"Lecture" & "Tongue Lashing"; "Paying Price" for Standing with NRA?; Rather Slammed Condit Story But Spread Rumor in 2000
1) Dan Rather portrayed President Bush as being on the "receiving end today of a lecture from the Pope" and "an international tongue lashing over global warming." ABC's Peter Jennings saw only benefits to what the Pope opposes as he stressed how experimenting on human embryos "might lead to a cure for some very serious diseases." NBC's David Gregory rued how the Pope "only made it harder" for Bush to determine what is the "right thing to do on stem cell research." On global warming, ABC's Bob Jamieson let viewers in on points rarely heard on network TV.
2) Dan Rather on Friday: "President Bush can count on the NRA among his most ardent supporters because of its pro-gun rights policies. But is the President paying a price for that backing? ....One of the Attorney General's positions is costing him the support of some people who might otherwise be his allies."
3) Media Reality Check "Quick Take" distributed by fax on Monday afternoon: "'High Road' Anchor Baselessly Slammed GOP in 2000. CBS's Dan Rather Condemns Condit News as 'Speculation,' but He Aired False Report of GOP Dirty Trick."
4) "Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman"? Stephanopoulos is filling-in all week as co-host of GMA. USA Today reported it's part of a tryout to find a replacement for Charles Gibson.
Dan Rather on Monday night portrayed President Bush as being on the receiving end of rebukes from both the Pope and the "international" community as he teased the July 23 CBS Evening News: "A world of pressure on the President. President Bush gets a papal lecture about embryonic stem cell research and an international tongue lashing over global warming."
CBS reporter John Roberts soon claimed that "Mr. Bush found himself right back in the European pressure cooker" as the Pope "injected himself into the intensifying debate over federal funding of stem cell research." On global warming, Roberts only relayed the liberal environmentalist line, but over on ABC Bob Jamieson gave rare network air time to noting how the Kyoto treaty exempts India and China and he allowed a conservative to point out that "if every nation on Earth that had signed the Kyoto Protocol actually lived up to its stipulations, temperatures would only be one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit cooler than they would have been otherwise."
ABC anchor Peter Jennings didn't see an aggressive Pope on the attack, but did see only benefits for the research the Pope opposes, as Jennings referred to how experimenting on human embryos "might lead to a cure for some very serious diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's."
NBC's Brian Williams offered that spin, but also added the contrasting perspective: "Others say it is tinkering with sacred human life." The Pope "only made it harder" for Bush to determine what is the "right thing to do on stem cell research," NBC reporter David Gregory asserted seconds later. But he made it harder for Bush only if you assume his position is wrong.
More details about coverage of Bush in Europe on the three broadcast network evening shows on Monday, July 23:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings opened the show: "Good evening everyone. The President saw the Pope today and the Pope told the President in no uncertain terms that research involving embryonic stem cells was an evil on the same level as infanticide. The debate about experimenting on human embryos, which might lead to a cure for some very serious diseases, including Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, has been on the President's mind for many weeks and has, as you know, become a very intense political as well as a moral argument."
-- CBS Evening News. After the above quoted tease, Dan Rather began his program: "President Bush is ending up his European trip in the spotlight and on the spot on several policy issues that could have lasting global impact. There's the sudden surprise word that U.S. talks with Russia could link the missile shield plan that Mr. Bush wants to a deal Russia's President Putin wants on nuclear weapons reduction. More about that shortly. First, President Bush found himself on the receiving end today of a lecture from the Pope on embryonic stem cell research. And a steaming rebuke from world leaders about global warming."
John Roberts started his subsequent piece, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "This was supposed to be
the easy part of the President's trip after a weekend of taking fire
from G-8 leaders on global warming. Instead, Mr. Bush found himself right
back in the European pressure cooker. First, it was the Pope who injected
himself into the intensifying debate over federal funding of stem cell
research, urging the President to reject what he termed 'the evils of
destroying embryos in the name of science.'"
After a clip of Bush saying the process has
"been deliberative," Roberts moved on: "At almost the same
time, in Bonn, negotiators from 178 countries forged a united front
against the President on global warming. After a marathon negotiating
session, they defiantly announced they had rescued the Kyoto treaty the
President had tried to kill. America's allies vowed to ratify the treaty
to reduce greenhouse gases in the next year and persuade President Bush to
drop his opposition to the pact. Not likely, said the national security
More like a "harsh" spotlight from CBS News.
Over on ABC, viewers heard some points rarely
voiced on network television. On Monday's World News Tonight Bob
Jamieson looked at the Bonn meeting where 170 nations voted to keep Kyoto
alive. He showed the delegates booing the U.S. representatives and let a
guy from the NRDC blast the U.S. as a "climate outlaw." But then
he let viewers hear Bush's reasoning, noting that Kyoto "exempts
China and India, even though within decades they will be the world's
biggest polluters. And the administration believes it will produce little
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams opened the show with a more-balanced presentation than did ABC's Jennings and without Rather's condescending attitude about a "lecture" from the Pope: "Good evening. They are arguably the two most powerful men in the world: the American President George W. Bush and Pope John Paul II. On the agenda during their meeting today, what is rapidly becoming one of the most emotional, polarizing and controversial issues of our time -- the use of cells from human embryos for research. Some insist it is the route to a cure for many diseases. Others say it is tinkering with sacred human life. Today the Pope made his position very clear as the President prepares to make a decision."
After running a clip of Bush saying the U.S.
will go forward with missile defense even if testing violates the ABM
treaty because it's the "right thing to do," David Gregory
concluded by lamenting:
Apparently, Gregory has already made up his mind.
It took Dan Rather two months to decide that the Chandra Levy/Gary Condit tale was worth one story, but on Friday night, without any actual events to justify a story, the CBS Evening News self-generated its own story about how bad it is that John Ashcroft is in bed with the NRA.
Picking up on the view of one police union, Rather suggested that Ashcroft's position on gun rights "is costing him the support of some people who might otherwise be his allies." Reporter Jim Stewart concluded the one-sided story by snidely recalling: "An NRA Vice President predicted last year that if Bush were elected, they would quote, 'work out of the White House.' This kind of early success, however, has to exceed even the NRA's highest expectations." And that's not a good thing to CBS News.
Rather set up the July 20 polemic: "President Bush can count on the NRA among his most ardent supporters because of its pro-gun rights policies. But is the President paying a price for that backing? As CBS's Jim Stewart reports, one of the Attorney General's positions is costing him the support of some people who might otherwise be his allies."
Stewart began: "Attorney General John
Ashcroft's idea to throw away all the criminal background check
information on gun buyers just one day after their purchase is suddenly
running into opposition from law enforcement. This week the International
Brotherhood of Police Officers said they simply want more time to check
sales records for criminal activity."
On keeping the records of gun buyers, what happened to the media's vaunted concern for the people's "right to privacy"?
The MRC's July 23 Media Reality Check "Quick Take" distributed by fax on Monday afternoon: "'HIGH ROAD' ANCHOR BASELESSLY SLAMMED GOP IN 2000. CBS'S DAN RATHER CONDEMNS CONDIT NEWS AS 'SPECULATION,' BUT HE AIRED FALSE REPORT OF GOP DIRTY TRICK."
To view this online as fax recipients saw it,
access the Adobe Acrobat version:
For the "Quick Take" fax the MRC's Rich Noyes took what Rather told the New York Times on Monday, about how he avoided Levy/Condit because of his distaste for the "gossip" and "speculation' which overshadowed "facts," and contrasted it to how last August he opened the CBS Evening News by implicating the "Republican-backed" independent counsel in a leak aimed at ruining Al Gore's big convention acceptance night, a leak later traced to a judge appointed by former President Carter, a Democrat.
The text of the July 23 Media Reality Check:
Dan Rather insists that his non-coverage of the scandal surrounding Democratic Congressman Gary Condit is a journalistic virtue, not head-in-the-sand foolishness. An article in Monday's New York Times quoted the CBS Evening News anchor's explanation of his own rules for good reporting: "I've tried to stand for what I believe in -- decent, responsible journalism....When rumors, gossip, speculation and all this other stuff begin swirling, and other people begin reporting it -- frequently, I'm sorry to say, reporting it as fact -- my question always was, and continues to be, what do we know on the basis of our own reporting?"
On Thursday's Imus in the Morning radio program, Rather similarly
claimed to be "high road, hard news," but during last year's
political campaign he presented his own speculation as news, baselessly
accusing Republicans of detonating "a carefully orchestrated,
politically motivated leak" on the last day of the Democratic
National Convention. Here's how Rather began the August 17, 2000 CBS
In fact, the story about the Clinton grand jury probe was accidentally leaked to an Associated Press reporter by a federal judge appointed by Democratic President Jimmy Carter. But Rather's ignorance of the facts did not restrain his later prime time speculation about the "Republican-backed" prosecutor.
"You don't have to be a cynic to note that this has all the earmarks of a carefully orchestrated, politically motivated leak," Rather wrote at the time in a "Notebook" item for the CBS News Web site. While he now lectures the rest of the media about restraint, Rather has never apologized for the damage that his wild speculation may have caused to Ray or others. The CBS Evening News, however, did correct itself on Friday, August 18, 2000 -- when Rather was enjoying a post-convention vacation.
END Reprint of Media Reality Check "Quick Take"
To view a RealPlayer clip of Rather opening
the August 17, 2000 CBS Evening News, go to:
For more on how Rather and others treated the
leak, go to:
"Good Morning America with George Stephanopoulos and Claire Shipman"? Stephanopoulos is filling in all of this week for Charles Gibson on GMA and on Monday USA Today reported it's part of a tryout to find a successor to Charles Gibson who, along with Diane Sawyer, may soon want to move on from what was supposed to be a short-term assignment to rescue the morning show.
In his July 23 "Inside TV" column,
USA Today's Peter Johnson reported about the former Clintonista:
Let's hope not. Gibson may tilt a bit to the left, but he's a model of balance compared to Ford, Moran and Stephanopoulos. But so far this week Stephanopoulos has hardly been able to touch any politics as he is hosting the show's week-long look at wedding planning -- just in time for his wedding this fall to actress Alexandra Wentworth. -- Brent Baker 
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