6/02: NBC Suggests Bill O'Reilly Fueled Murder of Dr. George Tiller
  6/01: NBC's Williams Cues Up Obama: 'That's One She'd Rather Have Back'
  5/29: Nets Push 'Abortion Rights' Advocates' Concerns on Sotomayor
  5/28: CBS on Sotomayor: 'Can't Be Easily Defined by Political Labels'

  Home
  Notable Quotables
  Media Reality Check
  Press Releases
  Media Bias Videos
  Special Reports
  30-Day Archive
  Entertainment
  News
  Take Action
  Gala and DisHonors
  Best of NQ Archive
  The Watchdog
  About the MRC
  MRC in the News
  Support the MRC
  Planned Giving
  What Others Say
MRC Resources
  Site Search
  Links
  Media Addresses
  Contact MRC
  MRC Bookstore
  Job Openings
  Internships
  News Division
  NewsBusters Blog
  Business & Media Institute
  CNSNews.com
  TimesWatch.org
  Eyeblast.tv

Support the MRC



www.TimesWatch.org


 

The 2,143rd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:25am EST, Wednesday February 15, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 29)

 
Printer Firendly Version

Tell a friend about this site


1. Equal Time to Whining About Being Snubbed as Victim's Condition
The three broadcast network evening newscasts all led Tuesday night with the minor heart attack suffered by the victim of Vice President Cheney's hunting accident, but all gave equal time to, for the second night in a row, obsessing over the snubbing of the White House press corps -- this time how Scott McClellan didn't inform them of Harry Whittington's complication. NBC's Brian Williams teased from Torino: "There are more questions tonight about who knew what and when." ABC co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas complained about how "the White House, once again, chose not to tell the public about a major development in this story." CBS's Gloria Borger chipped in with how someone "close to this administration" just happened to see the situation and administration incompetence the same way as the White House press corps: "'It's now about Iraq and Katrina and a range of other issues that play into the public's views of this administration's arrogance.'" NBC's David Gregory, the most prolific antagonist to McClellan, insisted "there are still unanswered questions surrounding Saturday's shooting," including: "Why did the local sheriff in Kenedy County, Texas wait 14 hours to interview the Vice President?"

2. Olbermann: Possibility of "Negligent Homicide," That Cheney Drunk
Keith Olbermann's first question to his first guest on Tuesday's Countdown: "Do the changes in his [Harry Whittington's] health alter how the event is viewed legally and, under the worse case scenario, could negligent homicide actually come into play?" The guest, Texas Monthly magazine Executive Editor Paul Burka, rejected the supposition: "I would doubt it, because a hunting accidents are seldom treated as homicides." Olbermann proceeded to suggest Vice President Cheney may have been drunk at the time of the accidental shooting. Olbermann pointed out how the local sheriff's office "issued a statement last night" and it "said no alcohol had been involved." The MSNBC host ruminated: "But how would they know that? The sheriff's office did not interview the Vice President until 14 hours after all this happened. And the lower ranking sheriff's officers who did not know about the scheduling of that interview for Sunday morning, had been turned away when they tried to talk to Mr. Cheney on Saturday night."

3. Matthews on Cheney Mishap: "Has Press Been Playing This Down?"
MSNBC's Chris Matthews seriously asked on the 5pm EST edition of Tuesday's Hardball, about media coverage of the Cheney hunting accident: "Has the press been playing this down?" Matthews exclaimed that he was "shocked" at how "this was bottom of the fold in the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday." He went on to claim: "I've talked to experts, they can't believe that the papers treated this as such a light issue." Turning to guest Dee Dee Myers, Matthews contended: "I was kind of surprised, to put it lightly, to see that the major newspapers on the East coast had buried this story below the fold and it was only today that they brought it up above the fold." Matthews' thesis was too ludicrous even for an astounded Myers, President Clinton's one-time Press Secretary, who countered with common sense: "I don't think putting it on the front page is burying it, Chris, I think that was an appropriate placement for the story."


 

Equal Time to Whining About Being Snubbed
as Victim's Condition

     The three broadcast network evening newscasts all led Tuesday night with the minor heart attack suffered by the victim of Vice President Cheney's hunting accident, but all gave equal time to, for the second night in a row, obsessing over the snubbing of the White House press corps -- this time how Scott McClellan didn't inform them of Harry Whittington's complication. ABC co-anchor Charles Gibson teased: "The man Vice President Cheney accidentally shot, today suffers a minor heart attack as the White House faces new questions about its silence." NBC's Brian Williams teased from Torino: "There are more questions tonight about who knew what and when." Elizabeth Vargas, ABC's other anchor complained about how "today the White House, once again, chose not to tell the public about a major development in this story." ABC reporter Martha Raddatz recited "stinging" criticism of the White House from former GOP press secretaries before she concluded by fretting about how Cheney's "staff has still not answered detailed questions about this incident...And it's not clear they ever will."

     CBS anchor Bob Schieffer asserted, "Then there's the other question hanging over this: Why has the Vice President remained silent?" Gloria Borger chipped in with how someone "close to this administration" just happened to see the situation and administration incompetence the same way as the White House press corps: "'It's no longer about indulging Dick Cheney's views of press management.' Instead, he says, 'it's now about Iraq and Katrina and a range of other issues that play into the public's views of this administration's arrogance.'" Schieffer asked that, since "nobody's going to ask the Vice President to quit,...do you suppose that we'll see the role of the Vice President changing?...Maybe back to the funeral beat is what Vice Presidents used to do before this Vice President came along." Back to NBC, David Gregory, the most prolific antagonist to McClellan at the Monday and Tuesday press briefings, insisted that "there are still unanswered questions surrounding Saturday's shooting." He proposed two: "Why did the local sheriff in Kenedy County, Texas wait 14 hours to interview the Vice President?" And: "Did the Vice President follow hunting safety guidelines?"

     [This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your take, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     On Monday night, the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News led with the hunting accident while ABC's World News Tonight started with the impending House committee report on Katrina. Following the Tuesday night decision by all three networks to lead with Katrina, of the eight broadcast network evening newscasts from Sunday through Tuesday (golf bumped CBS in the East on Sunday), 7 of the 8 (88 percent) have led with the shooting incident and/or how information was disseminated. For a rundown of Monday night coverage, see the February 14 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

     Transcripts of the portions of the February 14 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts which focused on whining from the White House press corps:

     # ABC's World News Tonight. Co-anchor Charles Gibson teased:
     "The man Vice President Cheney accidentally shot, today suffers a minor heart attack as the White House faces new questions about its silence."

     Following the lead story, from Mike von Fremd, on the condition of 78-year-old Harry Whittington, co-anchor Elizabeth Vargas turned to Tim Johnson:
     "Our medical editor, Dr. Tim Johnson, joins us now. First of all, how serious was this heart attack? How serious is his condition?"
     Johnson: "Well, the heart attack, so-called, was actually caused by the damage caused by the buck shot. Not by the blockage of the coronary arteries. They were clean on tests today. That's good news. But until we know exactly where this buck shot is, and what it might lead to, I think we have to say that the possibilities are everywhere from totally benign, to unlikely, but possibly fatal."

     After a bit more q&a with Johnson, Vargas went to Martha Raddatz at the White House:
     "Now to the political diagnosis from this story. Today the White House, once again, chose not to tell the public about a major development in this story. And once again, it was up to a spokesman to explain why. ABC's Chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz, joins us. And Martha, exactly when did the White House learn of Mr. Whittington's heart attack?"

     Martha Raddatz: "Well, the Vice President was told about it this morning, Elizabeth. But neither he nor the White House spokesman let on. Scott McClellan found out about Whittington's heart attack just before the 12:30 briefing. But he said nothing to the press. In fact, even though he knew Whittington's health had taken a serious turn, McClellan went out of his way to treat the hunting accident as yesterday's news."
     Scott McClellan at Tuesday's press briefing: "I think we went through it thoroughly yesterday. It is what it is. I think it's time to move on for the American people."
     Raddatz to McClellan at press briefing: "I know we went through it. But we didn't get that answer. Why didn't you know?"
     McClellan: "Martha, I think if you have additional questions relating to this matter, that you should direct them to the Vice President's office. I've responded to you pretty fully. In terms of my view, I've responded to those questions. I did so yesterday."
     Raddatz: "After the briefing, McClellan told ABC News, that [text on screen] he didn't feel it was €˜appropriate' to be the first to comment on Whittington's medical condition. But this came after days of harsh questioning, as to why the White House waited close to 20 hours before letting the American people know -- and only through a member of the hunting party -- that the Vice President had shot Mr. Whittington. Today, a stinging criticism from former White House spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater. Fitzwater told Editor and Publisher, [text on screen] he was quote, 'appalled by the whole handling of this.' And President Bush's first Press Secretary, Ari Fleisher told the magazine, 'it could have and should have been handled differently.' As for the Vice President, he was on Capitol Hill today. He attended an intelligence briefing and left by a side door. Later this afternoon, the Vice President's office did issue a statement saying [text on screen]: 'At about 1:30pm ET, the Vice President called Mr. Whittington and spoke to him. The Vice President wished Mr. Whittington well and asked if there was anything he needed. Obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing.' The Vice President's staff has still not answered detailed questions about this incident, Elizabeth. And it's not clear they ever will."


     # CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer opened his broadcast:
     "You just couldn't make it up. The Vice President of the United States accidentally shoots a companion on a hunting trip. The White House keeps it a secret for a day. Then when it appears the wounded man is okay, it sets off laughter and jokes from every corner of America. But tonight the jokes have stopped and the whole thing has turned serious. We're going first to Lee Cowan in Corpus Christi."

     Following Cowan's report on Whittington's condition, Schieffer set up a piece from Jim Axelrod at the White House:
     "These have not been the best of days for White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan. Reporters tore him apart yesterday for waiting a full day to disclose any of this. By this morning, like the rest of America, he was making jokes about it. Then he found out the wounded man had suffered the heart attack. Yet, he did not reveal that at his daily briefing. And then there's the other question hanging over this: Why has the Vice President remained silent? Here's Jim Axelrod now at the White House, Jim."

     Jim Axelrod: "Well Bob, for the third straight day since his hunting accident, Vice President Cheney has said nothing publicly about the shooting. Just a statement from his office. Which is one more statement than offered yesterday. According to his office, Mr. Cheney learned when he arrived at work early this morning that Mr. Whittington's doctors were going to perform that cardiac catheterazation."
     Scott McClellan at daily briefing: "I understand you still have some-"
     Axelrod: "Hours later, when White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan held the usual afternoon briefing, he knew about the medical procedure and the heart attack as wall but he said nothing. His hands were tied, the White House contends, by privacy concerns for the victim."
     Scott McClellan: "We're moving on to the priorities of the American people. [edit jump] You can all spend your time on it. We're going to keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people. [edit jump] You're welcome to continue to focus on these issues. I'm moving on."
     Axelrod: "But the move-on drum beat was cut short just minutes after the White House briefing ended, when doctors appeared outside the Texas hospital to report on complications in Whittington's condition uncovered by their exam."
     Peter Banko, hospital administrator"Cardiologists and cardiac surgeons evaluated the results of that exam as well as talked to the White House medical team about the results of that exam."
     Axelrod: "Only then did the Vice President's office issue this public statement that Texas doctors had in fact been in touch with them all day. Once again, the President and his press office were on the side lines, watching Mr. Cheney shape the story of his own hunting accident. Mr. Cheney, never a big fan of the media to begin with, really couldn't care less what reporters think of him now. Unlike the four Vice Presidents who came before him, Mr. Cheney definitely won't be running for President. Bob?"

     Schieffer then jumped to Gloria Borger:
     "Alright Jim. Well I want to bring in our political correspondent, Gloria Borger. Now Gloria, I understand you've run across some people who are not too happy about the Vice President's actions and they turn out to be friends and supporters of the President."
     Gloria Borger, inside CBS's Washington, DC facility: "That's absolutely right, Bob. A source that I can characterize as close to this administration says the people inside the White House are, quote, 'livid' about this. This source also tells us that, quote, 'it's no longer about indulging Dick Cheney's views of press management.' Instead, he says, 'it's now about Iraq and Katrina and a range of other issues that play into the public's views of this administration's arrogance.' And this source calls this a terrible mishandling. And he says that it's going just to give voice to the administration's critics. Bob?"
     Schieffer: "Those are very, very strong statements there, Gloria. Where does this go? What happens here do you think? I mean certainly nobody's going to ask the Vice President to quit."
     Borger: "No, I don't think so. But I think, Bob, privately signals are being sent into the Vice President's office that this has been handled badly and that perhaps the Vice President himself does need to come out and say something about it."
     Schieffer suggested: "So do you suppose that we'll see the role of the Vice President changing? I guess the first thing we'll want to wait and see is if the Vice President does come out and say something. Maybe back to the funeral beat is what Vice Presidents used to do before this Vice President came along."
     Borger: "Well, could be, Bob. But he's personally still very close to the President. I think the staffs of the President and the Vice President could be a collision course."
     Schieffer: "Thank you very much, Gloria. That's very interesting."


     # NBC Nightly News. Brian Williams teased from Torino:
     "Shooting accident. The man shot by Vice President Cheney suffers a minor heart attack. And there are more questions tonight about who knew what and when."

     Williams began his newscast:
     "Good evening. A bizarre story took an even more bizarre turn today when a man hospitalized in Texas suffered a mild heart attack because of a birdshot pellet that moved into his heart. The birdshot came from a gun fired by the Vice President of the United States. And this story, a scenario beyond the imagination of most of us, which has generated so much talk and so much interest, continued to play out today and the questions continue for the White House, mostly concerning who knew what and when. We begin our reporting here tonight, once again, with NBC News Chief White House correspondent David Gregory at the White House."

     David Gregory: "This morning doctors moved 78-year-old Harry Whittington back into intensive care when they discovered complications from Saturday's accidental shooting."
     Peter Banko, Christus Spohn Hospital administrator: "Some of the birdshot appears to have moved and lodged into a part of his heart causing the atrial fib and what we would say is a minor heart attack."
     Gregory: "Aides said the Vice President, who has yet to personally address the incident, spoke by phone with Whittington this afternoon to wish him well and according to a statement, told him, 'he stood ready to assist.' The White House was told of Whittington's turn for the worse this morning before it was announced. But Press Secretary Scott McClellan failed to disclose Whittington's new condition when he faced reporters during the lunch hour. Instead McClellan brushed off new questions about the shooting incident."
     Scott McClellan, at pres briefing: "You all can spend your time on it. We're going to keep focusing on the pressing priorities of the American people."
     Gregory: "Unaware of the heart attack, a reporter asked if the White House was relieved that Whittington appeared to be fine."
     McClellan: "Well, I think Mr. Whittington remains in our thoughts and prayers. We all want to make sure that he's okay and that he gets home and he recovers fully."
     Gregory: "There are still unanswered questions surrounding Saturday's shooting [questions on screen]. Why did the local sheriff in Kenedy County, Texas wait 14 hours to interview the Vice President? His office didn't return repeated phone calls today while the Secret Service and the Vice President's office insist Mr. Cheney was available immediately for questioning. Another question: Did the Vice President follow hunting safety guidelines? His office and one witness suggested Whittington was at fault because he failed to alert Mr. Cheney that he was rejoining the hunting party after searching for a downed bird. But experts say the burden is on the shooter."
     Skip Smith, hunting safety instructor: "Our rule is that you don't take a shot until you can see daylight or sky below the bird. That way you know the bird has cleared high enough in the air to clear the dog or anybody else around."
     Gregory: "Meanwhile, here at the White House aides have done little to hide their disagreement with the Vice President and his staff over the handling of this whole matter. Advisors, however, say for the President's part he remains focused on Harry Whittington's recovery."

     NBC moved on to a medical report, from Robert Bazell, on Whittington's prognosis.

 

Olbermann: Possibility of "Negligent
Homicide," That Cheney Drunk

     Keith Olbermann's first question to his first guest on Tuesday's Countdown: "Do the changes in his [Harry Whittington's] health alter how the event is viewed legally and, under the worse case scenario, could negligent homicide actually come into play?" The guest, Texas Monthly magazine Executive Editor Paul Burka, rejected the supposition: "I would doubt it, because a hunting accidents are seldom treated as homicides." Olbermann proceeded to suggest Vice President Cheney may have been drunk at the time of the accidental shooting. Olbermann pointed out how the local sheriff's office "issued a statement last night" and it "said no alcohol had been involved." The MSNBC host ruminated: "But how would they know that? The sheriff's office did not interview the Vice President until 14 hours after all this happened. And the lower ranking sheriff's officers who did not know about the scheduling of that interview for Sunday morning, had been turned away when they tried to talk to Mr. Cheney on Saturday night."

     [This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     Olbermann set up his lead February 14 segment interview with Burka from Austin: "One man we turn to from time to time to explain Texas and its ways, Paul Burka, the Executive Editor of Texas Monthly magazine who's also a member of the Texas state bar."

     After an exchange of greetings, Olbermann posed his first question:
     "Calling on your skills as an attorney first. Yesterday, Mr. Whittington appeared to have minor injuries, moved out of the I.C.U, this was all ruled an accident. Now he's had this heart attack. They think he'll recover. Of course, everybody hopes he will. But do the changes in his health alter how the event is viewed legally and, under the worse case scenario, could negligent homicide actually come into play?"
     Paul Burka: "Well, I would doubt it, because a hunting accidents are seldom treated as homicides. They are regarded as accidents. You take guns out into the countryside and there are going to be accidents. I believe 89 fatal accidents in Texas last year I read this afternoon. So this happens. There are thousands of hunters, but I would not think that the Vice President would incur any legal liability. He was not cited for negligence. He was simply given a warning by the game warden."
     Olbermann: "The sheriff's office, though, issued a statement last night, in the conclusion that this was an accident, and also said no alcohol had been involved in it. But how would they know that? The sheriff's office did not interview the Vice President until 14 hours after all this happened. And the lower ranking sheriff's officers who did not know about the scheduling of that interview for Sunday morning, had been turned away when they tried to talk to Mr. Cheney on Saturday night."
     Burka: "Well, obviously, that question, that's one of many questions that we don't know the answer to, but, you know, guns and alcohol don't mix. But they've been known to on hunting trips. Usually the alcohol is after the hunting trip, not before."

     The interview continued a bit longer, but those were Olbermann's most obnoxious questions.

 

Matthews on Cheney Mishap: "Has Press
Been Playing This Down?"

     MSNBC's Chris Matthews seriously asked on the 5pm EST edition of Tuesday's Hardball, about media coverage of the Cheney hunting accident: "Has the press been playing this down?" Matthews exclaimed that he was "shocked" at how "this was bottom of the fold in the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday." He went on to claim: "I've talked to experts, they can't believe that the papers treated this as such a light issue."


| |

     Turning to guest Dee Dee Myers, Matthews contended: "I was kind of surprised, to put it lightly, to see that the major newspapers on the East coast had buried this story below the fold and it was only today that they brought it up above the fold." Matthews' thesis was too ludicrous even for an astounded Myers, President Clinton's one-time Press Secretary, who countered with common sense: "I don't think putting it on the front page is burying it, Chris, I think that was an appropriate placement for the story."

     [This item was posted Tuesday night, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To watch a video clip, in Real and Windows Media formats, as well as MP3 audio -- or to post a comment -- go to: newsbusters.org ]

     At 5:24pm EST on the February 14 Hardball, with Myers and David Gergen as his guest from remote locations, Matthews previewed what he planned to raise at the start of the next segment:
     "I don't know about you David and Dee Dee, but you're press experts and I don't know if you were shocked like I was, this was bottom of the fold in the New York Times and the Washington Post yesterday. I've talked to experts, they can't believe that the papers treated this as such a light issue. It only moved up to the top of the fold front page today in both of those journals. I find that interesting, I want to talk to you when we come back. Has the press been playing this down, this story? [Myers snickers] We'll be back with Dee Dee and David."

     After the ad break, Matthews proposed:
     "We're back with former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers and former presidential advisor David Gergen, talking about the political ramifications of Vice President Cheney's shooting incident and his delay in reporting it to the country. Dee Dee, I guess this is a question of news judgment, but I was kind of surprised, to put it lightly, to see that the major newspapers on the East coast had buried this story below the fold and it was only today that they brought it up above the fold."
     Myers responded: "I don't think putting it on the front page is burying it, Chris, I think that was an appropriate placement for the story, but I think what's made this a bigger story was, is the incredibly poor handling..."

     As for whether the media in general, beyond the two newspapers, are burying the story, in a Media Reality Check released Tuesday afternoon, "Our Top Story: Don't You Dare Ignore Us; White House Reporters Furious that a Corpus Christi Newspaper Was First to Learn of Cheney Shooting," the MRC's Rich Noyes reported: "Since the news of Cheney's shooting broke late Sunday afternoon, ABC, CBS and NBC aired 34 stories on their morning and evening newscasts...." Full details: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker

 


 


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314