This Week Brings Aboard Al Franken to Take Shots at Bush -- 12/30/2002 CyberAlert
Tax Cuts and SUVs Really Annoy Eleanor Clift
NBC Tags Frist as "Moderate" and Then as "Conservative"
Media Not So Disgusted with Thurmond in 1948
Cokie Roberts Denies There's Any Liberal Media Bias, But...
Second Runners-Up Quotes in the MRC's Annual Awards
ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos invited liberal comedian/actor Al Franken to join Michel Martin and George Will on the roundtable. Add in Stephanopoulos and it was three liberals versus one conservative.
In the guise of wry observations, Franken got off some pretty sarcastic shots at President Bush during his appearance on the December 29 show. Franken claimed that between the two Bush administrations "there has not been one new net job created" so "that if the Bush's had run the country from the conception to the present no one in this country would have ever worked." Later, noting how confident the Bush team is about easily beating Iraq in a war, he took a swipe at the claim the Clinton administration weakened the military.
Franken's two shots:
-- After warning that he was about to "misuse" some statistics, the former Saturday Night Live performer, who came back for a skit with Al Gore a couple of weeks ago, asserted: "In the six years, about six years, of both Bush administrations, the elder and the younger, there has not been one new net job created. And so here's-"
-- On an Iraq war: "We're told this is going to be a cakewalk if we do this war. And I guess, you know, Cheney and Bush ran against the Clinton military, saying it was at the lowest readiness since Pearl Harbor. So I guess Rumsfeld just must be a genius."
Of course, the U.S. military used to be able to handle two simultaneous conflicts.
For a reminder of who Al Franken is, check his Internet Movie Database page which features a picture of him and a rundown of his TV and movie credits: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Franken,+Al
For "Most Stagnant Thinker," Clift proposed: "Bush's economic team -- the old one and the new one -- for thinking tax cuts are the answer to everything."
Under the category of "Enough Already!" Clift complained: "SUVs. I'm with the preacher who asked, 'What would Jesus drive?' I don't think it would be an SUV."
New Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a "moderate" according to NBC News reporter Joe Johns. No, wait, according to NBC News reporter Norah O'Donnell he's really "among the ten most conservative Republicans" in the Senate. On Friday, December 20 Johns tagged Frist as a "wealthy moderate," but three days later on Today, O'Donnell slapped him with the conservative label.
In a story carried on both the NBC Nightly News and CNBC's The News with Brian Williams on December 20, Johns offered this description of the Tennessee Senator: "A wealthy moderate from a Southern state, his family founded the nation's largest hospital company. He helped persuade President Bush to leave the door open for some stem cell research last year."
Echoing Johns, CNBC anchor Forrest Sawyer, filling in for Williams, intoned: "Frist, a moderate and close ally of the President's, issued a statement saying he'd take the job if offered."
But on the December 23 Today the following Monday, hours before the conference call in which he was elected, O'Donnell insisted: "Frist's voting record shows he's among the ten most conservative Republicans, but he's also forged close ties with the Senate's most liberal member, Ted Kennedy."
That same morning, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, on ABC's Good Morning America Claire Shipman decided he's conservative politically, moderate in style, but just as awful as Lott: "He's worked the same charm in Washington, where he's known as a conservative without sharp edges. But if his style is moderate, his politics are not always. In fact, civil rights groups complain his voting record is not much different than Trent Lott's."
For his December 23 "Media Notes" column, Kurtz dug up quotes from 1948 editorials. An excerpt:
A New York Times editorial said of the Dixiecrat convention: "Whoever ran this gathering showed political astuteness in naming to head the ticket Governor J. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who opposes Federal intervention against lynching and against the poll tax but has fought for state action to suppress the one and put an end to the other."
As for the Thurmond platform's attack on President Truman's policies, the Times quibbled with the language: "There is nothing in the Democratic platform which calls for 'equal access to all places of public accommodation for persons of all races, colors, creeds and national origin.' The words of this plank in the Birmingham program were actually borrowed from the report of the President's Committee on Civil Rights, which advocated that such guaranteed be enacted 'by the states.' "
Many Southern newspaper editorials took a "dim view" of the Thurmond bid, a Times story noted, "but expressed sympathy with the feelings of those who insisted that the civil rights proposals had angered them to the point of rebellion."
A Washington Post editorial called the Dixiecrats "a splinter party that may be expected to make its influence felt in the years ahead. From the viewpoint of the Democratic Party that is a misfortune, but from the viewpoint of the South it may well be a blessing in disguise." The reason -- and this was as tough as it got -- was the chance for more debate over the South's "hidebound" approach to civil rights.
END of Excerpt
For Kurtz's column:
Cokie Roberts denies the news media have any liberal bias, but she sees an anti-traditional values bias in Hollywood and realizes that conservatives turned to talk radio because they perceived the mainstream media as liberal.
Asked by Howard Kurtz on Saturday's Reliable Sources on CNN about the liberal bias charge, Roberts dismissed it as a product of the fact that "journalists are by definition people who are tilting the authority, and for a very long time, the White House was occupied by Republicans," and that "there has been a concerted effort on the part of some conservatives to portray the media as the liberal media because I think that works when you want to raise some money."
(Hey, you're reading CyberAlert for free. Though contributions would be appreciated. You can help fulfill Roberts' theory by using the link at the bottom of this message.)
As for challenging authority, Washington journalists seem a lot more interested in challenging authorities enacting conservative than liberal policies. How about a bit of challenge to the EPA/environmental lobby's agenda, for instance?
Like he did over the Thanksgiving weekend with Rush Limbaugh, Kurtz devoted his entire program to a pre-taped interview with Roberts, the former co-host of This Week who still reports for ABC and NPR.
Kurtz asked Roberts to speculate about why it is "so hard to convince people otherwise?" about a liberal media tilt. Roberts replied: "I think there are a couple of reasons. I think one is something you've dealt with for many years, is that the journalists are by definition people who are tilting the authority, and for a very long time, the White House was occupied by Republicans, and so there was a sense that the journalists were always out to get the Republican and the White House, although, there are some who would argue about that in the Reagan years, for instance. And I think that also there has been a concerted effort on the part of some conservatives to portray the media as the liberal media because I think that works when you want to raise some money or you want to get people mad, it works."
Roberts, who is the daughter of parents who were both Democratic Members of Congress, soon acknowledged that "it is also true there have been surveys done that do show that a lot of people in the media vote Democratic."
Prompted by Kurtz's suggestion that the media "are to the left of the general population on a lot of social issues," Roberts deflected criticism of her colleagues as she saw bias in Hollywood: "Particularly cultural issues, and that's where I actually would agree, and it's not just the media in the sense of we think of the people here in Washington who cover politics, it's the broader media, particularly Hollywood. I think that there is not an understanding of the fact that most Americans get up every day and go to work and work hard to try to just get their kids educated and they don't want to be assaulted by things on television that do not reflect their values and that make it harder for them to raise their children in the way that they feel is the appropriate way to raise them....Culturally, I do think -- you never -- do you ever see people going to church on a sitcom? You know, it is just not an understanding of how most people live their lives."
On talk radio, Roberts maintained that "it is hard to find a voice on talk radio that is not a conservative voice," but she realized that's a backlash to the media: "I think that came out of a sense that people felt that they didn't have access to the media and that the media was liberal and tilted left, particularly culturally, and that this was the way that they could have their voices be heard."
Thursday's CyberAlert featured the winners, Friday's the first runners-up quotes and so today the second runners-up quotes in the MRC's "Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting."
For the winners, see the December 26
For the first runners-up, see the December 27
And for the names of the 52 judges:
Or, you can find it all on the MRC Web site in the special section devoted to the awards issue. For the full results, with RealPlayer clips of many of the television quotes, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/bestof/2002/welcome.asp
For an Adobe Acrobat PDF that matches the eight-page hard copy version:
For the list of judges, with links to Web pages for each:
As explained in the December 26 CyberAlert, to determine this year's winners, a panel of 52 radio talk show hosts, magazine editors, columnists, editorial writers and media observers each selected their choices for the first, second and third best quote from a slate of six to nine quotes in each category. Each received a paper ballot in late November and returned it within two weeks.
First place selections were awarded three points, second place choices two points, with one point for the third place selections. Point totals are listed in the brackets at the end of the attribution for each quote.
Now, the second runners-up in 16 award categories:
Media Hero Award [second runner-up]:
Brian Williams: "Is it fair to call him [Jimmy Carter] the best former President in, at minimum, modern American history, and perhaps, well, I guess, the last 200 years?"
General Phil "Cheap Shot" Donahue Award (for Swipes at the War on Terrorism) [second runner-up]:
"Recovery and debris removal work continues at the site of the World Trade Center known as 'ground zero' in New York, March 25, 2002. Human rights around the world have been a casualty of the U.S. 'war on terror' since September 11."
Fourth Reich Award (for Portraying John Ashcroft as a Fascist) [second runner-up]:
"'Send me,' it says on the Statue of Liberty, 'your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.' Well, some of them maybe. If they have visas and are from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan or Syria, they now pose national security concerns and must be fingerprinted and photographed. This registration system, Attorney General Ashcroft said, would eventually be expanded to other visitors who posed a security concern. What would the standards for that be? Well, they'd be secret, that's what. It's a little like the search for communists in the government after World War II. There were some, of course. But a lot of innocent people had their names blackened and their careers damaged during the hunt."
Ashamed of the Red, White & Blue Award [second runner-up]:
"As President Bush toured Asia last week, some world leaders worried publicly that the war on terrorism was starting to look suspiciously like the last great American campaign -- against Communism....The McCarthy years in some ways were eerily similar to the present moment....Communists were often conceived as moral monsters whose deviousness and unwavering dedication to their faith made them capable of almost anything....The first victims of anti-Communist hysteria were immigrants, and hundreds of immigrants have been detained since Sept. 11, many with little apparent cause beyond the fact that they were Middle Eastern men."
Give Appeasement a Chance Award [second runner-up]:
Peter Jennings: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at the mood in the country as the President's determination to wage war against Iraq becomes more defined. The country appears to be less confident than the President."
Begala & Carville War Room Award for Bush Bashing [second runner-up]:
"Gun-rights advocates have been emboldened by an administration that is sympathetic to their cause. The closeness was underscored by the fact that the military-style gun used in the sniper attacks -- named, unfortunately for the White House, Bushmaster XM15 -- was manufactured by a company owned by Richard Dyke, a Bush fundraiser."
Media Millionaires for Smaller Paychecks Award (for Demanding the Tax Cut Be Repealed) [second runner-up]:
"Karl Rove declared war on the estate tax....You know, the tax only one-half of one percent of Americans pay? Falsely cloaking themselves in concern for family businesses already protected, the Bush administration refused all compromise, like raising the already generous exemption to $7 million. What will fathers say to the age-old question now: 'What did you do during the war, Daddy?' Fight to destroy al Qaeda and avenge the deaths of three thousand U.S. citizens? Or wage war to protect America's luckiest and wealthiest?"
Blame America First Award [second runner-up]:
"The U.S. has to distinguish itself from what I call the 'thugocracies' that rule places, and until recently ruled Afghanistan, that certainly rules Iraq. And to establish moral leadership the U.S. has to establish that it is governed by the rule of law and that it is willing to submit to the rule of law around the world. However, it's a very tricky issue at a time when the U.S. continues to hold citizens of other countries without access to counsel, without access to evidence held against them, in military tribunals, in Guantanamo Bay."
Bill Moyers (Subsidized) Sanctimony Award [second runner-up]:
"Next week, over 100 heads of state will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their goal is to search for ways to save the Earth's life support system -- our water, air and soil. Ten years ago they gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the same purpose, but United Nations studies reveal the Earth's environment is still in decline. So the leaders of every major industrial country will be in Johannesburg next week, except for George W. Bush. That makes his core constituents quite happy: Representatives of the religious right, conservative activists and big companies like ExxonMobil wrote the President this week praising him for not going to the summit. They also asked him to make sure American officials...keep the issue of global warming off the table. It's all part of a pattern. The Bush administration is carrying on what the Los Angeles Times this week called 'the most concerted exploitation of the public's land, air and water since fundamental protection laws went into effect three decades ago.'"
Carve Clinton into Mount Rushmore Award [second runner-up]:
"In a crowded conference room at the Waldorf, some 300 world leaders in politics, industry and finance were held spellbound by a freewheeling, solo seminar conducted by someone whose idea of a great meal was the Mexican platter at the White House mess: former President Bill Clinton, the ultimate Davos Man, always ready to expound on globalization until the last top-dog dies....
Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Pontificating [second runner-up]:
"This is a racist and imperialist war. The warmongers who stole the White House (you call them 'hawks', but I would never disparage such a fine bird) have hijacked a nation's grief and turned it into a perpetual war on any non-white country they choose to describe as terrorist."
Mount St. Helen Award for Helen Thomas Eruptions [second runner-up]:
"I think the chipping away of our civil liberties is unprecedented. Even in World War II, I never saw anything like that in Washington or any of the wars. I think that people are standing mute, and I remember the rabbi in the March on Washington program. He said that the greatest sin of all in the Nazi era was silence. He had been in a concentration camp for many years. People have got to, they must speak up now or forever hold their peace."
Good Morning Morons Award [second runner-up]:
McEwen: "Up and down the East coast, it's coming our way, but we will probably see just rain in the big cities."
Damn Those Conservatives Award [second runner-up]:
Anchor Daryn Kagan: "You know what, Kate? Shame on all of them. They're sitting there playing politics in Washington. I know we have a lot of viewers at home, a lot of older people who their simple, simple request is just to be able to afford the drugs that they need."
Politics of Meaninglessness Award for the Silliest Analysis [second runner-up]:
"Arbitrary Victims, Identical Fate; County's Growing Diversity Reflected in Those Gunned Down."
See No Liberal Media Bias Award [second runner-up]:
"I don't think it's a liberal agenda. It happens that journalism will always be spending more time on issues that seem to be liberal to some people: the problem of the downtrodden, the problem of civil rights and human rights, the problem of those people who don't have a place at the table with the powerful."
END Rundown of second runners-up quotes
Not sure when the next CyberAlert will be sent, but it will feature the third runners-up. -- Brent Baker