2. Hillary's Moral Purpose for Newsweek: Tolerating Bill's Adultery?
3. Only Dem Voting Against War After 9/11: 'No Lefty Flame Thrower'?
4. ABC's GMA Touts Environmentalist Who Boycotts Toilet Paper
The broadcast network evening newscasts, reflecting the focus of the media's approach to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's announcement that he will step down on June 27, framed their reviews of his ten-year tenure around the unpopularity of his decision to join the U.S. in the Iraq war. On CBS, however, Elizabeth Palmer uniquely found time to recall how Blair won in 1997 by "dragging Britain's old left-wing Labour Party to the political center" and she cited a couple of other achievements. Nonetheless, like ABC and NBC, CBS included the obligatory citation of how the British press derided Blair as "Bush's poodle," a derogatory characterization also highlighted on Thursday's morning shows.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams saw great meaning in Blair's decision as he cited Blair's resignation as one of the "concussions from the war in Iraq" which reflected "the political cost of an unpopular war," asserting: "There are combat casualties of the war in Iraq, there are civilian casualties. Today we saw a political casualty, Tony Blair stepping down." NBC's Keith Miller observed that "Tony Blair was perhaps the best Prime Minister America never had. But at home, the press labeled him 'Bush's poodle' and his approval rating plunged." From London, ABC's David Wright declared: "People here ridiculed him as 'Bush's poodle.' The Iraq war has been albatross for Blair, dragging down his approval ratings and drowning his hopes for a positive legacy." CBS anchor Katie Couric announced that "Blair's role as the President's ally ended up costing him dearly."
[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
(In the morning on Thursday, as recounted by the MRC's Justin McCarthy in a NewsBusters item, the three major networks covered news of British Prime Minister Tony Blair's resignation with the left-wing "Bush's poodle" line. On Good Morning America, ABC's David Wright asserted: "Bill Clinton's sidekick became George Bush's poodle, or so they see it here." On Today, NBC's Dawna Freisen noted, "he became, of course, America's closest ally but that came at a price here at home. He was eventually derided here as America's poodle." CBS's Sheila MacVicar stated on The Earky Show: "But at home, Blair has been labeled Bush's poodle, at too willing ally who led his country into Iraq." MacVicar relied on the expertise of Simon Hoggart of The Guardian, a left wing British publication and hardly an objective source who charged: "It's Iraq that's really going to be his legacy. The information, the intelligence, it was all gussied up, it was all tweaked. We were misled, frankly.")
Partial transcripts of the May 10 evening newscast coverage of Blair:
# NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams led by framing the day's news: "Today it was possible to feel the concussions from the war in Iraq on both sides of the Atlantic. In this country, President Bush, for the first time, said he is willing to give the Democrats some of what they want. And across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom today, the man who has supported George Bush more steadfastly than any other ally, Tony Blair, today announced he is through as British Prime Minister. Today was about the political cost of an unpopular war as our own Tim Russert first reported on this broadcast last night, the President now has real trouble in his own party. And with the damage now piling up, now the talk begins about a possible Plan B for Iraq. We have reports here tonight from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington and 10 Downing Street London..."
Introducing the Blair story, Williams contended: "There are combat casualties of the war in Iraq, there are civilian casualties. Today we saw a political casualty, Tony Blair stepping down."
Keith Miller's report from London included this: "Popular in the United States, Tony Blair was perhaps the best Prime Minister America never had. But at home, the press labeled him 'Bush's poodle' and his approval rating plunged."
David Wright reported from London: "Not since Margaret Thatcher has America had such a good friend in Downing Street. But Thatcher was always seen as the Iron Lady, very much her own woman. Blair was the junior partner. People here ridiculed him as 'Bush's poodle.' The Iraq war has been albatross for Blair, dragging down his approval ratings and drowning his hopes for a positive legacy."
This week's Newsweek cover story on political courage ("Wanted: A New Truman") is truly baffling. Evan Thomas has a strange way of assessing what marks courage in our presidential contenders. He easily acknowledges that John McCain's long tenure as a prisoner of war trumps everyone else. But he wrote: "All the candidates will use their life stories to show a sense of moral purpose." How did Hillary display her sense of moral purpose?
You may not believe it, but Thomas claimed: "Hillary Clinton had a stark moral choice: whether to stay with her husband when President Clinton's philandering with Monica Lewinsky was exposed. Her decision to stand by him could not have been easy." Inside the media-Democrat complex, moral courage is not displayed by condemning adultery. It is displayed by tolerating adultery and maintaining political viability for the party in power -- not to mention nicely setting up your own senatorial and presidential campaigns down the line.
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
Thomas also implied that Hillary showed courage in "her refusal to apologize for her pro-war vote in the Senate in the fall of 2002 as a matter of principle." When it came to Barack Obama, Thomas argued he demonstrated his political courage by standing up to liberal bloggers who scorn him as a centrist. John McCain's faced down Vietnamese captors and is boasting of fighting Osama bin Laden to "the gates of Hell," but Obama is courageous for standing up to the Daily Kos crowd. He's also brave for starting out modestly in Chicago politics before he started making millions in book royalties:
Thomas didn't mention that Barack Obama was an obscure state senator in Illinois in 2002. The reader would be forgiven for assuming he was a high-profile Washington figure at that time.
Thomas had first turned to Romney when he started on the moral-purpose line. It's not surprising that he used the paragraph to pluck out young Romney's memories of drunken frat boy George W. Bush:
For the Thomas article in the May 14 Newsweek, "The Truman Primary," go to: www.msnbc.msn.com 
Liberal newspapers like the Washington Post will try to drag every Democrat into the mainstream, even the radical ones. On Thursday's "Federal Page," reporter/columnist Lois Romano told the tale of Rep. Barbara Lee of Berkeley, the only member of the House so radical that she voted against a military response to 9/11. The headline put her in the current vogue: "A Voice Against Presidential War-Making Now Leads A Chorus." Romano described how she's getting standing ovations in the Democratic caucus for her pragmatism: "Don't get her wrong; she says she will never vote for any measure that funds this war, including the one that could come for a vote today. But she is credited by Democrats with being able to balance principle and pragmatism...Lee, 60, is soft-spoken and is no lefty flame thrower. The daughter of a veteran of two wars (whom she still calls 'Colonel'), she says she is not a pacifist."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org  ]
For Romano's May 10 article: www.washingtonpost.com 
According to liberal weatherman Sam Champion, who admiringly recounted Mr. Beaven's story, "The rules may seem a little extreme." A little? Co-anchor Diane Sawyer talked to the environmentalist in a follow-up segment and gushed over Beaven's bizarre, minimalist lifestyle: "And so good for you. Yeah. What you were saying about the way it concentrates your mind to be free of concern about a lot of the things in your life. It really makes sense to me."
No word on whether Sawyer will be opting to forgo toilet paper.
[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Thursday, with video, on the MRC's blog. The video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime to watch the video and audio clip, go to: newsbusters.org  ]
During the introduction, the GMA host appeared to be in awe of the man who calls himself "No Impact Man."
Diane Sawyer: "Well, I always loved the idea that if you took the planet Earth and divided the land by everybody on it, each of us would have four acres, four acres of our own. We're custodians of them. So what do we want to do with ours? Would you be like the couple we're about to meet who used to have our styrofoam cups, our 18,000 plastic bags in a lifetime, decided to change all that, to do something about it. In fact, they did it in such a radical way, we read about it in the New York Times and our mouths dropped open. And Sam Champion is going to tell you their story."
By way of comparison, take a look at how Mr. Beaven describes himself on his Web site: "A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, Four Seasons-loving wife along for the ride." See: noimpactman.typepad.com 
Somehow, the word "liberal" didn't appear in the GMA segments. If this man isn't a left-winger, who is?
Weatherman Champion toured the apartment of the Beaven family and recounted how they deprive themselves of modern amenities: "From the outside, mornings at the Beaven household look pretty ordinary. Breakfast, brushing their teeth and getting 2-year-old Isabella ready for daycare. But if you look a little closer, there's no morning paper, no morning television, no coffee. That's right, no coffee. Coffee isn't grown locally, so it's off limits. Colin Beaven is leading his family through a year long experiment seeing if they can live their lives without creating any waste, and therefore having no negative impact on the environment."
Champion, who once hosted a segment that wondered if global warming will kill billions, described the bizarre endeavor as a "serious experiment": "This is a serious experiment for a family. I mean, to put your, to put your family into this."
In a subsequent piece, Diane Sawyer did ask Beaven if his friends think he's insane, but mostly stuck to highlighting how admirable his actions were. She began by requesting to see the solitary napkin that the New Yorker uses to...clean himself:
After encouraging Beaven to talk about how the experiment "has been great for your life," Sawyer broached the delicate issue of what the family uses instead of toilet paper. Apparently, this wasn't an issue for morning television: "Now, I know everybody wants to know what you do instead of toilet paper. I'm not going to tell them. I'm going to let them go online and search this out for themselves. Let me just say it's the Bedouin solution. If you don't know what that is, you're on your own out there."
Finally, in a truly odd moment, the ABC anchor complimented the liberal environmentalist and marveled over how Beaven and his family will soon be going without electricity. (And, no. At no point did Sawyer seem to grasp the irony of what an electricity-free lifestyle might do to GMA's ratings.):
Sawyer: "And so good for you. Yeah. What you were saying about the way it concentrates your mind to be free of concern about a lot of the things in your life. It really makes sense to me. But, you're now, what, about five and a half months in. Next step is to get rid of electricity, and live by daylight alone? In New York City?"
The experiment is to last a year. According to that timetable, the Beaven family, which includes a two-year-old daughter, will be without electricity in December, in New York City. Some might find that alarming, but not Diane Sawyer. She closed by promising that GMA would check in with Beaven throughout the year. The ABC host touted his upcoming book and also noted that the program would be on the look out for any back-sliding: "Cannot wait for the book to come out as well. And to see what you learned at the end of this and if you go back. If you go back, we'll be watching."
-- Brent Baker