Ashamed of American Patriotism; Rather's Pep Talk; Who Didn't Take Off Lens Cap?; Movie Agenda Admired; Goldberg Trashed by Neuharth
1) Ashamed of American patriotism. Bryant Gumbel agreed on
Thursday morning with the sentiment that "they shouldn't be keeping a
medal count" by nation since "this is not about nationalistic
2) Calling it the "first controversy of these
games," on Monday night MSNBC anchor Lester Holt focused on how at
the opening ceremony, "the President added the words 'on behalf of a
proud, determined and grateful nation' to the Olympic oath." Holt
stressed how critics "say it's an example of the overly patriotic
Salt Lake Olympics."
3) Too much U.S. jingoism at the Olympics. On CNN's
NewsNight Anne Taylor Fleming argued: "It's just a time to mute our
swagger. I mean, it is the time to comport ourselves gracefully as a
member of the world. And I'm just hoping, you know, maybe against hope,
that we are respectful and that the jingoism is muted."
4) Dan Rather's inspiring message to viewers in the wake
of the Pearl murder and Army helicopter crash: "It will be a long
war. There will be more American casualties. We are being tested. And part
of the test is our collective national willpower and staying power. Lest
5) CBS's Bob Schieffer claimed on Imus in the Morning
that when President Ronald Reagan visited the Korean DMZ he failed to
remove the lens cap from his binoculars, but pictures show that was a
problem experienced by President Bill Clinton.
6) Washington Post movie reviewer Stephen Hunter noted
that John Q glorifies a terrorist act, but Today's Ann Curry sympathized
with the plot of the movie about a man who takes hostages when a HMO
won't pay for an operation. Curry cued up the director, Nick Cassavetes,
to push his agenda: "It must be nice...to be in the unique
position...of being able to influence people to talk about this issue.
What is it that you hope, or what is it that you think needs to be done
7) Bernard Goldberg's book is the work of a
"second-rate newsman," USA Today founder Al Neuharth claimed as
he insisted that Rather, Jennings and Brokaw are all "fair."
Neuharth charged: "The book is what it calls others. Blatantly
biased, from cover to cover."
8) Letterman's "Top Ten Good Things About Being
Stationed in Kandahar." Plus, Dave's mom with Rumsfeld.
Moyers fired back at the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes over Hayes'
cover story on him and now the Weekly Standard has posted a rejoinder from
Hayes. The February 19 CyberAlert featured an excerpt from the Hayes
expose of Moyers. Refer back to: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020219.asp#5
The Hayes rejoinder, which includes the
Moyers response: http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/000/935cqxuk.asp
PBS first posted the pretty weak response
For the original article by Hayes:
Another episode of Now with Bill Moyers airs
tonight at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST on most PBS stations. <<<
of American Patriotism, Part One. Bryant Gumbel agreed on Thursday morning
with the sentiment that "they shouldn't be keeping a medal
count" by nation since "this is not about nationalistic
MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught this exchange at
the top of the February 21 Early Show on CBS:
Jane Clayson: "To see Jimmy Shea last
night kissing that gold medal, it was really, his story is such an
emotional highlight of these Olympic games."
"Yeah, but I liked what he said. He said that, you know, they
shouldn't be keeping a medal count, that this is not about nationalistic
efforts, this is about individuals and medal counts don't mean anything.
putting distance between herself and Gumbel: "With that out of the
way, we love Jimmy Shea."
Shea won gold in the skeleton. His
grandfather, who won two medals in the 1932 Olympics, died in a car crash
There's nothing wrong with tracking
individual achievement, but there's also nothing wrong with a nation's
citizens tracking the success of their nation's athletes.
of American Patriotism, Part Two. Calling it the "first controversy
of these Games," on Monday night MSNBC anchor Lester Holt focused a
segment on how at the opening ceremony, "for first time in Olympic
history, the President added the words 'on behalf of a proud, determined
and grateful nation' to the Olympic oath." Noting that he "gave
the oath while standing among the U.S. athletes," Holt stressed how
critics "say it's an example of the overly patriotic Salt Lake
Holt set up the February 18 segment on The
News with Brian Williams, but without Williams, as caught by MRC analyst
first controversy of these Games actually came before David Pelletier and
Jamie Sale ever took to the ice. It stems from the words spoken by
President Bush at the opening ceremony. For first time in Olympic history,
the President added the words 'on behalf of a proud, determined and
grateful nation' to the Olympic oath. He also gave the oath while standing
among the U.S. athletes. Several critics say that sets a new precedent for
future Olympics. They also say it's an example of the overly patriotic
Salt Lake Olympics. For more on this, we're joined now by Time Magazine
editor at large Michael Elliott, who has written that American patriotism
may be out of control..."
Two other guests for the segment, John
Findling and Hank Stuever, defended the patriotism.
Holt asked the British Elliott: "Well,
Michael Elliott, how much of this is related to the war and how much of it
is simply related to this is our culture, this is America, the games are
here, and we do the wave and we do chant USA and that's just the way we
Elliott outlined his view: "Look, I think the comments you've just
heard are absolutely wonderful and very neatly encapsulate some of the
wonderful things about the games. I was troubled at the opening ceremony
as I think others including some Olympic historians were because I thought
it set a kind of rather awkward precedent. The summer games in 2008 are
going to be in Beijing, China, and I don't think any of us would look
forward to the Chinese if it's still an authoritarian government, and it's
quite likely to be, using the Olympic games to kind of make some kind of
political statement. I guess the point that I've been trying to make is I
absolutely love American patriotism, as an immigrant, all immigrants do.
But there are occasions when I think it's useful to look at ourselves as
others see us, and some of the things that were visible in the first
couple of days in the Games, I think probably did both get up the noses of
some people watching from other places in the world but also potentially
set rather troubling precedents that people not quite as nice as us might
one day like to use."
But not all nations are equal. There is a
difference between a free and democratic nation, which is hosting an
Olympics, exulting its values to a world audience and a repressive
dictatorial nation using an Olympics to cement its hold on power.
The essay from Elliott, usually a
right-of-center analyst, appeared in the February 18 issue. The fairly
nuanced piece carried a provocative title, "Don't Wear Out Old Glory:
Sept. 11 boosted Americans' admirable patriotism. But now it's out of
control." To read it:
of American Patriotism, Part Three. Before the Olympics end, a flashback
to the night they opened. Back on the February 8 CNN NewsNight, regular
essayist Anne Taylor Fleming complained about too much patriotic
"swagger" in Atlanta in 1996 as she declared "it's just a
time to mute our swagger. I mean, it is the time to comport ourselves
gracefully as a member of the world. And I'm just hoping, you know, maybe
against hope, that we are respectful and that the jingoism is muted."
Anchor Aaron Brown set up the segment observed
by the MRC's Ken Shepherd: "Question on the table, is there too
much red, white and blue there? How much is too much? Some thoughts on
patriotism tonight and September 11th and the games from one of our
favorite guests on the program, Anne Taylor Fleming, who joins us from Los
Angeles. It's always nice to see you. What's on your mind, Anne?"
Fleming whined: "Well, certainly the
games, which I have to confess I snuck a little look at while even during
your program -- but I turned back really quickly. You know, the whole idea
of patriotism really infecting the games in a positive or negative way. I
mean, we had enough trouble in Atlanta during a time of peace, sort of
restraining ourselves. I mean, that was a really, I thought, sort of
swaggery performance by the country. And you know, I'm just girded for it,
and hope it doesn't happen. We've already seen the flap with the tattered
flag. The International Olympic Committee first said that the Americans
couldn't have it be part of these opening ceremonies, and then in the wake
of all of the e-mails and stuff that they got from people, they relented
and indeed the tattered flag is now going to have a place. You
know, it's just a time to mute our swagger. I mean, it is the time to
comport ourselves gracefully as a member of the world. And I'm just
hoping, you know, maybe against hope, that we are respectful and that the
jingoism is muted."
I'd like to see such condemnations of
inspiring message from Dan Rather. Noting the casualties of Daniel
Pearl's murder and the crash of an Army helicopter in the Philippines
with 12 aboard, Rather concluded Thursday's CBS Evening News by
contending: "We are being tested. And part of the test is our
collective national willpower and staying power."
On his February 21 broadcast, Rather bucked up
September 11th, after the second plane hit the World Trade Center,
President Bush told his staff, 'We are at war.' Later he would tell
the nation that it would be a long war, that there would be more American
casualties. Today there were more. The soldiers aboard the U.S. Army
helicopter that crashed in the Philippines, and Daniel Pearl, the ninth
journalist to die in this war, the first American. His wife had pleaded
with his kidnappers, saying all Pearl wanted to do was tell their story
objectively. In the end, they chose to make their point savagely another
way. And now it is time to remind ourselves again we are at war. It will
be a long war. There will be more American casualties. We are being
tested. And part of the test is our collective national willpower and
staying power. Lest we forget. And that's part of our world tonight. Dan
Rather for the CBS Evening News reporting tonight from Washington. Good
Bob Schieffer claimed on Imus in the Morning that when President Ronald
Reagan visited the Korean DMZ he failed to remove the lens cap from his
binoculars, but as pictures shown by RushLimbaugh.com and FNC prove, that
was a problem President Bill Clinton really had.
On the February 20 Imus in the Morning radio
program simulcast on MSNBC, on the occasion of President George W. Bush
going to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea,
Schieffer recalled his own visits to the DMZ. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd
took down his memories:
"I've been up there a couple of times, it's quite an impressive
thing. I went up there once with George Schultz when he was Secretary of
State and once actually with Jimmy Carter when he was President. The
interesting thing is they always, you know, have these big binoculars that
the President can look through and you look across the DMZ and you see
the, you can see the communists on the other side and Ronald Reagan when
he was President-"
quipped: "Or you could have looked at the press corps frankly, you
wouldn't need the binoculars."
missing Imus's hit on journalists, blithely continued: "Exactly.
Well, what happened with Reagan was they gave him the binoculars and he
looked through them and Reagan knew, there's never been a bad picture of
Ronald Reagan, after all he did have the Hollywood background, he looked
through the binoculars and so forth and then somebody realized they
hadn't taken the caps off. I mean this is for sure, this is for real.
And so they had a little glitch there while they took 'em down but he
wasn't about to let on when they first gave them to him."
Last night to end FNC's Special Report with
Brit Hume, fill-in anchor Tony Snow showed side by side photos of Clinton
in 1993 and George W. Bush a few days ago as each looked north through
binoculars when they were at the DMZ. Clinton's binoculars had the lens
caps on, Bush's did not. Rush Limbaugh's Web site has posted the
I can't guarantee that Reagan didn't have
the same problem as Clinton, but I'd put my money on Schieffer getting
it wrong, especially since he had a whole explanative narrative going
about Reagan playing a movie role. And if Reagan did have a lense cap
problem, Clinton is a much newer example Schieffer could have cited for
his humorous anecdote.
head into another movie-going weekend, time to catch up with an item from
last Friday caught by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens. Washington Post movie
reviewer Stephen Hunter asked that if
in Israel "a man goes to a busy emergency room, pulls a gun, takes
the place over and demands policy changes or he'll start killing hostages,
what would you call him?" Hunter's answer: "A terrorist."
Yet, "if the same thing happened in the United States, according to
the grotesquely inverted moral compass of John Q., here's what we'd call
the man: a hero."
And that's just how Today news reader Ann
Curry looked at the film starring Denzel Washington in which he plays a
man who threatens to kill hostages when an HMO won't pay for a heart
transplant for his son, a very expensive and hardly typical medical
At the very end of the February 15 Today, in
the only non-Olympic segment of the day, Curry in New York City
interviewed the film's director, Nick Cassavetes and his pre-teen
daughter, about their frustrations with the health care system. Curry
admired how he's using a movie to push an agenda: "It must be nice,
also, to be in the unique position, Nick, of being able to influence
people to talk about this issue. What is it that you hope, or what is it
that you think needs to be done about it?"
A "unique position" Curry was at
that very moment abusing herself to push an agenda.
Far from castigating Cassavetes for the
film's terrorist-like pro-violence message, Curry excused it:
"Nick, I know that you don't advocate, of course, violence. So what
is it that you hope people will take away from this movie?"
Curry introduced the February 15 segment:
new movie John Q, Denzel Washington plays a parent driven to the edge when
his son is in desperate need of a heart transplant and is denied because
of insurance issues....John Q is directed by Nick Cassavetes who has
experienced the frustrations of dealing with medical issues himself. He
and his daughter Sasha are in our Los Angeles newsroom this morning. Good
morning Nick and Sasha."
"questions" in the form of prompts:
-- "Nick it's interesting that you
decided to make a movie about this given your personal experience. Your
daughter, Sasha, who's sitting with you, was born with congenitive heart
disease. How frustrated have you been with the system?"
-- "Dealing with the bureaucracy of
having to get care for your child. Sasha, do you share any frustration,
specifically about the, about the system, about how it deals with you,
how, how it's made your father frustrated?"
Cassavetes: "Well I just think that it's not right and I think that
everybody should be allowed to get help when they need it and it doesn't
matter how much, they should be able to get help when they're sick. Like
it says in the movie."
"Right. And, and in the movie Denzel Washington plays a good guy
whose really driven to the edge and he uses extreme measures to get care
for his son. Nick, I know that you don't advocate, of course, violence. So
what is it that you hope people will take away from this movie?"
Cassavetes: "Well I hope that, that people when they go see the movie
will realize that there's a crack in our system. And the crack is 47
million people wide. And that's just the people who don't have
helpfully chimed in: "Millions of people who don't-"
Cassavetes: "What I hope they get out of the movie."
"Right, millions of people, you're saying who don't have insurance,
Cassavetes: "Yeah they're uninsured. And then there's people that are
under-insured and there's the millions more of those...."
Curry gently raised another point of view:
"Right but let me, right but let me tell you what some people have
taken away, as you know, from this movie. An HMO lobbying group called the
American Association of Health Plans is using your movie to blame,
basically, Washington for this problem. Saying, 'Hey it's not the HMOs!'
What do you think? How do you react to, to these ads that are now being
taken out in The Hollywood Reporter and also The Daily Variety?"
-- For her next question Curry returned to
admiring his advocacy: "It must be nice, also, to be in the unique
position, Nick, of being able to influence people to talk about this
issue. What is it that you hope, or what is it that you think needs to be
done about it?"
Cassavetes: "Well it, it's a tough situation because healthcare costs
are so high these days and you know, there are some broad things that you
could do. You could make it, you know, you could make it against the law
not to have health insurance, but that doesn't work because people don't
have enough money. Or you could say it must be the government's
responsibility to provide health service for people that can't afford it
but there's a cost factor there. And there's also something about the law,
it has to be voted in. I think that there is a reasonable median that we
can get to if people put their minds together and want to come up with a
concluded: "Well certainly your movie attempts to get people to be
thinking in this way. Sasha I know this movie is dedicated to you. We wish
you all the best in, in your effort to be healthy. And Nick Cassavetes
thank you as well this morning."
The film's preachiness was even too much for
the Washington Post's movie reviewer. Stephen Hunter's February 15
In, let's say, Israel, if a man goes to a busy emergency room, pulls a
gun, takes the place over and demands policy changes or he'll start
killing hostages, what would you call him?
Why, I believe the answer is: a terrorist.
But if the same thing happened in the United States, according to the
grotesquely inverted moral compass of "John Q.," here's what
we'd call the man: a hero.
On top of that, he'd be played by that essay in humane charisma, that
emblem of decency and intelligence, Denzel Washington.
The movie purports to examine the issue of HMO care guidelines and the
sometimes unfair ways they play out. Even the most partisan on both sides
of that policy dispute agree that it's about as thorny as an issue can
get, and even the nuttiest of them would consider "John Q.'s"
solution by gun violence way off the mark. It's as crass and manipulative
as a Stalin-era poster, it reduces the complexities
to bromides and slogans and it gets so preachy-keen and so tub-thumpingly
loud it makes you feel like a chump just for sitting through it....
END of Excerpt
For Hunter's impassioned review in full:
The night before the Today segment, Jay Leno
gushed over the movie's meaning to its star, Denzel Washington. On the
February 14 Olympic Tonight Show, Leno oozed: "It's a wonderful
story. You know, maybe it's just the times we live in right now. But you
really feel drawn to him because, you know, most movies about guys running
around, something like that, or divorced or whatever, and it's just a
guy trying to keep a family together."
Today founder Al Neuharth denounced Bernard Goldberg's book, Bias: A CBS
Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News. Neuharth took a personal
shot at Goldberg, accusing him of being "a second-rate newsman,"
and insisted that "Goldberg's depiction of the three biggies as
biased bad guys is fiction" since Rather, Jennings and Brokaw are all
"fair." Neuharth charged: "The book is what it calls
others. Blatantly biased, from cover to cover."
The blast from Neuharth, the long-time Gannett
executive who launched USA Today in 1992 and later created the Freedom
Forum and the Newseum, came in his weekly Friday column in USA Today two
weeks ago today. I had forgotten all about it but suddenly recalled it
yesterday and so decided to squeeze it in today. An excerpt from
Neuharth's February 8 column:
....The author himself was a second-string (some say second-rate)
newsman at CBS for 20 years. He took early retirement two years ago, at
age 54, because he couldn't make it to the top. Has a fat lifetime CBS
Goldberg's depiction of the three biggies as biased bad guys is
fiction. Based on my longtime acquaintance with each, here's what they're
-- Jennings, born in Toronto and still a citizen of Canada, may come
across as a bit uppity in Peoria. But he's fair.
-- Rather, a patriotic product of Texas, sometimes wears his emotions
on his sleeve. But he's fair.
-- Brokaw airs some of the prairie populism of his native South Dakota.
But he's fair.
Andy Rooney, longtime curmudgeon of CBS' 60 Minutes, says, "I
think he (Goldberg) put his finger on a lot of things that are true and
made a jerk of himself in the process."
My beef with Bias: The book is what it calls others. Blatantly biased,
from cover to cover.
END of Excerpt
Below Neuharth's column, USA Today featured
two "Feedback" quotes. One from Regnery Publishing President
Alfred Regnery and the other from Detroit News columnist Tom Bray:
Neuharth's argument reminds me of the old legal adage: If the facts aren't
on your side, argue the law. If the law isn't on your side, argue the
facts. If neither is on your side, pound the table. Saying Mr. Goldberg is
a jerk doesn't make the unpleasant truth about media bias go away."
For the entirety of Neuharth's diatribe:
February 21 Late Show with David Letterman (www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/),
as read by Army soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan, the "Top Ten Good
Things About Being Stationed in Kandahar." Copyright 2002 by
Worldwide Pants, Inc.
10. "When I go for a ride in my armored Humvee, everyone is really
friendly to me"
(Sergeant Anthony Croft)
9. "All the fabulous new goat recipes"
(Sergeant Andrew Carpenter)
8. "I've gotten the autographs of over a dozen Mullahs"
(Staff Sergeant Roger Bell)
7. "You don't really have time to dwell on that figure skating
(Specialist Ricky Covert)
6. "All-you-can-eat sand"
(Sergeant Tyson Daniel)
5. "Did you say 'Kandahar'? They told me this was Canada"
(Corporal Duane Charlton)
4. "Aren't many better ways of getting out of jury duty"
(Specialist Maurice Smith)
3. "There's a great duty-free shop in what's left of the Kandahar
(Specialist Lakeisha Blanks)
2. "I haven't seen The Late Show in six months"
(Specialist Marlon Harris)
1. "Of all the 'stan' countries, this is the place to be"
(Command Sergeant Major Iuniasolua Savusa)
#7 puts it all in perspective.
To watch a RealPlayer clip of a segment from
Thursday's Late Show of David Letterman's mom interacting with Donald
Rumsfeld at the Olympics in Utah, go to the Late Show home page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/
After it's replaced there on Monday,
you'll still be able to view it at: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/dave_tv/ --
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