the G-8 Summit." All but the punch line to #2: "The summit's in France, which means the New York Times reporter is probably in..."
++ Now online, a Media Reality Check fax report, "Can Moyers Be an Anchor and a Funder? PBS Star Gives Publicity to Liberal Groups, But Won't Tell Viewers He's Underwriting Their Activism."
++ Correction. The June 3 CyberAlert quoted from tax cut-bashing articles by Joe Klein of Time and Jonathan Alter and Eleanor Clift of Newsweek, stating that all three pieces "have been posted online, not published in the actual magazines." That is accurate for the two Newsweek pieces but, in fact, the Klein diatribe was also printed on page 25 in the June 9 edition of Time magazine.
Does CNN's Aaron Brown realize "Thelma and Louise" were movie characters, not real people? On Monday's NewsNight, Brown claimed that the Eric Rudolph case shows that even in America, just as in the Middle East, bombers who kill the innocent can become heroes. He decided it's "a little hard to understand how anyone can hold Eric Rudolph, charged with four bombings in which two people died and dozens were hurt, in high regard. A little hard to understand, that is, unless you think back. We have done this all before, more than once."
Brown, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, then recalled some names: "Pretty Boy Floyd was a violent bank robber, became a hero in a wonderful Woody Guthrie song. Bonnie and Clyde were psychotic killers transformed in Arthur Penn's famous movie into American icons. Butch Cassidy and Sundance, Thelma and Louise, Billy the Kid. Folklore transformed them all, and many others."
Did he confuse Hollywood with reality, or was he just trying to be cute?
Brown's commentary came at the top of the June 2 NewsNight:
Over footage of the Peach Tree Restaurant marquee in Murphy, North Carolina, which read, "Pray for Eric Rudolph," Brown continued: "It is a little hard to understand how anyone can hold Eric Rudolph, charged with four bombings in which two people died and dozens were hurt, in high regard. A little hard to understand, that is, unless you think back. We have done this all before, more than once.
For a look at the 1991 movie starring Geena Davis as "Thelma" and Susan Sarandon as "Louise," see the Internet Movie Database's page on it: us.imdb.com
IMDB's plot summary: "An Arkansas waitress and a housewife shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird."
Walter Cronkite will begin writing a weekly column in August to be syndicated by King Features, the home of Helen Thomas' rants, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. The former CBS News anchorman promised that in his first column he'll be "pointing out what is a liberal and explaining why I think most reporters are liberals."
Let me give you a preview: Journalists are "liberals" in Cronkite's reasoning because they're neither liberal nor conservative. Here's how he defined "liberal" during a September 11, 1995 appearance on CNN's Larry King Live: "I define liberal as a person who is not doctrinaire. That is a dictionary definition of liberal. That's opposed to 'liberal' as part of the political spectrum....open to change, constantly, not committed to any particular creed or doctrine, or whatnot, and in that respect I think that news people should be liberal."
Of course, as you'll see from some quotes below, Cronkite's personal liberalism is very much of the liberalism that's part of the political spectrum.
An excerpt from the June 3 "The Reliable Source" column in the Washington Post by Lloyd Grove and Anne Schroeder:
....Now, at 86, when most of his peers are dead or taking it easy, Cronkite has decided to accept a new responsibility: writing a weekly column for King Features.
"I don't know why, I'm a damn fool, I guess," Cronkite joked yesterday from New York, where he was ignoring a bronchial infection to tape the narration for a public television documentary. "The stock answer is that I am interested in what's going on in this world of ours, and I spent my lifetime reporting it in one form or another. And in the time I have available, this will give me an opportunity to do this sort of thing. I don't know if I have that ability or whether I'm a good enough writer to influence people. But if I am, perhaps I can do some good things in the world."...
Cronkite said he intends to write every word himself, and his subjects will range from politics and policy to developments in the media business. "I would call myself a liberal, but I hope I don't lose my ability to be dispassionate. I would think I would use reporting to say things with intelligence, as I see it, but not let ideology get in the way....My first column" -- in August -- "would be setting the record straight and pointing out what is a liberal and explaining why I think most reporters are liberals."
End of Excerpt
CyberAlert and the MRC's Notable Quotables have documented quite a few of Cronkite's liberal outbursts over the years, the kind of reasoning which will now have a new outlet.
Back in March and April of 1997, for instance, CyberAlert for a couple of week's showcased a daily feature I dubbed "Cronkite's Crockery of the Day," in which I ran quotes from Cronkite's then just-published memoir, A Reporter's Life. So, in a bit of a flashback to when CyberAlert only had 2,000 subscribers, here are some of those entries which were culled from the book by then-MRC intern Brian Schmisek:
-- From page 128 where Cronkite wrote about the importance of the Nuremburg trials in "establishing a judicial precedent" necessary for international law because "the world is unlikely to survive a third world war, which would almost certainly bring universal nuclear devastation." The former CBS News anchor then expressed this hope:
-- From page 178, is the U.S. really a democracy? "This vaunted democracy, beacon to the world, has the lowest voter participation of any major nation. The number of eligible voters who actually go to the polls has dropped below 50 percent. Thus, the majority electing our office-holders may be less than a quarter of our eligible population. That raises a question as to whether we qualify as a democracy at all."
-- From pages 196 to 197, discussing the 1992 campaign, Cronkite argued that the public has not rejected liberalism, suggesting that Dukakis would have won if he'd just been more liberal:
-- From page 228 where Cronkite argued that the "right wing" has been a "problem" for every Republican President but one. We join Cronkite as he recalls President Eisenhower's reaction to Senator Joseph McCarthy:
-- From page 238, Cronkite admitted he "had trouble" with Reagan's political views: "The Fords were among the most friendly occupants of the White House, but Reagan won the affability contest hands down. I had trouble with his political philosophy, particularly his endorsement of laissez-faire trickle-down economics, the concept that if the people and industries at the top are successful, prosperity will somehow be visited on all the rest of us."
Spoken like a true millionaire with a summer estate on Martha's Vineyard.
-- From page 285, where Cronkite recalled one of his "proudest" achievements: a series run over several years on the Evening News called "Can the World Be Saved?" The series exposed environmental threats, Cronkite explained, noting that "we launched the programs just in time to be in the vanguard of the not-yet-named Decade of the Environment." Cronkite described one segment:
He should speak for himself.
-- From page 295, where Cronkite condemned welfare reform and advocated even more federal spending:
Now you can save time and skip reading his column.
Actor Sean Penn bought a full page in last Friday's New York Times and used the May 30 broadsheet to print, in a solid page of text in about 8 point type, his thinking, if it can be considered that, on life and why he's against Bush administration policies on a range of issues, especially the war. (In early January, a far-left group arranged for Penn to travel to Baghdad and he returned to denounce the move to war, though he limited his media appearances at the time to little more than one Larry King Live shot on CNN.)
It's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the 4,000-plus word screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
In his June 1 commentary, Snow tried to further summarize Penn's reasoning: "Among the key contentions: corporate greed inspired Operation Iraqi Freedom; our troops were prideful killers, but worthy of esteem and respect. He quotes Saint Augustine and his own children; spackles the piece with first-person pronouns -- I, me, my, we; describes William Saroyan as a 'philosopher'; accuses the New York Times of conservative bias; and of course complains about Rupert Murdoch. He likens Osama bin Laden to the American G.I. made famous in World War II, Kilroy. He also shares experiences you and I have, such as reading poetry at a luxury resort, and proclaims vatically, 'We are grappling perhaps with mimetic evolution.'"
Snow opined: "Now, a fair number of actors seem to believe that a frown, some facial mange and wind-tunnel hair can transform a line-reciting yokel into a wise man, and then they whine piteously when someone commits a little serious criticism. In this case, one hardly knows whether to give him a hug or a dunce cap. After all, you can take the boy out of 'Ridgemont High,' but-"
Today, inspired by the 1997 "Cronkite's Crockery of the Day" series of quotes recalled in item #2 above, CyberAlert inaugurates a new feature culled from Penn's May 30 New York Times ad, "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day."
The ad text is long and zany, so don't expect this to make any sense. "KILROY'S STILL HERE Sean Penn" read the headline over the full page of text in four-column format.
Today, in the first installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," the first three paragraphs from the Times ad:
In early October of 2002 -- when the radio sputtered and whined with accusations by the Bush administration declaring a direct link between the terrorist activity of Al Qaeda and the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein; I was sitting beside my 11-year old daughter in a car. It continued, with charges that Hussein's Iraq possessed weapons mass destruction in violation of U.N. resolutions.
"It's a sunny afternoon in Northern California," the weatherman interrupted, "puffy white clouds resting upon a beautiful blue sky." We sat in the car eating french fries in the parking lot of our local burger joint. President George W. Bush had just rebuffed the United Nations' push to re-introduce weapons inspection teams into an Iraq where even a deservedly humiliated Saddam Hussein had expressed willingness to accept them. Tightening in my gut, on this otherwise fab day, were troubling questions about our nation's understanding of this pending conflict. Its most accessible information sources were the corporately sponsored and largely conservative media outlets. Indeed, in my gut, were my own troubling questions, not only about our Administration's unilateral military posturing, but also, what effect U.S. decisions today might have on my children's tomorrow.
Since September 11, 2001, when Kilroy left his mark, I had been, of course, concerned for the physical safety my children, and those of the nation. More urgently though, for the food of their spirit, their sense of right and wrong, and of their will to be individuals of character and true patriotism in a media environment largely exemplified mistrust, dishonesty, censorship and national policies fostering division, death, and arbitrary consumerism.
END of Excerpt from Sean Penn's full page ad in the May 30 New York Times.
For a PDF of the ad, go to Penn's Web site: www.seanpenn.com
The direct address for the PDF, from which I plucked the above text: www.seanpenn.com
Last October, Penn bought an ad in the Washington Post for a letter to President Bush. To see an image of it: www.seanpenn.com
A CyberAlert item on that ad recounted how Penn told Bush: "Many of your actions to date and those proposed seem to violate every defining principle of this country over which you preside" and scurrilously charged that "you seem to be willing to sacrifice the children of the world." Penn also warned: "You are a man of faith, but your saber is rattling the faith of many Americans in you." See: www.mediaresearch.org
For picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
In the next CyberAlert, the second installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day."
From the June 3 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Agreed Upon at the G-8 Summit." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. The "G" in "G-8" stands for "Gravy"
9. Jacques Chirac's influence is severely hampered by his silly rhyming name
8. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder has a lovely singing voice
7. If you leave "Finding Nemo" with a dry eye, call the morgue -- you're dead!
6. The translator for the Russian delegation is a total babe
5. You think relations in the Middle East are bad, check in with Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in a couple of years
4. The global economic downturn is the result of a glitch in the Matrix
3. George W. Bush really has to stop saying, "I could have had a G-8"
2. The summit's in France, which means "The New York Times" reporter is probably in Brooklyn
1. Whoever finds Saddam Hussein wins a 2003 Pontiac Aztek
Nice to see the New York Times as a focus of derision in the entertainment world.
Scheduled to appear Thursday night on the Late Show to plug her Hillary Clinton interview: Barbara Walters.
-- Brent Baker