TV Cries “Scandal!” Public Yawns
“NSA bombshell: A new report that the government is secretly tracking your phone calls, seeking information on every call made in the U.S. The war on terror vs. your privacy.”
— ABC’s Diane Sawyer opening the May 11 Good Morning America. Later in the show, ABC’s on-screen graphic warned: “Big Brother: Why is NSA Tracking Your Calls?”
“This morning, a shocking new report that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of tens of millions of Americans?...This is sure to set off a real firestorm in Washington today.”
— Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today, May 11. NBC’s on-screen graphic read “Big Brother?”
“Good evening. It started on page one of USA Today and exploded all over the morning news....Just hours after critics started to roar in outrage, by mid-day the President himself felt the need to defend his government’s policy.”
— Brian Williams opening the May 11 NBC Nightly News.
Elizabeth Vargas: “An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that Americans overwhelmingly support the surveillance of phone records as a way to protect them against a potential terrorist strike. They’re in favor of it by a margin of nearly two to one....”
George Stephanopoulos: “When I was speaking to opponents of the program today, they were really surprised that more Americans didn’t share their outrage. But our poll shows that two-thirds of Americans wouldn’t be bothered, even if the NSA was collecting their own phone records.”
— ABC’s World News Tonight, May 12.
Touting Phony “Storm” on the Hill
“Does the government need to know who you’ve been talking to on the phone? Then why is it collecting millions of our phone records?...The newspaper USA Today broke the story....and it set off a storm on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats alike are demanding answers.”
— Bob Schieffer opening the May 11 CBS Evening News.
“House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi pounced on the headline even though she had been briefed long ago.... One intelligence source tells NBC News that two dozen members of Congress have known about this program for years and have been completely uninterested until today.”
— NBC’s Lisa Myers on Nightly News that same day.
CBS: Voters Set to Reject GOP...
“Are we about to see a dramatic shift in the political landscape? If the findings of a new CBS News/New York Times poll are accurate, the answer may well be yes....The Republican-controlled Congress gets even lower marks, an approval rating of only 23 percent. That’s just a little better than [the 20 percent approval in] 1994 when dissatisfaction was running so high that Republicans wrested control of both houses of Congress for the first time in 40 years.”
— Bob Schieffer on the May 9 CBS Evening News.
...But Hid Dems’ Bad News in ‘94
“One week before the elections, Americans are confused about the present, pessimistic about the future and cynical about the ability of government to make things bet-ter....Republicans seem to be failing in their effort to make these elections a referendum on the President [Clinton].... It’s hard to gauge who’ll be helped or hurt by all this gloom come Election Day.”
— Bob Schieffer on the Nov. 2, 1994 Evening News, first reporting the same poll referenced above showing the Democratic-controlled Congress at 20 percent approval.
George’s Wishful Thinking
“Democrats are also coming forward with another agenda. Speaker, ah, perhaps Speaker Pelosi — she’s certainly not the Speaker right now — the Democratic leader Pelosi says the Democrats’ agenda is going to be four parts...”
— ABC’s George Stephanopoulos to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on the May 7 This Week.
George Stephanopoulos: “[Ethics legislation] was not one of the top four pieces of legislation that Speaker Pelo — uh, excuse me, I don’t know why I’ve got that stuck in my head today. Must be reading the current polls-“
Howard Dean: “I’m glad. I like the sound of that, George!”
Stephanopoulos: “I’m sure you do, but it’s not the case. She is just the Democratic leader. Excuse me.”
— Exchange on ABC’s This Week a few minutes later. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
CNN: Let’s Throw the Bums Out
“And we will hope that there’ll be maybe some different political leaders at some point, maybe after the elections, who are looking out for people who are getting left out by some of these programs.”
— CNN’s Jennifer Westhoven ending an interview with the New America Foundation’s Len Nichols, a critic of the Medicare prescription drug program, May 13 In the Money.
Victims of “Obscene” Oil Profits
Reporter Sharyn Alfonsi: “They’re used to living on fixed incomes, but now skyrocketing gas prices are forcing seniors to make difficult choices. Some are cutting back on medicine, others say they’re eating less. [To retiree] What do you think when you fill up your car with gasoline now?”
Delbert Osborne: “I think, ‘Have I got enough money to pay for all this and still get a loaf of bread?’”
Alfonsi: “Fortunately, 91-year-old Delbert Osborne doesn’t drive that much anymore. He relies on Meals on Wheels, a group that’s also in a squeeze. Volunteer drivers, most who are retirees on fixed incomes, are dropping out every day.”
Volunteer: “Do they eat or do they help someone else? You know, that’s a hard decision for them to make.”
— CBS Evening News, May 1. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
“The estimates are that the six large U.S. [oil] companies will have a total of $135 billion in profits for the year 2006. Don’t consumers have a right to be angry?”
“The public looks at a total of $135 billion over the year, that’s larger than the gross domestic product of Israel, and says isn’t that an obscene amount?”
— Co-host Charles Gibson to ConocoPhillips Chairman James Mulva on ABC’s Good Morning America, May 8.
Katie Couric vs. Fat Paychecks
“You signed a $13 million book deal, which I understand is bigger than Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, and Pope John Paul II, so how do you square your wealth with the tenets of Christianity?...[The Bible] said, this is Matthew 19, verses 23 and 24, ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth. It is hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Again, I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”’...It makes you wonder about your claim that wealth is a positive thing.”
— NBC’s Katie Couric, who is poised to make $15 million a year as the new anchor of the CBS Evening News, to TV minister Joel Osteen on Today, May 9.
Baffled By Basic Economics
Incoming NBC Today co-host Meredith Vieira: “Why does raising the minimum wage — this is one I don’t get — actually hurt poor people? I don’t understand that one at all.”
20/20’s John Stossel: “...The truth is that people on the margins lose jobs when minimum wages go up. We used to have people washing windshields at gas stations. We don’t anymore because of the minimum wage. There’s no opportunity for kids, for entry-level workers.”
— Exchange on ABC’s The View, May 12.
CNN Presents “Words of Wisdom”
Anchor Wolf Blitzer: “Let’s get some words of wisdom from Jack Cafferty. He’s in New York right now. Jack?”
CNN’s Jack Cafferty: “I don’t know about wisdom, but you’ll get a little outrage. We better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, because he might be all that’s standing between us and a full-blown dictatorship in this coun-try....Does it concern you that your phone company may be voluntarily providing your phone records to the government without your knowledge or your permission? If it doesn’t, it sure as hell ought to....”
Blitzer: “Words of wisdom, as I said, Jack, outraged, as you clearly are. Thanks very much.”
— CNN’s The Situation Room, May 11. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
Al Gore, Planet-Saving Superhero
“Rather than retire...Gore has stayed in the game by continuing to fight for the environment....The lecture on global warming that he has been giving for decades...has been turned into the indie documentary An Inconvenient Truth. The movie got raves at the Sundance Film Festival....In Los Angeles theaters, the trailers have been getting ovations.... 2008 is still a long way away. And in the meantime, Gore has decided, there’s a planet to save.”
— Time’s Karen Tumulty profiling former Vice President Al Gore, whom the magazine chose as one of the “Time 100: The People Who Shape Our World,” May 8 issue.
Bush Desecrates Flag & Country
“Our policy has desecrated this [the American] flag. Treating the rest of the world with contempt, dropping bombs on people who don’t need bombs dropped on them, killing civilians who have nothing to do — in a policy based on an assumption that an Iraqi life is worth less than ours. It’s obscene.”
— Ex-West Wing star Bradley Whitford on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, May 5. (With WMV video clip/MP3 audio)
“Clinton lied about a blowjob, and got impeached by the media and Congress....[Bush] got us into [the Iraq] war based on lies that he knew were lies....yet no one in the media is calling for impeachment....In my country we seem to be sanctioning renditioning of innocent people without trial...put them in jail without telling anyone...and torture them out of suspicion of what we think they might do....This is exactly what [George] Orwell was talking about when he spoke of thought crimes.”
— Actor/left-wing activist Tim Robbins, who was in Athens, Greece, performing in a stage version of Orwell’s 1984, as quoted in a May 2 Agence-France Press dispatch.
PUBLISHER: L. Brent Bozell III
EDITORS: Brent H. Baker, Rich Noyes, Tim Graham
MEDIA ANALYSTS: Geoffrey Dickens, Brian Boyd, Brad Wilmouth, Megan McCormack, Mike Rule, Scott Whitlock
RESEARCH ASSOCIATE: Michelle Humphrey
CIRCULATION DIRECTOR: Jennifer Bookwalter