2. Russert Concedes Fewer Deaths in Iraq Means Less Coverage
3. GQ Genuflects Before Bill Clinton In 'Men of the Year' Issue
4. 'Top Ten Signs the Political Candidates are Tired of the Debates'
Taking their lead from liberal Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, the three broadcast networks all screamed "cover-up" Friday night as ABC and NBC led with Democratic complaints about the CIA destroying video of some interrogations of terrorists while CBS made it the second story -- though Katie Couric teased it with "Cover-Up?" on screen under video of Kennedy. "Tonight, charges of a cover-up by the CIA," Charles Gibson teased World News, "why were videotapes of its secret interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects destroyed?" Gibson set up his lead story by asserting "congressional leaders are in an uproar tonight over a secret they were never told, and will now never know," as if leaders of both parties were "in an uproar." In the subsequent story, however, all four soundbites from members of the House or Senate came from Democrats (two of the four from Kennedy). Couric got it correct as she highlighted how "today Democrats demanded a criminal investigation."
Brian Williams teased the NBC Nightly News: "On the broadcast tonight, was it a CIA cover-up? New fallout after revelations the CIA may have destroyed videotape evidence in the U.S. war on terror."
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Transcripts of the teases and story leads on the Friday, December 7 evening newscasts, as compiled by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
# ABC's World News:
TEASE FROM CHARLES GIBSON: Tonight, charges of a cover-up by the CIA. Why were videotapes of its secret interrogations of al-Qaeda suspects destroyed?
GIBSON OPENED: Good evening. Congressional leaders are in an uproar tonight over a secret they were never told, and will now never know. They are demanding an investigation into why the CIA, in the year 2005, destroyed videotapes that were made during the interrogations of two top al-Qaeda suspects, interrogations using so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques." Our national security correspondent, Jonathan Karl, is joining us now with a story that has pretty much consumed Washington today.
Karl properly identified the complainers as Democrats: "Democratic leaders compared the CIA's actions to the Watergate scandal..." His story featured four soundbites from House or Senate members, all Democrats: Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator Dick Durbin, Congresswoman Jane Harman and Kennedy again.
Following Karl, Gibson did refer to "Washington Democrats" as he turned to Jane Crawford Greenburg to discuss the prospects for an obstruction of justice case.
KATIE COURIC, IN OPENING TEASER: Also tonight, serious allegations against the CIA.
COURIC, INTRODUCING THE SECOND STORY (after the Omaha shooting): Now to the uproar in Congress over the CIA tape case. The agency acknowledged yesterday that it destroyed videotapes of its interrogations of two terror suspects. Today Democrats demanded a criminal investigation. David Martin has the latest.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, IN OPENING TEASER: On the broadcast tonight, was it a CIA cover-up? New fallout after revelations the CIA may have destroyed videotape evidence in the U.S. war on terror.
WILLIAMS LED: Good evening. For people who make their living in secret, the U.S. intelligence community sure has been in the news a lot this week. First, we learned they don't think Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon anymore. Then yesterday we learned that when CIA interrogators used waterboarding to question al-Qaeda operatives, some of it was apparently videotaped. But those videotapes were apparently destroyed two years ago. The problem here is waterboarding is considered by many a form of torture. And when investigators asked for those tapes, they were told they never existed. So critics today, as you might imagine, were howling and using words like "cover-up." We begin here tonight with NBC's Andrea Mitchell.
Asked by NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt on Sunday evening about how a new MSNBC/Mason-Dixon poll found that Iraq is not "the dominating issue" as "the economy is immensely important to voters," Tim Russert suggested Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani will have "to re-calibrate" for "a bread and butter election" since "with the surge in Iraq and the level of American deaths declining, it is off the front pages." Iraq is also now of less interest to the television networks. A MRC study released last week documented how Iraq stories on the three broadcast network evening newscasts fell from 178 in September to 68 during November, "with only eleven (16%) actually from the war zone itself."
[This item was posted Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Holt did not report any issue-oriented poll results, just how the MSNBC/Mason-Dixon poll, also conducted for McClatchy Newspapers, has Barack Obama tied with Clinton in Iowa, New Hampshire and in South Carolina, and on the GOP side, Mike Huckabee way ahead in Iowa and South Carolina. MSNBC's First Read and a McClatchy news story also stick to the horse race, but the posting of the McClatchy article includes links to PDFs with results for what most concerns caucus and primary voters: www.mcclatchydc.com 
The exchange on the Sunday, December 9 NBC Nightly News:
LESTER HOLT: When we look back a long time ago, I think there was the assumption that Iraq would be the dominating issue going into this campaign. Now these numbers tell us the economy is immensely important to voters. So what does that mean for candidates like Rudy Giuliani, like Hillary Clinton, who've really been pushing national security, tough on terrorism type credentials?
For the December 4 study by the MRC's Rich Noyes, "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 
Try to remember a time in September when it was reported that the Hillary Clinton campaign showed its "hard-nosed media strategy" by getting GQ magazine to spike a piece on Clinton team in-fighting by threatening to pull access to Bill Clinton for GQ's planned December "Man of the Year" cover package. Well, that "Man of the Year" issue is out, and there was no bucking, only fawning. The article is titled "Bill Clinton, Public Citizen: On the road with one man who believe that there is no problem on Earth, no matter how complex or horrific, that cannot be solved." GQ spiked the negative article and gave the former President a puff piece so puffy that it will lead to Monica Lewinsky jokes. The editor even found Clinton to be Reaganesque.
In his letter from the editor in the December issue, Editor/Spiker-in-Chief Jim Nelson made no reference to the deal he made with the Clintons. In a note headlined "The Year of the Wide Stance," he summarized the year like this: "It was a year when politicians couldn't decide what they stood for -- or in the case of Larry Craig, what they sat for."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Friday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
The September 26 CyberAlert item, "Using Bill as Bait, Hillary Clinton Team Kills a Negative Story," recounted:
Picking up on a Monday report by Politico, FNC's Brit Hume on Tuesday highlighted how the Hillary Clinton campaign successfully muscled one magazine out of a negative story by using Bill Clinton as bait: "GQ magazine agreed to kill a critical piece about fighting within the Hillary Clinton campaign team in exchange for access to Bill Clinton for another story." Indeed, Politico revealed that the Clinton campaign gave the CondeNast/Fairchild publication "a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity cover boy Bill Clinton. Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign's demands." Hume observed how "the episode is said to be an illustration of the power of the Clinton celebrity factor, and the fact that the Clintons have the rare ability within the political world to actually affect magazine sales."
For the past CyberAlert item in full: www.mrc.org 
Nelson mocked Rudy Giuliani for citing Reagan as a role model and joked candidates should pick a more obscure president to model after, like alcoholic Franklin Pierce. Then he compared Clinton favorably to Reagan:
Reporter George Saunders began the puff piece in the Dominican Republic with Clinton as he entered a hospital full of children. He quickly establishes that the tone of this article will be that Bill Clinton is a brilliant savior of a half-millions AIDS sufferers, and anyone who has ever opposed him is an infantile lout for doing so:
Clinton doesn't say a word as he enters. I'm expecting the affable, gregarious, at ease president of legend to exude a burst of tension-diffusing warmth. But no. He's tall, thin, white-haired, and solemn, like the ghost of Jimmy Stewart, if death had made Jimmy Stewart watchful and biblically dour.
Clinton nods gravely to a nun, touches one kid on the head, stares at another a beat longer than you would expect, as if he's met the kid before and is trying to remember where. The silence goes on an uncomfortably long time. It begins to feel, possibly, like sullenness, or confusion. Is he exhausted? Has he had it will all the traveling, the attention, the continual expectation that he will exude bursts of tension-diffusing warmth?
The silence has the effect of bringing the room to attention. The kids go quiet. Even we Press, behind our green rope, stop jostling and photographing and just look. Suddenly, whether it's accidental, intentional, or some rot of visceral Zen body-sense he's acquired over many years of doing this kind of thing, we're all more in the room than we were a few seconds earlier. We're having -- he is causing us to have -- a moment.
In this little Clinton-caused moment, something occurs to me: If not for-
At this point, a warning about an encroaching moment of corniness of a type you'll see again in this story: that which results when a virtuous action, reported objectively, is so virtuous it still sounds corny.
Objectivity has nothing to do with it. Saunders is getting on his knees for his first genuflection:
So: In this little Clinton-caused moment, something occurs to me: If not for the William J. Clinton Foundation, every one of these kids would be dead or dying soon, since every one of them is HIV-positive, and until the foundation intervened, almost no one in the Dominican Republc had access to life-prolonging antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). And for most kids this young, the life expectancy for something with HIV no on ARVs is five years.
"I see a vacant seat in the poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, carefully preserved," the Ghost of Christmas Present says to Scrooge, re Tiny Tim. "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will die."
The kids -- these twenty altered shadows -- present Clinton with a poster: CHILDREN LIVING WITH AIDS. A BIG CHALLENGE FOR THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.
The teachers count off: "Uno, dos, tres..."
"DENK YOU!" the kids shout.
Saunders projected that Clinton saved the lives of half a million people, reporting that in 2002, only two million of 35 million people in the world with HIV had access to those ARV drugs.
If you're like me, you vaguely knew about this and took it as proof of the essential powerlessness of man and the cruelty of a universe in which certain horrible problems were simply too complex to solve.
If you were Bill Clinton, you called Ira Magaziner, senior adviser for policy development in your White House and key architect of your universal health plan, and together you went off and brokered a deal with some Indian and South African generic-drug companies, a deal now legendary for the judoistic, zero-sum beauty of its logic.
Clinton convinced generic drug makers to lower their prices by promising to provide purchase the drugs in volume:
The Clinton Foundation estimates that some 750,000 people are now taking reduced-price ARVs purchased under the Clinton HIV-AIDS Initiative-negotiated agreements. The New York Times puts this figure at 400,000.
Either way, it's huge: half a million people, sentenced to die, given a reprieve.
It would be wise to suspect that Saunders is merely recycling the entire Clinton Foundation publicity pitch. For example, even as they fawned about Clinton's prodigious talents, Fortune magazine reported some quibbles around the edges for how much credit is warranted. But Saunders confessed he was a longtime Clinton booster, that Bill's speeches made him cry:
Bill Clinton, the man who was president when my daughters were small, whose inaugural speech ("force the spring") choked me up in my cubicle, whose State of the Unions my wife and I watched year after year in our little house in Rochester; whom I let slip off my radar somewhat during that long second term, because having admired him, I felt let down and sick about the whole mess: his mistakes and the way some people jumped on those mistakes, exulting in what was a complex, personal issue, the infantile streak it revealed in us as a culture.
END of Excerpt
I'm still amazed that some people can see a man beginning an affair with an intern that's almost his daughter's age as she flashed her thong underwear at him and...call his critics "infantile." Saunders and other Clinton cheerleaders never acknowledge that this "whole mess" was all about a sexual-harassment lawsuit, the charge that he had forced himself on unwilling state employees like Paula Jones and demanded their sexual attention. He settled with Jones to the tune of $850,000.
The article is not online, but here's the magazine's home page: men.style.com 
From the Late Show with David Letterman's Web site, the winning entries in last week's "Top Ten Contest," the "Top Ten Signs the Political Candidates are Tired of the Debates." The Late Show site, which is being updated during the strike: www.cbs.com 
The winning entries, as posted on Saturday:
10. Podiums replaced by La-Z-Boy recliners (Tejinder G, Montreal, Canada)
9. McCain is only answering questions via a hand puppet named Spanky (Keith F, Andover, KS)
8. All candidates have to chug a beer every time Rudy mentions 9/11 (Terrell J, Chicago, IL)
7. Romney only able to sustain insincere smile for first 30 minutes of debate Steven B, Denver, CO
6. Watch to switch from YouTube questions to Trivial Pursuit: 80's Edition (Ken R, Dayton, OH)
5. Notes on Hillary's podium are really latest Lane Bryant catalog (Mark W, Beaverton, OR)
4. Two words: Strip debating (Bill B, Barrhaven, Canada)
3. Romney has requested that all questions asked at next debate come from that week's "Dear Abby" column (Matt B, Las Vegas, NV)
2. Rudy takes calls from all of his wives (Dora C, Bend, OR)
1. They're letting Bill answer a few questions (Nancy W, Phoenix, AZ)
-- Brent Baker