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Totenberg: Roberts "Much More Conservative" Than I "Guessed" --8/22/2005


1. Totenberg: Roberts "Much More Conservative" Than I "Guessed"
NPR's Nina Totenberg is repeatedly surprised by how conservative Supreme Court nominee John Roberts really is, apparently not cognizant of all of her earlier pronouncements about his conservatism. On Inside Washington over the weekend, she declared that after reviewing memos he wrote while working in the Reagan White House counsel's office, "he is much more conservative than I ever would have guessed. He is on the most conservative side of almost every issue within the Reagan administration." In recent weeks, Totenberg has tagged Roberts as "very conservative," "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," as well as "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative," to say nothing of being "a conservative Catholic." Three weeks ago on Inside Washington she asserted that she "was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was."

2. Washington Post Reporter Finds Roberts Offensive Toward Women
Washington Post foreign affairs reporter Robin Wright has no sense of humor -- at least when it comes to a conservative daring to make any kind of joke related to women in the workplace, even a little girl. Saying "I don't know whether they were quips," on Friday's Washington Week on PBS, Wright proceeded to act offended as she made clear that "as a woman" she was "struck" by how, in the Reagan-era memos written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, he "questioned whether it was a good thing for a woman to go back later in life to law school" and he dubbed, as a "little huckster," a Girl Scout who wanted to sell some cookies" to President Reagan. The humor-challenged Wright arrogantly judged: "I have to say, you know, one case of this is one thing, but to see this repeatedly was really striking, as a woman, to me." Host Alan Murray pointed out that Roberts' asides were "jokes" with lawyers, not women, the target of his quip about more women becoming lawyers.

3. Alter Urges "Stubborn" Bush Be "More Responsive to the Suffering"
On Thursday night's 11pm EDT The Situation with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter recommended that President Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan, calling him "stubborn" for not doing so already, and contended that what the current "anti-war movement" wants from Bush is for him to be the "public mourner-in-chief" and to be "more publicly responsive to the suffering."

4. Will Scolds Media for False Reports of "Record High" Gas Prices
George Will on Sunday scolded the media for its incessant, false reporting about "record high" gas prices, a subject of several recent CyberAlert articles. "Gasoline today, the cost of a gallon, in real adjusted dollars," Will pointed out during the roundtable segment on ABC's This Week, "is less than it was in 1981, less than it was in 1935." Will noted that "what we see is headline after headline telling people something that's not true: 'Record gas prices.' Then you go to the first paragraph or the fifth paragraph and it says, 'in nominal dollars' -- which means disregard the headline." Virtually no TV stories, however, ever get to that caveat.

5. Olbermann Calls MRC "Scam," Tags Rush as "Worst Person in World!"
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center as "a scam" and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the "worser" slot in his nightly "worst person" gimmick, that "the only person distorting as usual is Bozell." Olbermann was defending himself "against the charge of wacky guy" Bozell who "accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'" Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the "Worst Person in the World" for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent." with audio and video


Correction: An August 18 CyberAlert item recounted how when asked by NBC's Matt Lauer in Iraq, "What would you say to those people who are doubtful that morale can be that high?", Captain Sherman Powell retorted: "Sir, if I got my news from the newspapers also, I'd be pretty depressed as well." It was Powell who made that comment, however the CyberAlert, which presumed the soldiers spoke in the order Lauer introduced them, mis-identified two other soldiers. (NBC did not display names on screen.) The MRC's Rich Noyes noticed how the names on the uniforms did not match the order in which Lauer introduced them. The quote attributed to Specialist Steven Chitterer was really spoken by Sergeant Jamie Welles, and the quote attributed to Welles was spoken by Chitterer. In addition, we've learned from an e-mail he sent to Rush Limbaugh, that the name of "Chief Warrant Officer Randy Corgess" is really spelled "Kirgiss."

Totenberg: Roberts "Much More Conservative"
Than I "Guessed"

NPR's Nina Totenberg is repeatedly surprised by how conservative Supreme Court nominee John Roberts really is, apparently not cognizant of all of her earlier pronouncements about his conservatism. On Inside Washington over the weekend, she declared that after reviewing memos he wrote while working in the Reagan White House counsel's office, "he is much more conservative than I ever would have guessed. He is on the most conservative side of almost every issue within the Reagan administration." In recent weeks, Totenberg has tagged Roberts as "very conservative," "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," as well as "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative," to say nothing of being "a conservative Catholic." Three weeks ago on Inside Washington she asserted that she "was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was."

Inside Washington is a weekend show carried Saturday nights at 7pm local time by NewsChannel 8, a Washington, DC area all-news channel owned by the ABC affiliate, and Sunday mornings at 10am, right after This Week, by that affiliate, WJLA-TV.

On the August 20/21 Inside Washington, host Gordon Peterson asked her about the ideology displayed by Roberts in his Reagan-era memos: "You've known him for years. Is he more or less conservative than you thought he was or just about where you thought he was?"
Totenberg: "He is, at least in these documents, which we have to remember are 25 years old, in these documents he is much more conservative than I ever would have guessed. He is on the most conservative side of almost every issue within the Reagan administration."

Previous CyberAlert items on Totenberg's labeling of Roberts, all with pictures of her:

# July 21 CyberAlert: There's no doubt in NPR reporter Nina Totenberg's mind that Judge John Roberts is "very conservative," it's just a matter of how "very." On NPR's All Things Considered on Tuesday night, she prefaced "conservative" with three verys, describing him as "a very, very, very conservative man." But in a taped soundbite on the next day's Good Morning America on ABC, she cut back to two modifiers, dubbing him merely "a very, very conservative man." For the quotes in full: www.mrc.org

# July 25 CyberAlert: NPR's Nina Totenberg, who last week tagged Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," on Inside Washington over the weekend described him as merely "very conservative." But she couldn't resist adding a modifier every time she applied the conservative label, also dubbing him "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative." Plus, she emphasized how he's "a conservative Catholic." See: www.mrc.org

# August 1 CyberAlert: A parody of herself? NPR's Nina Totenberg, who has tagged Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as "very conservative," "very, very conservative" and "very, very, very conservative," as well as "a really conservative guy," "a hardline conservative" and "a clear conservative," to say nothing of being "a conservative Catholic," on Inside Washington over the weekend relayed that after she "spent five hours reviewing all of his documents from when he worked in the Justice Department," she "was actually quite surprised at how, how very, very conservative he was." Apparently, she didn't listen to herself. See: www.mediaresearch.org

Washington Post Reporter Finds Roberts
Offensive Toward Women

Washington Post foreign affairs reporter Robin Wright has no sense of humor -- at least when it comes to a conservative daring to make any kind of joke related to women in the workplace, even a little girl. Saying "I don't know whether they were quips," on Friday's Washington Week on PBS, Wright proceeded to act offended as she made clear that "as a woman" she was "struck" by how, in the Reagan-era memos written by Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, he "questioned whether it was a good thing for a woman to go back later in life to law school" and he dubbed, as a "little huckster," a Girl Scout who wanted to sell some cookies" to President Reagan. The humor-challenged Wright arrogantly judged: "I have to say, you know, one case of this is one thing, but to see this repeatedly was really striking, as a woman, to me."

[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias: www.newsbusters.org ]

Host Alan Murray pointed out that Roberts' asides were "jokes" and, as noted in an earlier NewsBusters/CyberAlert posting about the Post's deliberate distortion of his quip in a story headlined "Roberts Resisted Women's Rights," his remark about homemakers becoming lawyers was a slap not at women but at how there are too many lawyers. NBC's Pete Williams, however, chimed in with how "the President of NOW said his views are, quote, 'neanderthal.'"

The August 19 NewsBusters/CyberAlert item quoted how the Friday Post story highlighted, in the lead paragraph, how the memos revealed Roberts "questioning 'whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.'" It explained: A look at the full quote, however, shows that the Post distorted the personal aside in the memo. Roberts was not making a disparaging remark about women but -- in response to a judging panel at Clairol considering an award to a female White House staffer who had convinced some homemakers to go to law school -- he simply offered a quip about whether society needs more lawyers: "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide." See: www.mediaresearch.org

That August 19 Post article, which carried the bylines of nine Post reporters, yet not Wright's (who came aboard the PBS show to discuss Iraq), included one paragraph about the innocuous memo, on a Girl Scout, which so upset Wright: "In a memo to [Reagan White House counsel Fred] Fielding dated May 7, 1985, Roberts addressed the ethics of allowing a Falls Church Girl Scout to meet the President in the midst of the annual cookie drive. 'Elizabeth...has sold some 10,000 boxes and would like to sell one to the President. The little huckster thinks the President would like the Samoas,' he wrote, before concluding that he had no objection to deviating in this case from the White House's practice of avoiding 'an implied endorsement' by the President."

MRC news analyst Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against our video to provide this transcript of the relevant portion of the August 19 discussion on PBS:

Fill-in host Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal: "Well, it's just a couple of weeks to go before Supreme Court nominee John Roberts appears before Congress, and the search is still on to figure out exactly who he is and how he might vote when he's on the court. Pete, this week you got, what, 71 boxes of information, 39,000 documents. I'm sure you read them all personally."
Pete Williams, NBC News: "If my bosses are watching, the answer is yes."
Murray: "What have we learned about this man?"
Williams: "Well, we've now seen about 50,000 pages that have been released from the time he was at the Justice Department working for Attorney General William French Smith, and then at the White House in the White House Counsel's Office under President Reagan. It certainly makes it very clear that this is a conservative man in perfect harmony with the Reagan administration's conservative philosophy. We did get some insights into his personality from the documents this week. There's no doubt this is a very smart man, thorough, a sense of humor, although that may get him into trouble. And this week's papers, unlike the earlier ones that were very in-depth treatments of questions like, 'Can you take jurisdiction away from the Supreme Court?' These tended to be sort of passing comments on issues that came rushing past his desk. For example, we learned that 22 years ago, he favored a national ID card to deal with what he called 'uncontrolled immigration,' even though, oddly, the Reagan administration opposed a national ID card. He also said, again, in a sort of passing comment, that when the Supreme Court struck down the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools in Kentucky, that this, quote, 'betrayed a hostility to religion that was not demanded by the Constitution.'"
Robin Wright, Washington Post: "Pete, let me ask you, as a woman looking at some of the quotes from these documents, I was really struck. And I don't know whether they were quips, but they were in White House documents that were destined for a presidential library. In one case, he talked and questioned whether it was a good thing for a woman to go back later in life to law school and whether this was a good move or a wise thing for, you know, and, secondly, he talked about a Girl Scout sale, bringing the, a Girl Scout who wanted to sell some cookies to the-"
Williams: "The little huckster."
Wright: "The little huckster, and I have to say, you know, one case of this is one thing, but to see this repeatedly was really striking, as a woman, to me." [Wright did not speak again]
Murray: "But the law school comment, wasn't that really more of a slap at lawyers than it was, he said that, 'Is it good for society for people to go from being homemakers to being lawyers?'"
Williams: "Let me tell you what the quote was. This dealt with someone who was eligible for a scholarship sponsored by Clairol. And the question was whether a White House employee should be nominated for it and should be able to accept this scholarship. He said, 'Fine, and she should even keep the money if she wants to.' Then he said, 'Some might question whether encouraging,' oh, and the person nominating her said that one of the reasons that she was a great person was that she had encouraged homemakers to become lawyers. He said, quote, 'Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good.'"
Murray: "It's a joke."
Williams: "Now, you could say, you know, the last thing we need is more lawyers, perhaps is what he was saying. Some women's group say that it betrayed a certain insensitivity. And they put it together with other remarks that he has made about women that we've seen in these papers over the last couple of weeks. He went on a tear against a doctrine that was sort of hot in the mid-'80s called 'comparable worth,' which was a sort of a riff on 'equal pay for equal work.' What it said is you should have equal pay for jobs that have the same value to society, so a truck driver and a laundry worker, that's about the same value to society even though men tend to do one, women tend to do the other, they should pay the same. He called this 'staggeringly pernicious' and 'anti-capitalist,' and, you know, I guess you should say the courts did ultimately drift away from this idea, it's not exactly one that has a lot of currency right now. On the Equal Rights Amendment, he referred to what he called the 'purported gender gap,' and elsewhere he talked about what he called the 'perceived problem of gender discrimination,' so this is not exactly the NOW poster child, and, as a matter of fact, the President of NOW said his views are, quote, 'neanderthal.'"

To speak out about this topic or to critique this item, go to its posting on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

Alter Urges "Stubborn" Bush Be "More
Responsive to the Suffering"

On Thursday night's 11pm EDT The Situation with Tucker Carlson on MSNBC, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter recommended that President Bush meet with Cindy Sheehan, calling him "stubborn" for not doing so already, and contended that what the current "anti-war movement" wants from Bush is for him to be the "public mourner-in-chief" and to be "more publicly responsive to the suffering."

[MRC news analyst Brad Wilmouth posted this item Friday night on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias: www.newsbusters.org ]

Alter believed that meeting with Sheehan again would help Bush politically, suggesting that if she still refused to go home after a second meeting, "the press will legitimately be able to ask her, 'Look, you got what you came here for. Isn't it time for you to go home?' And then she'll move offstage," as if the media were interested in fairly challenging her attacks on the President in the first place.

Alter, who appeared from a remote location, also argued that it is not enough to privately console grieving families, speculating that "I think that part of the attention that Cindy Sheehan has gotten is just a kind of a cry from a certain segment of the American public for the President to be more publicly responsive to the suffering."

A complete transcript of the discussion from Thursday's show, guest hosted by Alison Stewart, follows:

Alison Stewart: "Let's head back to this country. Cindy Sheehan's anti-war protest outside President Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch will go on without Cindy Sheehan, at least for a while. Hours ago, she announced that she was leaving the Lone Star State due to a family crisis."
Cindy Sheehan: "I'll never get to see him again. I'll never get to hear his voice again."
Stewart: "For those of you who didn't know, Cindy Sheehan's mother apparently suffered a stroke, and she left Texas to go be with her family. Jonathan, would it be wise for President Bush to extend well wishes to the Sheehan family at this point?"
Alter: "Well, I think it would be wise for him just to meet with her, as she's requested, even though they've met before. You can make all sorts of arguments that, you know, it's not necessary for him to do this because he doesn't meet with families twice, and so forth. But as a political matter, Alison, it would just be smart for him to do it because all she's doing is rallying the anti-war efforts. She's a real burr in his saddle, and he doesn't need this right now. He's way down in the polls. He's less popular than any second-term president, except for Richard Nixon. So why does he need this? He's just being stubborn about it. And the easiest thing for him to do, the smartest thing for him to do is when she comes back from attending to her mother, he should just have a meeting with her. And then, at that point, she can go home. And if she doesn't, the press will legitimately be able to ask her, 'Look, you got what you came here for. Isn't it time for you to go home?' And then, she'll move offstage."
Stewart: "Something I've been sort of noodling about when I think about Cindy Sheehan is that folks who were anti-war are likely still anti-war. At least when John Kerry was running, they had somewhere to channel their anger. They had a voice for it. And then, after he lost the election, there seemed to be nowhere to express themselves. And I'm wondering if Cindy Sheehan is becoming that person for the anti-war movement."
Alter: "Absolutely."
Stewart: "They haven't gone anywhere."
Alter: "Absolutely. There really hasn't been much of an anti-war movement, and she became a symbol, a kind of catalyst for that anti-war movement, which doesn't really have very coherent goals right now. It's not as if everybody wants an immediate pullout from Iraq or some sort of fixed timetable. What they do want is a sense of the President playing that more traditional role for a president of public mourner-in-chief. In private, we've got an article in Newsweek about this this week, he's been very helpful to a lot of families and shown a lot of compassion in private. But that's not really the role for a president in the 21st century. That's not enough. And I think that part of the attention that Cindy Sheehan has gotten is just a kind of a cry from a certain segment of the American public for the President to be more publicly responsive to the suffering."

To speak out about this topic or to critique this item, go to its posting on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: newsbusters.org

Will Scolds Media for False Reports of
"Record High" Gas Prices

George Will on Sunday scolded the media for its incessant, false reporting about "record high" gas prices, a subject of several recent CyberAlert articles. "Gasoline today, the cost of a gallon, in real adjusted dollars," Will pointed out during the roundtable segment on ABC's This Week, "is less than it was in 1981, less than it was in 1935." Will noted that "what we see is headline after headline telling people something that's not true: 'Record gas prices.' Then you go to the first paragraph or the fifth paragraph and it says, 'in nominal dollars' -- which means disregard the headline." Virtually no TV stories, however, ever get to that caveat.

In a discussion led by George Stephanopoulos, with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and ABC News reporter Claire Shipman, about the high price of gas, Will interjected a note of reality:
"Gasoline today, the cost of a gallon, in real adjusted dollars is less than it was in 1981, less than it was in 1935. The American people spend on energy, as a portion of their consumer spending, a third less than they did in 1980. So the idea that, what we see is headline after headline telling people something that's not true: 'Record gas prices.' Then you go to the first paragraph or the fifth paragraph and it says, 'in nominal dollars' -- which means disregard the headline."

Olbermann Calls MRC "Scam," Tags Rush
as "Worst Person in World!"

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, on Friday night's Countdown, smeared the Media Research Center as "a scam" and claimed, in awarding MRC President Brent Bozell the "worser" slot in his nightly "worst person" gimmick, that "the only person distorting as usual is Bozell." Olbermann was defending himself "against the charge of wacky guy" Bozell who "accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.'"

L. Brent Bozell
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Olbermann proceeded to slam Limbaugh as the "Worst Person in the World" for supposedly denying the quote, alleging: "Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent."

While Olbermann zeroed in on Bozell, the MRC's critiques of him appeared in an August 18 NewsBusters posting that I wrote which was reprinted in the MRC's CyberAlert. I never suggested that Limbaugh did not utter the sentence sequence quoted by Olbermann, but that he distorted Limbaugh's point that the media see both Sheehan and Burkett as "an opportunity" to exploit and that "it doesn't matter what the specifics of Cindy Sheehan's case are." Olbermann had snidely claimed, "I guess she made up that dead-son-in-Iraq business" -- a ridiculous interpretation of some jumbled words.

[This item was posted late Friday night on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias: www.newsbusters.org ]

Just before I was about to leave the MRC for the evening on Friday, MRC news analyst Brad Wilmouth caught, while watching Countdown on our DVR system, Olbermann's angry outburst.

Over a picture of Bozell beneath a "World's Worst" heading and with "Worser" below, followed by a still shot with Bozell faded into background and Limbaugh up front tagged as "Worst," Keith Olbermann impugned the two conservatives:
"Time for Countdown's list of today's nominees to the coveted title of 'Worst Person in the World.' There's just two tonight. A very close second, Brent Bozell -- yeah, the wacky guy from that Media Research Center scam -- accused me of distortion for having said that Rush Limbaugh had said on air, quote, 'Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real.' The only person distorting as usual is Bozell. Limbaugh said it on the air on August 15th. We have the transcript. Nothing in the transcript mitigates what he said. I'll put it online over the weekend. So, Bozell is close, but the winner is Limbaugh for saying, 'I never said this,' when, of course, he sure did, especially considering the line comparing Sheehan to Burkett was a featured quote on his Web site for his paying subscribers until it was mysteriously scrubbed off. And having now added about Sheehan's dead son, quote, 'I'm leery of even having to express sympathy. We all lose things.' Like your career, Rush. You're finished, credibility spent. Get lost! Rush Limbaugh, once again, today's 'Worst Person in the World!'"

For RealPlayer and Windows Media Player video of Olbermann's brief August 19 rant, and/or to share your views about it, go to the NewsBuster's posting of this item: newsbusters.org

For the August 17 NewsBusters item with video of Olbermann: newsbusters.org
For the CyberAlert posting of it: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker