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The 1,953rd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
12:40pm EDT, Friday April 15, 2005 (Vol. Ten; No. 66)

 
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1. Matthews & Stahl Recall When Democrats & Mainstream Media Ruled
All was well with the world when the mainstream media controlled the information flow and Democrats controlled the Congress, CBS's Lesley Stahl and MSNBC's Chris Matthews seemed to contend Wednesday night on Hardball. Matthews, who hosts a show of unedited opinions, rued how news is "coming out of blog sites and stuff that is unedited in a lot of cases, which is my big problem with it. There's no editors around." Stahl complained "it's contributing to the public's continuing dislike of us and mistrust of us. And we're all in this bowl together. 60 Minutes correspondents are the media. So are the bloggers." Stahl, who works for an outlet which used forged memos in a political hit job, lamented that instead of checking facts, "everyone is shooting from the hip, everybody. And it's a little scary." Matthews expressed how he's "gettin' nervous lately" that "since we don't have any Democrats in Congress controlling those committees, like John Dingell and Ed Markey and those guys...that we don't have enough subpoena action out there. Are we keeping a check on corporate power in America right now?" Stahl worried that many media outlets cannot stand up to power and rued that "if the press doesn't do these things, sometimes, our system won't be as self-cleansing as it has been in the past."

2. CBS's U.S. "Lied" About Shooting of Italian Undermined by NBC
At the very time Wednesday's CBS Evening News was hyping how the Italian hostage in Iraq, Giuliana Sgrena, claimed the U.S. "lied" about following proper procedures in a checkpoint shooting which wounded her and killed her Italian agent rescuer, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski was on the Nightly News undermining the CBS premise. Scott Pelley trumpeted: "Tonight on 60 Minutes Wednesday, Sgrena tells us the violent end to her rescue didn't happen the way the U.S. Army says it did." He read to her how "an Army statement says the soldiers 'attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block." He asked her: "What do you think of that?" Sgrena responded: "I think that this is a lie." Pelley proceeded to relay how the Italians claim that "U.S. commanders were briefed about the rescue in advance." But NBC's Miklaszewski relayed: "NBC News has learned that a preliminary report from a joint U.S.-Italian investigation has cleared the American soldiers of any wrongdoing." Miklaszewski also noted that the Italian agent "reportedly chose not to coordinate his movements with the U.S. military."

3. ABC Crams in Good Iraq News: "No Shortage" of Police Volunteers
On a day when CBS and NBC gave full reports to bombings in Iraq (NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams cited the "biggest bombing death toll in more than a month"), ABC's World News Tonight on Thursday found time for a good news story from Iraq. Dan Harris reported that though "insurgents have killed hundreds of police officers," Iraqi men "keep signing up" and so "the people who run the Baghdad police college say they have no shortage of recruits. Their explanation: In a country with unemployment well over 50 percent, a police paycheck -- about $200 a month -- is simply too tempting." But Harris also reported that "the cadets we spoke with insist their motives are patriotic, not financial," and aired soundbites from a cadet expressing that motivation.

4. "Top Ten Signs Your Accountant Doesn't Give a Damn Anymore"
Letterman's "Top Ten Signs Your Accountant Doesn't Give a Damn Anymore."


 

Matthews & Stahl Recall When Democrats
& Mainstream Media Ruled

MSNBC's Chris Matthews & CBS's Lesley Stahl     All was well with the world when the mainstream media controlled the information flow and Democrats controlled the Congress, CBS's Lesley Stahl and MSNBC's Chris Matthews seemed to contend Wednesday night on Hardball. Matthews, who hosts a show of unedited opinions, rued how news is "coming out of blog sites and stuff that is unedited in a lot of cases, which is my big problem with it. There's no editors around." Stahl complained "it's contributing to the public's continuing dislike of us and mistrust of us. And we're all in this bowl together. 60 Minutes correspondents are the media. So are the bloggers." Stahl, who works for an outlet which used forged memos in a political hit job, lamented that instead of checking facts, "everyone is shooting from the hip, everybody. And it's a little scary." Matthews expressed how he's "gettin' nervous lately" that "since we don't have any Democrats in Congress controlling those committees, like John Dingell and Ed Markey and those guys...that we don't have enough subpoena action out there. Are we keeping a check on corporate power in America right now?" Stahl worried that many media outlets cannot stand up to power and rued that "if the press doesn't do these things, sometimes, our system won't be as self-cleansing as it has been in the past."

     The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down a bunch of the kvetching, on the April 13 Hardball on MSNBC, between Matthews and Stahl, who appeared via satellite from New York City.

CBS's Lesley Stahl     -- Stahl: "It's the public discourse, the political discussion. We've lost the middle. We've lost the whole middle in our country. You know someone said, it was Cokie Roberts. I heard her on National Public Radio one morning saying, we don't have any middle people who everybody trusts anymore. And I was thinking, Chris, when, I don't know where you were when Reagan was president, but he appointed Alan Greenspan to do a study of Social Security. And he came out with his finding, and everybody said, €˜Oh, okay, it's Alan Greenspan. We all listen to him, everybody.' Alan Greenspan today, Harry Reid, the Minority Leader, called him a political hack. We won't even listen to him. There's nobody we all listen to, nobody we all respect, no institution we all respect. And this is, it's, it's partly brought on by technology. It's partly that we only now are able to listen to and watch what we want to watch. So, it isn't that we're not, it's that we're not, we're choosing not to even hear the other argument on the other side. We're choosing only to hear what we want to hear. So, when, finally, we do listen to someone who disagrees, instead of saying, €˜Oh, I know how to deal with that, we get angry.'"

     -- Matthews and Stahl miss the days of unbiased, responsible journalism:
     Matthews: "Let me ask you about the news industry itself. And its taken a lot of raps, because we have such a wide definition of what news is today, with, you know, stuff coming across the cable industry. And it's coming out of blog sites and stuff that is unedited in a lot of cases, which is my big problem with it. There's no editors around. What do you make of what we're doing right now?"
     Stahl: "Well, it's contributing to the public's continuing dislike of us and mistrust of us. And we're all in this bowl together. 60 Minutes correspondents are the media. So are the bloggers. They're the media."
     Matthews: "Right. Drudge, Drudge Report."
     Stahl: "Drudge Report, he's the media."
     Matthews; "The new Arianna Report, whatever it's going to be."
     Stahl: "Exactly."
     Matthews: "Yeah."
     Stahl: "But even all the different people who come on your show. I was even thinking of this coming over here, because you're trying to elicit my opinions. And I'm not supposed to have opinions."
     Matthews: "Yeah."
     Stahl: "And I thought, why am I doing this show at all? I'm supposed to be that person who is completely unbiased. And your job, and we, we love to come on and talk to you."
     Matthews: "Yeah."
     Stahl: "But your job is to try to get me to tell you what I feel, what I think."
     Matthews: "I know."
     Stahl: "And, and so all of that business is breaking down, because we're all thrown in the salad bowl together. And it's unhealthy for my institution of mainstream media. The public does not trust us. And we are low down on the institutions that people respect. And I understand it. I do."
     Matthews: "Right. Let me tell you my job. It's not only to elicit opinion from people that don't want to give it. It's to fact-check every night, because we don't have a corrections page here at Hardball. Every time someone says something on this show that I believe to be factually incorrect, in a matter of seconds, sometimes, within a minute or two, I've got to find the information through my ear or whatever and correct it."
     Stahl: "That's the other thing."
     Matthews: "Because, otherwise, people assume, since I sat here and let somebody say something, it must be true."
     Stahl: "Well, that's the other thing."
     Matthews: "And so I have to be the editor on site."
     Stahl: "This is technology. When I started out, we weren't on the air 24 hours a day. We never rushed out, say, on the White House lawn and gave the report right off the top of our head."
     Matthews: "Yeah."
     Stahl: "We went back to our booth, we called around, we checked, we went out and gave a very carefully vetted, reported, checked report. People now, with 24-hour television, the ability it go on the air from anywhere at any moment, you're just, everyone is shooting from the hip, everybody. And it's a little scary."

     -- Who will make sure the water is clean, the food is safe if not us the liberal media?:
     Matthews: "Lesley, let me ask you about the role of the media. 60 Minutes is one of those feisty journalistic corners of the world, where you count on you folks to take on the big shots. Do you think you can do a job of going against, I mean, Eliot Spitzer up in New York does that. Traditionally, people like Ralph Nader do it. I'm gettin' nervous lately that the big, since we don't have any Democrats in Congress controlling those committees, like John Dingell and Ed Markey and those guys, they don't control committees anymore, that we don't have enough subpoena action out there. Are we keeping a check on corporate power in America right now?"
     Stahl: "You raise the best question, and it's not just corporate power. It's political power as well. There aren't many institution left that, as you say, can go and investigate and stand up and be brave, because that's what it's taking now. And I know we can, 60 Minutes can. We should. We should do more than we've done. And we need more. We need more on the corporate front. We need more on the political front. You know, if the press doesn't do these things, sometimes, our system won't be as self-cleansing as it has been in the past. It's so essential that the press remain strong and viable. I'm so worried about our, the state of the American press, the mainstream media, as they call it. I'm deeply worried, because the system needs us. I'm also worried at what technology is doing, where there isn't a place where everybody tunes in and listens to get that middle, middle, well-thought-out analysis, because an uneducated electorate, without that, our democracy isn't gonna work. And I'm just so concerned, really. I mean, I know that we like to be flip and fun and so forth."
     Matthews: "Right."
     Stahl: "But I'm seriously deeply worried."
     Matthews: "Yeah."
     Stahl: "I'm worried about what a failing press means for the future of our system, really."
     Matthews: "I just wonder where the Upton Sinclairs of today are, the people that are checking into how our food is being treated, how our water is being protected..."
     Stahl: "All of it."
     Matthews: "... how our airlines are being, so you get up in an airplane, you know it's been mechanically made safe. You know, everybody says they don't like government, but, damn it, when you're in an airplane, you want to make sure that somebody has checked that plane out. When you're eating a can of food, you want to make sure somebody has made sure it was clean when it went in there and it still is protected. I mean, I think of so many parts of our life. And I don't hear that sort of Teddy Roosevelt trust-busting..."
     Stahl: "Well, here's what I'm worried about."
     Matthews: "...muckraking stuff going on out there, where people keep the big boys honest. And I count on 60 Minutes to do some of it. But..."
     Stahl: "Well, we had a, Steve Kroft had a great piece last week on how the homeland security money is being spent around the country. Here's what I worry about. I worry about, we do a really strong investigative piece like that and it doesn't resonate. That's what I'm worried about."
     Matthews: "You mean the cops in D.C. spending money on leather uniforms rather than on defense?" Stahl: "Yes. And these local communities getting a whole, local communities where there's virtually no chance of a terrorist attack getting as much money as a larger, somewhat larger city, and they're spending the money on things that have nothing to do with terrorism. It was a terrific report. And I'm worried that the public isn't paying as much attention to us and what we're telling them. So, even when we do, do what you're calling for...
     Matthews: "Right."
     Stahl: "What's the effect of it? So both sides are important."
     Matthews: "I always remember, we talked a couple of months ago, when you were nice enough to be on. And I said how I always imagined back in the good old days, when you were one of these tough reporters covering the White House, and you would do a big tough piece on somebody in the White House and your news director, news president, would say, good, tough piece, Lesley. Is there somebody out there now saying, when you go after an industry on 60 Minutes, good, tough piece; we like that?"
     Stahl: "Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. We are not gonna lose our personality. Our DNA is our DNA and we're committed to it. So, we're going to be there. But what I'm telling you is that, if the public continues to lose faith in the media, I'm worried about the effect we're going to have. If we do these stories, sometimes I just worry that it's wafting out there, you know."

     Stahl has hardly been a model of un-opinionated, fact-based reporting. Recall this July 12, 2004 CyberAlert item about Stahl's giggle-fest with the Democratic ticket and their wives:
     CBS's Lesley Stahl seemed as enthusiastic on Sunday's 60 Minutes for the Kerry/Edwards ticket as were Teresa and John Kerry and Elizabeth and John Edwards as the two couples and Stahl all giggled and laughed about how well everyone was getting along. Stahl prompted them to explain what they were laughing about as they campaigned together and posed such tough questions as: "How, do you think, the honeymoon is going?" Stahl began her session by enthusing to Kerry: "You're looser. Do you think that his energy is rubbing off on you?" Not once did Stahl broach the liberal ideology of the two candidates, but she did raise the far-left Ron Reagan Jr. as some kind of authoritative moral figure as she cited his attack on President Bush over how "justifying the war in Iraq by citing God" is "what Osama bin Laden does." See: www.mediaresearch.org

 

CBS's U.S. "Lied" About Shooting of Italian
Undermined by NBC

CBS's Scott Pelley     At the very time Wednesday's CBS Evening News was hyping how the Italian hostage in Iraq, Giuliana Sgrena, claimed the U.S. "lied" about following proper procedures in a checkpoint shooting which wounded her and killed her Italian agent rescuer, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski was on the Nightly News undermining the CBS premise. Scott Pelley trumpeted: "Tonight on 60 Minutes Wednesday, Sgrena tells us the violent end to her rescue didn't happen the way the U.S. Army says it did." He read to her how "an Army statement says the soldiers 'attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block." He asked her: "What do you think of that?" Sgrena responded: "I think that this is a lie." Pelley proceeded to relay how the Italians claim that "U.S. commanders were briefed about the rescue in advance." But NBC's Miklaszewski relayed: "NBC News has learned that a preliminary report from a joint U.S.-Italian investigation has cleared the American soldiers of any wrongdoing." Miklaszewski also noted that the Italian agent "reportedly chose not to coordinate his movements with the U.S. military."

NBC on-screen: Preliminary Report     CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asserted: "We reported just a minute ago about the latest American civilian kidnapped in Iraq. This came as the tragic ending of an earlier abduction there is still being talked about. In that case, an Italian reporter was rescued last month, but as she was being driven to safety, American troops fired on her car, wounded her, and killed one of her rescuers. The reporter is recovering now, and she told her story to our Scott Pelley for tonight's edition of 60 Minutes Wednesday. Scott, tell us about it."
     Scott Pelley: "Bob, Giuliana Sgrena and two Italian intelligence agents were shot -- one of those agents, an Italian national hero, was killed. Tonight on 60 Minutes Wednesday, Sgrena tells us the violent end to her rescue didn't happen the way the U.S. Army says it did. This is Sgrena in a video her captors forced her to make, begging the Italian government to pull its troops out of Iraq. After a month, she was freed by Italy's top hostage negotiator, Nicola Calipari. But within minutes, at an airport checkpoint, they came under American fire."

     At an outdoor setting in Rome, Pelley informed Sgrena: "An Army statement says the soldiers 'attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots. When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block." He asked her: "What do you think of that?"
     Sgrena: "I think that this is a lie."
     Pelley: "Let's take this piece by piece. 'Vehicle was speeding.'"
     Sgrena: "No."
     Pelley: "'Attempted to warn the driver by hand signals.'"
     Sgrena: "No."
     Pelley: "'Arm signals.'"
     [Sgrena shakes her head no to each Pelley question]
     Pelley: "'Flashing white lights. Firing warning shots.'"
     Sgrena: "Nothing at all."
     Pelley: "You didn't see any of that?"
     Sgrena: "No."
     Pelley: "And what you're saying in this interview is that none of those things happened."
     Sgrena: "Nothing. No."
     Pelley: "You're sure of that?"
     Sgrena: "Yes, I'm sure."
     Pelley, back on the CBS News set with Schieffer: "On tonight's 60 Minutes Wednesday, Sgrena explains how it all happened and tells us what it's like to be in the hands of Iraqi insurgents. We'll also talk to a Marine captain who tells us about the dangers of manning these checkpoints."
     Schieffer: "Well, what did the military say to you, Scott, when you went back to them with this story that this woman has told you? Obviously, it doesn't jibe at all with what the military was saying."
     Pelley: "The Army is sticking to its original statement that essentially says the soldiers did all the things right and did them all in the right order. But we'll be getting this new report, an investigative report from the U.S. Army and the Italians in the next several days."

     Later, during the April 13 60 Minutes Wednesday story, Pelley at least noted that the New York National Guard soldiers involved in the incident had two nights before lost two soldier at a check point in the same area.

     Pelley also conveyed: "The Italian government says that the Americans should have been expecting Sgrena's approach because, they say, U.S. commanders were briefed about the rescue in advance. The Italians also claim that the driver of the car was on a cell phone talking to Italian and American officers at the airport. The Army has finished an investigation, but that report isn't expected until the end of the week."

     "Italian Journalist: U.S. Lied" reads the CBSNews.com headline over the posted version on the page for 60 Minutes Wednesday: www.cbsnews.com

     But over on the NBC Nightly News on Wednesday night, viewers heard a very different take on the incident.

     From Baghdad, Jim Miklaszewski reported: "The friendly fire shooting at a U.S. military checkpoint last month in Baghdad wounded Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena and killed intelligence agent Nicola Calipari. Now, NBC News has learned that a preliminary report from a joint U.S.-Italian investigation has cleared the American soldiers of any wrongdoing and provides new details into the shooting.
     "Intelligence agent Calipari had just negotiated Sgrena's release from Iraqi kidnappers when the two and a driver headed for the Baghdad airport in a compact rental car. It was dark when the Italians turned onto a ramp leading to the airport road where the U.S. military had set up a temporary checkpoint.
     "[Over graphics illustrating the situation] The investigation found the car was about 130 yards from the checkpoint when the soldiers flashed their lights as a warning to stop. But the car kept coming and, at 90 yards, warning shots were fired. At 65 yards, when the car failed to stop, the soldiers used lethal force -- a machine gun burst that killed Calipari and wounded Sgrena and the driver.
     "Senior U.S. military officials say it took only about four seconds from the first warning to the fatal shots, but insist the soldiers acted properly under the current rules of engagement. The investigation, however, failed to resolve one critical dispute: The Americans claim the car was racing toward the checkpoint at about 50 miles per hour, the Italians say it was traveling at a much slower speed.
     "In Italy, agent Calipari was given a state funeral, but the investigation found he himself may have committed a fatal error. He reportedly chose not to coordinate his movements with the U.S. military for fear it would jeopardize his efforts to free the Italian hostage.
     "Sgrena, meanwhile, disputes the military's account and says she has little confidence the investigation will reveal the truth. As a result of the incident, the U.S. military will review its procedures regarding the use of lethal force at checkpoints, but senior military officials say they'll take no action that would put American soldiers at greater risk."

     For the online version of Miklaszewski's story: www.msnbc.msn.com

 

ABC Crams in Good Iraq News: "No Shortage"
of Police Volunteers

ABC's Dan Harris     On a day when CBS and NBC gave full reports to bombings in Iraq (NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams cited the "biggest bombing death toll in more than a month"), ABC's World News Tonight on Thursday found time for a good news story from Iraq. Dan Harris reported that though "insurgents have killed hundreds of police officers," Iraqi men "keep signing up" and so "the people who run the Baghdad police college say they have no shortage of recruits. Their explanation: In a country with unemployment well over 50 percent, a police paycheck -- about $200 a month -- is simply too tempting." But Harris also reported that "the cadets we spoke with insist their motives are patriotic, not financial," and aired soundbites from a cadet expressing that motivation.

     Anchor Elizabeth Vargas introduced the April 14 World News Tonight story: "There were also attacks on police forces in Kirkuk and Baquba. Four policemen were killed. Now, they are prime targets for attacks by insurgents. So why are so many Iraqis signing up to be members of the police force? Here's ABC's Dan Harris."

     From Baghdad, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, Harris began with video of an interview conducted as the two sat outside: "Abdul Zahara Finjan is training for what may be the riskiest job in the world -- Iraqi police officer. This is such a dangerous job. Why do you want to do it?"
     Abdul Zahara Finjan: "For defense of my country and my brothers and my kids."
     Harris: "You are not scared?"
     Finjan: "Scared? A little scared. Not much."
     Harris: "His biggest fear is that insurgents will target his wife and seven children."
     Finjan: "Kill me, okay, I agree. But not kill my family."
     Harris marveled: "Insurgents have killed hundreds of police officers. There have been assassinations, bombings and videotaped kidnappings. And still, the Iraqis keep signing up. The people who run the Baghdad police college say they have no shortage of recruits. Their explanation: In a country with unemployment well over 50 percent, a police paycheck -- about $200 a month -- is simply too tempting. The cadets we spoke with insist their motives are patriotic, not financial. Faisal Ghazi says he joined the force to avenge the death of his cousin, a police officer who was beheaded by insurgents. 'I'll sacrifice my life,' he says, 'to capture his killers.' Strangely enough, it seems the more officers get killed, the more recruits there are. In the days after a huge car bomb exploded in the town of Hillah last February, killing dozens of cadets lined up for medical tests, dozens more Iraqis volunteered. Abdul Zahara Finjan was one of them. He says the bombing convinced him that only Iraqis can protect Iraqis."
     Finjan: "The American army protects himself."
     Harris concluded: "In two weeks, Finjan's training will be over, and he'll hit the street despite the risk. 'We all have to die some day,' he says. 'It might as well be with honor.' Dan Harris, ABC News, Baghdad."

     For the online version of the Harris story, "Iraq's Police Force Draws Recruits Despite Dangers," go to: abcnews.go.com

 

"Top Ten Signs Your Accountant Doesn't
Give a Damn Anymore"

     From the April 14 Late Show with David Letterman, to mark tax deadline day, the "Top Ten Signs Your Accountant Doesn't Give a Damn Anymore," as announced by ten New York area accountants. Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Tells you to expect a refund in three weeks and an audit in five.

9. Does all calculations on the TV remote control.

8. Tells you to deduct yourself.

7. No longer gets that magical glint in his eye when he talks about deferred contributions to tax-favored annuities.

6. He says, "I thought the 1040 was EZ until I met your wife!"

5. Keeps asking when he can do your kitty's taxes.

4. Whenever someone mentions a joint return, he whips out his special brownies.

3. Recently moved office to cave in mountainous region of Afghanistan.

2. Instead of working on your taxes, he's reading lame jokes on Letterman.

1. Constantly trying to arrange a threesome with H & R Block.

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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