Stephanopoulos Scolds Critics of Liberals; Combine Peter Jennings with Judy Woodruff and You Get?; "Serious Questions" About Bush Citing Iraq While Campaigning; Rebuking Bush for Personalizing War; FNC Beats CNN in AM But CBS Crushes Both; Moyers on "Corporate Greed; Fraud; Capitalism"
1) George Stephanopoulos showed on Sunday that he's more upset by anyone daring to criticize liberal Democrats than he is by what those liberals said in the first place, no matter how outrageous. When Senator Don Nickles observed of two Democratic Congressmen in Baghdad, one of whom had just claimed Bush would lie in order to justify a war, "both sound somewhat like spokespersons for the Iraqi government," Stephanopoulos pounced on him for a "pretty harsh charge." Stephanopoulos also chided George W. Bush for "basically accusing" Democrats "of treason."
2) Best Line About Liberal Media Bias over the weekend, Cal Thomas of Fox Newswatch speculating about talk of a merger between ABC News and CNN: "What you would get if you crossed Peter Jennings and Judy Woodruff is a younger liberal."
3) ABC discovered scandalous behavior by President Bush: When he's out campaigning he's talking about the biggest and most important policy decision of the day. "Serious questions are being raised about whether Mr. Bush, with all of his travels for money, may be politicizing the prospect of war," Claire Shipman intoned on Friday's World News Tonight. Friday's Good Morning America featured a similar piece. Peter Jennings highlighted a left-wing protest march in Denver, giving publicity to how the marchers chanted "No blood for oil" and "No war for votes."
4) On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Campbell Brown relayed Democratic criticism of President Bush for daring to recall that Saddam Hussein tried to have his father assassinated and then gave the criticism credibility: "That after White House officials have repeatedly insisted the President's campaign isn't personal."
5) While CBS's Early Show, the least-watched of the broadcast network morning shows, has an audience less than half the size of NBC's Today, three times more people tune into CBS in the morning than the highest-rated cable news program, FNC's Fox & Friends, which itself is well ahead of CNN and MSNBC. Cable networks, especially FNC, are gaining audience, but many, many more still watch ABC, CBS and NBC.
George Stephanopoulos showed on Sunday that he's more upset by anyone daring to criticize liberal Democrats than he is by what those liberals said in the first place, no matter how outrageous. He scolded Republican Senator Nickles for a "pretty harsh charge" against a liberal Democrat who said President Bush would "lie" to justify a war and charged that Bush himself had "basically" accused Democrats "of treason."
On This Week, after Congressmen David Bonior (D-Mich.) in Baghdad claimed past U.S. bombing in Iraq had caused kids to get leukemia, "a horrendous, barbaric, horrific thing that's happened," and Congressman Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) confirmed that he thought President Bush would lie in order to justify going to war, Republican Senator Don Nickles of Oklahoma told Stephanopoulos: "I'm really troubled by what I just heard. Congressman McDermott said, well I think the President would mislead the American people and basically he's taking Saddam Hussein's lines, they both sound somewhat likes spokespersons for the Iraqi government."
At one point, as viewers watched sweat spots grow by the second on his orange shirt, Bonior delivered this anti-U.S. diatribe:
Without any reaction to that, Stephanopoulos turned to McDermott: "Finally, Mr. McDermott, before you left for Baghdad, you said 'the President of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war.' Do you really believe that?"
With that, Stephanopoulos thanked the two for appearing and switched to Senator Don Nickles in studio. Stephanopoulos began by asking him about the view of the liberal duo that the U.S. should wait for a report from UN inspectors who want to spend a couple of months doing inspections inside Iraq.
A bit later, without ever suggesting that Democrats had taken Bush's comments out of context, Stephanopoulos asked Nickles to defend Bush's charge that "'the Senate is not interested in the security of the American people.' That's basically accusing them of treason."
Later, during the roundtable segment, George Will reacted with outrage to what hadn't inflamed Stephanopoulos: "Let's note, that in what I consider the most disgraceful performance abroad by an American official in my lifetime -- something not exampled since Jane Fonda sat on the anti-aircraft gun in Hanoi to be photographed -- Mr. McDermott said in effect, not in effect, he said it, we should take Saddam Hussein at his word and not take the President at his word. He said the United States is simply trying to provoke. I mean, why Saddam Hussein doesn't pay commercial time for that advertisement for his policy, I do not know."
Best Line About Liberal Media Bias over the weekend, Cal Thomas of Fox Newswatch speculating about talk of a merger between ABC News and CNN: "What you would get if you crossed Peter Jennings and Judy Woodruff is a younger liberal."
ABC News discovered scandalous behavior by President Bush: When he's out campaigning for congressional candidates he's talking about the biggest and most important policy decision of the day. "Serious questions are being raised about whether Mr. Bush, with all of his travels for money, may be politicizing the prospect of war," Claire Shipman intoned on Friday's World News Tonight. "Everywhere he goes, the President makes his case for an attack on Iraq."
Friday's Good Morning America featured a similar piece from Shipman who ran some brief clips from Bush, such as Bush saying "this tyrant must be dealt with," and then reprimanded him: "You might think he was speaking at a foreign policy association, but all of those comments were made at fundraisers, and it's raising questions about whether such potent war talk is appropriately mixed with the issue of raising money."
Shipman's evening piece featured a rebuke of Bush from the liberal Fred Wertheimer and both her evening and morning stories highlighted another liberal: "David Gergen, who's worked both for Republicans and Democrats," maintained "mixing Iraq and fundraising can be dangerous."
Noting how public support for Bush on Iraq is declining, anchor Peter Jennings highlighted a left-wing protest march in Denver which neither CBS or NBC mentioned Friday night. Jennings even decided to give publicity to some of "slogans chanted" by quoting them: "In Denver today where the President was in town, about two thousand people gathered for a demonstration against his plans for war against Iraq. There have been several smaller anti-war rallies across the country over the past few weeks. Among the slogans chanted today, 'No blood for oil' and 'No war for votes.'"
Now, a complete rundown of the GMA and WNT stories aired on Friday, September 27.
Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer set up the segment caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "Well, back on Iraq. What about those blistering charges in recent days that President Bush, the Democrats say, is using the war for political fundraising? With congressional elections less than six weeks away, we thought we'd ask Claire Shipman to take a look at the President's fundraising and what has the Democrats up in arms. Claire joins us now from Washington, again, and what about it? What's the charge, Claire?"
Shipman presented the Democrats' case: "Well, the charge, Diane, is essentially that the President is playing politics with Iraq. Democrats were especially incensed earlier this week when the President, at a fundraiser, said that they don't care about the nation's security. When we took a look, we found that the President is making his case for war with Iraq almost every time he speaks. Take a look."
Sawyer questioned Shipman's story premise: "Yeah, it is a huge amount of money. So, are the Democrats, is this just sour grapes, or do they really have a point? What are the political wise-heads in Washington saying?"
Apparently to Shipman's regret.
Hours later, Jennings found Shipman's story worth repeating. He teased at the top of World News Tonight: Mixing war and politics: The President is all over the country this week talking about the war while he raises millions of dollars for his party."
Jennings later focused on declining public support for Bush's policy: "The public enthusiasm for attacking Iraq has waned somewhat. A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post finds that 61 percent of Americans support using force to get rid of Saddam Hussein. That's actually down from 68 percent two weeks ago -- not huge. But today only 46 percent of Americans support an attack if U.S. allies are opposed.
Jennings then set up Shipman: "Mr. Bush was talking about war as well while he was raising money for the Republican Party. ABC's Claire Shipman has monitored his travel over the last couple of weeks and has a status report. Claire?"
President Bush scolded for daring to recall how Saddam Hussein tried to have his father assassinated.
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, Campbell Brown relayed Democratic criticism and then backed it up: "Democrats also said today they were deeply troubled by this comment about Saddam made by the President at a fundraiser last night."
That hardly makes the Bush administration's policy any less legitimate.
Morning news ratings. In an unusual event, a story last week in the Atlanta Constitution listed morning news show viewer numbers for both the broadcast and cable networks. They illustrated both the domination of the broadcast networks in the morning, even by CBS's Early Show, over the cable networks as well as how on cable the Fox News Channel is well ahead of CNN and MSNBC.
While CBS's Early Show, the least-watched of the three broadcast network morning shows, has an audience less than half the size of NBC's Today, three times more people tune into CBS in the morning than watch the highest-rated cable news program, FNC's Fox & Friends, which itself has three times the audience MSNBC attracts.
Something to remember when making fun of CBS's troubles with The Early Show. Cable networks, especially FNC, are gaining audience, but many, many more watch the broadcast networks -- which is why CyberAlert concentrates on them.
Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ ) highlighted the September 25 Atlanta Constitution story which included this table listing viewership for the third quarter through September 22:
I'd assume the MSNBC number is for the hours when they simulcast radio's Imus in the Morning.
The newspaper added these two qualifiers: "Early Show numbers are for the 7:47am to 8:34am block; Squawk Box numbers are for the 9am to 9:30am block. Source: Nielsen Media Research."
The Early Show time is different than for ABC and NBC, I'd guess, because so many CBS affiliates only carry a few minutes of the show's 7am half hour, which means that CBS's viewership number would probably be a bit higher if the 7am viewers were added in given that is the most watched half hour in the morning.
An excerpt from the Atlanta Constitution story pegged to CNN's ratings rising in the morning, a piece reporter Mark Kempner began by relating how FNC bought a billboard for Fox & Friends at a location CNN executives see when they go out for a power lunch in Atlanta:
From her perch in New York, CNN morning anchor Paula Zahn can't see the billboard. But her bosses in Atlanta can.
Every time they get a window seat at Prime Meridian restaurant in CNN Center, they can't avoid Fox News Channel's latest billboard taunting them from across Marietta Street.
The current one is for "Fox & Friends," which goes head-to-head with Zahn in the morning. "Fox & Friends," the billboard claims, is the No. 1 cable news morning show and is "Warmer. Younger. Smarter."
But the sign doesn't ruin lunch for CNN executives. "American Morning With Paula Zahn" is on a ratings tear in what had been a dismal time period for the network.
It's CNN's fastest-growing show. More than twice as many viewers watched Zahn's 1-year-old show in the third quarter compared to the same period a year ago.
Both networks have invested heavily in their morning shows, and both get lots of promotion. CNN shelled out more than $2 million to hire Zahn away from her prime-time slot on Fox News last year. And last week Zahn moved into a new streetside New York studio with glass on three sides. It cost more than $15 million.
There's a reason for all the spending: More and more people are watching TV news in the morning, and cable networks want a piece of the action.
Neither Fox News nor CNN is anywhere close to catching up to the top morning shows on the big broadcast networks. NBC's "Today" show gets an audience about 12 times larger than Zahn's....
CNN had anemic morning ratings a year ago. Then came a push to provide bigger-name personalities.
Zahn jumped from Fox News. She already had lots of name recognition from her years as co-host of "CBS Morning News" and as news anchor for segments on ABC's "Good Morning America."
Despite her experience and high profile, Zahn pulls in an audience only two-thirds the size of that for "Fox & Friends" and its triumverate of anchors who came in with far less national clout.
E.D. Hill was a local daytime anchor in New York and a contributing reporter for "Good Morning America" before coming to Fox News. Steve Doocy did morning newscasts at another New York station. Brian Kilmeade was a free-lance sports anchor for a station in Hartford, Conn....
Zahn waves off comparisons with "Fox & Friends." "It really is an apples-to-oranges comparison. We are a show that is doing objective news coverage."
In fact, Zahn says her show is very different from what she considers her main rivals --- the morning shows on NBC, ABC and CBS. "We don't cook," Zahn says. "We don't marry people on television. We do the news."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire story:
Sometimes it only takes a few words to say it all. From the TV grid in Friday's USA Today, the summary for that evening's edition of the weekly liberal ratings program hosted by Bill Moyers on PBS:
From the September 26 Late Show with David Letterman, as read via satellite by cadets at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the "Top Ten Reasons I Joined the Air Force." The Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/ 
10. Got sick of waiting in airport lines
9. I love saying stuff like "Alpha tango foxtrot bravo"
8. If we invade Iraq, would you rather be marching through the desert or in an air-conditioned jet?
7. We get all the wild blue yonder we want
6. You don't get to fly F-16s in the Peace Corps
5. Free socks
4. Better skiing in Colorado Springs than Annapolis or West Point
3. Everybody likes the way I look in cadet dress blues
2. When I'm in the sky I feel like a bird...God I hope none of my friends are watching
1. Me like clouds
And this should be the last CyberAlert until next month. -- Brent Baker