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The 2,240th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:20am EDT, Monday July 31, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 126)

 
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1. Schieffer: Israel Made Same 'Mistake' in Lebanon as U.S. in Iraq
CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. "Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis," Schieffer told reporter David Martin, "they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against." Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that "Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah."

2. Olbermann Denies Liberal Bias, Insists in Politics He's 'Neutral'
During an appearance on Friday's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann acknowledged accusations of liberal bias, but denied they were true, preferring to describe himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," without a "rooting interest" in who wins elections. Ignoring criticism from the MRC that, among other instances of bias during the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal, he once compared former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to Nazi war criminal Heinrich Himmler, Olbermann claimed that he was never accused of liberal bias while covering the scandal. Olbermann: "I've been accused of being a liberal, which is interesting because the last time I was on doing the news in the late 90s, I did 218 consecutive shows about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And no one accused me of being a liberal then. It's very interesting the way you can be sort of pigeonholed. I like to think of myself politically as 'correct.'" AUDIO&VIDEO

3. CBS Producer: 'Howling' About Media Bias Just a Fundraising Ploy
On the CBS News "Public Eye" blog site on Thursday, Washington, DC-based CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane contended all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism: "It is my belief, though I don't have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money."

4. "Top Ten Dumb Guy Ideas for Lowering Gas Prices"
Letterman's "Top Ten Dumb Guy Ideas for Lowering Gas Prices."


 

Schieffer: Israel Made Same 'Mistake'
in Lebanon as U.S. in Iraq

     CBS anchor Bob Schieffer on Friday night forwarded the idea that the Israeli situation in Lebanon matches the U.S. miscalculation in Iraq. "Despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis," Schieffer told reporter David Martin, "they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against." Martin didn't address Schieffer's comparison of the Israel-Hezbollah war with the Iraq war, but he did confirm that "Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah."

     [This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     The exchange, on the July 28 CBS Evening News, from just after Schieffer talked with Lara Logan in Israel:

     Bob Schieffer: "We want to bring in our national security correspondent David Martin now at the Pentagon. David, despite this heavy bombing that Hezbollah's been getting from the Israelis, they continue to attack and some critics are saying the Israelis may have made the same mistake that the United States made in Iraq, and that is underestimated what they were up against. What about that?"
     David Martin, at the Pentagon: "Well Bob, Israel has made so little progress in destroying Hezbollah, that some U.S. intelligence analysts are now saying the attempt to create a buffer zone in southern Lebanon has actually bogged down. 'It doesn't appear they've been able to claim the territory they want to claim,' one intelligence official said. And despite a number of massive air strikes on suspected command bunkers, Israel has been unable to locate and eliminate Hezbollah's leadership. Not only does Sheik Nasrallah keep showing up on television, but Hezbollah fighters still appear to be following the orders of senior commanders. Pentagon officials say both U.S. and Israeli intelligence have underestimated the strength, capabilities, and resilience of Hezbollah, beginning with the missile attack on this [video of ship] Israeli warship in the opening days of the war..."

 

Olbermann Denies Liberal Bias, Insists
in Politics He's 'Neutral'

     During an appearance on Friday's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann acknowledged accusations of liberal bias, but denied they were true, preferring to describe himself politically as "correct" and "neutral," without a "rooting interest" in who wins elections. Ignoring criticism from the MRC that, among other instances of bias during the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal, he once compared former Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr to Nazi war


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

criminal Heinrich Himmler, Olbermann claimed that he was never accused of liberal bias while covering the scandal. Olbermann: "I've been accused of being a liberal, which is interesting because the last time I was on doing the news in the late 90s, I did 218 consecutive shows about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And no one accused me of being a liberal then. It's very interesting the way you can be sort of pigeonholed. I like to think of myself politically as 'correct.'"

     [This item by Brad Wilmouth, was posted late Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     A video and audio clip, of Olbermann denying any bias and professing how he doesn't even vote, will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. In the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video clip, or MP3 audio, go to the NewsBusters posting linked above.

     Ignoring the power that those who report the news can have to affect an election by slanting stories in favor of or against candidates, which would be much more valuable to a candidate than any news anchor's individual vote, Olbermann went on to declare that he doesn't vote, claiming a link between a refusal to vote and being unbiased in covering politics: "I don't vote because I don't think I should have a rooting interest in the outcome of an election."

     Regarding Olbermann's denial that he was ever accused of "being a liberal" during the 1998 Monica Lewinsky scandal, while he was hosting MSNBC's Big Show, the MRC at that time documented several instances of hostility to Kenneth Starr, impeachment, Newt Gingrich and Republicans in general. On August 18, 1998, in the aftermath of President Clinton's speech admitting to his affair with Lewinsky, Olbermann thought it insightful to remark that Starr reminded him facially of Heinrich Himmler, and suggested some might compare Starr to a "persecutor opposed to a prosecutor."

     Olbermann, from August 18, 1998: "Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?" For a low-quality Real streaming clip: www.mediaresearch.org

     On November 12, 1998, after House Republicans forced Newt Gingrich out of the speakership, Olbermann was reminded of Stalin's takeover of Russia as Leon Trotsky was deposed: "It was on this date in 1927 that Joseph Stalin completed his consolidation of the leadership in Russia by engineering the expulsion from the Communist Party of Leon Trotsky. Darn. With Newt, the Republicans missed that anniversary by just six days."

     Below are transcripts of additional quotes from the Clinton-Lewinsky era, followed by a transcript of relevant portions of the July 28 Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

     # "It worked in Stalingrad. To some degree, it worked in the foreign compound during the Boxer Rebellion in Peking in 1900. It certainly seems to have worked for Bill Clinton. When there's no capability of offense, no escape, and especially if you're lucky enough to have an overconfident opponent -- just batten down the hatches and wait for the idiots to defeat themselves. Impeachment, once spoken gravely by presidential defenders and opponents alike, now engenders giggles and arguments about it carry all the weight of arguments about who is the rightful Czar of all the Russias." -- MSNBC Big Show host Keith Olbermann, November 23, 1998.

     # "Does E.J. [Dionne] have this pretty much nailed in terms of the more rabid ends of the Republican Party, I mean in the sense that, if you're gonna lose, as I said earlier, make it like the Civil War where you can turn it into the €˜we stood until the very last man' kind of loss?" -- Keith Olbermann to Tony Blankley, same night.

     # Keith Olbermann: "I was watching, just the other night, the highlights of the Army-McCarthy hearings, and I was reminded of this today. Joe McCarthy, not even paying attention as with each reference he made to one of Joseph Welch's second chair attorneys, he dug himself deeper and deeper into a hole that he thought he was making this point that was for his case, and he was just burying himself. Is there not some perception, Mr. Starr's point that Web Hubbell and prosecuting him now is almost walking into a radioactive dump?"
     Former Washington Post and New York Times reporter E.J. Dionne: "Well, I think the fact that you just said it suggests it's going to be thought of by a lot of people, sure. It's the Hubbell trifecta...He faces potentially over 100 years of jail time which means he'll get out just in time to watch the end of this investigation." -- November 13, 1998 Big Show on MSNBC.

     Below is a transcript of relevant portions from the Friday July 28 Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson:

     Craig Ferguson: "Let's talk about politics. That's a safe area. Why not?"
     Keith Olbermann: "Absolutely."
     Ferguson: "Yeah."
     Olbermann: "There's no division in the country on that."
     Ferguson: "Do you have a, do you have a particular, which side do you dress on politically?"
     Olbermann: "I've been accused of being a liberal."
     Ferguson: "Right."
     Olbermann: "Which is interesting because the last time I was on doing the news in the late 90s, I did 218 consecutive shows about Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky."
     Ferguson: "Right."
     Olbermann: "And no one accused me of being a liberal then. It's very interesting the way you can be sort of pigeonholed. I like to think of myself politically as 'correct.'"
     Ferguson: "Right."
     Olbermann: "I don't-"
     [laughter and applause from audience]
     Olbermann: "All those Al Gore bumper stickers, they weren't a good investment, but I tried."
     Ferguson: "Yeah."
     Olbermann: "But seriously, I tried to not be, to the degree you can be neutral nowadays, I don't, for instance, I don't vote."
     Ferguson: "You don't vote at all."
     Olbermann: "I don't vote because I don't think I should have a rooting interest in the outcome of an election."
     Ferguson: "Isn't it your duty as a citizen to vote?"
     Olbermann: "If everybody who's in the news stayed away from the ballot box, I don't think we'd have a significant decline."
     Ferguson: "You know, it would be great, wouldn't it? Actually then everybody who was actually on the media would not be allowed to talk about politics in any way other than, 'Oh, this is what seems to be happening.'"
     Olbermann: "Yeah, again, people would still have that kind of bias that's perceived one way or the other, but at least you could say, well, you know, I didn't vote, I don't contribute. I'm trying to stay out of it to the degree that I can. I don't have a rooting interest other than in what happens to the country."

 

CBS Producer: 'Howling' About Media Bias
Just a Fundraising Ploy

     On the CBS News "Public Eye" blog site on Thursday, Washington, DC-based CBS Evening News producer Ward Sloane was interviewed in the "Ten Plus One" feature. The Public Eye team asked ten questions, and then added one from an outsider, who asked about media watchdog groups: "There is always a lot of criticism, particularly in the realm of political reporting, about journalists being biased against liberals or conservatives. There are organizations that exist primarily to highlight instances of such bias. How do you think that climate affects political coverage, if at all?" Sloane contended all the media-bias talk was just fundraising hucksterism: "It is my belief, though I don't have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money."

     [This item by Tim Graham was posted Sunday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Sloane answered:

I do not believe that honest journalists worry about what such organizations say about their stories and pieces. Of course, political stories I've worked on have been picked up by both conservative and liberal organizations as being "unfair." But for these folks, "unfair" is anything that doesn't promote their agenda. And it is my belief, though I don't have any evidence of this, that a lot of the howling about media bias is primarily a vehicle to raise money.

Do I think these organizations can be helpful? Not really; I think they just want to use journalists and their media outlets for their own purposes. People who read or subscribe to those organizations are going to think the media is biased anyway. Once in a blue moon, it may be that they do serve the purpose of poking a stick in my eye and asking, hey, did I slant that item?

     END of Sloane's answer

Like that blue-moon time the CBS Evening News was selling fake documents about President Bush's National Guard service? Sloane says it's up to the media to try not to be used by one side or another. But we can take his cynical disdain for media watchdog groups and turn it right back on the media, like this: "For these folks at CBS, a lot of the howling about the problems in the world is just a way for a network news division to make money. Do I think CBS can be helpful? Not really. They just want to use their news reports for their own purposes...." How does Sloane think that sounds? A bit....harsh, perhaps?

 

"Top Ten Dumb Guy Ideas for Lowering
Gas Prices"

     From the July 28 Late Show with David Letterman, "Top Ten Dumb Guy Ideas for Lowering Gas Prices." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Make all roads downhill

9. Cheaper self-service price if you pump the oil and refine it yourself

8. Gas comes from dinosaurs, so all we need are more dinosaurs

7. Invade Iraq

6. Give Cheney a sawed-off shotgun and have him stick up an Exxon

5. Tax cuts for the rich

4. Get Bush and the Middle East to straighten everything out on Oprah

3. Jet packs for everyone

2. Gas only costs 12 cents a gallon in Venezuela; drive to Venezuela for gas

1. Get tubby genius Al Gore to figure it out

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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