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

Couric's 'Exclusive' with Hillary Clinton Avoids Tough Questions --11/27/2007


1. Couric's 'Exclusive' with Hillary Clinton Avoids Tough Questions
Katie Couric traveled to New Hampshire for an "exclusive" interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but it amounted to little more than a three minute segment in which Couric tossed softballs about the horse race and avoided any contentious topics, such as fugitive Norman Hsu's fundraising, Clinton's evolving positions on Iraq or her parsed stand on driver's licenses for illegal aliens. "In an exclusive one-on-one interview," Couric trumpeted, "Clinton exudes confidence." Couric's questions to the Democratic frontrunner in the excerpt aired at the start of the CBS Evening News: Why she's launched a "more aggressive" campaign, how does she "feel" about Oprah Winfrey campaigning for Barack Obama, and "how disappointed" she'll be if she loses the nomination? -- a question Couric pursued in three formulations and the answers to which led to Couric's "Clinton exudes confidence" proclamation.

2. CNN Highlights YouTube Debate Questions Posed from Left
If the preview shown on CNN Sunday Morning is any guide, Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube Republican debate will likely be dominated by questions posed from the left, just as the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate also featured questions posed from the left. CNN correspondent Josh Levs showed clips of several sample questions, including a question from a gay Republican who charged "a vote for you is a vote against my family," a question from a woman concerned about "returning the civil liberties to the American people and stopping these outrageous attacks on our security and our privacy," and a question about CEO salaries increasing faster than the minimum wage. While Levs cautioned that he does not know whether any of the questions used in his piece will be chosen for the debate, none of the questions that appeared in the report were posed from a conservative point-of-view.

3. CBS's Early Show Touts UN Condemning Taser Use as Torture
Monday's CBS Early Show picked up a liberal cause as co-host Hannah Storm fretted over the epidemic of taser related deaths in North America, citing how "at least six people died after being zapped by police last week, prompting a U.N. committee to consider tasers as a form of torture." CBS brought aboard a spokesman from Amnesty International who demanded an investigation into the cause of the deaths and Storm endorsed the group's agenda as she pointed out how "the NAACP is weighing in and agreeing with you, saying this needs to be looked at" and she pined: "What would it take to ban tasers?"

4. Tom Brokaw Trashes Rush Limbaugh and Talk Radio on Ingraham Show
Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw took his publicity tour for his Sixties book Boom! into (at least somewhat) hostile territory on Monday's Laura Ingraham radio show. Ingraham played an old clip in which Brokaw slapped talk radio as "instantly jingoistic and savagely critical" of people questioning war. Like many other journalists who instantly let conservatives know they haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh, Brokaw insisted Limbaugh "doesn't want to hear another point of view, except his." Ingraham disagreed. Brokaw added: "The problem with talk radio is they only want to hear one note...The problem with talk radio is they mock anyone else's point of view, and they do it often in a mindless fashion." This is rich talk coming from a man whose network hired Bill Moyers as his newscast's only commentator in 1995, and a man who wrote a syrupy tribute to hot liberal mock-jock Jon Stewart for his "Athenian" ideals in Time magazine.

5. Rather's Profanity-Laced Tirades and Self-Pity in New York Mag
Whatever Dan Rather does in his post-CBS television career, let's hope it's not on shows children watch. In another personality trait echoing his old historical nemesis Richard Nixon, Rather's interview with Joe Hagan of New York magazine is loaded with expletives (undeleted). The internal CBS report on the story was "pure, unadultered [BS]." When that internal review board included former Bush Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, Rather reacted: "Un-f-ing-believable!" Thornburgh was a "total ass." Rather wore a T-shirt on his last night in the anchor chair that said "F.E.A." for "F- 'Em All." When he called his producer Mary Mapes to commiserate over the fiasco, he identified himself as "Dan Rather plus three," meaning he'd drank three bourbons. That might explain why he claimed no one at the White House denied his story.


Couric's 'Exclusive' with Hillary Clinton
Avoids Tough Questions

Katie Couric traveled to New Hampshire for an "exclusive" interview with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, but it amounted to little more than a three minute segment in which Couric tossed softballs about the horse race and avoided any contentious topics, such as fugitive Norman Hsu's fundraising, Clinton's evolving positions on Iraq or her parsed stand on driver's licenses for illegal aliens. "In an exclusive one-on-one interview," Couric trumpeted, "Clinton exudes confidence."

Couric's questions to the Democratic frontrunner in the excerpt aired at the start of the CBS Evening News: Why she's launched a "more aggressive" campaign, how does she "feel" about Oprah Winfrey campaigning for Barack Obama, and "how disappointed" she'll be if she loses the nomination? -- a question Couric pursued in three formulations and the answers to which led to Couric's "Clinton exudes confidence" proclamation.

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

A longer video clip of the interview posted on CBSNews.com featured just two more inquiries: Are you lowering expectations in Iowa? And, your response to the view that your campaign is "nervous" about Obama's gains? See: www.cbsnews.com

From Concord, New Hampshire, Couric teased the November 26 CBS Evening News:

KATIE COURIC: Obama versus Clinton.
BARACK OBAMA: We don't need somebody who knows how to play the game better. We need somebody to put an end to the game-playing.
COURIC: But in an exclusive one-on-one interview, Clinton exudes confidence.
COURIC TO CLINTON: If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?
HILLARY CLINTON: Well, it will be me.

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down all the questions posed by Couric to Hillary Clinton shown on the newscast. The questions, plus a flavor on Clinton's replies:

COURIC: I asked her about the new, more aggressive tone of her campaign.
[Hillary Clinton: "I have absorbed a lot of attacks" and "hardly a day goes by when I'm not attacked."]
COURIC: It was announced today that Oprah Winfrey will be campaigning with Senator Obama in three key states -- Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. How do you feel about that?
["I think it's great..."]
COURIC: But are you concerned that this will give him a big boost?
["No..."]
COURIC: If it's not you, how disappointed will you be?
["Well, it will be me..."]
COURIC: I know that you're confident it's going to be you, but there is a possibility it won't be. And clearly you have considered that possibility.
["No I haven't."]
COURIC: So you never even consider the possibility?
["I don't."]

CNN Highlights YouTube Debate Questions
Posed from Left

If the preview shown on CNN Sunday Morning is any guide, Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube Republican debate will likely be dominated by questions posed from the left, just as the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate also featured questions posed from the left. CNN correspondent Josh Levs showed clips of several sample questions, including a question from a gay Republican who charged "a vote for you is a vote against my family," a question from a woman concerned about "returning the civil liberties to the American people and stopping these outrageous attacks on our security and our privacy," and a question about CEO salaries increasing faster than the minimum wage. While Levs cautioned that he does not know whether any of the questions used in his piece will be chosen for the debate, none of the questions that appeared in the report were posed from a conservative point-of-view.

[This item, by Brad Wilmouth, was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
July CyberAlerts recounted CNN's agenda from the left before and at the YouTube debate with Democrats:

-- CNN/YouTube Debate Questions Feature Many More Liberal Videos: www.mrc.org

-- CNN/You Tube Preview Questions from the Left on Health, Religion: www.mrc.org

-- CNN's You Tube Debate Delivers Questions from the Left: www.mrc.org

Below is a complete transcript of the segment from the November 25 CNN Sunday Morning:

T.J. HOLMES: All right, Wednesday is the big day. The second CNN-YouTube presidential debate. And this time around it's going to be the GOP candidates going at it.
BETTY NGUYEN: And this is a unique chance for you to share your questions and concerns with those candidates.
HOLMES: Yes, if you want to be part of the action, you need to hurry. CNN's Josh Levs here to explain why you need to get on it. Good morning to you, sir.

JOSH LEVS: Hey, good morning to you guys. Yeah, this is last day. Tonight's going to be the deadline. And what I've gotten to do over the last couple of days is piece through some of the questions we've gotten. We have received so many literally from all over the world. We're going to give you now a taste of what just might be to come. Republican candidates can run, but they cannot hide from your questions in the CNN/YouTube debate, which may include some sharp jabs.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN from video: What are you going to do to return the civil liberties to the American people and stop these outrageous attacks on our security and our privacy?
LEVS: Some offer personal stories like this man who says he's a gay registered Republican.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1 from video: -but a vote for you is a vote against my family.
LEVS: A few bring up some of the wackier topics on Earth or beyond.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2 from video: UFOs and aliens.
LEVS: Maybe he ought to be asking this YouTuber.
CARTOON OF AN ALIEN from video: I am one of many from another dimension.
LEVS: Around 4,000 questions are in -- more than the 3,000 sent in for the Democratic debate in July. All the questions are viewable online, and we're not saying which ones may be used -- just giving you a taste of what we're getting.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3 from video: What are you going to do as President to ensure diversity in your administration?
LEVS: There are unique spins on expected subjects like Iraq, taxes and the national debt. Some want specifics.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2 from video: Would you be willing to open up Guantanamo Bay to public view?
LEVS: There are serious subjects that don't often make the headlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4 from video, with the words STOP THE WAR to the side: -but what about the war going on in our country -- black on black crime?
LEVS: And questions all about character.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5 from video: What is your one greatest strength and your one greatest weakness?
LEVS: Getting candidates to admit weaknesses? Good luck. Maybe he's in cahoots with this guy who apparently wants to lull the candidates into some form of hypnosis.
[Wording on the video's screen reads: If Minimum Wage had risen as fast as CEO pay since 1990 it would be $23.00 and hour instead of $5.85 currently.]
LEVS: -though there are plenty of characters to keep them on their toes.
UNIDENTFIED MAN #6, dressed as Elvis Presley, from video: Thank you. Thank you very much.
LEVS: Yeah, we're getting a lot of fun ones like that. And I want to let you know it's really easy. You have until midnight tonight. Here's all you need to do if you would like to submit your own questions. Go to CNN.com, click on politics, and then it will take you directly to the Web page. It's all you've got to do. And the Web page explains everything. It takes just a minute question. You don't even have to be text savvy really. It'll take you through step by step. It'll also give you some hints on what kind of questions we're looking for. So, guys, now that we've talked about it here, I'm expecting at least about 500 to 1,000 more by midnight. What do you think?
HOLMES: What was the last one? That was kind of, the last fun one, was that a bald and black Elvis that we just saw?
NGUYEN: What was he doing?
HOLMES: What was that?
LEVS: Yeah, you know, along the way, they stick in, like, a four-second question, and then it's part of, like, a 30-second skit they put on.
HOLMES: Do we have any idea the questions that are going to be on yet? I mean, how's that being decided? Who's picking these questions?
LEVS: Yeah, there's this secret cabal of CNNers that are meeting up in New York. I tried to break in. I really did. I even tried to put a suction cup against the door and they won't tell me. None of us gets to know. We don't get to find out until the actual moment itself, which is an important point because the ones I'm choosing to show you, it doesn't mean much. But we are taking a look at everything we get through midnight. Everything that comes in by midnight tonight will be considered and the final decision will be on Wednesday.

CBS's Early Show Touts UN Condemning
Taser Use as Torture

Monday's CBS Early Show picked up a liberal cause as co-host Hannah Storm fretted over the epidemic of taser related deaths in North America, citing how "at least six people died after being zapped by police last week, prompting a U.N. committee to consider tasers as a form of torture." CBS brought aboard a spokesman from Amnesty International who demanded an investigation into the cause of the deaths and Storm endorsed the group's agenda as she pointed out how "the NAACP is weighing in and agreeing with you, saying this needs to be looked at" and she pined: "What would it take to ban tasers?"

At the beginning of the segment reporter Joie Chen described how a video of a recent taser incident in Canada, "led Taser International to slam sensationalistic media reports." Of course, Chen quickly went on to continue her own "sensationalistic" reporting on the issue. She concluded by blaming trigger-happy police officers for the recent deaths as she raised "the questions about whether taser carrying officers have become too quick on the draw."

[This item is a based on a posting, by Kyle Drennen, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Storm followed Chen's alarmist report with an interview with Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, Larry Cox:

STORM: The U.N. weighing in on this and calling it a possible weapon of torture, what does that mean? What's the significance?
COX: Well it means that it's a very serious thing, because the U.N. does not lightly use the word torture. These are people-
STORM: Yeah, how high is the bar for them?
COX: Well, these are people that have seen torture around the world, they've seen the worst kinds of torture. So they don't use the term lightly.

In a brief effort to present the other side, Storm asked Cox, "So how do you answer the claims by Taser International that people aren't dying specifically from the electric shock of the tasers?" Cox responded by dismissing such claims: "The important thing is, they are dying after they are tasered. That cannot be denied, no matter how you spin the language."

That seemed to be all it took to convince Storm: "Six people in the last week in the U.S. and Canada...And in the Maryland case, the NAACP is weighing in and agreeing with you, saying this needs to be looked at. What would it take to ban tasers?"

Here is the full transcript of the November 26 segment in the 7:30 half hour:

HANNAH STORM: The United Nations has stepped into the growing controversy over tasers. As we said, at least six people died after being zapped by police last week, prompting a U.N. committee to consider tasers as a form of torture. CBS News Correspondent Joie Chen has more.

JOIE CHEN: They're sold as devices designed to protect life, but tasers are now under fire after a stunning spike in deaths. In just one week, Frederick, Maryland, a deputy zaps 20-year-old Jerrell Gray during a fight. He dies on the spot. The same day in New Mexico, a suspect resisting arrest is tasered and dies after being taken to jail. In Jacksonville, Florida, two men in unrelated cases are zapped. Both die. In Nova Scotia, Canada, another tasered suspect dies. And then in British Columbia, a man zapped for strange behavior dies after being taken to the hospital. A Canadian case caught on a tourist camera, though, has provoked the biggest outcry. The Polish man in the Vancouver airport holding area spoke no English. Held for ten hours, he's clearly agitated, and then -- he's shocked twice and dies about a minute later. Over 1,000 protestors call the camera man a hero, but the video led Taser International to slam sensationalistic media reports. The company insists no deaths have ever been conclusively linked to what it calls the low-energy electrical discharge of the taser. But the 50,000-volt slap knocked 38-year-old Ohio suspect Heidi Gill out. On the Early Show, she showed Hannah what her clothes looked like after repeated hits, and she described intense pain.
HEIDI GILL: It was the sickest thing I've ever felt. It was horrendous.
JOIE CHEN: That's echoed by the driver in this patrol car video, zapped after he refuses to sign a speeding ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Turn around put your hands behind your back now.
UNIDENTIFIED DRIVER: What is wrong with you?
JOIE CHEN: His case adds to the questions about whether taser carrying officers have become too quick on the draw. Joie Chen, CBS News, Washington.

STORM: Larry Cox is the Executive Director for Amnesty International USA, which has called for a moratorium on tasers as long as three years ago. Good morning, and thanks for being with us.
LARRY COX: Thank you.
STORM: The U.N. weighing in on this and calling it a possible weapon of torture, what does that mean? What's the significance?
COX: Well it means that it's a very serious thing, because the U.N. does not lightly use the word torture. These are people-
STORM: Yeah, how high is the bar for them?
COX: Well, these are people that have seen torture around the world, they've seen the worst kinds of torture. So they don't use the term lightly. I think it's because so many people are dying and because we know from our own experience that electroshock often is used as a form of torture deliberately. You're shooting 50,000 volts of electricity into people. It's extremely painful. You have people who are often in custody, and when they are in custody and it's being used repeatedly on them, it's hard to describe it as anything else but torture.
STORM: So how do you answer the claims by Taser International that people aren't dying specifically from the electric shock of the tasers? A lot of people do die from the struggle that ensues after they've been tasered -- before and after.
COX: Nobody really knows exactly why these people are dying, we only know that people are dying after they are tasered. When we started doing our study -- our first study, 70 people had died in the United States. Now it's nearly 300 people who have died in the United States. They're tasered, and then they die. We are calling for a study to find out exactly why. It may be because they have a heart condition. It may be because they're on drugs. It may be because of some other factor that we don't know about. The important thing is, they are dying after they are tasered. That cannot be denied, no matter how you spin the language.
STORM: Six people in the last week in the U.S. and Canada.
COX: Exactly.
STORM: And in the Maryland case, the NAACP is weighing in and agreeing with you, saying this needs to be looked at. What would it take to ban tasers?
COX: Well, I'm afraid it may take more of these kind of cases. The important thing to remember is that these are people who are not carrying a deadly weapon. These are not often people who are carrying any weapon at all. These are people who are resisting arrest perhaps, or walking away or running away. Sometimes it's people who are in handcuffs, people that are already subdued, and yet, they are being tasered and then they are dying.
STORM: So you're saying authorities have gone wrong by using this routinely, instead of using this as a method of last resort?
COX: I think it's been billed as something safe and easy, so it's natural that the police who are in very difficult situations and are worried for their own lives, may tend to use it too easily, and that's what's happening, it's being used as a first resort, rather than a last resort, in cases where no one would dream of using deadly force, no one would dream of using a gun.
STORM: Let me tell you what some police authorities are saying, because they're saying that look, if we don't use this, we're going to have to use a baton, we're going to have to use pepper spray in cases of extreme violence. We may have to use deadly force. In effect, they're saying maybe these tasers are saving lives. What's your response to that?
COX: Well, most of the cases we've looked at, there's been no weapon involved at all. Let alone a deadly weapon. So these are not situations where necessarily the police officer is at threat. That's the first thing. And the second thing is, we also want there to be a safe way to subdue people. I think that's very good, but we have to study this and find out that this is really safe. The penalty for resisting arrest should not be death.
STORM: Alright. What's happening in Canada? Because I know you called for an investigation there as well.
COX: Well as you know, there was this terrible incident in the airport in Canada, where, again, somebody who was not carrying a weapon, somebody who was probably not posing a threat-
STORM: Which really sparked this whole outcry is that video-
COX: Exactly and what sparked it is that it was videoed.
STORM: Right.
COX: These are the cases we know about. So, there are many cases where we don't see it on video. And that has called for an outcry, and the Canadian government has said that it will now finally do a study. We think they ought to ban the use of the weapon until that study is completed, you shouldn't be shocking people.
STORM: And we'll continue to follow this story, right. Larry Cox, thank you so much, we appreciate it.
COX: Thank you.

Tom Brokaw Trashes Rush Limbaugh and
Talk Radio on Ingraham Show

Former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw took his publicity tour for his Sixties book Boom! into (at least somewhat) hostile territory on Monday's Laura Ingraham radio show. Ingraham played an old clip in which Brokaw slapped talk radio as "instantly jingoistic and savagely critical" of people questioning war.

Like many other journalists who instantly let conservatives know they haven't listened to Rush Limbaugh, Brokaw insisted Limbaugh "doesn't want to hear another point of view, except his." Ingraham disagreed. Brokaw added: "The problem with talk radio is they only want to hear one note...The problem with talk radio is they mock anyone else's point of view, and they do it often in a mindless fashion." This is rich talk coming from a man whose network hired Bill Moyers as his newscast's only commentator in 1995, and a man who wrote a syrupy tribute to hot liberal mock-jock Jon Stewart for his "Athenian" ideals in Time magazine.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday -- with an MP3 audio clip of Brokaw on Ingraham's November 26 radio show -- on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Brokaw appeared on two segments with Ingraham, and they carried on a friendly discussion about the themes of his Sixties book. Before the talk radio exchange, the only other notable point of contention was Ingraham's suggestion that Phyllis Schlafly could have been interviewed next to Gloria Steinem in his women's lib section. Brokaw said she didn't accomplish enough to be considered worthy of inclusion, but noted he did interview Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Here's the transcript of the talk radio exchange:

INGRAHAM: One thing that we heard you talk about recently '€" a couple of years ago '€" you were talking about talk radio. I want to play the clip, then ask you about it.
BROKAW (from his 'Telephonic Jihad' speech from 2003): Radio stations have become instantly jingoistic and savagely critical of any questions raised about any decisions leading up to, for example, the war in Iraq, motivated not by ideological or intellectual passions, but by the raw commercial possibilities of creating a mob mentality. (See: www.mediaresearch.org )
INGRAHAM, playfully: Mob mentality? I took that personally. You know, I said 'wait a second, I don't think I'm about the mob mentality.'
BROKAW: I didn't single you out, Laura-
INGRAHAM: All right.
BROKAW: -because you do have a greater range. You know as well as I do that across the country, uh, and this happened on the left in the sixties, by the way, and it became, what it became was the mantra of conservative talk radio in the 19, in the late 1990s and into 2000, that any one who raised their hand and said '€˜Look, I have some real reservations about this,' you know, they were all but called treasonous. And there are a lot of wannabes out there, and they do it for commercial reasons, and they try to rally the crowd. And what happens is you don't have civil discourse. You don't have a forum then for this country to come together and try to make decisions and hear each other. And my big issue for going into 2008, was Republicans and Democrats, libertarians, independents, we all have to reenlist as citizens. This is a critically important election. It's going to require the attention of all of us. And in a hundred years, when they look back on it, what are they going to say about the role of citizens in this country?
INGRAHAM: Well, yeah, I agree. From Jon Stewart to Stephen Colbert to what happened on Air America-
BROKAW: -Air America-
INGRAHAM: -a lot of people, Tom, make a lot of money trashing Bush, or trashing faith or trashing, so-
BROKAW: -Air America-
INGRAHAM: So I just resent the whole, you mention Rush Limbaugh in the book, you [have] kind of a throw-away line about Limbaugh and it's in the Drug section, and without a doubt, Rush Limbaugh is the most influential boomer, I think, in the media today. There is no person who's had more of a profound impact on the way people think about politics than Limbaugh, and he gets a line in kind of the Drug thing. And I just, don't think that's right.
BROKAW: My problem with the whole spectrum [of talk radio] is there is not, you know what Rush's, what his whole drill is. He doesn't want to hear another point of view. Except his. That's my issue.
INGRAHAM: Oh, I disagree. He talks to all sorts of people. Well, he doesn't interview people like I do, I mean, I have guests on.
BROKAW: He doesn't interview people, and he mocks people on-
INGRAHAM: But he's not an objective person. He doesn't say he is. That's the difference between him and anchors on some of our networks who have a political agenda, but then pretend that they're objective.

That's a strong punch. If Brokaw had ever "wasted" an hour of his life listening to Limbaugh, he'd learn that liberal callers are often featured on the Limbaugh program, some times for long periods of time that make conservative callers jealous. He should really learn from others who've made this factual error and actually listen to the program and apologize, as Washington Post columnist William Raspberry did. See: www.mrc.org

After the two segments, Ingraham started noting that other talk radio hosts, from Sean Hannity to Michael Medved to Hugh Hewitt, love to engage liberal guests and callers. Brokaw should have been asked which major host or which "wannabe" is a fake conservative doing it all for the cash. Who would Brokaw name?

But in this interview, Brokaw just threw up his hands rather than defend the objectivity of network anchors:

BROKAW: But Laura, we're never going to resolve this. You know you have your point of view and I have mine.
INGRAHAM: But that's the thing. And you know I like you, but I'm trying to get to this point. Sixties is all about free speech, and everyone has their opinions, but then when you have this really successful movement called talk radio, people get their opinions out, and you say it's getting kind of nasty.
BROKAW: No, but here's my problem with talk radio. The problem with talk radio is they only want to hear one note. I have a problem with the Sixties. The problem with talk radio is they mock anyone else's point of view, and they do it often in a mindless fashion. You know that as well as I do. Because it's a hot button for the choir that's listening to them, and it works for them commercially. There are very few programs like you, like yours, in which you'll interview people across the political spectrum. It's mostly go out there and hit the hot button all day long.

Ingraham then noted that cable hits hot buttons, too, but they're usually celebrity-gossip or murder-of-the-month hot buttons, and then there was a long pause. "Let's have more dialogue." He then repeated: "We've lost the ability to have civil discourse in America and it's a big cancer on our political system as well."

In 1995, with liberals unsettled by the Republican sweep of Congress, Brokaw's show had a commentator with "only one note" -- once and future PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers, who was sold by NBC as fair and balanced. (The gig didn't last long, as Moyers resigned citing health problems later that year.) On March 7 of that year, he denounced Newt Gingrich for incivility to liberals:
"Gingrich uses words as if they were napalm bombs....He sent conservative candidates a long list of words to smear their opponents -- words like 'sick,' 'pathetic,' 'traitors,' 'corrupt,' 'anti-family,' 'disgrace.' With talk radio quoting it all back to us, our political landscape is a toxic dump."

For more on Moyers on NBC, check this 1995 MediaWatch article: www.mrc.org

That sounds a lot like a Brokaw speech. Gingrich wasn't offered a rebuttal by NBC. Before that, of course, NBC's sole commentator was liberal former NBC anchor John Chancellor.

Back in a year-end Time magazine in 2005, Brokaw hailed liberal Comedy Central mockery specialist Jon Stewart:
"During the Democratic Convention in Boston, I told him I was heading next to Athens for the Olympic Games, and asked, 'You ever been to Athens, Jon?' He laughed and said, 'No. Brokaw, you forget. I'm a comic. I've been to Akron, but Athens, no.' I am not so sure. Perhaps he was there in another life, in many ways last year, Jon Stewart was our Athenian, a voice for democratic ideals and the noble place of citizenship, helped along by the sound of laughter."

See: www.newsbusters.org

Brokaw might want to remember that this is the same Jon Stewart who suggested conservative columnist Robert Novak was a "115-year-old vampire demon" without a heart, and an "enemy of American democracy." Was that helping the cause of noble citizenship? Or was Stewart hitting the hot button of his liberal audience for commercial gain? See the September 20, 2006 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

Rather's Profanity-Laced Tirades and
Self-Pity in New York Mag

Whatever Dan Rather does in his post-CBS television career, let's hope it's not on shows children watch. In another personality trait echoing his old historical nemesis Richard Nixon, Rather's interview with Joe Hagan of New York magazine is loaded with expletives (undeleted). The internal CBS report on the story was "pure, unadultered [BS]." When that internal review board included former Bush Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, Rather reacted: "Un-f-ing-believable!" Thornburgh was a "total ass." Rather wore a T-shirt on his last night in the anchor chair that said "F.E.A." for "F- 'Em All." When he called his producer Mary Mapes to commiserate over the fiasco, he identified himself as "Dan Rather plus three," meaning he'd drank three bourbons. That might explain why he claimed no one at the White House denied his story.

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The story's headline is "Dan Rather's Last Big Story Is Himself." As he described Rather's "lower lip jutting out like an ornery fish resisting a hook," Hagan sympathetically recounted:

When Dan Rather sits on a bench in Central Park to tell how his 44-year career at CBS News ended in ignominy and humiliation, he is in fact still waging a war, a bitter and personal one. And the memories of the battles that undid him are still fresh on his mind. "Monday morning, about 8:49 -- and I think that is the time precisely," he says. He's recalling January 10, 2005, when he first received the 224-page report commissioned by CBS that excoriated his infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday segment on President Bush's National Guard service. Of that report, Rather says, "When I read through it, all I could say to myself, on each page, is, 'What bullshit. What pure, unadulterated bullshit this whole thing is. What a setup. What a fix.'" He nearly spits the word fix.

Hagan claimed that in 2004, the media were still in a "defensive crouch" against pressure from the Bush team, but Rather was brave enough to seek out phony documents from a disgruntled source:

There had been questions about whether Bush had completed his required Guard duty as early as 2000, but no one had come up with definitive proof that he hadn't. The Killian documents appeared to be the smoking gun. With USA Today on its heels, CBS felt it had to rush the story on the air -- some say the heaviest pressure came directly from Rather. Rather says he repeatedly asked Mapes if the memos were authentic, telling everyone the story was "thermonuclear." When Mapes said they were real, that was good enough for him.

If the story was "thermonuclear," then who is it that Rather was trying to nuke? Considering his get-Bush attitude, it's a little odd for him then to insist dramatically that he was being executed or assassinated:

CBS declined to comment for this story, beyond releasing a statement saying the company is "mystified and saddened by the baseless and self-serving allegations and distortions of fact raised in [Rather's] lawsuit." So that leaves us with Rather's version of what happened next. "The fact is, they caved," he says. "They crumbled." When the documents were savaged by right-wing bloggers and press critics, CBS News found it couldn't prove their authenticity and backed down. And so, at the time, did Rather...

Two days after the apology, Rather's faith in his employers was shaken. CBS announced it was commissioning an independent investigation into the flaws of his 60 Minutes Wednesday segment, to be co-chaired by former U.S. attorney general Dick Thornburgh, a Bush family friend and onetime Nixon confidant. Rather felt CBS was handing him over to his enemies for execution. When Heyward informed him that Thornburgh would lead the investigation, Rather was riding in a car in Manhattan with a CBS security guard assigned to him after he'd been mobbed by paparazzi. "I don't believe what I'm hearing," Rather told him, slamming his fist on the dashboard. "This is un-fucking-believable! You couldn't have picked anybody who is worse."

Rather says he told Heyward, "'You can't do this.' And he very coldly said, 'It's done.'"

Already a chronic insomniac, Rather barely slept now, arriving at his office at 7 a.m. to make frantic calls to anyone and everyone, desperate to glue the story back together. After the 6:30 broadcast of the Evening News, he would stay on the set for hours going over the details. "He was crazed," says a friend. "He looked exhausted."

....Rather and Heyward had known each other since the early eighties, when Rather plucked Heyward from the local New York affiliate to work at the network. Heyward promised they would get through the ordeal together. "He'd gone corporate long before this," says Rather. "Nevertheless, I believed him."

When he describes his eight-hour interrogation before the commission, Rather seems to relive the moment. He can visualize the seating chart of his inquisitors, pointing to exactly where Thornburgh sat. Former Associated Press chief Louis Boccardi was the only journalist on the panel, outnumbered by lawyers, Rather says, with two from Thornburgh's legal team doing the bulk of the questioning. Thornburgh sat silent and coiled, waiting to interject "like a cobra strikes."

"He'd get up right in your face: 'Mr. Rather, you mean to tell me that after all of this you'd do a story with Mary Mapes?' 'Yessir, that's exactly what I said.' And then he'd shake his head," says Rather. "I thought he was a total ass. He tried cheap Perry Mason tactics."

Conservatives thought the Thornburgh panel's report was weak, not scathing. (It punted the question of political bias at CBS.) Then came the part of the story where Angry Dan gets liquored up:

Rather's shock turned to quiet fury. He stalked the offices, barely acknowledging staffers in the hallways. People referred to this mode as "Defcon 4." "He got progressively, visually angry," says a former colleague. "You don't want to be in his eyesight when he's like that." His only release was commiserating on the phone late at night with Mary Mapes; he would announce himself as "Dan Rather, plus three" -- meaning he'd had three glasses of bourbon.

He asked for a meeting with CBS boss Les Moonves to plead his case:

"I'm not sure there's yet an understanding of what's happening here," he recalls telling Moonves. "We've done a true story, and they're not denying it because they can't deny it."

Angry that Mapes and other producers in the pipeline were fired, Rather went passive-aggressive:

But the anger was seething just below the surface. The next night, Rather's last as anchor of the CBS Evening News, he wore a T-shirt under his suit and tie that read F.E.A. -- "Fuck 'em all."

Hagan helpfully suggested that the supposed Killian documents were "never proved real, never proved fake." After a few paragraphs, Dan is being assassinated again:

Like Kennedy trying to solve his own assassination, Rather explored every possible conspiracy theory, from Karl Rove's planting passable fakes to damage him to a National Guard employee's typing up copies before the originals were destroyed. "I've been down every one of those rabbit holes and 50 more," says Rather, "including people saying, 'You come up with $200,000 in small bills...' About that I say, 'Listen, I'm not going to pay for anything.'"

But Hagan didn't always allow Rather's claims of his irrefutable journalistic glory go unchallenged. On the matter of Bill Burkett, the disgruntled, Bush-hating source:

Still, Rather is ultimately relying on the same source who got him into trouble in the first place. Why does he believe his documents are real now? There are two reasons: "First of all," he says, "the story is true. Here is the proof that the story is true: Nobody has ever denied what was reported in the story. President Bush has not denied it, nobody at the White House has denied it, and nobody connected with the Bush administration has denied it." (Actually, Bartlett does deny what CBS reported: "We believe the story is inaccurate, both the general thrust of it and the questionable sources they used," he says. "I'm not a forensic specialist, but many people who are concluded the documents were fraudulent.")

Late in the piece, Hagan assessed how Rather seems to inspire puzzled giggles from colleagues:

Rather's lawsuit has made him radioactive, even among his allies -- many of whom would not speak about him on the record. It has also opened him up to criticism that he held on too long -- both to his job and to the story -- and, as CBS has stated in its legal rebuttal, that suing is his desperate attempt to return to public significance. Several of his former associates from CBS believe Rather should have bowed out gracefully like NBC's Tom Brokaw. "He should have gotten out of this place a long time ago," says a 60 Minutes producer. "He seemed to have no ability to make that choice and cross the line. He just moved the line."

Rather insists he's not just clinging to his public profile. "I can say truthfully I've never thought of it that way," he says. "Being on television every day can be egocentric and it can develop an almost egomaniacal quality to it. That's undeniable. And frankly, if you only do the anchoring work, you're much more susceptible to that."

People invariably laugh when you ask them to analyze Rather. Even Rather gives a smile and admits that figuring him out "may be full-time work." Still, everyone has an opinion. Some of his friends think he's brave to take on CBS; others see it as a little tragic. "It's kind of sad that he feels like he has to do this," says one admirer. "It's going to zap a lot of his energy." Morley Safer thinks Rather is suing because he "enjoys being a martyr." For his detractors, there is also the whiff of insanity that clings to such a quixotic cause. In conversation, Rather doesn't seem particularly crazy. But the "Crazy Dan" theme -- "Gunga Dan," "Courage," "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" -- still trails him.

"I've been a reporter for 58 years," says Rather, not terribly happy that I've brought it up. "That old saying, as you go through life your friends fall away and your enemies accumulate -- when you insist on being independent, sometimes with a capital I, people who are highly partisan politically, on all sides of things, when you don't report things the way they want you to report it, they call you eccentric or wacky or biased or what have you.

"I'm not proud of this, but I fight back," says Rather. "That's just in my id."

For the article in full in this week's New York magazine: nymag.com

-- Brent Baker