Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

Couric to Push Candidates to Agree to Tax Hike to Pay for Iraq? --12/7/2007


1. Couric to Push Candidates to Agree to Tax Hike to Pay for Iraq?
Previewing her questions next week for her "Primary Questions: Character, Leadership & The Candidates" series in which she runs clips of ten presidential candidates from both parties answering the same question, Katie Couric on Thursday night showed herself asking Joe Biden: "With the country fighting a costly war and going deeper into debt should the American people be expected to sacrifice more, and if so, specifically how?" Couric didn't specifically cite raising taxes, and so maybe by some miracle a candidate will suggest cutting government programs, but "sacrifice" is the common media code word for raising taxes. After the Minneapolis bridge collapse in early August, with a logical implication that taxes would have to be increased, Couric set up a CBS Evening News story by wondering "are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"

2. Olbermann: Bush Either 'Pathological Liar or Idiot-in-Chief'
On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" to denounce President Bush as a "pathological presidential liar or an idiot-in-chief" for continuing to talk about the potential danger of a nuclear Iran after receiving word in August of the possibility the newest national intelligence report would find that Iran no longer has an active nuclear weapons program, but had suspended such a program in 2003: "We have either a President who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War III about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole, or we have a President too transcendently stupid not to have asked, at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so, whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed, were still even remotely plausible. The pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief."

3. ABC Examines Mormonism; Sawyer Can't Let Huckabee Comment Go
Diane Sawyer and other Good Morning America journalists offered a surprisingly substantive look into religion on Thursday's edition of the ABC program. The show featured a three part, 12 minute-plus series of segments on Mitt Romney, Mormonism and his faith's relationship with evangelical voters. The discussion wasn't perfect, certainly. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer simply couldn't let go of her discomfort in regards to Mike Huckabee's use of the phrase "Christian leader" in a recent Iowa campaign ad. On November 27, she wondered if the spot might have "crossed a line" and called it "heavy-handed." On Thursday's program, while talking to the Southern Baptist Convention's Dr. Richard Land, Sawyer pointedly noted that "many people thought [the ad's point] was unmistakable, what he was doing. Do you think that was fair?"

4. Lauer Presses Widow of Slain Cop About Mumia Abu-Jamal's Guilt
When the widow of a slain police officer appeared on the Thursday Today show to promote her new book, NBC's Matt Lauer seemed to take up the cause of the convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, as he asked Maureen Faulkner mostly skeptical questions, such as: "Do you ever allow yourself to consider the fact that perhaps he didn't do this?" Appearing on the December 6, Today, Faulkner, along with her co-author, conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, were subjected to questions about the legitimacy of Abu-Jamal's guilt by Lauer who repeatedly aired claims from the Abu-Jamal defense team as he displayed new photos meant to prove Abu-Jamal's innocence, repeated charges that Smerconish was helping Faulkner for "personal gain" and even took time out to show pro-Mumia supporters in the Today show crowd.

5. O'Reilly Highlights MRC Study: As Iraq Improves, Coverage Falls
FNC's Bill O'Reilly on Thursday night centered his "Talking Points Memo" around the findings in the MRC's Media Reality Check study released earlier this week, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War." O'Reilly pointed out how U.S. casualties and violence are way down from six months ago. Then, citing the MRC's numbers with a chart displaying them on screen, he observed how now "there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org."


Couric to Push Candidates to Agree to
Tax Hike to Pay for Iraq?

Previewing her questions next week for her "Primary Questions: Character, Leadership & The Candidates" series in which she runs clips of ten presidential candidates from both parties answering the same question, Katie Couric on Thursday night showed herself asking Joe Biden: "With the country fighting a costly war and going deeper into debt should the American people be expected to sacrifice more, and if so, specifically how?" Couric didn't specifically cite raising taxes, and so maybe by some miracle a candidate will suggest cutting government programs, but "sacrifice" is the common media code word for raising taxes. After the Minneapolis bridge collapse in early August, with a logical implication that taxes would have to be increased, Couric set up a CBS Evening News story by wondering "are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"

The other question she previewed: "Do they think the warnings about climate change are overblown or not?" The question all the candidates answered on Thursday's CBS Evening News: "What are you most afraid of losing?" Earlier questions asked the ten contenders to name their "most influential person" and "biggest mistake."

For a look at the CBS Evening News series: www.cbsnews.com

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

The August 3 CyberAlert recounted:

Neglecting any thought about cutting spending anywhere within the federal budget, for instance some of the soaring entitlement spending, CBS's Katie Couric on Thursday night wondered if taxpayers are "ready to spend" the "trillions" needed to repair the nation's infrastructure. Couric's assumption about higher taxes came as she introduced an August 2 CBS Evening News story from Nancy Cordes on the estimate by the American Society of Civil Engineers, a group obviously in favor of additional public works project spending, that it will cost $1.6 trillion to address infrastructure needs. Live from Minneapolis, Couric asked: "Experts have been warning for years that this country's infrastructure is crumbling. But are taxpayers ready to spend the billions, maybe trillions, it would take to fix all the pipelines, tunnels and bridges?"

For the entire previous CyberAlert item: www.mrc.org

Olbermann: Bush Either 'Pathological
Liar or Idiot-in-Chief'

On Thursday's Countdown, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann used his latest "Special Comment" to denounce President Bush as a "pathological presidential liar or an idiot-in-chief" for continuing to talk about the potential danger of a nuclear Iran after receiving word in August of the possibility the newest national intelligence report would find that Iran no longer has an active nuclear weapons program, but had suspended such a program in 2003: "We have either a President who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War III about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole, or we have a President too transcendently stupid not to have asked, at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so, whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed, were still even remotely plausible. The pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief."

Olbermann also bizarrely compared Bush to failed presidents of the 19th century who "abandoned Reconstruction, and sent this country marching backwards into the pit of American Apartheid."

The Countdown host tagged Vice President Cheney as a "warmonger" and Bush as "an unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a President, shooting his mouth off, backed up only by his own hysteria and his own delusions of omniscience." Referring to a conspiracy theory, which Olbermann described as "widely believed," that President Reagan was "little more than a front man for some never-viewed, behind-the-scenes, string-puller," the MSNBC host suggested that Cheney is President Bush's "evil ventriloquist." Olbermann: "Today, as evidenced by this latest remarkable, historical malfeasance, it is inescapable that Dick Cheney is either this President's evil ventriloquist, or he thinks he is."

Olbermann soon blamed Cheney for making the Bush administration like those of the 19th century that brought about "American Apartheid." Olbermann: "Mr. Cheney has helped, sir, to make your administration into the kind our ancestors saw in the 1860s and 1870s and 1880s, the ones that abandoned Reconstruction, and sent this country marching backwards into the pit of American Apartheid."

After accusing President Bush of being "Machiavellian," rather than merely a "marionette or moron," contending that the President was tipped off about the upcoming national intelligence report on Iran and deliberately used different wording in discussing the potential for a nuclear Iran to fit the fresh intelligence, Olbermann continued his name-calling as he labeled the President a "bald-faced liar" who is "terrorizing" the American people "to legally cover your own backside."

Olbermann charged: "And we are to believe, Mr. Bush, that nobody told you any of this until last week? Your insistence that you were not briefed on the NIE until last week might be legally true, something like 'what the definition of is is,' but with the subject matter being not interns but the threat of nuclear war. Legally, this might save you from some kind of war crimes trial, but ethically, it is a lie. It is indefensible. You have been yelling threats into a phone for nearly four months, after the guy on the other end had already hung up. You, Mr. Bush, are a bald-faced liar."

Olbermann soon continued his nearly ten-minute long rant: "You not only knew all of this about Iran in early August, but you also knew it was all accurate. And instead of sharing this good calming news with the people you have obviously forgotten you represent, you merely fine-tuned your terrorizing of those people to legally cover your own backside. While you filled the factual gap with sadistic visions of, as you phrased it on August 28th, a quote, 'nuclear holocaust,' as you phrased it on October 17th, quote, 'World War III.'"

The MSNBC host concluded by charging that Bush has "no business being President." Olbermann: "My comments, Mr. Bush, are often dismissed as simple repetitions of the phrase 'George Bush has no business being President.' Well, guess what? Tonight, hanged by your own words and convicted by your own deliberate lies, you, sir, have no business being President. Good night and good luck."

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. For the complete transcript of Olbermann's "Special Comment" on the Thursday, December 6 Countdown on MSNBC, check that NewsBusters posting: newsbusters.org ]

ABC Examines Mormonism; Sawyer Can't
Let Huckabee Comment Go

Diane Sawyer and other Good Morning America journalists offered a surprisingly substantive look into religion on Thursday's edition of the ABC program. The show featured a three part, 12 minute-plus series of segments on Mitt Romney, Mormonism and his faith's relationship with evangelical voters.

The discussion wasn't perfect, certainly. GMA co-host Diane Sawyer simply couldn't let go of her discomfort in regards to Mike Huckabee's use of the phrase "Christian leader" in a recent Iowa campaign ad. On November 27, she wondered if the spot might have "crossed a line" and called it "heavy-handed." On Thursday's program, while talking to the Southern Baptist Convention's Dr. Richard Land, Sawyer pointedly noted that "many people thought [the ad's point] was unmistakable, what he was doing. Do you think that was fair?" See NewsBusters for more on Sawyer's November 27 comments about Huckabee: newsbusters.org

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was mposted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

On balance, however, ABC and Good Morning America should be commended for providing viewers with a serious look at religious and spiritual issues. In the second segment, reporter Dan Harris discussed "Mormonism 101" and went over five questions that Americans may have about the faith. Among the topics mentioned where the background of Joseph Smith, the fact that some evangelicals don't consider Mormonism part of Christianity and polygamy. (Harris pointed out that the Mormon church banned the practice in 1890.) Sawyer interviewed Dr. Land, plus talk show host and frequent GMA guest Glenn Beck, a Mormon, about how evangelicals view the faith. Getting into specifics, she asked Beck whether Mormons believe that the Bible itself is incomplete without the Book of Mormon.

A transcript of the three segments, which began at 7:18am on December 6:

7:18, ROBIN ROBERTS: But we first want to tell you about the stakes being very high this morning for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is preparing to deliver a major address about the Mormon faith tonight. The big question, will he be able to ease voter concerns about his religion? John Berman is in Texas and has a look ahead to tonight's big speech. Good morning, John.
JOHN BERMAN: Good morning, Robin. The Romney campaign is setting the bar very, very high here. They released photos of Governor Romney practicing the speech, much like the President does for the State of the Union address. They say he wants to do nothing less than elevate the level of debate about religion and politics in this country. They say he will discuss the role of faith in God and society and he will say that both faith and God have a role in government but he says he will not be bound by his Mormon religion. He says in the speech, "When I place my hand on the Bible and take the oath of office that oath becomes my highest promise to God. If I am fortunate to become your president, I will serve no one religion, no one group, no one cause, and no one interest. A president must only serve the common cause of the people of the United States." Now if people are looking for him to explain the specific doctrines of his faith, the Mormon religion, they will be disappointed. He says he will not explain or discuss them. He says no candidate should have to be a spokesman for his religion. Robin?
ROBERTS: All right John, thank you very much. A lot of people eager to hear what he will say, Mitt Romney, later this morning in his speech.
DIANE SAWYER: That's right. And we'll have more in our next half hour. Evangelicals versus Mormons. What about this debate? Is it real? We're going to join it, coming up next.

7:36am, ROBERTS: Now to more on Governor Romney's speech later today where he will address his Mormon faith. Just last night, we learned that the co-chair of Senator Fred Thompson's campaign in South Carolina called the very doctrines of Mormonism, quote, "very unusual to the point that they're almost unbelievable." So what is it about this religion that raises so many questions? Dan Harris, you've been really looking into this, Dan.
ABC GRAPHIC: Mormon 101: 5 Big Questions
DAN HARRIS: Yeah, it's a fascinating story. Good morning, Robin. Mormonism was born right here in America. And it's now one of the planet's fastest growing Americans. But many Americans don't know much about Mormonism. So, this morning, we're going to answer five very common questions. First, who was Joseph Smith? He was the founder of Mormonism. At age 14, in 1820, he claimed that God and Jesus visited him near his home in upstate new York. Smith claimed he was restoring the true church of Jesus Christ, a claim that angered a lot of Christians. He was killed by an angry mob. Which leads to the next question, are Mormons Christian? Mormons argue emphatically yes. But there are real differences. Mormons, for example, believe the book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith claims to have translated from golden plates he found near his home is equally as holy as the new and Old Testaments. They also believe God is a man of flesh and bone and has a wife. And Mormons believe Jesus will return not only to Jerusalem, but also to Missouri. I've met evangelical Christians who travel from around the country to Utah, specifically to convert Mormons.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Your Jesus is the brother of Lucifer. He cannot save you.
HARRIS: Why do you come?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: I love Mormons. I want, I want to see them have forgiveness of sins like I do.
HARRIS: And what's at stake?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Their eternal soul, their eternal, eternal salvation.
HARRIS: How do Mormons treat minorities and women? Until 1978, black men were not allowed to join the priesthood. And women are still not allowed to do so. Why don't Mormons drink alcohol or coffee. They don't believe in artificial stimulants. Mormons are believers in clean living. When we went to an official church event recently, we were asked to sign this paper promising not to smoke or drink on church premises. Finally, perhaps the most common question about Mormons is do they practice polygamy? Many Americans are familiar with the polygamists on HBO's "Big Love." But the people who engage in plural marriages these days are generally members of Mormon splinter groups. The main-line Mormon church outlawed polygamy in 1890. In fact, the Mormon church has gone through an extraordinary transformation since its early days as, essentially, a renegade religion. Today, it is very much in the mainstream. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which many of us have heard of, performs at presidential inaugurations. There are Mormons in Congress and plenty of Mormon celebrities like Gladys Knight and Donny and Marie Osmond, just to name a few.
ROBERTS: Osmond family. Exactly right. And still so many questions surrounding this. And people want to know, of course with Governor Romney. Thank you, Dan, so much. And up next, how important is Mitt Romney's faith to his presidential campaign? Does, does it matter at all? We'll have a provocative discussion straight ahead. Come on back.

7:43, DIANE SAWYER: As we said earlier, Mitt Romney is tackling this morning questions of religion and politics. And we're going to tell you a little bit of what he is saying this morning. He is saying, "If I am fortunate enough to become your president, I will serve no one religion no one group, no one cause, no one interest. No candidate should become the spokesman for his faith. Any person who has knelt in prayer to the almighty has a friend and ally in me." And, of course, governor Mitt Romney is a Mormon. And this is considered a make or break speech. Particularly in Iowa, where there is a lot of skeptical and voting evangelicals. Well, to talk about this, joining us now two men who will be in the audience during Romney's speech, president of the Ethics and Religious Community of the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land. Good morning to you.
DR. RICHARD LAND (Southern Baptist Convention): Good morning.
SAWYER: And also somebody familiar to all of su, syndicated radio host, author of a new book, "An Inconvenient Book," and a Mormon himself, Glenn Beck. And good morning to you.
GLENN BECK: Good morning, Diane.
SAWYER: Alright. First question to the two of you. As we know there are polls that show a quarter to a third of Americans say, say, admit they are troubled by something about Mormons and 25 percent of Americans, 36 percent of evangelicals, say they will not vote for a Mormon to be in the White House. This is my question to you and I'll start with you, Dr. Land. Is he changing? Does Mitt Romney changing [sic] with these words the way these people are going to feel?
LAND: I think he'll change some minds. I've been encouraging the governor for over a year to give a speech about this issue. And to try to do what John Kennedy did in 1960. John Kennedy came to Houston and gave a magnificent speech in which he said I'm not the Catholic candidate for president, I'm the Democratic Party's candidate for president. And he said what should be important is the vision I believe in for America, not my faith. I think that the governor needs to give a speech in which he can close this deal for many, many, many people. I don't think that his Mormonism is a deal breaker for most Americans. But only Mitt Romney can close the deal in the same way that Senator Kennedy was the only one that could close the deal.
SAWYER: But, Dr. Land, let me ask you a yes or no question. Do you consider Mormons Christians?
LAND: No, I do not. I think if you look at their doctrine of God the Father, and their doctrine of God the Son, their doctrines and covenants, which is one of their sacred texts, says, as man now is, God once was, and as God now is, man may become. Catholicism, eastern Orthodoxy. No historic Christian faith would say that about God the Father.
SAWYER: Okay, let me bring in Glenn Beck, is the speech today going to get it done? And you respond.
BECK: Well, first of all, let me just say to Richard, I love you, but, Richard, Jesus and I are going to be having a couple conversations today because Jesus is my savior and I happen to be Mormon. But with that being said, when the media decides they're going to ask Orrin Hatch or they're going to ask Harry Reid about their religion, and what role it's going to play, you let me know. This is the biggest non-issue I've ever heard. First of all, why are we going to a candidate and asking about religion? Who cares? If you really -- America, you really want to know about Mormons? Believe me, ask a Mormon. You won't be able to shut 'em up about it. Seriously. They'll send the bikes and everything else.
SAWYER: Well-- But let me ask you, Glenn -- just tackle this with Americans out there asking some of these things that you hear about. Okay, Jesus will come back, but come back to Missouri, that Mormons believe in -- you can tackle all this -- that Mormons believe that Mormon, that the Latter Day Saints are the true church and the Book of Mormon really is the completed version of the Bible. What about all this?
BECK: Here's -- Diane, here's -- I mean, here we go in 40 seconds. I'm not the defender of the faith by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm a relatively intelligent man. First of all, the pilgrims came here because they thought New Jerusalem was going to be set up in America. Read their own diaries. The other is -- well, I'm sorry, the other one was --?
SAWYER: The question of the completed Bible is the Book of Mormon, that the Bible's not complete?
BECK: Yeah, if you look at the way the Bible was put together it has been edited over and over and over again. It doesn't mean that it is not -- it is not, itself, the word of God. We absolutely believe it's the word of God. Here's what -- here's the way -- Mormons believe on other faiths. And I think we should all kind of adopt this kind of a view. We all have puzzle pieces. And if everybody would stop guarding their one puzzle piece and say this is the only true picture, we would be a lot better off. Because we'd be able to look at each other's pictures and see how they fit together and say, oh, my gosh, what a full, rich picture of, of God.
SAWYER: Dr. Land, one final comment from you. As we know Governor Mike Huckabee had an ad out in Iowa in which you saw across the screen "Christian leader" and many people thought that was unmistakable, what he was doing. Do you think that was fair?
LAND: Well, look, Governor Huckabee can answer for himself. But I think it's important for us to note that we're voting for a commander in chief, not a pastor in chief. And I don't think that a presidential candidate's faith should be an issue unless he chooses to make it an issue. And if I were governor Romney, I would make the same kind of statement that Senator Kennedy made when he was running for president. I am not the Mormon candidate for president. I hope to be the Republican Party's candidate for president. Judge me on my record. Judge me on the issues.
SAWYER: I got to stop you here. Come back, do more, want to talk about this!

Lauer Presses Widow of Slain Cop About
Mumia Abu-Jamal's Guilt

When the widow of a slain police officer appeared on the Thursday Today show to promote her new book, NBC's Matt Lauer seemed to take up the cause of the convicted cop killer, Mumia Abu-Jamal, as he asked Maureen Faulkner mostly skeptical questions, such as: "Do you ever allow yourself to consider the fact that perhaps he didn't do this?"

[This item, by Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Appearing on the December 6 Today, Faulkner, along with her co-author, conservative radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, were subjected to questions about the legitimacy of Abu-Jamal's guilt by the Today show host. Lauer repeatedly aired claims from the Abu-Jamal defense team as he displayed new photos meant to prove Abu-Jamal's innocence, repeated charges that Smerconish was helping Faulkner for "personal gain" and even took time out to show pro-Mumia supporters in the Today show crowd:
"I want to show people a live shot outside our studio right now and show them that there is a fairly substantial protest right across the street from our studio. These people got up early in the morning, came from some place to express their views that this man is innocent. How do you feel, why do you think they're here, if they don't truly believe that?"

The following is the set-up piece by NBC's Rehema Ellis, followed by the full interview by Lauer as it aired on the December 6 Today show:

MATT LAUER: On December 9th, 1981 a Philadelphia police officer was shot and killed while serving in the line of duty. A man named Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. To this day he maintains his innocence. To some he is a cold-blooded killer, to others he's a political prisoner. Here's NBC's Rehema Ellis.

[On screen headline: "Murdered By Mumia, Police Widow's Fight for Justice."]

UNIDENTIFED REPORTER: Police tell us that Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot down at 13th and Locust.
REHEMA ELLIS: When Officer Daniel Faulkner, a 25-year-old newlywed was gunned down on a Philadelphia street following a traffic stop no one knew it would ignite a debate that would be heard around the world.
PROTESTOR: Free Mumia now!
PROTESTOR#2: Kill Mumia now!
ELLIS: Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, radio journalist and taxi driver was arrested, charged and convicted of murder. For 25 years now he's been on death row for a crime, he says, he did not commit.
PROTESTORS: Free Mumia! Free Mumia! Free Mumia now!
ELLIS: He's attracted Hollywood stars and gained international fame.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It's a righteous cause! That's why you see people right here from Belgium, from France, from Germany, from South Africa, here!
ELLIS: There have been rallies and fundraisers for a man many say was framed by a racist legal system but Officer Faulkner's family has a different view.
TOM FAULKNER, BROTHER OF MURDERED POLICE OFFICER: He's no damn martyr. He assassinated my brother.
ELLIS: Over the years Abu-Jamal's advocates have tried but failed to overturn his conviction. Now supporters say there is new photographic evidence that should lead to a new trial.
ROBERT R. BRYAN, LEAD COUNSEL FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: The jury only saw one side of the coin.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you believe you will, one day, be a free man or do you believe, one day, you will be put to death?
MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: I'm working for the former, not the latter.
ELLIS: In May Abu-Jamal's defense team argued he should be set free while prosecutors still insisted he should be executed. As everyone awaits a court's decision 53-year-old Mumia Abu-Jamal remains on death row and the debate over what happened that night, almost 26 years ago, continues. For Today, Rehema Ellis, NBC News, New York.

LAUER: Maureen Faulkner is the widow of slain police officer Danny Faulkner, Michael Smerconish is a conservative radio host and columnist based in Philadelphia. Their new book is called Murdered By Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice. Good morning to both of you.
MAUREEN FAULKNER: Good morning Matt.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Good morning.
LAUER: I was struck, Maureen, I was watching that piece and I'm trying to think if you could have ever imagined 26 years ago, when this first happened that, that 26 years later you'd still be in the midst of debate over this case?
FAULKNER: No, Matt, absolutely not. After Danny was murdered in 1981 and he was buried and the case was over I thought I could go on with my life and try to rebuild and have a new life. But for the past 26 years I've just been haunted by the Free Mumia movement.
LAUER: And, and in some ways it seems the debate over guilt or innocence or racism or injustice has somehow left Danny out. And, and, at times when I hear this debate I don't hear people remembering that a police officer was murdered by someone.
FAULKNER: So often they do not mention Danny's name. And that's what they need to do. I mean he was a young police officer, he was 25-years-old and he was brutally murdered by Mumia.
LAUER: I want to show people a live shot outside our studio right now and show them that there is a fairly substantial protest right across the street from our studio. These people got up early in the morning, came from some place to express their views that this man is innocent. How do you feel, why do you think they're here, if they don't truly believe that?
FAULKNER: They are trying the case in the court of public opinion and not in the court of law and that's why I think people need to read the book. It's all there. My life, the facts, what happened the night my husband was murdered is all in the book.
LAUER: Michael, Abu-Jamal's attorney since 2003 is a guy named Robert Bryan. He says that when the conviction and sentence came down in 1982 there were constitutional issues, there was racism, there was injustice, there was evidence tampering. He also says, by the way, that you're a guy who's involved in this for your own personal gain because you didn't try this case, you're not a lawyer. Why, why are you involved in this?
SMERCONISH: Well I resent that charge and obviously Mr. Bryan hasn't read the inside flap of the book. "The author's proceeds from the sale of this book are being donated to a not-for-profit," that Maureen has established for the benefit of murder victim children. This is a three-year investment.
LAUER: Maybe he's not talking about financial personal gain. Maybe he's talking about for status and, and, and attention.
SMERCONISH: There's, there's no upside. There's a tremendous drain on my time to write this but America needs to know the story of an unbelievable woman who for 26 years has fought the fight when I think most of us would've washed our hands of it and walked away.
LAUER: If, if there is something new in this case and for so many years there really hasn't been an awful lot new, there's just been heated debate but there are some photographs that have been released by supporters of Mumia and, and they were taken by a freelancer named Pedro Polokoff. They say, the supporters say, these photos show a policeman holding two guns in his bare hand, contradicting what officers trial testimony was that he had preserved, ballistics evidence. Another shows Faulkner's hat, your husband's hat on top of a car, not on the sidewalk, as in the official police photo of the crime scene. And the third shows a blood-stained sidewalk where the shooting took place but does not show any signs of marks in the concrete that might have occurred if, if your husband had been shot from above as prosecutors contended. The defense attorney says he can have a field day with these photographs if a new trial is-
SMERCONISH: But this is the outrage. For 26 years these canards have enabled the manipulation of the process. I mean it's as reliable as the fact that Christmas is on the 25th on December that they will come up with something every year. One year it was a guy who stood up and said, "I know who murdered Danny Faulkner! I did it!" And the defense lawyers thought he was preposterous. Another year it was a guy who said that he was there and that the dying words of Danny Faulkner were, "Get Maureen, get the children!" When everybody agrees he died instantly and unfortunately she never had the chance to have children with Danny. I mean it's, where does it stop?
FAULKNER: Where have these pictures been for 26 years? I mean where have they been? Why hasn't this man come forth sooner than now?
LAUER: Maureen, when you're ever, when you're alone, when you're alone with your thoughts at night, when you even see pictures of the protest like the one we have across the street, does it ever cross your mind that perhaps they're right? Do you ever allow yourself to consider the fact that perhaps he didn't do this?
FAULKNER: He murdered my husband in cold blood and there is no doubt in my mind. Absolutely no doubt. And I wrote this book, it, it was a therapy for me to get my life in black and white so people can read it. And Michael, thank you Michael. Michael has been with me for 15 years helping me and standing up and speaking out for me, 15 years.
LAUER: The emotions of this case run very high and, and I'm sure we're not gonna have an answer today, that's for sure. But Michael thank you for being here. Maureen thanks so much, it's nice to meet you.
SMERCONISH: Thank you, Matt, thank you.
FAULKNER: Thank you, Matt.
LAUER: We appreciate it. The book is called Murdered By Mumia and an excerpt can be found on our Web site at todayshow.com.

O'Reilly Highlights MRC Study: As Iraq
Improves, Coverage Falls

FNC's Bill O'Reilly on Thursday night centered his "Talking Points Memo" around the findings in the MRC's Media Reality Check study released earlier this week, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War." O'Reilly pointed out how U.S. casualties and violence are way down from six months ago. Then, citing the MRC's numbers with a chart displaying them on screen, he observed how now "there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org."

A December 4 CyberAlert Special provided the text of the study by MRC Research Director Rich Noyes. The key finding:

....MRC researchers examined all 354 Iraq war stories that aired on the big three evening newscasts from September 1 through November 30, including weekends. That figure includes 234 field reports, plus 120 short headline items read by the news anchor.

Vanishing War. Back in September, as reporters voiced skepticism of General Petraeus' progress report, the networks aired a total of 178 Iraq stories, or just under two per network per night. About one-fourth of those stories (42) were filed from Iraq itself, with most of the rest originating in Washington.

In October, TV's war news fell by about 40 percent, to 108 stories, with the number of reports filed from Iraq itself falling to just 20, or less than one-fifth of all Iraq stories. By November, the networks aired a mere 68 stories, with only eleven (16%) actually from the war zone itself....

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For the December 4 report in full, "Good News = Less News on Iraq War; MRC Study: As Surge Succeeds and Casualty Rates Fall, ABC, CBS and NBC Lose Interest In Iraq War," go to: www.mediaresearch.org

For the PDF, which matches the hard copy: www.mediaresearch.org

Investor's Business Daily on Thursday published an op-ed by Rich Noyes summarizing his findings. To read "Television Networks Fade to Black as the U.S. Surge Succeeds in Iraq," go to: www.ibdeditorials.com

A transcript of O'Reilly's "Talking Points Memo" at the top of the December 6 edition of The O'Reilly Factor on FNC:

O'REILLY: Getting the truth about Iraq. That is the subject of this evening's Talking Points Memo. With things getting much better in Iraq, voters now must decide how big an issue this will be next year? Do you pull out of there if you're winning? Naturally, when the USA was stalemated in that theater many people said enough, it's not worth it, and the Republicans lost both the House and the Senate. But now the surge has improved security. American casualties are down a whopping 71 percent since May and al Qaeda in Iraq has been badly damaged. Again, do we pull out if there's a chance Iraq can become a stable, anti-terror nation? Some will say yes, get out of there. But many, perhaps most, might take a second look, and that second look might be bad for the Democrats who generally oppose the war.
Enter the media. Last June I told you that some TV news organizations were showing carnage in Iraq with no context. If it blew up, it made the nightly news.
O'REILLY, JUNE 14: Now, as everyone knows al Qaeda strategy is to break the will of the American people to fight the jihad -- Osama bin Laden has stated that in writing. So blowing things up, and hopefully getting the carnage on TV, is what the terrorists want.
O'REILLY, BACK ON THURSDAY NIGHT: Now I was criticized by people like Washington Post TV writer Howard Kurtz for saying that, but it was true. Carnage without context was the rule of the day and it helped the terrorists. Six months later, there is far less carnage in Iraq and far less reporting about the war. Since the surge began, Iraq war stories on the nightly news programs have dropped from 178 a month to 68 in November. Those stats were compiled by the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center and you can read the report online at mrc.org.
This is proof that bad news in Iraq is promoted by American news agencies while good news is largely ignored. But why? Talking Points believes that most of the American media despise President Bush and will ignore anything that puts him in a positive light. I could be wrong about that, but the evidence is overwhelming I'm not. Also, it is my opinion that most of the media wants a Democrat elected next time around and any good news from Iraq might not advance that cause. There is no question that Iraq remains a troubling issue -- the government there is inefficient and corruption is everywhere. If we could go back in a time machine and do it again, I firmly believe we could have found a better way to remove Saddam Hussein. But honesty in reporting is vital to a free society and we're not getting that in America. We're seeing a partisan press promoting ideology, not fairly covering the news. That is the truth and the proof is the current reporting on Iraq.

-- Brent Baker