1. Bush So Awful That Clift Yearns for Nixon's Return
President George W. Bush is so awful in the eyes of Newsweek's Eleanor Clift that on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, during which she assigned Bush an "F" grade at the halfway mark of his term, she yearned for the return of Richard Nixon to the presidency: "I'd like to have Richard Nixon back actually. I think he'd be a huge improvement."
2. Great Headline: "Homeland Lost to D.C."
Most accurate headline in years: "Homeland Lost to D.C." Sounds like what conservatives have been complaining about as federal power and mandates grow more intrusive, but it was actually referring to something else, though related.
3. Thomas: Only Bush and "His Courtiers" Want War
Another round of left-wing looniness from Helen Thomas, this one during Friday's White House press briefing. She demanded of Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: "Who in this country, besides the President and his courtiers, want to go to war with Iraq?" She followed up by equating U.S. possession of "weapons of mass destruction" with Iraq's possession of them: "We have weapons of mass destruction. Eight other countries have them."
4. NY Times Finds Average "Republicans" to Denounce Tax Cuts
The New York Times managed to quote two "Republicans" in a Friday story on how its poll found declining approval for President Bush and his economic policies, but both "Republicans" trashed Bush from the left. One charged: "The tax cuts helped only the wealthy." The poll juxtaposed the tax cut with reducing the federal deficit and "preserving" Social Security, as if it's an either/or choice. The poll also distorted what Supreme Court appointees can do on abortion by asking if Bush will nominate "justices who will vote to make abortion against the law?"
5. Williams Deplores Opinion in Cable News: He Should Know
CNBC/NBC anchor Brian Williams got an early start in proclaiming his loyalty to the Democratic Party cause. At age 7-and-a-half he wrote a letter to President Lyndon Johnson, signing it, "One of your young Democrats." That revelation came at a forum last week with Williams in Austin, Texas during which he complained that in cable news "there's too much opinion and attitude slipping in." He should know. Recently he's fretted about the "patriotism police" and decreed Jimmy Carter "the best former President in...the last 200 years."
6. MRC Bias Documentation Makes it All the Way to Jerusalem
The MRC's research is so compelling that even Jim Pinkerton in Jerusalem cited us on FNC's Fox Newswatch and the Super Bowl preview edition of USA Today featured a "Feedback" quote from a particularly insightful member of the MRC staff. That would be me.
7. "Top Ten Army Reservist Pet Peeves"
As announced by ten Army National Guard reservists, Letterman's "Top Ten Army Reservist Pet Peeves."
Bush So Awful That Clift Yearns for
President George W. Bush is so awful in the eyes of Newsweek's Eleanor Clift that on the McLaughlin Group over the weekend she yearned for the return of Richard Nixon to the presidency: "I'd like to have Richard Nixon back actually. I think he'd be a huge improvement."
Clift's pining for Nixon came after she charged that Bush's new economic team "will be a disaster" because they are selling "the same stupid policy" as the old team, yet before she awarded Bush an "F" grade for his first two years in office.
Assessing President Bush at the halfway mark of his term, Clift asserted: "Old economic team was a disaster. The new economic team is selling the same stupid policy. They'll be a disaster too. Ari Fleischer is a mouthpiece. He gives away nothing. The press can't stand him. The President loves him because this is the most secretive and arrogant administration we have seen -- probably since the days of Richard Nixon."
John McLaughlin, who worked in the Nixon White House, jokingly cautioned Clift: "Be careful now Eleanor."
Clift responded: "I'd like to have Richard Nixon back actually. I think he'd be a huge improvement."
He's tanned, rested and ready for Eleanor.
Great Headline: "Homeland Lost to D.C."
Most accurate headline in years: "Homeland Lost to D.C." Sounds like what conservatives have been complaining about for years as federal power and mandates grow more intrusive.
In this case, however, the headline in Friday's Northern Virginia Journal actually referred to the decision by Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge to locate, at least temporarily, his department's offices in the District instead of, as expected, in Northern Virginia.
Ridge picked a building inside a U.S. Navy communications facility on Nebraska Ave. NW, placing him right next door to the WRC-TV/NBC News building where Meet the Press and the McLaughlin Group are produced, along with The George Michael Sports Machine, for those of you into Sunday night sports shows.
Thomas: Only Bush and "His Courtiers"
Another round of left-wing looniness from Hearst Newspapers columnist and former UPI reporter Helen Thomas, this one during Friday's White House press briefing. She demanded of Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: "Who in this country, besides the President and his courtiers, want to go to war with Iraq?"
She followed up by equating U.S. possession of "weapons of mass destruction" with Iraq's possession of them as if the U.S. and Iraq have equal consideration for the lives of people and would use them to achieve morally equivalent goals: "We have weapons of mass destruction. Eight other countries have them."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the insipidness which occurred a bit before 11am EST on January 24. The exchange:
Thomas: "Who in this country, besides the President and his courtiers, want to go to war with Iraq?"
Fleischer: "I'm not aware of anybody here who wants to go to war with Iraq, Helen. But the President very much wants to protect the peace by making sure that Saddam Hussein cannot engage in war against us."
Thomas: "Is he aware that there is widespread opposition to war in this country?"
Fleischer: "Do you think that the majority of the Americans are opposed to war with Iraq, Helen?"
Thomas: "I think so. What do you think?"
Fleischer: "Well, I think if you take a look at all the public surveys on this issue, there's a lot of Americans who believe that Saddam Hussein does, indeed, pose a threat. And they believe-"
Thomas: "They'll give their brothers, their husbands, their children?"
Fleischer: "-and they believe that if the President, knowing what he knows, makes the determination that the best way to protect the American people from the risks that we have seen our nation is vulnerable to-"
Thomas: "So he believes people want to go to war?"
Fleischer: "-is to disarm Saddam Hussein from having weapons of mass destruction, the President will make a case if he makes that decision. "
Thomas: "We have weapons of mass destruction. Eight other countries have them."
Fleischer: "And how many resolutions has the United Nations passed urging us to not have the weapons that we have that have successfully kept the peace for 50 years?"
Thomas: "How many other nations have defied U.N. resolutions and gotten away with it?"
Fleischer: "None like Saddam Hussein on a measure that has been this unequivocal, where the world has called on him-"
Thomas: "I could give you chapter and verse otherwise."
Fleischer: "I'm aware that you try to."
Indeed she does. I'm becoming convinced that Fleischer calls on Thomas because of how bad she makes the White House press corps look to anyone watching the briefing on a cable news channel.
NY Times Finds Average "Republicans"
to Denounce Tax Cuts
The New York Times managed to quote two "Republicans" in a Friday story on how a New York Times/CBS News poll found declining approval for President Bush and his economic policies, but both "Republicans," MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed, trashed Bush from the left. Apparently, those are the only kind of Republicans Times reporters know.
One "Republican" woman complained about how Bush "is concentrating on the war effort in Iraq and not worrying about the country," and another "Republican" woman insisted: "We should not be cutting taxes as long as there is a deficit." Sounding more like Tom Daschle than any Republican, she charged: "The tax cuts helped only the wealthy."
The poll generated low approval numbers for the tax cut because it juxtaposed the tax cut with reducing the federal deficit and "preserving" Social Security, as if it's an either/or choice. One question, for instance, read: "If you had to choose, would you prefer reducing the federal budget deficit or cutting taxes?" The deficit won 48 to 44 percent. Of course conservatives, with whom the Times apparently has no contact, would suggest that if tax cuts spur economic growth they would reduce the deficit.
Nonetheless, the Times/CBS News pollsters also wondered: "Which do you think is better way to improve the national economy: cutting taxes or reducing the federal budget deficit?" Lowering the deficit was preferred by 56 percent compared to 36 percent for cutting taxes.
Another juxtaposition question: "If you had to choose, would you prefer preserving programs like Social Security and Medicare or cutting taxes?" Tax cuts said a mere 12 percent compared to 85 percent for "preserving" Social Security.
On another front, the poll distorted the abortion debate by using this phrasing: "When George W. Bush appoints Supreme Court Justices, do you think he is likely to appoint Justices who will vote to keep abortion legal OR Justices who will vote to make abortion against the law?"
That's a false choice since upholding Roe v. Wade will keep abortion legal, but if the justices overturn Roe v. Wade abortion will not become illegal since that would simply return to the states the power to regulate abortion and in most places it would, most likely, remain legal.
The abortion question was #32 in survey. The tax questions were numbers 37, 38 and 42. You can see the entire poll at:
Now an excerpt from the January 24 story, "Bush's Backing, Though Still Strong, Shows Steady Decline," by Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder:
President Bush's public support has eroded steadily over the last 12 months, with a rising number of Americans expressing discontent both with his economic policies and his handling of foreign affairs, the latest New York Times/CBS News poll shows.
The poll, taken at the midpoint of Mr. Bush's term as he prepares to deliver his second State of the Union address on Tuesday, found that 59 percent of Americans approve the way he is performing his job. That figure is the lowest it has been since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. But the president's ratings were unusually high after Sept. 11, 2001 and, by historical standards, remain strong today....
Half of all respondents said Mr. Bush did not share their priorities for the country, an increase of 14 points from when the question was asked a year ago. That is a question pollsters watch closely to measure potential vulnerabilities of a candidate....
The survey found that Americans disagree with Mr. Bush on issues like cutting taxes, affirmative action and appointing judges who oppose abortion rights. Those are all issues that Democratic presidential candidates have been raising against him in early campaign swings through Iowa and New Hampshire.
More than half the respondents said they opposed a centerpiece of Mr. Bush's tax cut plan, the elimination of a tax on dividends, which Democrats have used to portray Mr. Bush as a friend of the rich.
A majority of the poll's respondents -- including 49 percent of Republicans -- said reducing the deficit would be more likely to revive the economy than would cutting taxes, the course pressed by Mr. Bush. The White House announced last week that the budget deficit for next year would reach at least $300 billion....
Of particular note, only 44 percent of respondents said they approved of how Mr. Bush was managing the economy. That figure is almost identical to the 42 percent of respondents who said they approved of the way that Mr. Bush's father was handling the economy at a similar point in what proved to be his first and only term in the White House.
For all the attention on Mr. Bush's ratings, job approval levels two years into a president's first term are an imprecise indicator of how a chief executive will fare on Election Day. Ronald Reagan, with a 37 percent approval rating at this point in his first term, went on to win re-election by a landslide, while President George Bush, with 62 percent, lost....
On several issues, the poll -- and the comments of respondents in follow-up interviews -- suggested that Mr. Bush's views were somewhat out of step with many Americans' views.
"President Bush is concentrating on the war effort in Iraq and not worrying about the country," said Marianne Reiter, 70, a Republican in Queens. "I think he justifies the tax breaks by thinking they will get people to vote for him."...
"We should not be cutting taxes as long as there is a deficit," said Nancy Stevens, 65, a Republican who is a retired store owner from East Hardwick, Vt., said in a follow-up interview. "The tax cuts helped only the wealthy. If we took care of the budget deficit, it would trickle down better to the lower income people."
Robert Hall, a 74-year-old retired high school business instructor from Louisiana, said: "We didn't have a budget deficit until President Bush got in there. All those years we struggled to get rid of the deficit and now we're right back into it. The tax cuts put us back into the deficit."
Fifty-six percent said that lowering the deficit was the best way to improve the national economy, while 36 percent said the best way was cutting taxes. And 69 percent said the deficit was "a bad thing," while 21 percent said it was a good thing.
And 58 percent of respondents said that Mr. Bush's policies favor the rich, compared with 10 percent who said they favored the middle class. In addition, 26 percent said they treated everyone the same and 1 percent said they favored the poor....
END of Excerpt
For the story in its entirety:
Williams Deplores Opinion in Cable News:
He Should Know
CNBC/NBC anchor Brian Williams got an early start in proclaiming his loyalty to the Democratic Party cause. At age 7-and-a-half he wrote a letter to President Lyndon Johnson, signing it, "One of your young Democrats." That revelation came at a forum last week with Williams in Austin, Texas during which he complained that in cable news "there's too much opinion and attitude slipping in."
Williams should know. He offers a lot of it himself and so he certainly doesn't practice what he preaches.
A couple of weeks ago, on CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, he chafed at how the anti-war protesters "will feel the hot breath of the patriotism police."
Last October 11, Williams gushed on his show about the greatness of Jimmy Carter: "Is it fair to call him [Jimmy Carter] the best former President in, at minimum, modern American history, and perhaps, well, I guess, the last 200 years?"
On his show on September 18 he suggested the "world view" Held by the U.S. led to 9/11: "The situation hasn't been this lopsided in terms of one breakout superpower on the planet in quite some time."
Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria: "It hasn't been like this since the Roman Empire two millennia ago."
Williams: "I was going to say we'd have to go back to the days of the Empire, and that gives the U.S. obvious military swagger. Does it give them any kind of moral courage above anyone else and anyone's world, and isn't that world view part of what got the United States in trouble September 11th?"
And last July he saw meaning in a common phrase as he raised the possibility Bush may be leading the nation into another Depression. He asked historian Robert Dallek: "I'm going to put two quotes on the screen and ask you if this was an honest mistake on the part of the White House, or if the speechwriters had no sense of history. The first quote is, 'The economy is fundamentally sound.' Herbert Hoover, 1929, a quote that just meant we're heading for hell. And here is George W. Bush today, 'The fundamentals of our economy are sound.' Is this an honest mistake by White House speechwriters, who must know the difference or similarities in this case?"
For a lot more examples of liberal pontificating from Williams, see my May 31, 2002 piece for National Review Online about the Williams record, "From the Same School: Brian Williams is more liberal anchoring from NBC." That's online at:
In the NRO piece I recounted how to Williams neither Al Gore nor Bill Bradley were liberal presidential candidates. On his MSNBC show in July of 1999 he lamented how "there is no true liberal to be found in this race. There's no Harkin, there's no Kennedy, there are just two centrists."
While he doesn't see any liberals in America, he has no problem tagging conservatives as "far right" extremists. Opening the December 22, 2000 NBC Nightly News, Williams asserted that in picking John Ashcroft for attorney general, President Bush "calms the far right politically."
Matching the environmental lobby's spin, Williams regularly condemns SUVs. He demanded in January of 2002: "With the U.S. locked in dependence on foreign oil, is it downright unpatriotic to drive an SUV?" In early March of 2002 he rued: "Gas-guzzling SUVs and light trucks were big winners on Capitol Hill today, but there's concern tonight the environment could be the big loser."
Fast-forwarding to last week, Williams' complaint about opinion creeping into the news came at a January 23 forum sponsored by Austin's PBS affiliate, KLRU-TV. An excerpt from a January 24 Austin American-Statesman story about it by reporter Diane Holloway, a piece which was highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page: (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) The excerpt:
The influence of cable news on television news coverage is not good, a prominent cable news anchor says.
"There's too much opinion and attitude slipping in," said Brian Williams, who anchors CNBC's nightly news and will replace Tom Brokaw on NBC's newscast after the 2004 elections. "From my corner of cable, I don't like what I see going on. Tell us your opinion, but don't call it a newscast."
The slap at opinion-soaked news, mostly directed at Fox News, was delivered Thursday night at KLRU's Distinguished Speaker Series at the LBJ Library. But the topic, "The Future of Television News," was mostly trumped by colorful tales from the trenches delivered by CBS anchor-reporter Bob Schieffer, PBS "NewsHour" anchor Jim Lehrer and Williams....
And Williams, a New Jersey native, has a Texas connection, too: He's a longtime friend of President Johnson's family. Introducing Williams at the top of the evening, Evan Smith, editor of Texas Monthly, read a letter Williams wrote to LBJ when he was 7 1/2 years old, signing it, "One of your young Democrats."
"By the way, I'm a registered independent now," Williams said with a grin....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full:
Williams' preference for those on the liberal side lasted beyond his childhood. While attending, and later dropping out from, George Washington University in 1979-80 Williams was an intern at the Carter White House.
MRC Bias Documentation Makes it All the
Way to Jerusalem
The MRC's research is so compelling that even someone in Jerusalem tracked it down and the Super Bowl preview edition of USA Today featured a quote from us, me specifically.
-- On FNC's Fox Newswatch on Saturday, Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton, appearing from Jerusalem, cited MRC numbers to document how the networks aired more stories on the anti-war march than the pro-life rally: "The Media Research Center did a comparison. I think it was like 39 to 14 stories on the anti-war protest versus stories on the pro-life protest."
Actually, the numbers in the study by the MRC's Tim Graham were 26 segments (stories and interviews) aired by ABC, CBS and NBC on the anti-war rally versus just nine on the anti-abortion march. But Pinkerton got the ratio right.
To read the January 23 Media Reality Check, which Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce also cited on Friday:
-- One of the two "Feedback" quotes run by USA Today on Friday, beneath the column by USA Today founder Al Neuharth, "Public wins if press is at Iraq war front," came from the MRC:
"The Bush administration should be very wary about granting journalists access to the front lines. While most reporters can be trusted, all too many will put getting a scoop or highlighting an embarrassing military miscue ahead of the success of the U.S. military effort and the safety of the troops."
-- Brent Baker, vice president, Media Research Center"
My quote isn't online, but Neuharth's column is if you want to see to what I was reacting:
The other "Feedback" quote came from Major General Paul D. Eaton of Fort Benning in Georgia. He declared: "The idea of embedded media is absolutely appealing." But then he adopted a very questionable assumption: "An unbiased media accompanying the troops will provide us with an accurate account of the action."
"An unbiased media" is the operative phrase. If we had one we'd get an "accurate account," but we don't have one.
"Top Ten Army Reservist Pet Peeves"
From the January 24 Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by ten Army National Guard reservists from the 719th Transportation Company at Fort Dix, New Jersey, the "Top Ten Army Reservist Pet Peeves." Late Show Web site:
10. Army rules prohibit me from bringing my pet monkey
(Sergeant George Scheer)
9. Water that tastes "canteeny"
(Specialist Elizabeth Cullen)
8. People who panned "Kangaroo Jack" before they even saw it
(Specialist Maurice Mangra)
7. Rarely get asked to invade fun places, like Tampa
(Specialist Mariecha Rowe)
6. Television in the rec room only gets CBS
(Specialist Carlos Rivera)
5. I miss the day-to-day challenges of my civilian job -- just kidding
(Sergeant Steven Watt)
4. When it's my turn to parallel park the tank
(Sergeant Marilyn Lopera)
3. Sergeants who yell when a polite suggestion would suffice
(Specialist Matthew Phillips)
2. Skipping Salisbury Steak night in the mess hall to do a lame comedy bit for Letterman
(Specialist Joseph Edghill)
1. Looking at camouflage all day makes you dizzy
(Sergeant Barbara Andres)
> Anyone know if George Clooney did any fresh liberal Bush-bashing on the debut of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on Sunday Night? It would have aired at about 12:30am EST/11:30pm CST. The company which owns Washington, DC's ABC affiliate is refusing to air it on any of the ABC stations it owns (Birmingham, Harrisburg, Charleston, Little Rock, Roanoke), not because of content but because of a financial considerations, so I didn't see it. -- Brent Baker
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