Europeans "Fearful" of Bush the "Rambo-Like Cowboy"; Rather Pushed "What Did Bush Know"; Rather Relayed False Story Impugning Ashcroft; Lauer Assumed Conservatives Intolerant; CNN's Health Care Expert: Actress Laura Dern
1) ABC and NBC trumpeted anti-Bush attitudes in Europe. ABC's Terry Moran stressed that "is exceptional since Berlin has hailed and cheered so many American presidents in the past" as a "lot of...ordinary Europeans are fearful of Mr. Bush's leadership." NBC's Campbell Brown marveled at how "even the German media" is "portraying Bush as a Rambo-like cowboy." The problem: Going it "alone" by "rejecting the Kyoto environmental treaty."
2) Dan Rather again insisted upon again raising the "what did Bush know" theme: "There are a lot more questions...about who, including to a certain extent President Bush, knew about what terror threats were happening before 9/11." Bob Schieffer relayed how one "congressional source" told him that budget documents show "the administration was actually shifting its priorities away from the war on terrorism in the months before this attack happened."
3) Dan Rather falsely impugned John Ashcroft, passing along on Imus in the Morning the vile claim that the fact that the Attorney General was "inexplicably" using private aircraft last year proves he feared a terrorist hijacking, but didn't tell the public. An hour later, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski informed Imus that Ashcroft's private plane use had nothing to do with terrorism and was prompted by personal threats on his life.
4) NBC's Matt Lauer feared that Lynne Cheney's children's book on American history would convey a biased view and would not be "inclusive." He asked: "Is this a conservative's view of American history?" And when she explained that the section on God featured a drawing with several different types of houses of worship, he seemed surprised that a conservative would not be intolerant: "So it's inclusive?"
5) CNN's health care expert: Actress Laura Dern, star of a liberal-crusading movie about the evils of "unregulated" HMOs, set to air on Showtime. Judy Woodruff posed a series of softball questions as she treated Dern as a health care expert: "What do you believe the solution is here?" Even Dern's claim that people are being "killed" by HMOs did not faze Woodruff. But Woodruff was much tougher with an HMO representative.
Anti-Bush protests and feelings in Europe were emphasized Wednesday night by ABC and NBC. "There is a lot of anger here," ABC's Terry Moran relayed on World News Tonight. From Berlin, Moran stressed how that "is exceptional since Berlin has hailed and cheered so many American presidents in the past. The people on the streets today and a lot of Europeans, ordinary Europeans, are fearful of Mr. Bush's leadership in the war."
Suggesting somehow that the German media are a circumspect and conservative arbiter, NBC's Campbell Brown marveled at how "even the German media" is "portraying Bush as a Rambo-like cowboy intent on going after Saddam Hussein with or without Europe's support." Without bothering to mention how no European nation (other than Romania) has itself agreed to the Kyoto treaty, Brown passed along how "tensions remain in other areas where Europe believes Bush has opted to go it alone. His rejecting the Kyoto environmental treaty..."
The CBS Evening News held itself to this short item read by Dan Rather: "President Bush is spending the night in Germany, the first stop on a six-day four-nation tour of Europe. The President arrived today in Berlin. He meets tomorrow with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and addresses the German parliament. Also in Berlin for the President's visit are thousands of mostly young protesters who scuffled today with German riot police."
-- On the May 22 World News Tonight, Jennings announced:
-- Campbell Brown began her NBC Nightly News piece:
But we may have to.
While most of the media have realized they distorted coverage last week of the presidential intelligence briefing memo handed to CBS News, by politicizing it into a false "Bush knew" motif, CBS's Dan Rather won't let go. Wednesday night he insisted upon again raising the "what did Bush know" theme: "There are a lot more questions to come about intelligence failures, about opportunities missed, about who, including to a certain extent President Bush, knew about what terror threats were happening before 9/11 and what was and was not done."
Though conservatives point to years of undercutting of the intelligence agencies by liberals who voted for less funding and often painted the CIA as an evil and rogue agency, spending much of the 1990s bizarrely suggesting, for instance, that it brought cocaine into Los Angeles, CBS's Bob Schieffer relayed how one "congressional source" told him that budget documents from last year show "the administration was actually shifting its priorities away from the war on terrorism in the months before this attack happened."
Rather introduced the May 22 CBS Evening News story: "There are a lot more questions to come about intelligence failures, about opportunities missed, about who, including to a certain extent President Bush, knew about what terror threats were happening before 9/11 and what was and was not done, what was and was not shared by the government with the public. A lot more questions, but who should be asking them? CBS's Bob Schieffer is on Capitol Hill tonight with the real deal on that. Bob?"
Schieffer provided an overview of the conflicting views about what type of investigation should be done. Schieffer then added:
Before suggesting that the Bush administration has been issuing terrorist attack warnings in order to "change the subject" from what Bush knew pre-September 11, on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning on Wednesday CBS News anchor Dan Rather passed along the vile claim that the fact that Attorney General Ashcroft was "inexplicably" using private aircraft last year proves he feared a terrorist hijacking. An hour later, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski informed Imus that Ashcroft's private plane use had nothing to do with terrorism and was prompted by personal threats on his life.
"There are important questions that need to be asked, but again, until recently, I would say, until the last week, nobody was asking 'em," Rather intoned. Rather irresponsibly asserted that "just before September 11th" Ashcroft "started inexplicably taking private aircraft to places where normally the Attorney General wouldn't take private aircraft, you know, government planes. Well, that would indicate that somebody somewhere was getting pretty worried, but if you're going to share that with the Attorney General, you know, why wasn't it shared with the public at large?"
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson transcribed Rather's rant on the May 22 Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC:
Rather argued that the terrorist threat warnings are just a way to distract people from Bush's embarrassment: "You know, I can believe that the President and the people around him were surprised and peeved, to say the least, that the information got out last week, with David Martin's report, that President Bush had been briefed about some things that in retrospect, after September 11th, would indicate that, well, maybe somebody should have done something, and I can also believe that as with every President, somebody is in the White House scratching their head saying, 'How can we change the subject?' Now, the subject has been changed, suddenly and very effectively, from how is it that the FBI and the CIA didn't move on the information they had, where was the President briefed about what and when? The subject's been changed from that to suddenly one administration official after another and each escalating it as a new set of warnings. Maybe these two things are not connected, but surely the people in the administration and others could forgive us for perhaps thinking, well, perhaps there's some connection here."
During the next hour Imus asked NBC's Jim Miklaszewski about the Ashcroft rumor which Rather had considered accurate. Miklaszewski also bought into it: "Well, there are reports, of course, that after there were these warnings that were not specific, apparently, about the possibility of airline hijackings that Attorney General John Ashcroft did take government planes to some locations, but other officials in the government say it's not unusual for somebody of Ashcroft's status to take government planes. The question here, of course, is did he have a heads up that the rest of the United States didn't have that kept him off civilian planes?"
But Miklaszewski soon corrected himself. Calling in 20 minutes later, just before 8:30am EDT, he told Imus: "Well, you told me to look into the John Ashcroft thing and why he was flying on government jets."
Remember this bit of irresponsible rumor-mongering by Rather in falsely impugned Ashcroft the next time he lectures about the need for accurate reporting and denounces Web news sources such as the Drudge Report.
NBC's Matt Lauer feared that Lynne Cheney's children's book on American history would convey a biased view and would not be "inclusive." He asked: "Is this a conservative's view of American history?" And when she explained that the section on God featured a drawing with several different types of houses of worship, he seemed surprised that a conservative would not be intolerant: "So it's inclusive?"
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed Lauer's assumptions about conservatives in Lauer's May 21 interview with Second Lady Lynne Cheney, author of America: A Patriotic Primer.
Lauer set up the segment: "Lynne Cheney is not only the wife of Vice President Dick Cheney she's also a senior fellow at a conservative Washington think tank and a PhD with a lifelong devotion to American history. Now she's drawing on that background for her first children's book called, America: A Patriotic Primer."
Lauer worried: "I want to talk about some of the specific pages in a second. Is it a political book? I mean because you are a very well-known conservative thinker? Is this a conservative's view of American history?"
Later, Lauer seemed to assume a conservative could not be inclusive: "G is for God. Your illustrator said that, that was a very difficult page. How did you handle it?"
CNN's health care expert: Actress Laura Dern, star of a liberal-crusading movie, about the awfulness of "unregulated" HMOs and "the human cost of the health care industry's shift to managed care," set to air this weekend on Showtime.
HMOs are hardly without fault, but a segment last week on CNN's Inside Politics was skewed in favor of those who see more government regulation as the answer to perceived problems as the show brought aboard an actress with an axe to grind and treated her as an expert while holding an HMO representative to a tougher standard.
Even Dern's claim that people are being "killed" by HMOs did not raise an eyebrow with Woodruff who moved on to another puffball question.
But Woodruff didn't kiss-up so much to a representative of the HMO industry. Woodruff insisted that she deal with the specific case highlighted by the movie and Woodruff demanded: "Is there adequate separation between the corporate bottom line, the need to make a profit in these companies on the one hand, and on the other hand the interests of the patients?"
Woodruff set up the May 15 segment, based on the CNN transcript checked against the tape by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd: "Now, questions about Damaged Care. That is the title of a film that airs on a cable network Showtime later this month. Actress Laura Dern stars in the true life story of Dr. Linda Peeno, who became an advocate for patients who did not get adequate health care or insurance money. In the film, Dern's character takes on the HMOs."
CNN played a clip of Laura Dern as Linda Peeno testifying before a congressional-looking committee: "We have enough experience from history to demonstrate the consequences of secretive, unregulated systems that go awry. One can only wonder how much pain, suffering and death will we have before we have the courage to change our course."
Woodruff asked: "Laura Dern, why did you do this movie?"
Woodruff turned to the real-life doctor: "Dr. Peeno, at one point in this film, you are playing the role of a doctor -- of someone working at an HMO who has to reject a patient's request for a heart transplant. The patient dies later. Is this tracking what happened in real life?"
Woodruff prompted Dern: "Laura Dern, you mentioned earlier, you said you had your own individual experience with the managed care industry. What do you believe the solution is here?"
Unfazed by Dern's claim that people are being "killed" by HMOs, Woodruff inquired: "Dr. Peeno, what would you add to that, in terms of what solutions are needed?"
Next, Woodruff offered "a competing view on HMOs and the overall health care debate" by interviewing Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of the American Association of Health Plans.
Woodruff told Ignagni: "Pretty much a sweeping indictment of the managed care industry here."
Ignagni added: "So I think we're talking about a hatchet job with a political agenda, and I think it's time to have a real debate. I do believe Ms. Dern is right in calling for a real debate, but I think the prescription is not to wipe the slate clean and go to a government-run system which seems to be the end game here for folks who are promoting this film."
Woodruff brought Ignagni back to the movie's agenda: "Well, this one instance that I asked Dr. Peeno about, and she says this is what happened and when she worked for a managed care company, when she had to, she said, deny the request for a heart transplant. The patient later died. Are you suggesting that there's information to suggest that's not what happened or-"
After Ignagni insisted coverage reviews are done by experts, Woodruff fired back: "I think what patients want to know is, is there adequate separation between the corporate bottom line, the need to make a profit in these companies on the one hand, and on the other hand the interests of the patients?"
One doubts that Woodruff would ever treat an actor who played a journalist as an expert on the malfeasance of journalists.
From the Showtime Web site, the synopsis for their movie, Damaged Care:
Showtime's Web page for the movie: http://www.sho.com/movies/movies_product.cfm?titleid=113983 
Showtime lists these show times:
As far as I can make out from the very confusing Showtime schedule guide, Showtime East is matched by Showtime West, so all those times are both EDT and PDT. Those in CDT or MDT will have to calculate back from those times.
Oh, and back to the CNN promotional segment in the guise of a news interview: So much for the claim that corporate interests drive news agenda decisions. Viacom-owned Showtime, part of the Viacom/CBS/UPN/Infinity empire, is the major competitor to HBO which is owned by CNN parent AOL Time Warner. -- Brent Baker