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To Totenberg's Indignation, Thomas Accuses NPR of Liberal Bias --6/27/2005


1. To Totenberg's Indignation, Thomas Accuses NPR of Liberal Bias
Your news outlet is liberal, no your's is. Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas wondered, on Inside Washington over the weekend, whether the effort in the U.S. House to reduce funding for PBS and NPR through the CPB would "make NPR a little less liberal?" An indignant Nina Totenberg of NPR retorted: "I don't think we're liberal to begin with and I think if you would listen, Evan, you would know that." Thomas countered that "I do listen to you and you're not that liberal, but you're a little bit liberal." Totenberg insisted, "I don't think that's a fair criticism...any more than you would say that Newsweek is liberal." To which Thomas conceded: "I think Newsweek is a little liberal." with audio

2. Olbermann Conflates Cruise & Rove, Suggests Intervention for Rove
MSNBC's Countdown, which didn't touch Senator Dick Durbin's allegation until a night after his apology, but on Thursday immediately jumped on Karl Rove's criticism of how liberals reacted to the 9/11 attacks, delivered another round of invective on Friday night. Alison Stewart had filled in on Thursday for Keith Olbermann, but he was back Friday and brought aboard a psychiatrist to discuss actor Tom Cruise's attack on the profession. He snidely asked: "Any idea if Tom Cruise or Karl Rove might be hoping that they say something so outrageous about therapy that somebody who cares about them might try an intervention to force them into therapy?" Olbermann also worried: "Lastly, could Mr. Rove's references have been more damaging even than the Cruise interview because he essentially associated therapy with weakness?" Olbermann later brought aboard a 9/11 widow to denounce Rove as Olbermann castigated him for his "smugness" and ruminated: "I was living in the United States of America on 9/11 and the months of that bipartisanship followed it. Where in the heck do you suppose Karl Rove was at that time?"

3. Fox News Sunday Relays MRC Tracking of Durbin vs. Rove Coverage
You Read It Here First I. For the "Stories you won't find on any other Sunday show" segment, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace recited MRC CyberAlert tracking of how the broadcast networks "jumped on" the controversy over comments by White House Deputy Chief-of-Staff Karl Rove after having a "very different reaction" to an allegation made by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin over prisoner treatment at Guantanamo.

4. McCullough Point on Deleterious Media: CyberAlert to Rumsfeld?
You Read It Here First II. From Tim Russert on CNBC to Tim Russert on NBC, via Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but all thanks to CyberAlert? On Sunday's Meet the Press, when pressed about how the war in Iraq is going badly, Rumsfeld related how historian David McCullough "the other day" said about the Revolutionary War, 'If we had covered it the way we're covering this war, we would have been in the soup, and that would have been it.' There wouldn't have been a successful revolution." McCullough made that point on the June 18 Tim Russert show on CNBC, as recounted in the June 20 CyberAlert which Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce highlighted on June 21. Then on June 23, Rumsfeld relayed the anecdote in his testimony before both the Senate and House Armed Services Committee.

5. Sarcastic Brown: "I Don't Think" Bush Will Be "In a Flight Suit"
Aaron Brown's sarcastic quip of the night. Leading off his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment on Friday night, Brown noted how President Bush plans a national television address on Tuesday night from Fort Bragg in North Carolina "to talk about Iraq." Brown then added: "I don't think he'll be coming there in a flight suit this time. No 'Mission Accomplished' sign. I think this will be a more sober talk."

6. Retired General Tours Guantanamo, Tells CNN Media Portrayal Wrong
Retired Major General Donald Shepperd toured the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on Friday and found that reality did not match the media's portrayal, he recounted in a phone interview from Cuba on CNN just before 3pm EDT on Friday. Shepperd asserted: "The impressions that you're getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here, in my opinion, are totally false." Shepperd contended that "what we're seeing is a modern prison system with dedicated people, interrogators and analysts that know what they are doing. And people being very, very well-treated." But when Shepperd reported that he had observed an interrogation, anchor Betty Nguyen inquired: "Kind of explain to us how that played out. And were there any instances of abuse or possible abuse?" Shepperd responded: "Absolutely not."

7. Pew Poll: View of Media's Patriotism, Bias & Fairness at New Lows
A new poll commissioned by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which was released on Sunday, found that "attitudes toward the performance of the news media are at or near their low points in Pew trends dating back to the mid-1980s. This is especially the case in opinions regarding the press's patriotism, bias, and fairness." Pew's summary of it findings detailed how "just 42 percent say news organizations generally 'stand up for America'" and 'six-in-ten see news organizations as politically biased, up from 53 percent two years ago. More than seven-in-ten (72 percent) say news organizations tend to favor one side, rather than treat all sides fairly; that is the largest number ever expressing that view."


To Totenberg's Indignation, Thomas Accuses
NPR of Liberal Bias

Your news outlet is liberal, no your's is. Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas wondered, on Inside Washington over the weekend, whether the effort in the U.S. House to reduce funding for PBS and NPR through the CPB would "make NPR a little less liberal?" An indignant Nina Totenberg of NPR retorted: "I don't think we're liberal to begin with and I think if you would listen, Evan, you would know that."
Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive

Thomas countered that "I do listen to you and you're not that liberal, but you're a little bit liberal." Totenberg insisted, "I don't think that's a fair criticism...any more than you would say that Newsweek is liberal." To which Thomas conceded: "I think Newsweek is a little liberal."

On Inside Washington, a weekend show carried Saturday nights at 7pm by NewsChannel 8, a Washington, DC area all-news channel owned by the ABC affiliate, and Sunday mornings at 10am by that affiliate, WJLA-TV, host Gordon Peterson raised the issue of how House Republicans in committee cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting but were rebuffed Thursday by the full House.

Peterson asked: "Is public broadcasting out of hot water now that the House has voted to restore the $100 million?"
Totenberg: "Well I guess we're temporarily out of hot water. But the great untold secret here is that National Public Radio gets no federal money, or almost none -- less than one percent. Our stations get money and the stations that get the most money are in rural areas in blue states-"
Colby King? of the Washington Post, off camera: "Red states."
Totenberg: "-I mean red states, in Republican states, and that's why the money gets restored."
Thomas: "Can I ask, is this going to, is this attack going to make NPR a little less liberal?"
An indignant Totenberg: "I don't think we're liberal to begin with and I think if you would listen, Evan, you would know that."
Thomas: "I do listen to you and you're not that liberal, but you're a little bit liberal."
Totenberg: "No, I don't think so. I don't think that's a fair criticism, I really don't -- any more than, any more than you would say that Newsweek is liberal."
Thomas, over other voices: "I think Newsweek is a little liberal."
That prompted some laughter from Totenberg.

This isn't the first time that Thomas has recognized bias. The July 12, 2004 CyberAlert recounted: The media "wants Kerry to win" and so "they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic," Evan Thomas, the Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek, admitted on Inside Washington over the weekend. He should know. His magazine this week sports a smiling Kerry and Edwards on its cover with the yearning headline, "The Sunshine Boys?" Inside, an article carrying Thomas' byline contrasted how "Dick Cheney projects the bleakness of a Wyoming winter, while John Edwards always appears to be strolling in the Carolina sunshine." The cover story touted how Kerry and Edwards "became a buddy-buddy act, hugging and whispering like Starsky and Hutch after consuming the evidence."

The July of 2004 assertion from Thomas in full: "There's one other base here: the media. Let's talk a little media bias here. The media, I think, wants Kerry to win. And I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards -- I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox, but -- they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all, there's going to be this glow about them that some, is going to be worth, collectively, the two of them, that's going to be worth maybe 15 points."

For a RealPlayer clip of Thomas: www.mediaresearch.org

In October, Thomas reaffirmed his belief that most reporters "absolutely" want Kerry to win, but on CNN's Reliable Sources he argued that his 15 point estimation was a "stupid thing to say." When host Howard Kurtz wondered if it is worth five points, Thomas acceded, "maybe." See the October 19 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

The night after the election, Thomas contended on MSNBC's Hardball that President Bush suffered from media bias against him since "most" of Thomas's colleagues in the media "don't like Bush and they do like Kerry" and he "can't believe that doesn't affect" coverage. He also asserted, from NBC's "Democracy Plaza" in Manhattan, that "the mainstream media" are out of touch "with most of America. I mean there is a red-blue divide. And most of the media types live in the blue part. They live right here." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Olbermann Conflates Cruise & Rove, Suggests
Intervention for Rove

Keith Olbermann MSNBC's Countdown, which didn't touch Senator Dick Durbin's allegation until a night after his apology, but on Thursday immediately jumped on Karl Rove's criticism of how liberals reacted to the 9/11 attacks, delivered another round of invective on Friday night. Alison Stewart had filled in on Thursday for Keith Olbermann, but he was back Friday and brought aboard a psychiatrist to discuss actor Tom Cruise's attack on the profession. He snidely asked: "Any idea if Tom Cruise or Karl Rove might be hoping that they say something so outrageous about therapy that somebody who cares about them might try an intervention to force them into therapy?" Olbermann also worried: "Lastly, could Mr. Rove's references have been more damaging even than the Cruise interview because he essentially associated therapy with weakness?" Olbermann later brought aboard a 9/11 widow to denounce Rove as Olbermann castigated him for his "smugness" and ruminated: "I was living in the United States of America on 9/11 and the months of bipartisanship that followed it. Where in the heck do you suppose Karl Rove was at that time?"

Olbermann teased at the top of the June 24 Countdown: "Karl Rove on liberals on 9/11: Day three. The latest claim, he only meant MoveOn.org. The latest defense may not have done him much good."
Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader, stammering: "Karl Rove said, and I quote, 'Conservatives saw the savagery, savagery of 9/11 and the effects, and the attacks and-'"

Olbermann, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth observed, opened the show: "It was only Wednesday that presidential advisor Karl Rove had dragged psychiatry and psychology into the retroactive political name-calling about 9/11 when he said that after the attacks, liberals wanted to, quote, 'offer therapy and understanding for our attackers.' But that was just a passing swipe. Tom Cruise went off on Matt Lauer this morning..."

Discussing psychiatry with Dr. Catherine Birndorf, after showing a clip of the Tom Cruise interview in which he went off on Matt Lauer on the Today show: "Any studies on how often people who publicly would slime an entire group or a medical practice or whatever are actually subconsciously screaming out, 'Hey, I'm part of this group'? I mean, any idea if Tom Cruise or Karl Rove might be hoping that they say something so outrageous about therapy that somebody who cares about them might try an intervention to force them into therapy?"

Olbermann also proposed: "Lastly, could Mr. Rove's references have been more damaging even than the Cruise interview because he essentially associated therapy with weakness?"

Olbermann soon plugged an upcoming segment: "The Karl Rove fallout continues. Today, the White House tries to explain away his divisive comments about September 11th. The man called 'Bush's brain' opens the mouth instead. Will there be an apology forthcoming as well? Stand by."

Olbermann set up the subsequent segment devoted to Rove: "Fabled among devotees of the old TV series 'The Twilight Zone' is one 1960 episode called 'The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.' In it, someone or something starts screwing around with the electricity on an ordinary suburban street. Within minutes, the residents there have concluded that aliens from outer space have invaded. Soon the neighbors are accusing each other of collusion with the invaders. Eventually, one of them starts shooting. The director pulls back to a nearby hill where sit to real aliens, one of whom sagely reminds the other that there's no need to ever actually attack any of these stupid humans, you can just scare them a little bit and then wait for them to tear themselves apart. Our fourth story in the Countdown, Karl Rove on Maple Street: Day three. The White House and the Republican Party continue to defend Rove's assertion that conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 and prepared for war while liberals saw the savagery of 9/11 and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers. Not all of the defenses came across as especially hearty. Tom DeLay at the College Republicans convention today in Arlington, Virginia:"
Tom DeLay, House Majority Leader: "Wednesday night, Karl Rove said, and I quote, '€˜Conservatives saw the savagery, savagery of 9/11 and the effects, and the attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of 9/11 and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapeutic understanding for our attackers.' That's not slander. That's the truth."
Olbermann, referring to DeLay stumbling over his words while reading Rove's quote: "Always helps to read those speeches over one time backstage. The White House itself says Mr. Rove was referring only to one specific liberal group."
Dan Bartlett, Counselor to the President, on that morning's Today show: "It's somewhat puzzling why all these Democrats -- Harry Reid, Senator Clinton, Chuck Schumer -- other, these Democrats who responded forcefully after 9/11, who voted to support President Bush's pursuit in the war on terror, are now rallying to the defense of MoveOn.org, this liberal organization who put out a petition the days after 9/11 and said that we ought not use military force in responding to 9/11. That is who Karl Rove cited in that speech."
Matt Lauer: "But let me go back to-"
Bartlett: "That is who he was talking to. There's no reason to apologize for a statement that was made."

Olbermann opined: "In fact, there were two references to MoveOn.org in Mr. Rove's speech. Both came after the 'liberals saw the savagery' remark, and the second one coupled the organization with Michael Moore and Howard Dean as if they were all one group. So, to give Mr. Bartlett the benefit of the doubt, the truth seemed very plastic in his hands just there. And the reaction among those who lost loved ones in the attacks, let's ask one of the four widows whose tireless efforts kick-started the 9/11 Commission. Lorie Van Aucken, whose husband Kenneth died in the north tower of the World Trade Center. Mrs. Van Aucken, thank you for your time. Good evening to you."
Lorie Van Aucken, 9/11 widow, from a remote location: "Good evening to you, Keith."
Olbermann: "I was living in the United States of America on 9/11 and the months of bipartisanship that followed it. Where in the heck do you suppose Karl Rove was at that time?"
Van Aucken: "That's a really good question because after 9/11, first of all, on 9/11 people were killed that were Republicans, Democrats, liberal, conservative. Nobody picked or chose how that went, and after 9/11, we supported going after the person who perpetrated the attacks, as we were told, Osama bin Laden, and we supported going after the terror training camps and stopping the drug trade which funded the terrorists, so I don't know where Karl Rove was for that."
Olbermann: "Somebody who did a lot of traveling immediately after the attacks said to me about six weeks later that if you didn't live in New York or you didn't work at the Pentagon or you didn't have people on the planes or in the buildings, that 9/11 was, for a lot of people, if not everybody else in the country, to say it cruelly, a photo-op, a chance to act as if you had been violated or lost something when you hadn't been violated or lost anything at all. And I, I have to say, I thought I sensed that in Mr. Rove's smugness, in that tone Wednesday night. What did you think of what you heard from him?"
Van Aucken: "I thought that his comments were rather cold. You know, they're supposed to be compassionate conservatives, though those comments were not compassionate, and they were not true."
Olbermann: "Big picture question here. As my allusion to that old Twilight Zone episode at the start of the segment suggests, at some point, how and who starts this kind of talk doesn't matter anymore. It devolves. I mean, it's devolved in our past into each side shooting figuratively or literally. How do we steer out of this skid at a time like this in our history?"
Van Aucken: "Well, first of all, you know, understanding 9/11 means you go after the person who perpetrated it -- Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein. It means that we secure our ports, we secure our borders. It means that we show that we really did understand what happened and perhaps we stop doing business with nations that might export terrorism, which would lead me to say that it's time for us to really pursue alternative energy resources. I personally would love to see the World Trade Center site, at least part of it, turned into a memorial, and also turned into a research center for alternative energy resources -- not nuclear energy because that could be a target for terrorists to use against us -- but I think that we actually, it's time for America to, you know, get, to actually have somebody lead us into the future with, you know, ways of powering our country that are better, safer for the environment, and stop mudslinging at each other and really do something that's going to take us into the future."
Olbermann: "Lorie Van Aucken, thank you for sharing your perspective on the remarks from Mr. Rove tonight."
Van Aucken: "Thank you for having me."

Fox News Sunday Relays MRC Tracking of
Durbin vs. Rove Coverage

You Read It Here First I. For the "Stories you won't find on any other Sunday show" segment, Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace recited MRC CyberAlert tracking of how the broadcast networks "jumped on" the controversy over comments by White House Deputy Chief-of-Staff Karl Rove after having a "very different reaction" to an allegation made by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin over prisoner treatment at Guantanamo.

Over graphics showing network logos with text summarizing coverage of the two controversial remarks, Wallace relayed on the June 26 Fox News Sunday:

Chris Wallace: "Now let's check out a story you won't find on any other Sunday show. There's a new study out comparing how the media covered Senator Durbin's remarks about the treatment of prisoners and Karl Rove's speech about the response to 9/11. Here's what the Media Research Center found. On the Rove flap, which broke Wednesday night, ABC and NBC jumped on it, carrying stories Thursday night and Friday morning. But on the Durbin story, a very different reaction. ABC and NBC waited seven days, ignoring the entire controversy until Durbin apologized on the Senate floor. CBS never covered the story at all."

As Wallace recited the coverage, viewers saw two graphics.
First:

"Covering Rove Controversy:
(ABC and NBC logos)
Thursday PM,
Friday AM"

Second:
"Covering Durbin Controversy
(ABC and NBC logos) Waited seven days
(CBS logo) No Coverage"

A clarification: The CBS Evening News has completely avoided both Durbin and Rove, but Friday's Early Show did bring up Rove. While it is accurate that ABC's World News Tonight and Good Morning America, as well as NBC's Today, "waited seven days, ignoring the entire controversy until Durbin apologized on the Senate floor," the NBC Nightly News, which immediately devoted a full story to Rove, did air a brief, anchor-read item on Durbin on June 16, the night after controversy broke out over his June 14 remarks. See the June 17 CyberAlert, which is summarized below, for details.

Previous CyberAlerts which recounted media avoidance of Durbin followed by how the networks pounced on Rove:

# June 17: ABC and CBS led Thursday night with how four backbench Members of Congress held a press conference to publicize their resolution calling for a draw down of troops in Iraq by October of 2006, but neither network uttered a word about Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's outlandish comparison of the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo to "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags" or Pol Pot. Only NBC reported Durbin's comparison, but that brief item aired only after Kelly O'Donnell touted the vision of "North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, who today alongside two Democrats and a fellow Republican, proposed what many Americans, weary of the violence in Iraq, appear increasingly eager to see, a withdrawal date for U.S. troops." On ABC, anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced: "We start tonight with the Bush administration and the growing discontent over the war in Iraq. On Capitol Hill today, a resolution was introduced that would require U.S. troops to begin pulling out of Iraq a year from this fall. The resolution was sponsored by a small, bipartisan group of Congressmen, but it is a first." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# June 17: Senators Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton made the rounds of the morning shows Thursday to publicize their bill on medical privacy guidelines for hospitals, but none of the ABC, CBS or NBC interviewers took advantage of the opportunity to bring up Dick Durbin's allegation (see item #1 above). On CBS, Julie Chen highlighted how "Republican Congressman Walter Jones once supported the war but today he'll join a group of lawmakers calling for a firm date to withdraw U.S. forces." NBC's Matt Lauer posed a tough question to Frist about how the Terri Schiavo autopsy disproved his claim that "'she does respond,' end quote. Were you wrong in your diagnosis?" But he then cued up Clinton with how Senator Leahy says Guantanamo should be closed and asked: "Does Guantanamo serve a purpose or is it a black-eye for the United States?" www.mediaresearch.org

# June 20: NBC's Katie Couric and Tim Russert managed on Friday morning to cover just about everything in the news -- except Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's incendiary comments equating Guantanamo with the Nazi regime and the Soviet gulags. Couric raised with Russert how the "House introduced a resolution that would require President Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq beginning next year," how "according to the latest Gallup Poll, 56 percent of Americans say now the war was not worth it, almost 60 percent say the Pentagon should pull some or all of the troops out of Iraq," how "some senior Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for a full investigation of the so-called Downing Street Memo," and she concluded with how "in a rare display of bipartisanship, we saw Bill Frist and Hillary Clinton appear on this program yesterday talking about some legislation that they're pushing in terms of health care." Ignored by Couric: Durbin's charge: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others." www.mediaresearch.org

# June 22: It took an action by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin himself to generate some broadcast network attention for his June 14 remarks on the Senate floor in which the Senate's Assistant Minority Leader described interrogation techniques at Guantanamo and claimed that "you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others." Late Tuesday afternoon Durbin apologized for smearing U.S. servicemen, leading to short items on the ABC and NBC evening shows Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning to a brief item on NBC's Today and a full story on ABC's Good Morning America, the first mentions of the subject on ABC's World News Tonight or the two morning programs. Last Thursday, the NBC Nightly News carried a very brief item. CBS, however, maintained its blackout and didn't utter a word about Durbin on Tuesday's CBS Evening News or Wednesday's Early Show. CNN's Aaron Brown snidely hoped: "You would think now this story would go away, and it probably will in your lifetime." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# June 23: The CBS Evening News has yet to inform its viewers about Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's comparison on June 14 of interrogation techniques at Guantanamo to those employed by "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags," nor his June 22 apology, but on Wednesday night, in story on how "there are allegations Christian Evangelicals at the [Air Force] academy have been harassing cadets of other faiths," David Martin highlighted a Republican Congressman's charge which had enraged Democrats. Martin relayed how the "explosive charge of religious intolerance" at the service academy "triggered this heated exchange when Democrat David Obey brought it up on the floor of the House." Viewers saw a clip from Monday of Republican Congressman John Hostettler of Indiana: "Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians." CBS then showed Obey's rebuke: "I move the gentleman's words be taken down." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# June 23: MSNBC's Countdown has been a lot more interested in Nazi comparisons by Republicans than Democrats. In May, Keith Olbermann castigated Republican Senator Rick Santorum for criticizing another Senator's Nazi reference and dug out video from 2003 of Santorum "comparing the New York Times to Nazis," but not until Wednesday night of this week did the show mention Democratic Senator Dick Durbin's comparison of treatment of detainees at Guantanamo to how the Nazis behaved. Fill-in host Alison Stewart asserted that Republicans were the hypocrites since "the outcry comes from leaders in the Republican Party whose own members and supporters have used that word, even made it a suffix -- i.e., 'feminazi.'" Stewart reminded viewers that "Durbin is not the only lawmaker to attack a practice or policy by comparing it to Nazis. Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?" She then cited three Nazi quotes from GOP Senators before Craig Crawford rued how "the Democrats lost the portrayal of these remarks by Durbin to the spin from the Republican side." See: www.mediaresearch.org

# June 24 CyberAlert Extra: When Howard Dean made any number of his outlandish attacks on Republicans, Senator Hillary Clinton described Republicans as "people who have never been acquainted with the truth" and Dick Durbin slimed servicemen by equating detainee treatment at Guantanamo with Nazis and the Soviet gulag, the broadcast network evening and morning shows ignored the remarks, or got to them fleetingly months or a week or so later. But when Karl Rove, the White House Deputy Chief-of-Staff, observed that "liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding to our attackers," the networks pounced within hours. ABC's World News Tonight, which had never shown the allegations from Clinton or Durbin, jumped on Rove. Anchor Elizabeth Vargas snidely asserted that Rove "was not attempting to reach across the aisle." Jake Tapper relayed how Rove's "remarks had Democrats up in arms today as they recall the bipartisan resolution to go to war against al-Qaeda." Tapper scolded: "President Bush came to office promising to change the tone in Washington. Political observers say it has changed. It's nastier." NBC's Kelly O'Donnell passed along: "Adding insult, Democrats say after 9/11, both parties stood with the President." CNN's Aaron Brown chided Rove for his "silly" comments. www.mediaresearch.org

# June 24 CyberAlert Extra: CBS's Early Show has yet to utter a word about how Senator Dick Durbin's June 14 sliming of servicemen by equating detainee treatment at Guantanamo with Nazis and the Soviet gulag, but on Friday morning CBS highlighted how, as Rene Syler put it, "presidential advisor Karl Rove stirred up a hornet's nest with a speech about liberals and the war on terror." NBC's Today didn't get to Durbin until the morning after his June 21 apology, and then only in a brief item during the 8am news update, but on Friday, Today led with Rove as Matt Lauer trumpeted: "Good morning, President Bush's right hand man under fire. Did Karl Rove go too far in his comments on liberals and 9/11?" Today aired a full story from Kelly O'Donnell before Lauer dedicated most of a session, with White House Counselor Dan Bartlett, to Rove. Lauer read how Senator Harry Reid wants Rove to apologize and resign, and then demanded: "Why won't Karl Rove apologize?" Over on ABC's Good Morning America, which got to Durbin with a full story only the morning after his apology, Bill Weir pressed Bartlett about Rove with two questions. Weir set them up: "Top political advisor Karl Rove certainly stirred controversy with some comments attacking liberals this week. Let's listen to this." www.mediaresearch.org

McCullough Point on Deleterious Media:
CyberAlert to Rumsfeld?

Donald Rumsfeld You Read It Here First II. From Tim Russert on CNBC to Tim Russert on NBC, via Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but all thanks to CyberAlert? On Sunday's Meet the Press, when pressed about how the war in Iraq is going badly, Rumsfeld related how historian David McCullough "the other day" said about the Revolutionary War, 'If we had covered it the way we're covering this war, we would have been in the soup, and that would have been it.' There wouldn't have been a successful revolution." McCullough made that point on the June 18 Tim Russert show on CNBC, as recounted in the June 20 CyberAlert which Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce highlighted on June 21. Then on June 23, Rumsfeld relayed the anecdote in his testimony before both the Senate and House Armed Services Committee.

A Nexis check for "McCullough" over the past week, within 100 words of "media," generated only the above-cited House and Senate committee hearing transcripts, the Washington Times item and a June 22 Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial which clearly got its material from CyberAlert, "Would there be an America?"

So here's my guess as to the path of McCullough's quote.

First, he's interviewed by Russert and the interview plays sometime later (June 18) on CNBC.

Second, I am one of the relatively few who actually watches Russert's Saturday night show, and write up an item for Monday's (June 20) CyberAlert:
"If the present-day news media were around in the 1770s, the United States of America never could have won the Revolutionary War, author/historian David McCullough charged in a taped interview to plug his new book, 1776. Appearing on CNBC's Tim Russert aired Saturday night, McCullough asserted that if the Continental Army efforts led by George Washington 'had been covered by the media, and the country had seen now horrible the conditions were, how badly things were being run by the officers, and what a very serious soup we were in, I think that would have been it' for the colonialists and the British would have won." For the CyberAlert item, with a picture of McCullough on CNBC, go to: www.mediaresearch.org

Third, Pierce carries this item in his column the next day, June 21:

Then and now

"If the present-day news media were around in the 1770s, the United States of America never could have won the Revolutionary War, author/historian David McCullough charged in a taped interview to plug his new book, '1776,'" the Media Research Center's Brent Baker reports at www.mediaresearch.org.

"Appearing on CNBC's 'Tim Russert' aired Saturday night, McCullough asserted that if the Continental Army efforts led by George Washington 'had been covered by the media, and the country had seen how horrible the conditions were, how badly things were being run by the officers, and what a very serious soup we were in, I think that would have been it' for the colonialists and the British would have won."

See: www.washingtontimes.com

Fourth, purely speculation, but I'd bet Pierce's item is picked up for the Pentagon's daily news summary where it is seen by Rumsfeld's speechwriting team which puts it into Rumsfeld's prepared testimony for his Thursday (June 23) appearances before House and Senate committees:
"In every war, there are individuals who commit wrongdoing. And there are mistakes, setbacks, and hardships. Recently the noted historian and author, David McCullough, recalled the year 1776 as 'the most important year in the most important conflict in our history.' He said: 'If it had been covered by the media and the country had seen how horrible the conditions were...and what a very serious soup we were in, I think that would have been it.'"

For a PDF of Rumsfeld's June 23 prepared remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee: armed-services.senate.gov

Fifth, on Sunday's Meet the Press, the quote comes full circle as Rumsfeld reads back to Tim Russert what a guest had earlier told Russert, though on a different show -- and Rumsfeld mistakenly refers what McCullough "wrote."

The exchange on the June 26 Meet the Press:

Russert: "Let me show you a graphic, which represents how tough it has been since the war began on March 19 of 2003. There have been 1,735 Americans killed; 13,085 wounded and injured; cost is $208 billion; we've been there for 831 days, and still have 135,000 American troops. Does any of that represent, in your mind, misjudgments made by you or the administration about Iraq?"
Rumsfeld: "Well, you know, you have to remember that in every war, a battle plan doesn't survive first contact with the enemy. This is in history. Why? Because the enemy has a brain and they're constantly adapting, so we're constantly adapting. Every time there's an adaptation, someone says, 'Oh, there's a mistake.' That isn't a mistake. It's just reality. These people look at what's taking place. They're perfectly willing to take a suicide vest and go in and kill innocent people, and anyone who wants to kill people tend to get away with it. They can kill people if they're willing to give up their own lives.
"And I think that our military is the finest military on the face of the Earth. They are the best trained, they are the best equipped, they're the best led, and they're doing a fine, fine job for our country and for the Iraqi people. And progress is being made politically and economic, and the Iraqi security forces are getting better every day. There are more of them, and they're better equipped and better trained. I see people look at it and say, 'Well, my goodness, what about this? What about that?' Well, that's always been true. Historian David McCullough the other day wrote about the Revolutionary War. He said, 'If we had covered it the way we're covering this war, we would have been in the soup, and that would have been it.' There wouldn't have been a successful revolution. This is the reality of war: that there's violence and it's tough and it's terrible. And that's why it's everybody's last choice."

Sarcastic Brown: "I Don't Think" Bush
Will Be "In a Flight Suit"

Aaron Brown Aaron Brown's sarcastic quip of the night. Leading off his "Tomorrow's Papers Tonight" segment on Friday night, Brown noted how President Bush plans a national television address on Tuesday night from Fort Bragg in North Carolina "to talk about Iraq." Brown then added: "I don't think he'll be coming there in a flight suit this time. No 'Mission Accomplished' sign. I think this will be a more sober talk."

As he held up a big velox of the newspaper, on the June 24 NewsNight, Brown asserted: "Chattanooga Times Free Press, 'Bush refuses to set troop pullout date: President not giving up on Iraq mission.' The President goes on national television on Tuesday night from Fort Bragg to talk about Iraq. I don't think he'll be coming there in a flight suit this time. No 'Mission Accomplished' sign. I think this will be a more sober talk."

Retired General Tours Guantanamo, Tells
CNN Media Portrayal Wrong

Retired Major General Donald Shepperd toured the Guantanamo Bay detention facility on Friday and found that reality did not match the media's portrayal, he recounted in a phone interview from Cuba on CNN just before 3pm EDT on Friday. Shepperd asserted: "The impressions that you're getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here, in my opinion, are totally false." Shepperd contended that "what we're seeing is a modern prison system with dedicated people, interrogators and analysts that know what they are doing. And people being very, very well-treated." But when Shepperd reported that he had observed an interrogation, anchor Betty Nguyen inquired: "Kind of explain to us how that played out. And were there any instances of abuse or possible abuse?" Shepperd responded: "Absolutely not."

The MRC's Ken Shepherd corrected the CNN transcript against the video for the phone interview which began at 2:51pm EDT on June 24:

Betty Nguyen, anchor: "We have just established a line to Guantanamo Bay, to our military analyst General Don Shepperd. He arrived there as part of a trip put together by the Pentagon in the wake of that human rights report that criticized conditions at the U.S. prison for war detainees. General Shepperd on the phone with us right now. General Shepperd, what do you see so far while being there?"
Major General Donald Shepperd, Retired, CNN military analyst: "Well, I tell you what, Betty, I'm seeing a lot of rain right now. I thought Cuba was dry and we're in the middle of a drenching rain storm. But I tell you, every American should have a chance to see what our group saw today. The impressions that you're getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here, in my opinion, are totally false.
"What we're seeing is a modern prison system with dedicated people, interrogators and analysts that know what they are doing. And people being very, very well-treated. We've had a chance to tour the facility, to talk to the guards, to talk to the interrogators and analysts. We've had a chance to eat what the prisoners eat. We've seen people, high-value people, being interrogated. And it's nothing like the impression that we're getting from the media. People need to see this, Betty."
Nguyen: "All right. You said you got to talk to the interrogators and the guards. Let's start with the interrogators. What have they told you so far?
Shepperd: "The interrogators -- basically we have the opinion from things that we've heard that people down here have been mistreated. Everyone that we've talked to -- and this is consistent with things I've known from the past -- every interrogator will tell you that the key to getting information you need is to establish a personal relationship based upon respect over a long period of time with the people.
"People won't talk necessarily at first, but eventually, they will begin to talk and you'll get pieces of information that you can fit together with pieces of information from somewhere else. But they say pressure does not work, disrespect does not work, and torture is absolutely something that is counterproductive. You need to make to make people feel comfortable and comfortable with you to get the information you need. And that came from everyone, men and women, that were interrogators down here. And again, it's consistent with what I've heard in this past."
Nguyen: "Now, this leads me to my next question. Of course, this was a trip organized by the Pentagon. So do you feel like you're getting full access to everything there? Are you seeing a true picture of how it is?"
Shepperd: "Yeah, that's always a good question. But I tell you that they are proud to have people down here, including the press, to see what we are seeing. Obviously, they're going to put their best foot forward, And obviously, no matter where you are, there will be from time to time abuses or people misusing or disobeying the regulations, no matter where you are in the process. But I tell you, I've been in prisons and I've been in jails in the United States, and this is by far the most professionally-run and dedicated force I've ever seen in any correctional institution anywhere."
Nguyen: "You also mentioned that you have spoken with guards. What are they saying?"
Shepperd: "Very interesting. I had lunch with a -- one of the female guards and then I talked to a group of male guards as well. I said, do you ever see anything go on here that resembles mistreatment of the prisoners or mistreatment by the prisoners of guard? And they say, we're on alert all the time. They're not armed when they're around the guards [sic] for obvious reasons. You don't do that because weapons can be taken and used against you. But basically, they treat the prisoners firmly, with respect. They don't engage in a lot of banter with them. And they say that the prisoners do things that we've heard about in the media. They sometimes get riled and they'll throw feces, they'll throw urine at the guards. But this entire system is based upon compliance. In other words, if you comply with the rules, you're going to be treated well, you're going to be given more privileges, just like any detention facility. And if you don't, your life is going to be much more miserable than those who do...."
Nguyen: "On the flip side, have you had access to the prisoners themselves and what are their conditions?"
Shepperd: "We have not had access to the prisoners themselves. We are told what they are and we have seen all the facilities and we have watched interrogations. We just watched interrogations of two high-value prisoners -- what they can determine is high-value targets or high-value prisoners that have been here for a considerable amount of time. The facilities are basic of prisoners anywhere. We've seen the cells. They're seven-by-eight foot cells. They're clean. They have a toilet in the facility, they have and a water fountain in the facility. They have a bed. They're given the Koran, they're given a mattress, they're given clothes, recreational things such as playing cards, chess, checkers, that type of thing. We have not had access to talk to the prisoners. And again, that's one thing that you've got to be very careful of. You want to establish a prisoner relationship with the interrogators and not have that proliferated with other people."
Nguyen: "Let's back up for just a moment, because you said you said watched an interrogation.
Shepperd: "Yes."
Nguyen: "Kind of explain to us how that played out. And were there any instances of abuse or possible abuse?"
Shepperd: "Absolutely not. These -- when I sat and watched them, I want to be very careful in describing them. And I don't want to describe how we watched or anything of that sort. But basically, you're able to observe interrogations. They have various ways of monitoring the interrogations and what have you and letting you see what's going on. With the interrogations that we watched were interrogators, there were translators that translated for the detainee and there were also intelligence people in there.
"And they're basically asking questions. They just ask the same questions over a long period of time. They get information about the person's family, where they're from, other people they knew. All the type of things that you would want in any kind of criminal investigation. And these were all very cordial, very professional. There was laughing in two of them that we in the two of them that we watched-"
Nguyen: "Laughing in an interrogation?!"
Shepperd: Yes, indeed. It's not -- it's not like the impression that you and I have of what goes on in an interrogation, where you bend people's arms and mistreat people. They're trying to establish a firm professional relationship where they have respect for each other and can talk to each other. And yes, there were laughing and humor going on in a couple of these things. And I'm talking about a remark made where someone will smirk or laugh or chuckle."
Nguyen: "Mm hmm. All right. General Don Shepperd, we appreciate your time and that look inside Gitmo, with you being there on this tour. Thank you for that. And of course, we invite you to stay tuned, because there's much more Live From coming up."

(Late Update: Shepperd appeared live, on-camera, this morning (Monday) during the 9am EDT hour of CNN's American Morning to recount what he observed at Guantanamo.)

Pew Poll: View of Media's Patriotism,
Bias & Fairness at New Lows

A new poll commissioned by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which was released on Sunday, found that "attitudes toward the performance of the news media are at or near their low points in Pew trends dating back to the mid-1980s. This is especially the case in opinions regarding the press's patriotism, bias, and fairness." Pew's summary of it findings detailed how "just 42 percent say news organizations generally 'stand up for America'" and 'six-in-ten see news organizations as politically biased, up from 53 percent two years ago. More than seven-in-ten (72 percent) say news organizations tend to favor one side, rather than treat all sides fairly; that is the largest number ever expressing that view."

An excerpt from Pew's summary report, "Public More Critical of Press, But Goodwill Persists: Online Newspaper Readership Countering Print Losses," for the survey conducted June 8-12 by Princeton Survey Research Associates International among a nationwide sample of 1,464 adults, 18 years of age or older:

....In many cases, attitudes toward the performance of the news media are at or near their low points in Pew trends dating back to the mid-1980s. This is especially the case in opinions regarding the press's patriotism, bias, and fairness.

Just 42% say news organizations generally "stand up for America;" about as many (40%) believe that news organizations are "too critical of America." That represents a significant shift since July 2003, when a narrow majority (51%) said that news organizations stand up for America, while 33% said they were too critical....

Other measures assessing the basic values of the press also have become more negative. Six-in-ten see news organizations as politically biased, up from 53% two years ago. More than seven-in-ten (72%) say news organizations tend to favor one side, rather than treat all sides fairly; that is the largest number ever expressing that view....

Partisanship has long been a major factor in these attitudes. Even so, there has been a startling rise in the politicization of opinions on several measures -- especially the question of whether the news media stands up for America, or is too critical of America.

The partisan gap on this issue has grown dramatically, as Republicans increasingly express the view that the press is excessively critical of the U.S. (67% now vs. 42% in 2002). Over the same period, Democratic opinions on this have remained fairly stable (24% now vs. 26% in 2002).

Republicans are now closely divided as to whether the press protects or hurts democracy; 40% say it protects democracy, while 43% believe it hurts democracy. Two years ago, by a fairly sizable margin (44%-31%) more Republicans felt that the press helped democracy. Democratic opinion on this measure has been more stable. In the current survey, 56% say the press protects democracy while just 27% say it hurts democracy.

Views on whether the press is politically biased have been more consistent over the years. More than seven-in-ten Republicans (73%) say the press is biased, compared with 53% of Democrats. Perceptions of political bias have increased modestly among members of both parties over the past two years.

Generally, Democrats are much more positive in their assessments of press values and performance than are Republicans. But increasingly, Democrats are showing dissatisfaction with press coverage of the Bush administration. A majority of Democrats (54%) say that press coverage of the Bush administration has not been critical enough; that represents a sizable increase from May 2004 (39%)....

In past surveys on the press, criticisms of the news media were accompanied by a widespread perception that the power of news organizations was expanding.

But that has changed, largely owing to a major shift in perceptions among Republicans. Overall, more Americans still believe the influence of the press is increasing rather than decreasing (by 49%-36%), but the margin has narrowed. Two years ago, 55% said news organizations were growing in influence, while just 29% felt their influence was declining.

In the past, Republicans by wide margins said that news organizations were growing in influence. But in the current survey, as many say the press is losing influence as say it is expanding in influence (45% vs. 43%). Attitudes among Democrats and independents have been much more stable.

While there are deep differences about the press's power and performance, most Americans agree that news organizations, when deciding what stories to report, care more about attracting the biggest audience rather than about keeping the public informed.

Majorities in every demographic and political group express this opinion, but it is especially prevalent among conservative Republicans (90%)....

And 85% of those who cite the internet as a main source believe that news organizations are mostly motivated by a desire to expand their audience, rather than to inform the public.

Beyond the rising criticism of press performance and patriotism, there also has been significant erosion in support for the news media's watchdog role over the military. Nearly half (47%) say that by criticizing the military, news organizations are weakening the nation's defenses; 44% say such criticism keeps the nation militarily prepared. The percentage saying press criticism weakens American defenses has been increasing in recent years and now stands at its highest point in surveys dating to 1985.

By contrast, public support for the news media's role as a political watchdog has endured and even increased a bit. Six-in-ten Americans say that by criticizing political leaders, news organizations keep political leaders from doing things that should not be done; just 28% feel such criticism keeps political leaders from doing their jobs. Two years ago, 54% endorsed the press's role as a political watchdog.

The long-term growth in the view that press criticism weakens the military has mostly come among Republicans. From the mid-1980s through the end of the Persian Gulf War in March 1991, minorities of Republicans felt that such criticism weakened the military. Currently, two-thirds of Republicans (67%) express that opinion. Attitudes among Democrats and independents have been far more stable.

While the public has been more consistently supportive of the press's adversarial role in politics, there has been some partisan movement reflecting the changing balance of power in Washington. In the late 1990s, during the Clinton administration, Republicans were somewhat more likely than Democrats to say that criticism of political leaders was worth it because it could prevent wrongdoing.

Since then, Democrats have become much more supportive of the news media's political watchdog role, and Republicans less so....

END of Excerpt

For the June 26 report in full summarizing the poll, as well as for links to more detailed survey information, go to: people-press.org

-- Brent Baker