"Scoundrels" Blocked McCain; CBS's Rove "Impropriety"; Condit Suddenly Labeled; Alter Fooled & Called for Condit to Resign
1) In ruing its defeat in the House, NBC's Brian
Williams insisted campaign finance reform was "one of the highest
profile issues on the agenda in Congress and in the last election."
John McCain, Williams passed along, "called the procedural block,
quote, 'the last refuge of scoundrels.'"
2) CBS uncovered the "impropriety" of Bush's
top policy adviser advising him. The CBS Evening News explored the
"controversy" over how Karl Rove met with the Salvation Army.
John Roberts divulged the agenda behind the attack: "Some Republicans
are increasingly concerned that Rove is catering to the President's
conservative base at the expense of party moderates."
3) Nothing less than creation of another entitlement
program will satisfy ABC's Charles Gibson. Before pounding away at HHS
Secretary Tommy Thompson over the inadequacy of Bush's prescription drug
plan, he insisted that 15 million seniors must choose "between buying
medicine and buying food."
4) The MRC speaks and the networks jump? Thursday night,
after the MRC on Thursday afternoon released a Media Reality Check
documenting how in 92 percent of stories the networks have not identified
Gary Condit as a Democrat, both ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Brian
Williams noted Condit's party affiliation -- a first for World News
5) The networks insist upon describing Gary Condit's
district as "conservative" or "very conservative" even
though Michael Dukakis earned 47 percent of its vote in 1988 while Bill
Clinton won the most votes in 1992 and 1996. The "political tradition
here is Democratic" declared the Almanac of American Politics.
6) Jonathan Alter of Newsweek was fooled by an appearance
on Imus by a pretend "Anne Marie Smith" who relayed
recollections of Condit asking her to wear a Barney Frank mask, of finding
Michael Jackson's hair in his bathroom and a 'Malibu Barbie S&M
Collection' under his bed. Alter, who defended Clinton against calls
that he should resign, argued that in Condit's case: "Everybody
should be calling for him to resign."
7) Letterman's "Top Ten George W. Bush Observations
About New York City."
>>> Watch Diane Sawyer skip over
"by their Creator" in reciting a portion of the Declaration of
Independence during ABC's Independence Day 2001 special last week from
Philadelphia's July 4th celebration. Sawyer's version: "We hold
these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, endowed
with certain unalienable Rights, among these Life, Liberty, and the
Pursuit of Happiness.'"
A RealPlayer clip of the reading is now up on the
MRC Web site, thanks to the MRC's Information Systems Department. Go to:
Since writing the July 11 CyberAlert item on this
I've learned that Saturday's New York Post reported Sawyer's foul-up
and ABC's denial that it was intentional. The July 7 "Page
Six" column relayed: "Was it a flub, or was the script written
without the Lord to make for better cadence? An ABC spokeswoman said in a
prepared statement: 'This is a non-story. At certain points, Diane
Sawyer read excerpts from the historic document. By no means did we edit
the Declaration of Independence.' Celebs including Michael Douglas,
Renee Zellweger, Winona Ryder and Whoopi Goldberg went on to read the full
text of the declaration -- and Kathy Bates clearly mentioned the
'creator' when her turn came."
Dan Rather and NBC's Brian Williams showed their dislike Thursday night
for how a House procedural vote discarded the House version of McCain's
"campaign finance reform." Without bothering with a
counterpoint, Rather relayed how "supporters of an outright ban on
unlimited campaign contributions...said the procedures were meant to kill
the bill." John McCain, NBC's Brian Williams passed along,
"called the procedural block, quote, 'the last refuge of
scoundrels.'" Williams insisted that campaign finance reform was
"one of the highest profile issues on the agenda in Congress and in
the last election."
Only in the minds of John McCain and the
ABC's Peter Jennings noted how past
supporters backed away when they feared it might actually be enacted.
Jennings read this short item on the July 12 World News Tonight:
"On Capitol Hill campaign finance reform is
dead for now. Republicans and Democrats could not agree on rules for the
debate. Republicans say the Democrats want an issue, not a solution.
Democrats say they will keep pressing. The truth is that many politicians
who voted for campaign finance reform in the past did not want it to pass
this year. They'd like to have the money for their campaigns."
CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather introduced
a full story: "On Capitol Hill tonight the push for serious campaign
finance reform got to the brink, but not the goal. Opponents were able to
block it with a fight over procedures. Supporters of an outright ban on
unlimited campaign contributions -- so-called soft money -- said the
procedures were meant to kill the bill. Still unclear is whether campaign
finance reform is dead. But as CBS's Bob Schieffer reports tonight, the
blame game is already in full swing."
Schieffer ran through what happened and how
Democrats claimed the GOP used rules to make the "reforms" lose
while Republicans countered that Democrats knew they did not have votes.
Schieffer also noted how black Democrats who previously backed the
Shays-Meehan bill worried about its real impact. He concluded: "I
think at this point this version of campaign finance reform, if it's not
dead it's close to dead."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams
hardly delivered a balanced take as he bemoaned: "There is a dead end
to report tonight for campaign finance reform, one of the highest profile
issues on the agenda in Congress and in the last election. The issue has
been derailed tonight by a procedural vote on ground rules that the
Republican leadership in the House had for debating the measure. The bill
won't have a chance to come up again until fall now, if even then. John
McCain, one of the bill's sponsors, called the procedural block quote,
'the last refuge of scoundrels.' GOP Whip Tom DeLay said the
measure's supporters simply don't have the votes to pass it."
of horrors, controversy of controversies, CBS News has uncovered the
"impropriety" of how President Bush's top policy adviser meets
with people interested in changing government policy and then he advises
the President on whether such a change should be made. What's next for
CBS? An expose on how Bush's speech writers write his speeches?
The CBS Evening News, which has yet to utter a
word on a weeknight about Gary Condit/Chandra Levy, actually found it
worth air time to explore the "controversy" over how Karl Rove
met with representatives of the Salvation Army, which wanted the White
House to push to exempt them from laws which would force them to violate
their religious tenets and hire gays if they participated in Bush's
proposed faith-based initiatives program.
The political agenda CBS eagerly advanced
became clear when viewers heard reporter John Roberts claim that
"some Republicans are increasingly concerned that Rove is catering to
the President's conservative base at the expense of party
Rather set up the July 12 report:
"President Bush's top political adviser, his main man behind the
scenes, Karl Rove, is at the center of a new accusation about an
appearance of impropriety. You may want to mark the words 'accusation'
and 'appearance of impropriety.' Last time it was about Rove's talks
with business leaders that could have affected his own investments. Rove
denied any wrongdoing and still does. CBS's John Roberts reports tonight
on this latest controversy."
Roberts relayed how the White House says it
was no "no big deal" for Rove to look into a policy change for
the Salvation Army to exempt it from laws against discrimination against
gays as Ari Fleischer denied any quid pro quo, as if trading policy for
support is alien to how Washington works every day.
After noting how the Salvation Army now says
its memo stating it had a "firm commitment" of support from the
White House for the exemption was overstated, he warned: "But the
issue has raised enough questions that House Democrats today fired off a
letter to Rove demanding answers and vowed if he wouldn't give them
they'd give him a subpoena."
Rep. John Conyers, (D-Georgia): "To find out
what Rove and his little gang in the White House have been up to."
Roberts concluded: "It's not just
Democrats who are asking questions. Some Republicans are increasingly
concerned that Rove is catering to the President's conservative base at
the expense of party moderates and that he's giving the impression that
every policy decision is wrapped in politics."
As if that wasn't how the previous
less than creation of another entitlement program will satisfy ABC's
Charles Gibson. Before pounding away at HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson over
the inadequacy of Bush's plan, he insisted that 15 million seniors must
choose "between buying medicine and buying food."
As caught by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson,
Gibson set up the July 12 Good Morning America segment: "Well, today
President Bush is going to take on the soaring cost of prescription drugs.
Fifteen million senior citizens have no prescription drug coverage at all,
many facing an impossible choice, really, between buying medicine and
buying food. But the President now says he has a new way to help, and
joining us from the White House to explain is Health and Human Services
Secretary Tommy Thompson."
Gibson's challenging questions: "I know
this is a plan of selling discount cards to seniors and then they can use
these to get discounted prescriptions, but I must tell you, I have now
read the details of this plan four different times and I don't understand
-- "Well, I was just going to say, but
Secretary you can buy cards now that get you volume discount on drugs, so
what's new here?"
-- "But you know what your critics are
saying already, number one, that it is not even a halfway measure toward
prescription drug coverage under Medicare, and two, that because it's
already in the marketplace, you're taking credit for something that's
-- "One other thing I want to ask you
about, the House yesterday passed a measure that would allow people to
order drugs through the mail from overseas, getting them at cheaper prices
than they can be purchased for in the United States. I know the
administration opposes that, but why? The critics say that you're just
protecting the drug companies and their high prices."
-- "Aren't they the same drug drugs,
though, made by the same drug companies, just sold for less
-- "If that House measure became law,
would the President veto it?"
I guess it would be too much to expect a
network journalist to question why taxpayers should be paying for
anyone's prescription drugs, via whatever scheme.
speaks and the networks jump? Thursday night, after the MRC on Thursday
afternoon released a Media Reality Check about how the networks have
rarely labeled Gary Condit as a Democrat, a finding which MRC President L.
Brent Bozell discussed just past 3pm on the Sean Hannity Show on New York
City's WABC Radio, both ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Brian
Williams noted Condit's party affiliation. For ABC, it was the first
ever mention on World News Tonight of Condit's party status.
The July 12 Media Reality Check, as
distributed in a CyberAlert Special yesterday, determined: "From May
14, when Chandra's mother, Susan, appeared on Good Morning America to
plead for her daughter's safe return, through July 11, ABC, CBS and NBC
morning and evening news programs aired a total of 179 stories about Gary
Condit -- 121 full-length reports or interviews, plus 58 brief anchor-read
items. MRC researchers reviewed each story, and found that Condit was
labeled a 'Democrat' only 14 times, or in fewer than eight percent of
For the full rundown, access the Media Reality
Check on the MRC's home page: http://www.mediaresearch.org
Now compare how ABC and NBC introduced their
Condit/Levy stories on July 11 versus July 12:
-- Peter Jennings, July 11 World News Tonight:
"Last night police searched the apartment of California Congressman
Gary Condit with Mr. Condit's permission..."
Jennings, July 12 World News Tonight: "In
Washington today police began searching dozens of abandoned buildings for
the missing intern Chandra Levy. They are clearly investigating the
possibility that she was murdered. There's also a federal investigation
underway into whether Democratic Congressman Gary Condit of California
obstructed justice. Late today Bob Barr of Georgia became the first
Republican Congressman, the first Congressman in fact, to call for Mr.
Maybe Jennings felt he had to identify
Condit's party if he listed Barr's.
-- Brian Williams, July 11 NBC Nightly News:
"Good evening. Washington, DC police still insist California
Congressman Gary Condit is not a suspect in the disappearance of intern
Williams, July 12 NBC Nightly News: "Good
evening. In the nation's capital this was another day of police searches
and interviews in the case of missing Washington intern Chandra Levy. And
police are now confirming an initial criminal investigation is underway
into California Democratic Congressman Gary Condit, concerning whether or
not he may have obstructed justice..."
Condit's district is so "conservative" that it elected Tony
Coelho to Congress before Condit and Michael Dukakis earned 47 percent of
its vote in 1988 while Bill Clinton won the most votes in the 1992 and
1996 presidential elections. The "political tradition here is
Democratic" declared the Almanac of American Politics 2000 which
reported that the walls of "insider law firms" feature
"signed pictures of Franklin Roosevelt and Pat Brown, not Ronald
Reagan and Pete Wilson."
Nonetheless, the networks insist upon
describing California's 18th district as "conservative" or
even "very conservative." Some examples:
-- Chip Reid on the July 12 NBC Nightly News:
"The Central Valley of California, a land of small towns, family
farms and conservative values..."
-- Newsweek's Howard Fineman on the July 12
Today: "I've been talking to Democrats in both California and
Washington and they say he very well may be finished. He's from a
conservative, culturally conservative district in central California. One
that voted for George W. Bush in the presidential election. Gary Condit's
a conservative Democrat who criticized Bill Clinton for his behavior and
his truthfulness back during the Monica Lewinsky affair. It's a very
difficult situation. A lot of Democrats there think he's very vulnerable
if not finished. And Republicans are lining up to run in that
-- ABC's Linda Douglass, on the July 8 This
Week, maintained that Modesto "is a very conservative section of
California, which is where he represents."
Though everything in this item aired during the 8am EDT hour on MSNBC,
some readers may be offended by the crude sexual innuendo.]
A gullible Jonathan Alter of Newsweek was
fooled by a joke appearance on Imus in the Morning by a pretend "Anne
Marie Smith," the flight attendant who says Gary Condit asked her to
sign a false affidavit.
Alter, who defended Clinton against calls that
he should resign, later argued that in Condit's case: "Everybody
should be calling for him to resign, whether he had anything to do with
her disappearance or not. In a real serious matter he was not
On Thursday's Imus in the Morning radio show
simulcast on MSNBC, during the appearance by phone of a woman pretending
to be Smith, she made some pretty wild claims, such as how Condit's
blow-dried hair "turned me on," that Condit asked her to take
showers with him while she wore a Barney Frank mask as she bent over to
pick up soap, that under his bed she found "a limited edition
'Malibu Barbie S&M Collection,'" that she believes black
hairs she saw in Condit's bathroom belonged to Michael Jackson, that
during sex Condit played Jackson's song 'Billie Jean' while making
"high-pitched noises" and that she has an agent working to get
her on the next Survivor series.
A few minutes later, Alter scolded the
supposed Anne Marie Smith: "She's turning this thing into a farce.
It's not like a normal sex case, we're talking about a young woman's
life." But he believed "a lot of what she said could very well
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd alerted me to the
events on the July 12 show, starting at about 8:15am EDT with an
appearance by phone of "Anne Marie Smith" in a not very funny
comedy bit during which viewers saw Imus at his New Mexico ranch studio
and his on-air colleagues behind microphones at WFAN in New York City.
Some of "Anne Marie Smith's"
recollections, starting with how they met on a flight: "I gave him a
hot towel and he asked me if I wanted a hot sausage." She found him
attractive because "there's something about that blow-dried hair.
It just turned me on."
-- "One of his obsessions is with
Congressman Barney Frank and I always thought that was a little strange.
One time he bought me this rubber mask. Imus, it looked just like him and
asked me to take a shower with him wearing this mask. He kept dropping the
soap and asking me to pick it up..."
-- Under Condit's bed she found "a
limited edition 'Malibu Barbie S&M Collection' and the 'Bend Me
Over Ken' line."
-- Imus: "What, what about the hair that
you found in the bathroom?"
"Smith": "Okay, I have my own
theory about this hair. It's very strange, though. A long black hair,
wavy hair. I really think it belongs to Michael Jackson. I mean, let me
just say, okay, this sounds weird but he had an obsession with Michael
Jackson also. He had all of his albums. 'Billy Jean' is his favorite
song. He'd always play it during sex and make these high-pitched noises.
It was so weird. And then I found these left-handed gloves that were
stained all over the apartment one time..."
-- "And by the way I have been contacted
by CBS. I may be going on their next Survivor show. I'm just not sure
yet at this point. I've got an agent and you know we're going to see,
maybe Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire could call me or I just, you know,
I don't know, we'll see."
Ten minutes later, at just past 8:30am EDT,
Imus talked with Alter on the phone. Alter's first words: "That was
a mind-blowing interview. I mean, I didn't know what to make of it. What
did you think?"
Imus: "With Anne Marie Smith?"
Imus: "I thought she was jerking my chain on
the Barney Frank mask frankly."
Alter: "She wants to go on Survivor?"
Alter soon reprimanded her: "I mean,
she's turning this thing into a farce. It's not like a normal sex
case, we're talking about a young woman's life."
Imus: "Well, I understand that."
Alter: "It's just very peculiar. But she
certainly gave everybody a lot of new angles. Michael Jackson's
Imus: "Well, I do think that sometimes when
people appear on this program they think they have to say funny things.
But I do think that most of the other things she had to say were,
obviously, I do think we are going to find out before this whole thing is
over that some sort of weird sex has something to do with it."
Alter: "A lot of what she said could very
well be true..."
Alter proceeded to recount a story in that
morning's Washington Post about a minister who claims his daughter had
an affair with Condit when she was 18.
Imus then tried to clue in Alter: "Let me
ask you something Jonathan. Did you think that was really Anne Marie
Alter, realizing he'd been fooled: "Mmmm,
no. I wasn't sure. I just caught the end of it to tell you the truth.
So, I didn't know what it was. You know, that's the problem with the
show, it's hard to know. She's coming forward. She's saying a lot of
pretty amazing stuff."
Imus: "It was Kristi (sp?) out in the
Alter: "It was Kristi. Alright, you had me.
That's what happens when you jump out of the shower."
Imus: "You really are just a moron."
Alter later conceded: "Sorry, you got me.
That's what happens when life imitates art in America."
Alter reflected a bit of a different attitude
toward Condit than he had toward Bill Clinton: "I just know that at
this point, that Condit should resign. Because at a minimum, he was
obstructing an investigation."
Imus: "By lying."
Alter: "By lying to the police."
He soon added: "Everybody should be
calling for him to resign, whether he had anything to do with her
disappearance or not. In a real serious matter, he was not
A new standard for Alter. A couple of years
ago a certain politician who was "obstructing an investigation"
and was not being "straight-forward" didn't prompt Alter to
call for his resignation.
July 11 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by President Bush's
stop in New York City early in the week, the "Top Ten George W. Bush
Observations About New York City." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide Pants,
10. "That rat's big enough to wear a saddle"
9. "You can get a cab from JFK to midtown for only $250"
8. "When are they going to start drilling for oil in Central
7. "The city seems to have solved its King Kong problem"
6. "New York is the city that never sleeps and I'm the President who
sleeps 15 hours a night"
5. "Too many Clintons"
4. "Giuliani gets rid of all the strip clubs and people say I'm
3. "Foreign guys always buy yellow cars"
2. "There's a giant green lady with a torch! Run for your
1. "What a friendly town -- 5 ladies in Times Square asked if I'd
like to have sex"
Maybe business for #1 is up because of #5. -- Brent Baker
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