Lamenting That Election About War, Not Economy
CBS's John Roberts rued the election focus: "With the sputtering recovery, the slumping stock market, and a plunge from record surpluses to deficits, it should be all about the economy. Instead, it's all about war." Roberts recounted how Democrats, "who hoped to be having a field day with the economic numbers, can't get passed a blizzard of headlines about terror at home and abroad. But even if they could," Roberts noted, "voters don't seem in a vindictive mood."
CBS Blames Cheney for Wellstone Snub
CBS's Dan Rather uniquely blamed Vice President Cheney himself for the Wellstone family not inviting him to the memorial service. Rather teased at the top of Tuesday's CBS Evening News: "Cheney runs into criticism as critical elections are one week away."
3. Castigating GOP But Not Democratic Political Moves in Minnesota
Though the "memorial service" for Paul Wellstone turned into a left-wing political rally and Democrats delayed officially picking Mondale in order to hold up Republican campaigning, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell spent Tuesday castigating Republican political moves while she simultaneously recounted, without considering it political, how Democrats were trying to ignore the law, which they say is "not fair," in order to allow absentee voters to vote again. To emphasize GOP callousness, NBC zoomed in on Wellstone's casket as O'Donnell noted a letter requesting debates with Mondale "arrived yesterday, just as Senator Wellstone was laid to rest."
4. ABC Notes Muhammad's Travel Habits
Though it's been discussed on the cable networks, on Tuesday night ABC's Neal Karlinsky informed a broadcast network's audience how a Bellingham, Washington homeless shelter operator called the FBI about Muhammad in October of 2001 because he was flying around the nation while living in a homeless shelter.
5. CBS's Simon Hopes Bush Iraq Threats a Ruse
"I for one will dash out into the streets shouting 'hail to the chief,'" CBS's Bob Simon promised if President Bush is really just fooling everyone and does not end up invading Iraq. On CBS's Sunday Morning Simon expressed his hope: "I like to think is that Mr. Bush has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. That he has orchestrated the most brilliant act of deception since the Greeks wheeled that hollow horse into Troy."
6. Ann Curry Expresses Pro-Life Assumptions
NBC's Ann Curry a pro-lifer? Interviewing the author of a new book with three-dimensional color images of life from sperm and egg through birth, on Tuesday's Today Curry assumed the pictures showed a live human child inside a woman's uterus. Curry used phrases such as: "Starting from the very beginning of human life, fertilization" and "then at three months we can see the baby's circulatory system is developing." Curry also worried about pain inflicted by the technique used to get the images: "And this doesn't hurt the baby when you use this technology in this way?"
7. Nachman Rebukes NBC's "Impulse Control Disorder" Over MSNBC
MSNBC criticizing itself. MSNBC Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nachman predicted that "unless CBS is prepared to settle down for a long wait and plenty of nurturing, this latest incarnation of The Early Show is doomed." But just as viewers were thinking that this was the pot calling the kettle black given how MSNBC alters its line-up every few weeks, Nachman turned on his bosses: "The worst impulse control disorder I've seen in my entire broadcasting career is from the NBC executives who own and operate" MSNBC.
NBC's West Wing Presidential Debate Tonight
Tonight on NBC's The West Wing: A presidential debate between brilliant Democratic "President Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, and dumb Republican "Governor Ritchie," played by Barbra Streisand's husband, James Brolin.
Lamenting That Election About War, Not Economy
That darned concern with national security is messing up the plan by Democrats to make gains in the mid-term elections by exploiting anger over the disastrous economy.
Calling it a "weird election," on Tuesday's CBS Evening News John Roberts rued: "With the sputtering recovery, the slumping stock market, and a plunge from record surpluses to deficits, it should be all about the economy. Instead, it's all about war."
Roberts recounted how Democrats, "who hoped to be having a field day with the economic numbers, can't get passed a blizzard of headlines about terror at home and abroad. But even if they could," Roberts noted, "voters don't seem in a vindictive mood."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Betsy Stark delivered a piece on the same general subject, but she didn't see it through the prism of disillusioned Democrats as she reported that 60 percent of people in a new poll don't blame Bush for the economy and that's at least in part because of Bush's high approval rating.
Dan Rather set up the October 29 CBS Evening News story: "It is one week to election day with close races for control of the House and Senate. The issues could affect Americans for years to come. They include the war on terror and the struggling U.S. economy. Republicans from President Bush on down are banking on voters putting guns over butter as CBS's John Roberts reports."
Roberts began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"In any other campaign year, the news could have been disastrous. Seven days from the election, consumer confidence falls to its lowest level in almost a decade. But it made barely a ripple in the political waters in Washington. And that's what's so weird about this election. With the sputtering recovery, the slumping stock market, and a plunge from record surpluses to deficits, it should be all about the economy. Instead, it's all about war."
George W. Bush: "In the name of freedom, the United States will lead a coalition and disarm Saddam Hussein."
Roberts explained, interspersed with clips from campaign TV ads: "At presidential get-out-the-vote rallies across America, jobs and prosperity take a backseat to peace and security...And many Republicans locked in tight races are running not on local issues, but a national wartime footing...At the White House today, the President's spokesman stopped just short of saying the country would be safer if Republicans controlled Congress."
Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary: "It would be better for the country if many of the items on his agenda had enough support to get passed into law."
Roberts: "The strategy to focus on war has been so successful that Democrats, who hoped to be having a field day with the economic numbers, can't get passed a blizzard of headlines about terror at home and abroad. But even if they could, voters don't seem in a vindictive mood."
Carroll Doherty, Pew Research Center: "Apparently, they don't tend to blame anyone in particular, the President or the Congress, necessarily, for the economic downturn. They see it as either part of the business cycle or many people still attribute it to the 9/11 attacks."
Roberts concluded: "So the President is on solid ground when he says his number one priority is to protect the homeland, even if his focus on war provokes protests and satirical headlines suggesting Saddam is to blame for everything. The saber-rattling has energized the Republican base, and in an election that could turn on turnout, that may make all the difference."
Republicans wining. Now that will annoy the media.
CBS Blames Cheney for Wellstone Snub
Depending upon which media report you believe, the Wellstone family uninvited Vice President Cheney to Tuesday night's memorial service for the late Senator Paul Wellstone killed in a plane crash on Friday, because they didn't want to be encumbered by the required security, were upset by how Republicans in the state were politicking before the service or didn't think he'd be comfortable in what turned into a left-wing pep rally.
But only CBS's Dan Rather managed to suggest Cheney himself was to blame. Rather teased at the top of Tuesday's CBS Evening News: "Cheney runs into criticism as critical elections are one week away."
Rather introduced the subsequent story without mentioning Cheney: "One tight race that could swing Senate control either way is in Minnesota. And adding to the intensity of it, a memorial service in Minneapolis tonight for Senator Paul Wellstone, the incumbent Democrat killed in a plane crash last week. CBS's Cynthia Bowers reports there's mourning mixed with politics, and it's evident from who's attending and who is not. Cynthia?"
From Minnesota, Bowers cited Cheney, but she didn't say that he'd been hit with criticism: "Dan, among the 20,000 here tonight, former President Clinton and Vice President Gore. Not here, current Vice President Dick Cheney, who wanted to attend but was not invited. One reason, Wellstone family anger over Republican attacks of his presumed replacement, Walter
That was it. Not another word from Bowers about Cheney, so nothing about criticism of him.
Castigating GOP But Not Democratic
Political Moves in Minnesota
Though the "memorial service" for Paul Wellstone and other victims of Friday's plane crash turned into more of a left-wing political rally with one speaker proclaiming "we need to win this election for Paul," Senator Tom Harkin trumpeting the necessity of a win for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party and railing against conservative policies, and the crowd going into wild applause for liberal polemical remarks, NBC's Kelly O'Donnell spent the hours before the service castigating Republicans for daring to do anything political while she simultaneously recounted, without considering it political, how Minnesota Democrats were trying to ignore the law, which they say is "not fair," in order to allow absentee voters to vote again.
O'Donnell also ignored another political maneuver Minnesota Democrats arranged in order to suppress campaigning by the Republicans, a move noted by Cynthia Bowers on Tuesday's CBS Evening News: "Behind closed doors, it's been all out political war. That former Vice President Walter Mondale has already been asked and agreed to run is the worst kept secret in politics. And the state's Democratic Party's insistence on going through the motions of holding a nominating convention tomorrow night appears to many analysts to be an effort to run out the clock on Republican challenger Norm Coleman."
| On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, O'Donnell characterized only Republicans as insensitive: "The Wellstone family also angered by a letter from the Minnesota Republican Party to the Democrats requesting a series of five debates between the presumed Wellstone replacement, Walter
Mondale, and Republican candidate Norm Coleman. The letter arrived yesterday, just as Senator Wellstone was laid to rest."
To drive the point home of Republican callousness, as she spoke the video viewers saw zoomed in on Wellstone's casket.
"The timing of the move even makes the Republican candidate uneasy," O'Donnell continued before letting Coleman lament: "I wish everyone would have waited probably until tomorrow, I really do." O'Donnell noted: "That's when Norm Coleman begins again facing a new opponent and a wave of Wellstone emotion he acknowledges will be hard to overcome."
O'Donnell then concluded by noting Democratic efforts to change the election law in order to benefit themselves, but she didn't portray that move as tasteless politics done just as Wellstone was being laid to rest: "In an already extraordinary set of circumstances, tonight the Minnesota Democratic Party filing suit to require that absentee ballots with Walter Mondale's name be sent out, but the Secretary of State says there's not enough time and officials already say absentee votes for Wellstone cannot be counted."
Earlier, on Tuesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that O'Donnell stressed how Democrats think the election law is "not fair." O'Donnell observed without any shame about the politics: "Today new worries that some absentee votes won't be counted."
Mike Erlandson, Minnesota DFL: "We continue to remain concerned that the Secretary of State continues to allow ballots to be sent out with Senator Wellstone's name on them."
O'Donnell: "And that's legal according to Minnesota's attorney general, because new ballots cannot be printed until a new candidate is named. Walter Mondale, the expected choice, won't be official until tomorrow night....But officials acknowledge Wellstone votes sent in absentee will be tossed out. All those for Republican Norm Coleman will count. Absentee voters can revote in person or write-in Mondale's name. Democrats say it's not fair."
After another soundbite from Erlandson, O'Donnell warned of the potential impact: "Officials estimate the number of Wellstone absentee votes that could be set aside could amount to as much as one percent of the total vote. Enough to matter in a very tight race. So far polling shows a Mondale-Coleman contest is nearly a statistical dead heat."
ABC Notes Muhammad's Travel Habits
Finally a hint from a broadcast network about the strange post 9/11 activities of arrested sniper John Muhammad. Though it's been discussed on the cable networks, I believe that on Tuesday night ABC's Neal Karlinsky was the first broadcast network reporter to touch on how a Bellingham, Washington homeless shelter operator called the FBI about Muhammad in October of 2001.
Karlinsky noted on the October 29 World News Tonight: "October 2001, a call to the FBI in Seattle. A minister at this homeless mission tells agents a man named John Muhammad is acting suspicious, often flying cross country on business despite being homeless."
Reverend Al Archer, Lighthouse Mission: "I felt that John had to be involved in something somewhere that was not what it should be."
Other media outlets have speculated that Muhammad flew around because he was a human smuggler.
CBS's Simon Hopes Bush Iraq Threats a Ruse
"I for one will dash out into the streets shouting 'hail to the chief,'" CBS's Bob Simon promised if President Bush is really just fooling everyone and does not end up invading Iraq.
On CBS's Sunday Morning, MRC analyst Brian Boyd observed, Simon hoped: "I like to think is that Mr. Bush has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. That he has orchestrated the most brilliant act of deception since the Greeks wheeled that hollow horse into Troy."
Simon, a regular on 60 Minutes II, delivered this commentary on the October 27 Sunday Morning:
"I've just spent a month in the Middle East and I can tell you that everyone here believes President Bush is going to attack Iraq. That the point of no return has been passed, that it's just going to happen. Many Americans think that too, but what I like to think is that Mr. Bush has pulled the wool over everyone's eyes. That he has orchestrated the most brilliant act of deception since the Greeks wheeled that hollow horse into Troy.
"Here's my hypothesis: the President's critics accuse him of using war talk as a pre-election ploy to divert attention from the sagging economy, the corporate scandals and the possibility that Osama bin Laden has had a face job and is dancing right now on the wild side of Omyorka (sp?) discotheque. I say, what else is new? What politician hasn't tried to distract voters from what's gone wrong, and has there ever been a better way than by mobilizing for war?
"But we all know that the situation in Iraq transcends party politics, just look at all the Democrats who voted for Mr. Bush's war resolution. We, also, know that Saddam is a bad guy and he's got nasty weapons and we'd all sleep better if he didn't. But look at what Mr. Bush's war talk has already accomplished: the UN will pass a new and improved resolution; the weapons inspectors are already packed and sleeping in airport hotels; and, listen to this, Saddam has pledged complete cooperation and says the inspectors can even go to all those presidential palaces which were off limits in the past.
"Now we all know Saddam and we know that sooner or later he will start playing games with the inspectors. But frankly, so what? At best or at worst, he won't be able to hide much, certainly not enough to hurt us or our friends.
"So you see where I'm going, Mr. Bush doesn't need to invade Iraq. He's already accomplished what he wanted to accomplish by convincing everyone that he's going to invade. And here's what I like to think, as soon as the elections are over and as soon as the inspectors are crawling under Saddam's presidential beds with flashlights, President Bush will go on television and declare victory. He will say, no war, not necessary, gotcha. Actually, he doesn't have to say all that. All he needs to do is wink, just once, we'll understand and I for one will dash out into the streets shouting 'hail to the chief.'"
Now that would be a first, a CBS News reporter hailing a Republican President.
See the October 4 CyberAlert for earlier comments from Simon against a war with Iraq:
For a photo and bio of Simon:
Ann Curry Expresses Pro-Life Assumptions
NBC's Ann Curry a true pro-lifer or an inadvertent one?
Interviewing the author of a new book with three-dimensional color photos and images of life from sperm attacking the egg through birth, on Tuesday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Curry assumed the pictures showed a live human child inside a woman's uterus.
Contradicting the talking points of pro-abortion feminists, during the October 29 session with Alexander Tsiaras, author of
From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds, Curry used phrases such as: "Starting from the very beginning of human life, fertilization, we're gonna begin showing some of these images" and
"then at three months we can see that, the baby's circulatory system is, is developing." Curry also worried about possible pain inflicted by the technique used to obtain the detailed images: "And this doesn't hurt the baby when you use this technology in this way?"
What's next, a network television correspondent worried about the pain caused to the baby when it's aborted? Well, that's probably asking for too much.
Curry, who is normally Today's news reader, was filling in on Tuesday for Katie Couric. One doubts that Couric would have taken the same approach.
Curry set up the 9am half hour segment: "New technology is allowing us a stunning look at a baby's development while in the womb. Medical images show the fetus developing by using data from human biology and computer science to illustrate all the milestones including the baby's birth. This remarkable technology and images are in the book, From Conception to Birth. Alexander Tsiaras is the author. Alexander good morning."
Curry's questions which matched large, dramatic and detailed images from the book which Today displayed for viewers:
-- "These, I think, offer the most detailed look of a baby in utero. Further explain for us how you came about finding the technology to get these images?...Technology like
-- "Okay starting from the very beginning of human life, fertilization, we're gonna begin showing some of these images. And we see there the sperm now, all sort of attacking the, the embryo, the human egg which is really a dramatic shot. I don't think we've ever seen anything quite like that before. And then we move into four days after fertilization to what's called a blasto-cyst which divides and contracts. Describe what's going on here."
Tsiaras: "A baby becoming what it will be."
-- "And suddenly then things start happening very fast. Because at four weeks we see the developing vertebrae. You can see right there. And also the nervous system. I mean things are moving very quickly."
-- "Also then at three months we can see that, the baby's circulatory system is, is developing and how did you get this detail? I mean you are actually seeing, it seems, under the skin."
-- "And this doesn't hurt the baby when you use this technology in this way?"
Tsiaras assured her there is no pain since technology allows the coloring of the images, taken from outside the fetus, to illustrate internal organs and functions.
-- "Oh I see. I see. So it's not directly seeing under the skin, it's about recreating it, really? Okay, okay?"
-- "Then we see the hands developing also about this time. And also the organs we can begin to see."
-- "An image of the connection between the mother and child in this next image which shows the umbilical cord about three months. And you've highlighted it, these are not true colors. These are highlighted colors then, correct? And then at six months we begin to see the baby's body develop. Look at that image! Now how much of this image is based on MRIs and how much of it is re-created?"
-- "And at eight months the brain of the baby, you can see, actually the markings really show that the brain is developing by leaps and bounds. I mean it's becoming a little computer on its own."
-- "Clearly you're fascinated by this."
Tsiaras: "How can you not be? You're at a front row seat to Genesis."
-- "And what is it then that having had that front row seat that you have learned about the unfolding of a human life?"
-- "So, so it's an awe that you, you come away with an awe for the specialness of each one of us really."
-- "Well you've given that front row seat a bit to us as well, Alexander. Thank you so much, Alexander Tsiaras for joining us. And we should tell people that you can find an excerpt From Conception to Birth, on our Web site at
Today has posted a book excerpt and a Windows Media Player video of the interview at:
The excerpt explains how the images were captured: "As biologists have decoded the molecular basis of life, computer scientists have developed three-dimensional techniques for scanning and displaying the body, which can isolate systems (nervous, skeletal, circulatory, etc.) and allow us to view them down to a molecular level."
For a photo and bio of Curry:
I bet NBC has already heard from a very angry Kate
Nachman Rebukes NBC's
"Impulse Control Disorder" Over MSNBC
MSNBC criticizing itself. Wrapping up his 5pm EST MSNBC show on Tuesday, MSNBC Editor-in-Chief Jerry Nachman scolded CBS for never giving its morning show efforts enough time to gel with an audience, predicting that "unless CBS is prepared to settle down for a long wait and plenty of nurturing, this latest incarnation of The Early Show is doomed."
But just as viewers were thinking, at least I was, that this was the pot calling the kettle black given how MSNBC alters its line-up every few weeks (including the decision to drop the Sliwa & Kuby show after last Friday), Nachman turned on his bosses:
"The worst impulse control disorder I've seen in my entire broadcasting career is from the NBC executives who own and operate this otherwise marvelous place that I work for called MSNBC."
At the end of his October 29 broadcast Nachman opined, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"No habit is harder to break than how we begin our television day. It's as difficult to convince people of changing that habit as it is of convincing them to change their brand of breakfast cereal. But once again, CBS is trying to change a half-century-old habit of viewers telling them, 'No, I like the other brand better.' Yesterday the newest version of The Early Show rolled out. This one changed the template of smart woman, affable guy, cheery weather person. The latest CBS iteration features four coequal anchors -- three women and a returning veteran, Harry Smith. The critics hate it already. But they hate everything, so pay no attention to them. I was able to recite from memory an almost complete roster of Today Show anchors on NBC for the last 50 years. They all came back...But I needed half a day's research to do that for the CBS morning show.
"Here's the problem: You remember what I said about a habit medium? Lately, TV executives are suffering from a collective attention deficit disorder. 60 Minutes took five years to get off the ground. Seinfeld finished 92nd among TV shows in its maiden year. If either of those shows was launched today, they'd be dead, stillborn if not summarily executed in a single season, two seasons at most. So unless CBS is prepared to settle down for a long wait and plenty of nurturing, this latest incarnation of The Early Show is doomed. Unless, of course, lightning strikes, which rarely, if ever, happens.
"Oh, and in case you think I'm picking on the competition, let me add this to the record: The worst impulse control disorder I've seen in my entire broadcasting career is from the NBC executives who own and operate this otherwise marvelous place that I work for called MSNBC. How's that for fiercely independent?"
He's got the company slogan down good ("fiercely independent"), but I'd bet the days are numbered for his show too. Or maybe the decision to drop the show or him or both has already been made. That would explain his willingness to trash the programming prowess of his NBC bosses.
West Wing Presidential Debate Tonight
Tonight on NBC's The West Wing: NBC's latest in-kind contribution to liberal Democratic candidates as the show will feature a presidential debate between Democratic incumbent "President Jeb Bartlet" and Republican "Governor Robert Ritchie."
The West Wing launched its new season in September in full liberal roar. In the opening moments of the season premiere, Bartlet proclaimed at a campaign rally: "We need to find energy alternatives....The Republicans are busy. They're trying to convince us that they care about new energy and that they're not in the chest pockets of Big Oil. And that's a tough sell." For details and links to earlier instances of liberal advocacy on the show, see the September 26
NBC's Web site for The West Wing:
"Governor Ritchie," whom West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin created as a dumb Republican Southern Governor of Florida -- can't imagine what he based that on -- is played by James Brolin, aka Mr. Barbra Streisand. For a picture of
Another contribution to the liberal cause by Streisand. -- Brent Baker
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