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The 1,385th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday November 19, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 184)

 
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1.
ABC Criticizes Bush for Not Condemning Anti-Islam Remarks
Assuming Islam is a religion of peace, Peter Jennings passed along what he suggested were alarming new poll numbers, about the public seeing Islam as encouraging violence and lacking respect for other religions, before turning to Dan Harris for a rundown of anti-Islam comments from evangelical leaders. Harris blamed Bush: "Critics suggest the administration waited so long to condemn the statements from leading evangelicals because they didn't want to alienate a key constituency before the midterm elections."

2. To the Washington Post a Liberal is a "Centrist"
The Washington Post can't seem to recognize a liberal. In the Post's world, a conservative is a conservative but a liberal is a "centrist." New House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer earned a 95 percent rating last year from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action and yet the Post tagged him, inaccurately, as a "centrist." But New Majority Whip Roy Blunt earned a polar opposite 5 percent and the Post described him, accurately, as a "conservative."

3. CNN's Morton: Bush Not Conservative But Howard Dean Is
CNN's Bruce Morton ridiculously dismissed the relevance of incoming House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's liberalism, arguing that since governors must balance budgets and Presidents do not that makes liberal governors, like Vermont's Howard Dean, the true conservatives.

4. CNN Condemns FNC's Ailes, But CNN's Kaplan Was an FOB
Displaying an amazing level of hypocrisy, on Monday CNN shows focused on the revelation that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes sent a memo to Bush adviser Karl Rove just after the terrorist attacks. Treating this as newsworthy: CNN, a network run until two years ago by Rick Kaplan, who while President of CNN, played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and attended a mock debate session with Al Gore -- all after, while at ABC News, advising candidate Clinton on how to handle the Flowers situation and blocking anti-Clinton stories from ABC.


 

ABC Criticizes Bush for Not Condemning
Anti-Islam Remarks

     ABC News assumes Islam is a religion of peace, suggesting anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong and that President Bush should have long ago condemned those who dare to criticize the religion. On Monday's World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings passed along what he suggested were alarming new poll numbers, about the public seeing Islam as encouraging violence and lacking respect for other religions, before turning to Dan Harris for a rundown of anti-Islam comments from evangelical leaders, for none of which Harris bothered to explain how they were wrong.

     Harris then blamed President Bush: "Critics suggest the administration waited so long to condemn the statements from leading evangelicals because they didn't want to alienate a key constituency before the midterm elections."

     Unaddressed in ABC's screed against the Christian activists and President Bush: Why it is quite rational, given how it was Muslims who declared war on the U.S. and that Muslims have declared a jihad to murder all Jews in Israel, for Americans to see Islam as something less than a peaceful and tolerant religion. Maybe it is, I don't know, but ABC was more interested in bashing President Bush and conservatives than in enlightening its audience.

     Peter Jennings set up the November 18 story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "We're going to take a closer look tonight at Islam and public opinion. A recent ABC News poll finds that the number of people who have an unfavorable opinion of Islam is up 9 points from 10 months ago to, as you can see there, 33 percent. The number of people who say mainstream Islam encourages violence is also up 9 points. And the number of people who say they think Islam fails to teach respect for other religions has increased by 13 points in the same period. Right after the events of September 11th, President Bush spoke pointedly about the need to respect Islam. Lately, some other people have been speaking out with different voices. Here's ABC's Dan Harris."

     Harris began: "The nation's leading evangelicals have been thundering against Islam."
     Rev. Pat Robertson: "Adolf Hitler was bad, but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse."
     Rev. Jerry Falwell: "I think Mohammed was a terrorist."
     Rev. Jerry Vines: "Islam was founded by Mohammed, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives, and his last one was a nine-year-old girl."
     Harris: "For months, President Bush, who frequently says Islam is a religion of peace, declined to condemn these statements until now."
     George W. Bush, date unlabeled: "Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans."
     Colin Powell: "This kind of hatred must be rejected. This kind of language must be spoken out against."
     Harris: "Critics suggest the administration waited so long to condemn the statements from leading evangelicals because they didn't want to alienate a key constituency before the midterm elections. The White House denies this. What is clear is that evangelical attacks on Islam risk further alienating key Arab allies as the U.S. prepares for a possible war with Iraq. When Jerry Falwell called Mohammed a terrorist, it was a hot topic of discussion on Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera, and even led to riots in India. Televangelist Jimmy Swaggert, who now says he regrets some of his recent comments-"
     Rev. Jimmy Swaggart: "We ought to take, we ought to take every single Muslim student in every college in this nation and ship them back to where they came from."
     Harris: "-he doesn't worry much about creating diplomatic problems with Arab countries."
     Swaggart: "I feel like it's my responsibility and my obligation to stand up and to say that which I believe to be the truth. They do the same thing."
     Harris concluded: "Critics say evangelicals are attacking Islam because it's a good way to drum up passions and donations among their supporters. Evangelical leaders say they are speaking out of conviction and they'll keep doing so no matter what the President says."

 

To the Washington Post a Liberal is a "Centrist"


     The Washington Post can't seem to recognize a liberal. In the Post's world, a liberal is a "centrist" but a conservative is a conservative. New House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer earned a 95 percent rating last year from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the Post tagged him as a "centrist." But New Majority Whip Roy Blunt earned a polar opposite 5 percent and yet the Post described him, accurately, as a "conservative."

     Reporter Spencer Hsu led a November 15 national news section story: "House Democrats unanimously elected Rep. Steny H. Hoyer to the number two post of minority whip yesterday, making him the leadership's most visible centrist and Maryland's highest-ranking member of Congress ever...." That story is online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57172-2002Nov14.html

     Jump ahead to November 18 and a story by reporter Jim VandeHei
began: "Is Roy Blunt being groomed to become the next speaker of the House?
     "Blunt, an ambitious conservative from Missouri, last week was unanimously elected majority whip, the third-ranking Republican leadership position...." That story is online at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A2724-2002Nov17.html

     Now, let's compare the ideology of the two whips. Hoyer, the "centrist," has earned a lifetime rating of 8 percent from the American Conservative Union (ACU), negligibly different than the 6 percent assessed to Senator Barbara Mikulski, a woman it would be hard to imagine even the Post not seeing as quite liberal. See: http://www.acuratings.com/acu_doc.cgi?ACT=3&STATE=MD&YEAR=2001

     Missourian Roy Blunt has received a rating of 92 percent over his career from the ACU. See: http://www.acuratings.com/acu_doc.cgi?ACT=3&STATE=MO&YEAR=2001

     From the left, the ADA gave Blunt 7 percent approval over his first years in Congress. See: http://adaction.org/ho00027.htm

     For 2001 Blunt got 5 percent from the ADA while Hoyer got just opposite score: 95 percent. See: http://adaction.org/Hse2001vr.pdf

     Over his lifetime, Hoyer has earned a slightly lower, but still respectfully liberal, 83 percent from the ADA. See: http://adaction.org/ho00022.htm

     This kind of mislabeling fits a pattern at the Post:

     -- Washington Post labeling bias, part one: In offering short bios of 13 Republicans Senators slated to become committee chairmen, the Post applied ideological labels to 11, with nine of the 11 getting tagged with a conservative label. But 17 months earlier, when the Jeffords defection put Democrats in control, the paper's page of profiles of the newly elevated Democratic chairmen not only labeled just one Democrat as a liberal, it managed to apply conservative tags to two outgoing Republican chairmen. Conservative to the Post: Pete Domenici and John Warner. Not liberal: Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin and Patrick Leahy. See: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021112.asp#1

     -- Washington Post labeling bias, part two: Though he earned solidly liberal vote ratings during his years in Congress, the Post preposterously described Maine's new Democratic Governor, John E. Baldacci, as "a centrist back-bencher in Congress" who "is known as something of a conservative within the Democratic Party." http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021112.asp#2

 

CNN's Morton: Bush Not Conservative
But Howard Dean Is

     CNN's Bruce Morton ridiculously dismissed the relevance of incoming House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's liberalism, arguing that since governors must balance budgets and Presidents do not that makes liberal governors, like Vermont's Howard Dean, the true conservatives.

     I'm not kidding. Here is Morton's logic as presented in his "The Last Word" commentary on Sunday's Late Edition: "What is a liberal these days, anyway? Howard Dean, the Democratic Governor of Vermont and a presidential candidate, likes to say that he, not the Republicans, is a fiscal conservative, because he's had to balance his state's budget, and no Republican President has balanced a federal budget in more than 30 years, which in fact is true."

     By that logic liberals in states that require parental consent for abortions are really conservatives. All Dean and other governors are doing is following state law in one area while still pursuing liberal goals in other areas, including raising taxes so they can spend more while keeping the budgets balanced.

     Morton began his November 17 piece, which was brought to my attention by the MRC's Rich Noyes:
     "Republicans wasted no time attacking the Democrats' new House leader, Nancy Pelosi as a -- gasp, shudder -- 'liberal,' from liberal San Francisco, in liberal California.
     "She is from there, of course, but it's worth remembering that she grew up in Baltimore, where her father was a mayor who ran an old-fashioned political machine. Pelosi, at a very early age, could count, and that probably had more to do with her election to the leadership than her politics. She raised a lot of money for her fellow House Democrats.
     "And, what is a liberal these days, anyway? Howard Dean, the Democratic Governor of Vermont and a presidential candidate, likes to say that he, not the Republicans, is a fiscal conservative, because he's had to balance his state's budget, and no Republican president has balanced a federal budget in more than 30 years, which in fact is true.
     "In 1981, when Republican Ronald Reagan took office, the national debt was just under $1 trillion. By 1993, when Democrat Bill Clinton became president, it was well over $4 trillion. Clinton actually ran surpluses for part of his time in office, but George W. Bush's big tax cut plus the war on terrorism brought deficit spending back again.
     "Mr. Bush insists tax cuts actually increase government revenue. The deficit would have been bigger without the tax relief package, he said last week. But he may be the only person who still believes that. His father once denounced this supply-side theory as voodoo economics,' and most economists would agree.
     "Republicans always defend the Reagan-Bush deficits, blaming them on Democratic Congress's spendthrift habits, but Republican Presidents could have vetoed the spending and didn't. The GOP denounces tax-and-spend Democrats, the Democrats denounce borrow-and-spend Republicans, and the national debt keeps getting bigger. The evidence is that Congresses, of any party, are very good at spending and very bad at saying, 'Let's not buy that this year, let's pay down the national debt.'
     "Fiscally, it's hard to tell liberals from conservatives these days, they both spend our money. Maybe Governor Dean has a point. His quest for the presidency is certainly a long shot, but if enough people -- liberal, conservative, whatever -- were to say, 'Hey, here's a guy who's really serious about paying down the national debt, he might have a chance.' Or maybe not. Voters like all that pork barrel stuff too, whichever party is handing it out.
     "If you and I spend endlessly, the bank will eventually foreclose on the mortgage. Maybe countries are different? I'm Bruce Morton."

     Morton may be onto something in saying both parties love spending, a sure issue with big spender Ted Stevens taking over the Senate Appropriations Committee, but that doesn't make a liberal governor like Howard Dean a conservative or make Nancy Pelosi any less liberal.

 

CNN Condemns FNC's Ailes,
But CNN's Kaplan Was an FOB

     Displaying an amazing level of hypocrisy, all day on Thursday CNN anchors and shows focused on the revelation that Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes sent a memo to Bush adviser Karl Rove just after the terrorist attacks with advice on how the public would perceive Bush's actions.

     Treating this as newsworthy: CNN, a network run until two years ago by Rick Kaplan, who while serving as President of CNN from 1997 through 2000, played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore -- all after, while an ABC News executive, advising presidential candidate Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers situation and blocking anti-Clinton stories from getting onto World News Tonight.

     Below: What Bob Woodward reported about the Ailes memo to Karl Rove, how CNN distorted it, especially Jack Cafferty, and then Kaplan's record of political activism while running CNN.

     > What Woodward reported/Ailes reaction. A November 16 Washington Post story by Mike Allen summarizing Bob Woodward's new book, Bush at War, included this paragraph in which Allen applied an ideological label to FNC:
     "Roger E. Ailes, a media coach for Bush's father and now chairman of the Fox News Channel, sent a confidential communication to the White House in the weeks after the terrorist attacks. Rove took the Ailes communication to the President. 'His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible,' Woodward wrote. He added that Ailes, who has angrily challenged reports that his news channel has a conservative bias, added a warning: 'Support would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly.'"

     Pretty conventional advice at a time when all Americans were "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" with the President, as Nancy Pelosi might say.

     Timothy Noah's "Chatterbox" column on Slate provided a full recitation of what is on page 207 of Woodward's book:
     "Rove also kept in touch with the party apparatus and leading conservatives. One important-looking confidential communication came in to Rove from one of Bush's senior friends, so Bush took it to the Oval Office. [shouldn't that be Rove took it to the Oval?]
     "Roger Ailes, former media guru for Bush's father, had a message, Rove told the president. It had to be confidential because Ailes, a flamboyant and irreverent media executive, was currently the head of FOX News, the conservative-leaning television cable network that was enjoying high ratings. In that position, Ailes was not supposed to be giving political advice. His back-channel message: The American public would tolerate waiting and would be patient, but only as long as they were convinced that Bush was using the harshest measures possible. Support would dissipate if the public did not see Bush acting harshly."

     That's online at: http://slate.msn.com/?id=2074115

     Ailes issued this statement on Monday: "Bob Woodward's characterization of my memo is incorrect. In the days following 9/11, our country came together in nonpartisan support of the president. During that time, I wrote a personal note to a White House staff member as a concerned American expressing my outrage about the attacks on our country. I did not give up my American citizenship to take this job."

     This is online at: http://slate.msn.com/?id=2074145

     > How "the network America trusts" distorted the story. On American Morning on Monday, the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me, Jack Cafferty claimed Rove "has been secretly sending advice to President Bush," implying the Ailes advice is ongoing when Woodward reported a one-time occurrence, and Cafferty insisted the "memo reportedly said that the American public would be patient about Iraq," a characterization which suggests advice about an issue in conflict in the political process, Iraq, when, in fact, the memo came immediately after the terrorist attacks and was about them, a time when Americans were united. Jack Cafferty
CNN's Jack Cafferty called FNC "that low-budget operation down the street with red letters."

     Just before 8:30am EST on November 18 Cafferty complained: "Listen Paula, I have a story that may interest you here, a story that might be good for what ails you. That's as in 'Roger Ailes,' the guy who runs Fox News, that low-budget operation down the street with the red letters. The Washington Post is reporting over the weekend about something that is in Woodward's soon to be released book called Bush at War. Woodward reports that the Fox News chief, Roger Ailes, has been secretly sending advice to President Bush and the senior aide, a guy named Karl Rove. Woodward writes that Ailes sent a confidential memo to Rove who then took it to the President. The Ailes memo reportedly said that the American public would be patient about Iraq, but only as long as they were convinced Bush was using the harshest measures possible. Ailes is also said to have warned that support would weaken if the public did not see Bush acting harshly. Roger Ailes was a media coach for President Bush's father and he's had a number of other assignments as well. Any comments?"
     Zahn: "Does that shed new light on 'we report, you decide' Jack?"
     Cafferty mocked: "'Fair and balanced' [laughter] We better leave that alone."

     Later in the day, CNN's Talkback Live devoted a segment to the subject, as did Crossfire which had the Chicago Tribune's James Warren criticizing Ailes, and on Wolf Blitzer Reports Blitzer highlighted the Woodward item about Ailes.

     Talkback Live featured two liberals, Norman Soloman and Douglas Brinkley, up against the conservative Armstrong Williams who reminded host Arthel Neville that "your former President of CNN, Rick Kaplan, was a golfing buddy of the President, spent many nights in the Lincoln Bedroom, was a close confidant of the President. And if you're going to hold Roger Ailes to that standard, then you should hold your former boss to the same standard."

     Neville countered: "Sure. Let me just bring this up on that note. Of course, folks who say there's a difference in seeking access to the administration, as opposed to giving unsolicited political advice."

     Huh? Kaplan spent one-on-one time with President Clinton and was awarded the privilege of two overnight stays. That's far closer to the President than sending a memo to an aide. So, are we to believe CNN wouldn't have mentioned Ailes if Woodward had revealed that Ailes stayed overnight at the White House a few months ago?

     > CNN President Rick Kaplan's close ties to President Bill Clinton, connections which failed to generate the media firestorm which has erupted over Ailes this week:

     -- From the April 11, 2000 CyberAlert:
     CNN President Rick Kaplan, who stayed overnight in Clinton's White House while at ABC News, spent another night there with his daughter last Thursday night after the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner, USA Today disclosed. But Kaplan doesn't see anything wrong with it.

     In his "Inside TV" column for April 10, USA Today's Peter Johnson revealed:

CNN president Rick Kaplan, who took some heat when he worked at ABC News for staying overnight at the White House during President Clinton's first term, spent another night there Thursday -- after Clinton roasted ABC News over "Leogate."

"No, I do not feel embarrassed, ashamed or compromised in any way, shape or form," Kaplan said Friday, after sleeping in the Queen's Room while daughter Alexis, 21, slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Generally speaking, it's an ethical no-no for journalists to get too cozy with people they cover. But Kaplan, a former Nightline, PrimeTime Live and World News Tonight producer, said Clinton's gesture won't affect CNN's coverage of him.

"Everyone has relationships," Kaplan said. "We met each other before either of us knew we'd amount to anything. He doesn't expect anything from me, and I don't expect anything from him."

Kaplan, a Clinton friend for 30 years, said the president gave Alexis an "amazing" 2 -hour White House tour. "It was extremely nice of him to do it. In the waning months of his presidency, I felt, 'What the heck?'"

     END of Excerpt and of April 11, 2001 CyberAlert item

     (Back in 1994 Knight-Ridder's Marc Gunther noted in a profile story that ran in the February 8, 1994 Detroit News: "Kaplan and Clinton have know each other since the late 1970s, and last year the ABC producer played golf with the President and spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom....")

     -- From the December 5, 2000 CyberAlert, a couple of months after Kaplan left CNN:
     Was former CNN President Rick Kaplan involved in advising the Gore campaign while he was still running the cable news network? Did he have special behind-the-scenes access because of his close personal connection to Bill Clinton? Those questions are raised by an intriguing sentence in the November 20 Newsweek.

     In early September Kaplan was let go by CNN, but back in March he was still President of CNN/USA. Keep that in mind as you read this paragraph from Newsweek's massive "The Inside Story" treatise on the campaign. This appeared about 30 pages into the series of articles which listed Eleanor Clift as the reporter with Gore, on page 65 in "Spring Fever" section:
     "Yet even after Gore had sewn up the nomination, he kept on robotically attacking Bradley in primaries that were, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. At a rehearsal for a California debate on March 1, former CNN President Rick Kaplan joked, 'Let's do the debate now.' Gore's sparring partner, Tom Downey, intoned, 'I'm going to kick you're a--.' Without missing a beat or cracking a smile, Gore mechanically launched into his standard rap, attacking Bradley's health care plan."

     END of December 5, 2000 CyberAlert item

     Were Kaplan and Clift advising or observing? We'll probably never know because journalists didn't and don't care about a journalist advising a liberal candidate or President.

     -- See the June 14, 1999 CyberAlert for how during a commencement address Kaplan delivered while President of CNN, he complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements. For a lengthy excerpt of his speech: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1999/cyb19990614.asp#4

     For a RealPLayer clip of it: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000831.asp#2

     Imagine the media howls if Ailes ever gave a public speech trashing Bush's critics and praising his achievements.

     -- From the October 9, 1997 CyberAlert, how Kaplan's personal views directly impacted CNN content:
     A two-hour CNN special on campaign finance was produced by CNN President Rick Kaplan, who U.S. News reported had demanded that CNN staffers "limit the use of the word 'scandal' in reporting on Clinton's campaign fundraising woes."

     I wondered: "Can you do a two-hour show on Clinton's 1996 fundraising and not use the word 'scandal'?" A rhetoric question, or so I thought. But incredibly enough the answer is -- yes!

     The October 7 show titled "Democracy for Sale" wandered well beyond Clinton to examine Republicans and to argue for campaign finance reform, but summarizing charges against Clinton took up a significant portion of the show. Nonetheless, the phrase "Clinton scandal" was never uttered.... Details: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1997/cyb19971009.asp#4

     -- Kaplan's activities on behalf of Clinton while at ABC News:

     # For details on how in February 1992, while at ABC News, he advised Clinton on how to respond to the Gennifer Flowers story: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1997/cyb19970806.asp#1

     # For extensive and illuminating excerpts from a January 1998 Vanity Fair profile which detailed how Kaplan once hired Hillary Clinton; how he not only advised Clinton about how to counter Gennifer Flowers, but had earlier counseled Clinton on how to recover from his too-long 1988 convention speech; how he had been a political operative for a liberal presidential candidate before jumping to journalism; how he made calls to console Hillary Clinton after Vince Foster's death and to Web Hubbell after he resigned; how he killed a Whitewater piece from ABC's World News Tonight, discouraged reporters and producers from pursuing the topic and only ran an in-depth look one night in 1994 because Nightline was about to grab it; and how he slurred conservative media critics who see liberal bias, specifically Reed Irvine and MRC Chairman Brent Bozell, as "liars." Go to: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19980114.asp

     Using Google, I tracked down pictures of Kaplan and Ailes:
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2001/01.24/11-kaplan.html
http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/A/htmlA/ailesroger/ailesroger.htm

     Bottom line: Media ethicists may properly question the appropriateness of the Ailes communication to the White House, but the media hypocrisy on this issue is overwhelming.

     Kaplan hasn't been the only media executive with ties to liberals. David Burke was Chief-of-Staff to Senator Ted Kennedy before becoming Executive VP of ABC News and President of CBS News. Jeff Gralnick worked for George McGovern before becoming an ABC News executive and Executive Producer of the NBC Nightly News. During their network tenures did they ever offer advice to their old employers? We don't know because mainstream journalists so upset now with Ailes never pursued the possibility with those with an affinity for liberals -- just as members of the media who now so easily discern conservative bias at FNC have been unable to ever see any liberal bias on ABC, CBS, CNN or NBC.  

Related Items:
Ailes' Memo A Problem? Jennings Does It Every Night
MSNBC's Nachman Accuses Media of Piling-On Ailes
Rush and Roger Take Ridiculous Heat

-- Brent Baker

 


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