"Controversial" Judge Nominees; MSNBC's Reno Lovefest; Bush's SUV Lifestyle; Bush Linked to Unfair Paddling; Sheen's Dinner Partner
1) ABC's Jackie Judd stressed how Bush's list of
judicial nominees "is weighted with conservatives." She named as
"controversial" three, including Michael McConnell, "who
argued in support of banning homosexuals from the Boy Scouts."
FNC's Jim Angle noted how the eleven are "diverse" with three
women, two blacks and a Hispanic. He recalled how McConnell clerked for
William Brennan, "one of the court's most revered liberal
2) MSNBC's Brian Williams delivered a lovefest with
Janet Reno on Tuesday night. He didn't pose a challenging question as he
instead elicited responses about how she likes to kayak and "walk in
the grass in my bare feet" as he empathized about how much she was
criticized by Orrin Hatch who "said some terrible things about
you." He wondered: "How would you like to leave this
3) Rising energy prices have led to "Republicans and
Democrats alike now demanding that President Bush do something," Dan
Rather asserted in painting Bush as out of step.
4) "The way of life in Austin, Texas, is SUVs, SUVs,
and bigger SUVs," Peter Jennings rued before using a study on the
amount of time wasted stuck in traffic to make a political point for more
conservation: "A study today...finds that Americans are wasting a
colossal amount of fuel idling in their cars, or their SUVs."
5) Good Morning America linked President Bush to paddling
students as Charles Gibson set up a sympathetic look a ten-year-old who
was paddled by noting how "part of President Bush's education reform
package would give teachers broad immunity from civil lawsuits in paddling
6) On the indictment of Democratic Congressman James
Traficant CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: "Is this more of an
embarrassment for Democrats or Republicans? He's a Democrat who voted for
the Republican Speaker."
7) Katie Couric never brought up how Dan Rather headlined
a Democratic fundraiser earlier this year, but she did ask him about the
corruption of "entertainment values" in news.
8) A few days after West Wing star Martin Sheen begged off
a tour of the Bush White House, he dined with Bill Clinton, the Washington
ABC and FNC
beat the competition Tuesday night in identifying the eleven people
President Bush plans to announce on Wednesday as his choices for federal
appeals courts slots, but they delivered contrasting assessments of the
picks as ABC emphasized their supposed conservative tilt and controversial
views while FNC pointed out the credentials and liberal background of the
very same nominees.
MSNBC's The News with Brian Williams caught
up, sort of, hours later as it led with an on-screen graphic which
awkwardly asked: "A Hard Right?" (The east coast feeds of the
CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News didn't mention the judicial picks
and neither did any of CNN's nighttime news shows.)
ABC's Jackie Judd stressed on World News
Tonight how "the slate is weighted with conservatives. At least four
belong to the newly influential Federalist Society." She listed three
as "controversial," including Jeffrey Sutton who, she asserted,
is guilty of advocating "for states' rights over federal
intervention" and Michael McConnell, "who argued in support of
banning homosexuals from the Boy Scouts."
In contrast, on FNC's Special Report with
Brit Hume, reporter Jim Angle noted how the eleven names are "very
diverse" with three women, two blacks and a Hispanic. Angle offered a
different take on two of the men disparaged by Judd. He described Sutton
and McConnell: "Jeffrey Sutton, who's argued nine cases before the
Supreme Court and won six of the seven that have been decided; Michael
McConnell, a widely respected legal scholar who once clerked for Justice
William Brennan, one of the court's most revered liberal judges."
Angle's piece aired at just past 6pm EDT. By
9pm EDT MSNBC had caught up, sort of. Since NBC News hadn't produced a
story Brian Williams was left to interviewing a Washington Post reporter
about her story set to run the next morning, but he made the development
his lead item. The News with Brian Williams opened with a graphic with
these words below a photo of George Bush: "A Hard Right?"
Williams then began the May 8 show with this
lengthy set up in which he actually used the terms "left" and
"liberal" for past judicial nominations:
"Short of the power to pardon and declare
war the most awesome power of the U.S. presidency is the ability to
re-shape the federal bench. From the Supreme Court on down Presidents get
to appoint the judges who, in many cases, decide what life in America
ought to be like. The rights and freedoms of the people, of companies,
deciding how much government can get away with and who gets locked up or
goes free. FDR tilted the bench decidedly to the left, Ronald Reagan began
the long process of tilting it back to the right, now after eight years of
Democratic rule in Washington and a good number of liberal judges in the
federal courts what kind of judges will this new President pick when
vacancies are filled in the highest courts in the land?"
Williams's first question Washington Post
reporter Amy Goldstein: "Is there a rightward tilt?" She replied
that the list is mixed and pointed out how only five of the eleven are
Now a fuller rundown of Judd's May 8 World
News Tonight piece transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth. She began:
"Administration sources say that Mr. Bush will be nominating eleven
people to the federal bench tomorrow. Mr. Bush's first batch of nominees
is for the circuit courts of appeal, just one level below the Supreme
After a soundbite from Clint Bolick of the
Institute for Justice praising the judicial restraint of Bush judges, Judd
warned: "But they will potentially make law affecting everything from
school vouchers and prayer to civil rights to abortion rights and the
environment. With all of that at stake and the Senate controlled just
barely by Republicans, Democrats have been preparing for this day as if
the Supreme Court were at stake."
Ralph Neas, People for the American Way:
"What the Bush administration wants to do is turn back the clock on
fundamental civil rights and civil liberties. This is a philosophy of
judicial activism, not judicial restraint."
Having offered conservative and liberal
soundbites, Judd weighed in with her evaluations: "The slate is
weighted with conservatives [on screen: photos of two men and three
women]. The nine Republicans who sources say will be nominated are young
rising stars. At least four belong to the newly influential Federalist
Society, a libertarian legal organization [on screen, four men identified
as Estrada, Roberts, Sutton, McConnell]. Among the most controversial,
Jeffrey Sutton, frequently before the Supreme Court arguing for states'
rights over federal intervention. Terry Boyle, a lower court judge and
former aide to Senator Jesse Helms. Michael McConnell, who argued in
support of banning homosexuals from the Boy Scouts. The White House also
will be nominating two black Democrats as an olive branch to his political
opposition [on screen photos of Parker, Gregory]. And Mr. Bush will be
taking the unusual step, Peter, of personally introducing these nominees
tomorrow as a signal to Democrats he is going to fight hard for their
Fight hard against liberal Democrats and their
Williams's love session with Janet Reno. Former Attorney General Janet
Reno rarely sits for a media interview so when she does you'd expect a
reporter to take advantage of the situation and press her about any number
of her questionable efforts to protect the Clinton team, why FBI Director
Louis Freeh and her subordinate Charles La Bella so vehemently disagreed
with her judgments and whether she avoided upsetting Clinton in order to
keep her job. That's what Sean Hannity did with her last week when she
appeared on FNC's Hannity & Colmes. Hannity is a radio talk show
host, but he has a better grasp of journalism than Williams displayed
Setting up the interview taped earlier in the
day, Williams painted Reno as Clinton's enemy as he asserted that
"on more than one occasion Janet Reno was the President's
adversary." Williams did not pose a single challenging question.
Asking her "what do your days consist of these days" elicited
the response that she likes to kayak and "walk in the grass in my
bare feet." Now there's an image.
Williams empathized with how Reno was the
target of criticism: "Did any of it make you want to scream?"
When she insisted that if Orrin Hatch walked into the room she'd give
him a "big hug," Williams was astonished: "But he said some
terrible things about you on those Sunday talk shows." Williams
wondered if "the words 'opportunity wasted' occur to you when
thinking of the Clinton administration?" Reno credited Clinton with
lower crime and asserted: "I think we gave children a new and
positive opportunity for the future that many of them did not have."
Other than, I guess, Elian Gonzalez and those
who died at Waco. But Williams didn't counter her on that claim.
Below are all of William's inquires as taken
down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth. He set up the nearly seven minute-long
interview segment aired on the May 8 News with Brian Williams:
"She served in the office used by Robert F.
Kennedy and John Mitchell. The Attorney General used to be called the
'President's lawyer,' but on more than one occasion, Janet Reno was
the President's adversary. She is the longest serving Attorney General
in U.S. history, and today in Philadelphia, where she addressed a
gathering of neurologists on the subject of her own Parkinson's disease,
we talked with Janet Reno about life back in the private sector after so
long in the public eye."
-- "How is it being back in the house, back
-- "What do your days consist of these
days? What do you read? What do you watch? What do you listen to?"
(Reno answered that she likes to kayak and "walk in the grass in my
-- "Let's talk about Parkinson's. You
were diagnosed during your term, of course, as Attorney General."
-- "The Sunday shows, all the criticism
of you personally, editorial pages, op-ed pieces, did any of it make you
want to scream?"
-- "You made your share of enemies.
It's impossible to operate in Washington without them. Orrin Hatch comes
to mind. Were he to walk in the door, and he's not, what would the
relationship be like? What would you say to Orrin Hatch, who was so tough
-- When she denied he's an enemy and said
"I would give him a big hug," Williams admiringly wondered:
"What does that show on your part?" She suggested it show
"genuine affection for him," which baffled Williams: "After
he was so tough?"
-- "But he said some terrible things
about you on those Sunday talk shows....He called for your departure from
Washington....Long before you wanted to depart from Washington."
-- "High point and low point of your two
terms as Attorney General?"
-- She called Waco the low point, prompting
Williams: "Where did the anti-government sentiment come from? Where
is it that suddenly a patriot, small 'P' or capital, is someone who
often believes that the present government should not be in power?"
-- "Did Bill Clinton, to use the
vernacular, hang you out to dry during Waco?"
-- "If Bill and Hillary Clinton had
released the Whitewater documents to the Washington Post, would you have
ever needed to appoint a special counsel?" (Reno: "Don't
-- "Do you think about it?" (Reno:
-- "Do you wish you'd been closer to
the President who appointed you?"
-- "Do the words 'opportunity wasted'
occur to you when thinking of the Clinton administration?" (Reno: The
crime rate fell and "I think we gave children a new and positive
opportunity for the future that many of them did not have.")
-- "Does it disappoint you that this past
President, Mr. Clinton, will, at least so far as the short view of history
looks back, be remembered in that first sentence that sums up his life,
for scandal, for impeachment?" (Reno: Clinton gave the country a good
economy and he reduced crime.)
-- "You entered an elite group toward the
end of your stay in Washington. You were a guest on Saturday Night Live.
[clip of SNL] Was that an easy decision?"
-- "Where's that path through the woods
going to take you?"
-- "I take it you have extensive travel
plans?" (Reno: Plan to travel to see the country more thoroughly.)
-- "How would you like to leave this
Earth?" (Reno, referring to kayaking: "On the crest of a
End of MSNBC lovefest with Reno.
Can you imagine such a fawning approach with
Ed Meese in early 1989 in which Iran-Contra is never mentioned?
energy prices have led to "Republicans and Democrats alike now
demanding that President Bush do something," Dan Rather asserted at
the top of Tuesday's CBS Evening News before lamenting how Bush won't
Rather opened his May 8 broadcast by
portraying Bush as out of step: "Good evening. There is a growing
outcry in this country about the short supplies and high prices of energy,
from gasoline to natural gas to electricity. Congress is getting an earful
from constituents and is beginning to stir with Republicans and Democrats
alike now demanding that President Bush do something. But the answer again
today from the President was he has no plans for immediate solutions, he
doesn't believe there are any. If ever a place needed some, it is
California, facing a chronic and critical shortage of electricity that
forced more rolling blackouts today."
Monday night used a study about how much time is wasted by people stuck in
traffic jams to make a political point about how more could be achieved by
conservation than the Bush administration believes. As Peter Jennings put
it, "Americans are wasting a colossal amount of fuel idling in their
cars, or their SUVs." NBC's Robert Hager summarized the same study
and, while he mentioned the waste of fuel, he concentrated on the real
point of the study.
Following a May 7 ABC World News Tonight piece
on how Bush's energy plan will put production ahead of conservation,
Jennings remarked: "As one other reporter who covers Mr. Bush said
today, the way of life in Austin, Texas, is SUVs, SUVs, and bigger SUVs.
But a study today from Texas A&M University finds that Americans are
wasting a colossal amount of fuel idling in their cars, or their SUVs,
during an increasingly long commute."
Stark explained, as transcribed by MRC analyst
Jessica Anderson: "The length of the rush hour for most drivers has
doubled in the last two decades. That is costing plenty, $78 billion
dollars in wasted time and gasoline, nearly 7 billion gallons of extra
fuel blamed on delays....The worst city for congestion, Los Angeles, where
drivers waste an average of 56 hours a year sitting behind the wheel. In
Seattle, the second worst, Don Jordan's 27-mile trek to the office can
take more than two hours....Traffic tie-ups can also drive down a region's
economic growth. The Boeing company, which is moving its headquarters out
of Seattle, has threatened to pull manufacturing jobs as well, partly
because of the traffic. Nationwide, city planners are trying to address
the problem, but the study's authors say new roads and public transit are
not keeping pace with new homes and businesses. And, they say, the problem
is only going to get worse in the next decade with medium-size cities,
such as Austin and Charlotte, likely to have the same traffic headaches as
today's largest cities."
Over on the NBC Nightly News reporter Robert
Hager stressed the waste of time over the waste of fuel as he outlined how
the Texas Transportation Institute study "finds Americans now waste
4.5 billion hours extra each year sitting in traffic, costing $78 billion
in lost work time, vehicle wear and gasoline -- 6.8 billion gallons extra
each year, enough to fill a line of tanker trucks from Miami to San
Francisco and back. For each individual driver it's an average of 36
hours extra in delays each year."
Morning America linked President Bush on Monday morning to the practice of
paddling school students, as Charles Gibson set up a sympathetic look a
ten-year-old who was paddled by noting how "part of President Bush's
education reform package would give teachers broad immunity from civil
lawsuits in paddling incidents."
Gibson pressed a Louisiana school
superintendent: "Well, I understand what's legal, but I'm asking you
-- there's a difference sometimes between what's legal and what's right.
Do you think this is the right way to go about disciplining
Gibson introduced the May 7 segment caught by
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "We're going to take up a couple of
issues in which parents are rebelling against school practices, and the
first one we're going to consider today is whether teachers should be
allowed to hit children at school. It happens to hundreds of thousands of
children each year, often with a wooden paddle, and part of President
Bush's education reform package would give teachers broad immunity from
civil lawsuits in paddling incidents. Now, the practice of paddling is
banned in 27 states, but in 23 states it is legal. One of them, Louisiana,
where a principal's use of a paddle on a 10-year-old girl has triggered a
lawsuit from angry parents....Your daughter came home with welts and some
injuries, is that right?"
Robert Cahanin, father of paddled girl:
"Yes, sir. She came home severely bruised."
Gibson: "How badly bruised?"
Cahanin: "Pretty big bruises, three or four
inches in diameter, dark, dark in color. It had me scared..."
Gibson switched to another guest: "Let me
turn to Superintendent Leslie. Do know in this incident, sir, how many
times this young woman was struck?"
Dan Leslie: "Yes, I do."
Gibson: "How many?"
Leslie: "She was struck three times."
Gibson: "Three times. Is there a line, Mr.
Leslie, between a swat and a lick with a paddle and an assault, in
Gibson soon demanded: "Are there not
better ways to discipline children than hitting them?...And you think it's
a proper way to deal with, quote, 'inappropriate behavior?'"
Leslie: "It is by law, statutorily, one of
the manners in which we are allowed to discipline children and is a part
of our board policy."
Gibson: "Well, I understand what's legal,
but I'm asking you -- there's a difference sometimes between what's legal
and what's right. Do you think this is the right way to go about
Leslie: "It is one deterrent to
Gibson next empathized with the girl:
"Megan, how you doing?"
Gibson: "You are? Are you worried at all
about going back to school, or have you been comfortable going back to
school since this happened?"
Megan: "I'm scared to go back to
Megan: "Because I seen her every day hitting
another kids and it makes me feel sad."
Wolf Blitzer: Is James Traficant "more of an embarrassment for
Democrats or Republicans?" The May 7 CyberAlert noted how on Friday
night, May 4, on World News Tonight ABC's Linda Douglass concluded a
story on the indictment of the Ohio Congressman: "Now Traficant is a
Democrat, but this indictment is actually an embarrassment to Republican
leaders. They gave him $20 million last year for a project in his district
in return for his support of the Republicans."
The same night, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth
noticed, CNN's Wolf Blitzer offered similar reasoning. On Wolf Blitzer
Reports he asked Jonathan Karl: "Jon, is this more of an
embarrassment for Democrats or Republicans? He's a Democrat who voted for
the Republican Speaker."
Karl elaborated on Blitzer's point: "Well,
James Traficant is a lifetime Democrat, but Democrats are very quick to
point out not only did he voted for the Speaker, but that the Republicans
have courted him aggressively. Republicans last year in Congress helped
funnel some $20 million in federal projects to Traficant's district. So
the spin from the Democrats here is that this is a Republican
Dan Rather sell his new book on the Today show, MRC analyst Geoffrey
Dickens observed how Katie Couric never brought up how Rather headlined a
Democratic fundraiser in Texas earlier this year as she instead asked him
about the corruption of "entertainment values" in news.
On the May 8 Today, after discussing the
content of his new book of profiles of individuals titled, The American
Dream: Stories from the Heart of Our Nation, she inquired:
"I have to ask you a quick question. Because
recently you spoke about blurring the lines between news and entertainment
which is nothing new. And you said there is a lot posing as news that is
entertainment. Do you feel more troubled than ever about that and about
Rather: "I do. I think we are in some
danger, Katie, of being overwhelmed by entertainment values. Nothing wrong
with entertainment values, but news values are different. And in my time
in the business and yours we've virtually been overwhelmed with
entertainment values. And we've lost sight of news as a public service.
Now I don't exclude myself from this criticism. I think we all have much
to answer for in, in that regard..."
Rather knows the viewers aren't watching
CBS. He didn't even give his own network his first book tour slot. He
appeared on Today during the 7:30am half hour but didn't show up on The
Early Show until an hour later.
Sheen dined with Bill Clinton after blowing off the Bush White House. The
Sunday after the Saturday night White House Correspondents Association
dinner a week and a half ago, the cast and top producers of NBC's The
West Wing accepted an invitation to tour the White House. Martin Sheen,
who plays the President in the series, was a no show, but the Washington
Post disclosed how he spent an evening with Bill Clinton.
An excerpt from "A Reliable Source"
column item on May 2 by reporter Lloyd Grove:
A couple of days after fictional President Josiah Bartlet begged off
from a VIP White House tour for "West Wing" cast members --
after all, Martin Sheen, the actor who plays him, did call President Bush
a "moron" recently -- Sheen showed up with bells on for a dinner
at Washington's Etrusco restaurant with Bill Clinton....
Also there to hear Clinton's stories about his recent visits to Africa
and India were actors Bradley Whitford, Janel Moloney, Nicole Robinson and
Richard Schiff and Clinton loyalists Karen Tramontano, Joel Johnson, Julia
Payne, Joe Lockhart, Steve Ricchetti, Capricia Marshall and a very casual
Jake Siewert, who showed up wearing flip-flops....
President Bartlet, recovered from a bad cold that he was battling over
the weekend, stayed after almost everyone else had left -- past 11 p.m. --
and answered the restaurant's ringing phone with a crisp "Etrusco!"
Former President Clinton, meanwhile, spent the night at the big Embassy
Row house he shares with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).
A fresh episode of The West Wing will air
tonight, May 9, at 9pm EDT/PDT, 8pm CDT/MDT, on NBC. -- Brent Baker
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