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The 2,295th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:45am EDT, Friday October 27, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 182)

 
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1. ABC's Shipman Daydreams: 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?'
ABC's Claire Shipman ended a Thursday World News profile of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi by tilting her head upward and rolling her eyes, as if imagining along with Pelosi, as she wondered: "Do you let yourself think, for example, maybe before you go to sleep at night, 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?'" Pelosi denied any such daydreaming: "No. I never do. What I think before I go to sleep at night is how we can get up to 15 new Democratic seats in the Congress of the United States. And then I say my prayers." AUDIO&VIDEO

2. CBS Gives Fox Platform to React to Limbaugh's 'Ugly' Criticism
Ignoring the inaccuracies in Michael J. Fox's TV ads against some Republican Senate candidates, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric gave him a lengthy forum -- more than eight minutes -- to react to Rush Limbaugh's suggestion his swaying in the ads was exaggerated beyond the real impact of Parkinson's disease and to advocate for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. With video of Fox behind her, Couric portrayed Limbaugh as the aggressor: "The battle over embryonic stem cell research turns ugly, and he is a target." Though Fox's ads denounce Republicans and insidiously suggest they are against curing his disease, Couric never challenged Fox on the false charges he made in the ads which injected Fox into partisan politics. She never even played those portions, instead only showed this positive line from one of the ads: "In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures." In that ad against Missouri Republican Senator Jim Talent, Fox distorted Talent's opposition to cloning into how "Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." In his ad for Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, Fox alleged that Republican candidate Michael Steele "would put limits on the most promising stem cell research," meaning embryonic. But embryonic has not shown promise and there's lots of research money going into it.

3. NBC's Baghdad Reporter: I'm a Pacifist, War Should Be Outlawed
Thursday's Howard Kurtz profile of NBC Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel in the Washington Post has a real clash of perspectives. First, NBC anchor Brian Williams claimed Engel "is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business." Then Engel declared: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." The story included no critics of Engel's reporting, but praise from Williams and CBS colleague Lara Logan, and Engel's mother.

4. Geraldo Rivera Fuels Gas Price 'Pimping' Conspiracy
Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his part to feed the gas price election conspiracy theory on Wednesday's Geraldo at Large. Rivera pondered about the lower prices, "Is it gas pump pimping?" and "Doesn't it make you even a little suspicious that the cost to fill 'er up dropped almost a dollar a gallon and the elections are just two weeks away?" Rivera asked those questions and then proceeded to tick down several nutty theories during his final commentary on his October 25 show. The commentary wasn't completely without skepticism, but it wasn't enough to keep his end of show rant from sounding utterly ridiculous.

5. CNN Reporter: 'Many Say' Bush Has 'Trampled' the Constitution
With a title like "Broken Government: Power Play," one could probably assume that the Thursday night at 8pm EDT CNN special wouldn't be very fair to President Bush. But just in case there were any doubt, reporter John King appeared on Thursday's American Morning to drive home the point: "It's a fascinating subject. Many say, post-9/11, this President has crossed, stretched, some say trampled the Constitution in his pursuit of the war on terrorism. The President says whatever it takes. Some say he has busted the balance of powers, if you will, the constitutional lines. The President, of course, says no. It's one of the issues we're exploring as we look at the 'Broken Government.'"

6. Mag's Recipe for Success: Dump Conservative Policies, Go Left
Would Republicans be popular again if they'd only dump their conservative principles? That's the advice in this week's U.S. News & World Report, contained in Thomas K. Grose's "Letter from Bournemouth, England." Grose saluted Britain's Conservative Party leader David Cameron for his thoroughly un-conservative approach of eschewing tax cuts, supporting gay marriage and the minimum wage, and calling Britain's National Health Service a "great achievement." Grose thinks American Republicans should also morph into liberals: "Cameron's centerward drive contrasts sharply with American conservatism, where the Republican Party is fighting the midterm congressional elections by lurching even further to the right to appease its base voters. While Cameron chirps about sunshine, Vice President Dick Cheney stumps for GOP candidates by depicting the world in gloomy terms and playing to voters' fears of terrorism."


 

ABC's Shipman Daydreams: 'Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi?'

     ABC's Claire Shipman ended a Thursday World News profile of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi by tilting her head upward and rolling her eyes, as if imagining along with Pelosi, as she wondered: "Do you let yourself think, for example, maybe before you go to sleep at night, 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?'" Pelosi denied any such daydreaming: "No. I never do. What I think before I go to sleep at night is how we can get up to 15 new Democratic seats in the Congress of the United States. And then I say my prayers."
 


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

     Just before the 1994 election, ABC's Jim Wooten treated Newt Gingrich as the perpetrator in a worsening political landscape, declaring that his "slash-and-burn rhetoric against Democrats has made him the poster boy for political resentment and rage, and he's proud of it." But with Pelosi, Shipman painted her as the victim of Republican "scare tactics" and, after a soundbite from President Bush, cued her up: "What do you think when you hear him say the


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

things he says about you?" Shipman acknowledged that "Pelosi's blunt style is polarizing," but characterized it as a positive, citing how "she's used it to pull off something nobody thought was possible: Organizing the congressional Democrats. Under her leadership, they voted as a bloc against the Republicans almost 90 percent of the time."

     [This item was posted late Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The audio and video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert item, but in the meantime, to watch the Real or Windows Media video, as well as MP3 audio, of Shipman's daydreaming of "Speaker Pelosi," go to: newsbusters.org ]

     This wasn't the first time ABC's evening newscast has paid tribute to Pelosi. In the MRC's October 19 Media Reality Check, "TV News Gives Free Ride to 'Speaker Pelosi,'" Rich Noyes recalled how "ABC's World News Tonight picked Pelosi as one of five heroes of 2002. Anchor Charles Gibson said ABC wanted to recognize 'people whose bravery, resolve, and character really shown through.' To illustrate the December 26, 2002 story, Pelosi's image was flashed on the big screen outside ABC's Times Square studio." For the Media Reality Check: www.mrc.org

     A transcript of the October 26 World News profile of Pelosi, which had also aired in a slightly longer version on Thursday's Good Morning America (but without the "Do you let yourself think, for example, maybe before you go to sleep at night, 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?'"):

     Anchor Charles Gibson: "If Democrats take 15 seats away from Republicans and win control of the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is poised to become House Speaker. She would be the first woman ever to hold that post. It's questionable how many Americans even know who she is. But many Republican candidates think she scares American voters. Here's ABC's Claire Shipman."

     Claire Shipman, over picture of the bridge in a TV ad with "San Francisco values don't belong in Indiana" superimposed: "The Golden Gate bridge, looming over the heartland. Scare tactics like this:"
     Audio of announcer in ad: "A radical plan to advance the homosexual agenda."
     Shipman: "While Democrats have turned the President into their poster child this election season-"
     Ad announcer: "George Allen supports President Bush 96 percent of the time."
     Shipman: "Meet the Republican's current boogie woman, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi."
     Announcer in TV ad: "Pelosi and liberal Democrats want to raise your taxes."
     President Bush on October 19: "The Speaker would be a Congresswoman who said catching Osama bin Laden would not make America any safer."
     Shipman to Pelosi: "What do you think when you hear him say the things he says about you?"
     Pelosi: "I couldn't care less. I think it shows how desperate the Republicans are, that they have to have the President of the United States become their political hit man."
     Shipman: "Vintage Pelosi. And although she talks about wanting to make the atmosphere more civil in the nation's capital, she herself is anything but."
     Pelosi, at a press conference: He won't tell the truth to the American people."
     Pelosi to Shipman: "President Bush is digging a hole deeper and deeper and deeper in Iraq. He's so far from daylight, he doesn't have a clue."
     Shipman: "You have been and you just were, fairly tough on President Bush. I mean, you have called him-"
     Pelosi: "That wasn't tough."
     Shipman: "I haven't heard tough, right?"
     Pelosi: "That wasn't tough."
     Shipman: "Pelosi's blunt style is polarizing. But she's used it to pull off something nobody thought was possible: Organizing the congressional Democrats. Under her leadership, they voted as a bloc against the Republicans almost 90 percent of the time. And should she become Speaker, she's made at least one promise to be more bipartisan."
     Pelosi at a press conference: "We have taken impeachment off the table. Frankly, impeachment lets the Republicans in congress off the hook."
     Shipman, tilting her head skyward and rolling her eyes up: "Do you let yourself think, for example, maybe before you go to sleep at night, 'Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi?'"
     Pelosi: "No. I never do. What I think before I go to sleep at night is how we can get up to 15 new Democratic seats in the Congress of the United States. And then I say my prayers."
     Shipman: "Claire Shipman, ABC News."

 

CBS Gives Fox Platform to React to Limbaugh's
'Ugly' Criticism

     Ignoring the inaccuracies in Michael J. Fox's TV ads against some Republican Senate candidates, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric gave him a lengthy forum -- more than eight minutes -- to react to Rush Limbaugh's suggestion his swaying in the ads was exaggerated beyond the real impact of Parkinson's disease and to advocate for federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. With video of Fox behind her, Couric portrayed Limbaugh as the aggressor: "The battle over embryonic stem cell research turns ugly, and he is a target." Though Fox's ads denounce Republicans and insidiously suggest they are against curing his disease, Couric never challenged Fox on the false charges he made in the ads which injected Fox into partisan politics. She never even played those portions, instead only showed this positive line from one of the ads: "In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures." In that ad against Missouri Republican Senator Jim Talent, Fox distorted Talent's opposition to cloning into how "Talent even wanted to criminalize the science that gives us the chance for hope." In his ad for Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin, Fox alleged that Republican candidate Michael Steele "would put limits on the most promising stem cell research," meaning embryonic. But embryonic has not shown promise and there's lots of research money going into it.

     Couric noted, "in the spirit of full disclosure," that "my dad has Parkinson's disease" and that "in the past I've made contributions for Parkinson's research through Michael J. Fox's foundation." But, she didn't note if she will give equal time soon to someone with a contrary view to Fox's on the desirability of federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

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

     Couric did ask "what about research on adult stem cells?" And she pointed out how "some people are concerned about this science because they feel it's a slippery slope, and that there won't be enough oversight or regulation" (Fox mockingly retorted with how "getting up in the morning is a slippery slope") and she even pressed him with a conservative point: "What about other people who say, 'listen, this can be done in the private sector.' Why not take politics out of it? Why not take it out of the government's hands?"

     (The next morning, on Friday's Early Show, Couric characterized Limbaugh as "certainly heartless," asserting: "This notion that Michael J. Fox manipulates his medication I think scientifically, that's just not true. I think Michael J. Fox wishes he could -- any Parkinson's patient, wishes he or she could manipulate their medication. And I think that Rush Limbaugh himself would admit that the way he expressed his feelings about Michael J. Fox's involvement with this was certainly heartless.")

     In a Wednesday posting on the American Thinker blog, Mary L. Davenport, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist, and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, undermined Fox's characterization of embryonic as the 'most promising" stem cell research. An excerpt from "The Unconscionable Claims of Michael J. Fox":

The popular and appealing actor Michael J. Fox has taken to the airwaves in Senate battleground states Missouri, Maryland, and New Jersey with a highly misleading ad urging defeat of Republican Senatorial candidates opposing the use of taxpayer dollars to fund new embryonic stem cell line research. He states,

"Stem cell research offers hope to millions of Americans with diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's‚€¶. But George Bush and Michael Steele would put limits on the most promising stem cell research."

Mr. Fox and his ads' sponsors are guilty of conflating embryonic stem cell research, which the GOP candidates and many Americans oppose for destroying a human life in the name of curing other people's diseases, with stem cell research in general, which includes adult stem cell research and umbilical cord blood stem cell research.

The only limits in question are on federal funding of new embryonic stem cell lines, requiring the sacrifice of new embryos. Private and state-funded research (California voters are spending six billion dollars borrowing money to fund this) is ongoing. The implicit claim that research based on new embryos is "the most promising" is absurd, completely unsupported by the scientific literature, and an insult to voters, based as it is on the assumption that they are incapable of understanding the issue. Too stupid to tell the difference, is the elitist assumption underlying this campaign.

Flim-flam is a charitable description. Why would federally-funded research be more promising than state- and privately-funded research? And on what possible basis can the claim be made that embryonic stem cell research is more promising than adult stem cell research?

The plain fact is that embryonic stem cell research is proving to be a bust. There are currently 72 therapies showing human benefits using adult stem cells and zero using embryonic stem cells. Scientifically-minded readers can review this medical journal article on the status of adult stem cell research. Adult stem cell therapies are already being advertised and promoted while no such treatments are even remotely in prospect for embryonic stem cell research.

The fact is that adult stem cells have already produced remarkable cures, whereas embryonic stem cells have failed....

     END of Excerpt

     For the American Thinker posting in full: www.americanthinker.com

     In a Tuesday posting, "Doc Hollywood on the Campaign Trail," National Review Online Editor Kathryn Jean Lopez took apart Fox's claims:

Even in an emotionally wrenching package -- you see Fox very visibly suffering from his disease as he unnervily jerks back and forth -- these claims are familiar and disingenuous. George W. Bush, Jim Talent, Mitt Romney‚€¶.any politician who has taken any kind of lead in opposing embryonic-stem-cell research (and cloning, which is rarely spoken of, but is a necessary element of much of what embryonic-stem-cell advocates want to do) is all too often portrayed as being against stem-cell research -- and hope. In truth, President Bush was the first president of the United States to authorize federal funding for any embryonic-stem-cell research. In correcting a writer from The New Republic back in 2004, my colleague Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out, "Actually, Bush provided funding for the first time. Congress had essentially banned funding, the Clinton administration issued preliminary regulations getting around the ban, and then Bush imposed a policy of funding with restrictions."

Further, embryonic-stem-cell research is currently legal and completely unrestricted in both Maryland and Missouri, and in the vast majority of other states. It is largely personal and institutional ethics that keeps scientists from cloning research. The debate we're having is almost always about government funding or radical measures like the one currently on the ballot in Missouri (Amendment 2), which would write a right to cloning into the state constitution.

Additionally, embryo-destroying stem-cell research is by no means the only or the most promising stem-cell research. Alternative research -- including cord-blood research and adult-stem-cell research -- is already working, unlike the embryonic-stem-cell research we're all focused on as if it were a proven cure-all. As Princeton professor Robert P. George, who sits on the president's bioethics commission, tells National Review Online:

"[T]he ads exaggerate the therapeutic potential of embryonic stem cells beyond anything that Michael J. Fox or anyone else has reasonable grounds to believe they can be used to accomplish. Adult stem cells -- stem cells that can be obtained harmlessly from umbilical cord blood, bone marrow, fat, and other sources -- have actually been used successfully to treat people. They have been used to improve people's lives. Embryonic stem cells have not helped anyone. No one knows when, if ever, embryonic cells will be used in therapies at all. Indeed, not a single embryonic-stem-cell-based therapy is even in stage one of clinical trials. That is because the tendency of embryonic stem cells to produce tumors makes it unethical to use them in human beings -- even in experimental treatments. By contrast, there are more than 1,000 adult-stem-cell-based therapies in clinical trials. In his ads, Michael J. Fox hides these crucial facts, thus creating an appallingly false impression and slandering candidates against whom the ads are directed."

     END of Excerpt

     For the National Review Online posting in its entirety: article.nationalreview.com

     Couric's 'Couric & Co.' blog posting about her interview: www.cbsnews.com

     CBSNews.com has posted video of the entire half hour Couric spent with Fox, and promises a transcript: www.cbsnews.com

     Below is a transcript of the portion of the "exclusive" interview which aired in the first of two excerpts played on the October 26 CBS Evening News:

     Katie Couric: "The political battle over federal funding for embryonic stem cell research has been front page news the last couple of days, and that's because of a flap over TV commercials featuring actor Michael J. Fox who's a very outspoken advocate of such research. A few hours ago, he stopped by our studio for an exclusive interview, but first, a bit of history and his role in this latest controversy."
     Scene of Fox in Spin City: "I cannot believe what I'm hearing."
     Couric: "He isn't really a spin doctor. He just played one on TV. But Michael J. Fox has become one of the most visible crusaders on the campaign trail, rallying voters for Democrats who support embryonic stem cell research."
     Fox at Tammy Duckworth campaign event: "We need brave, smart, energetic people to step up and lead right now."
     Couric: "Fox, one of the 1.5 million Americans suffering from Parkinson's disease, appeared in suburban Chicago on Tuesday, a strong show of support for Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth. And he's done ads for candidates in three states, including this one for Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill."
     Fox in TV ad: "In Missouri, you can elect Claire McCaskill, who shares my hope for cures."
     Couric: "That ad prompted conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh to accuse Fox of exploiting his illness."
     Rush Limbaugh on Monday, in Web video of his radio show: "This is really shameless of Michael J. Fox. Either he didn't take his medication or he's acting, one of the two. He is moving all around and shaking, and it's purely an act."
     Couric: "Later that same day, Limbaugh offered this apology:"
     Limbaugh: "All I'm saying is I've never seen him the way he appears in this commercial for Claire McCaskill. So I will, bigly, hugely, admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act."
     Couric, in facing chair across from Fox: "And joining me now is Michael J. Fox. How are you?"
     Fox: "I'm fine, thank you."
     Couric: "When you did the campaign ad, tell us what you were experiencing that day and what we were seeing as a result."
     Fox: "Well, on any given day, I have a thousand different things I can feel. I go through a million cycles during the course of a day. For example, right now, this is a dearth of medication, not by design. I just take it and it kicks in when it kicks in. Sometimes it kicks in too hard, and you get what is called dyskinesia, which is that rocking motion I had when I did the commercial."
     Couric: "When you go side to side and that's caused actually by the medication?"
     Fox: "It's caused by medication. It's funny the notion that you could calculate it for effect and the people with Parkinson's out there are just kind of going, would that we could."
     Couric: "Could you have waited to do that ad when you were -- had less dyskenisia, for example?"
     Fox: "When do you know when that's going to be? Funny, my mother was visiting me day, was in the back room, and she was saying throughout -- throughout the filming of it, she was talking to my friends back there, and she was saying, he's trying so hard to be still. And so she was the one who actually -- when the comments were made, she was the only one I talked to who was really angry, and she said, 'I can't even see straight.' I said, 'mom, just relax, it's okay.'"
     Couric: "In fact Rush Limbaugh suggested that you had failed to take your medication intentionally, so when you did that ad you'd be more symptomatic and, therefore, more sympathetic."
     Fox: "Irony is I was too medicated."
     Couric: "I called Rush Limbaugh and he told me: [text on screen] 'I believe Democrats have a long history of using victims of various things as political spokespeople because they believe they are untouchable, in fallible. They are immune from criticism.'"
     Fox: "First thing, he used the word 'victim.' and on another occasion I heard he used the word 'pitiable.' Understand, nobody in this position wants pity. I don't want pity. I could give a damn about Rush Limbaugh's pity, anyone else's pity. I'm not a victim. I'm someone in some situation, I think I'm in this situation along with millions of other Americans, and we he a right, if there's answers out, to pursue those answers with the full support of our politicians, and so I don't need anyone's permission to do that."
     Couric: "You have said before this is a bipartisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution."
     Fox: "Disease is a non-partisan problem that requires a bipartisan solution."
     Couric: "Would you support a Republican candidate?"
     Fox: "I have. Arlen Specter is my guy. I have campaigned for Arlen Specter. He's been a fantastic champion of stem cell research. In the meantime, separate and apart my political involvement I started a foundation that has raised $85 million for research and is the second leading fund of Parkinson's research after the federal government. And, you know, it's not -- I'm not a johnny-come-lately. Nobody plucked me off the apple cart to come and do this. I mean, I believe in this cause. I put a lot of my life and energy into it and we're serious about it."
     Couric: "What about research on adult stem cells?"
     Fox: "It's fantastic."
     Couric: "This is such a political hot potato, as you well know."
     Fox: "But the point of it is that the cells that we're not using, hundreds of thousands of cells that are left over from invitro fertilization are being thrown away, are being wasted. They're not going to become life. They're not going to become life. They're being thrown away."
     Couric: "Some people are concerned about this science because they feel it's a slippery slope, and that there won't be enough oversight or regulation."
     Fox: "Everything is a slippery slope. Getting up in the morning is a slippery slope. You apply your best sense of intelligence and ethics and planning and foresight and oversight into what you do. I mean, you know, like I said, why we have this lack of faith in our scientific community? I don't know. They've done such wonderful things for us over the years."
     Couric: "What about other people who say, 'listen, this can be done in the private sector.' Why not take politics out of it? Why not take it out of the government's hands?"
     Fox: "Well, the government, the government builds us roads, the government builds us, you know, things to keep us safe and to -- and in different parts of society, and I think our health is an integral part of society. And the other thing is the federal government can throw more money at these things by accident, than the private sector can on purpose. There are 100 million Americans that are either touched by incurable illness or knows somebody who has an incurable illness, or loves somebody who has an incurable illness, and my hope was by being that guy that says I know that guy, that 14 days after an election we'd be talking about stem cells. And we are and I'm greatly gratified. If bringing the message means the messenger gets roughed up a little bit, I'm happy to be that guy."

     Couric then plugged another excerpt to air later in her newscast, ostensibly about Fox's personal struggles with his disease, but he used the time to plead for more federal funding.

     After the plug, Couric noted: "By the way, in the spirit of full disclosure, I think it's important to mention that my dad has Parkinson's disease. He told me today it's okay to tell that you. And in the past, I've made contributions for Parkinson's research through Michael J. Fox's foundation."

     The Michael J. Fox Foundations for Parkinson's Research: www.michaeljfox.org

 

NBC's Baghdad Reporter: I'm a Pacifist,
War Should Be Outlawed

     Thursday's Howard Kurtz profile of NBC Baghdad correspondent Richard Engel in the Washington Post has a real clash of perspectives. First, NBC anchor Brian Williams claimed Engel "is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business." Then Engel declared: "I think war should be illegal...I'm basically a pacifist." The story included no critics of Engel's reporting, but praise from Williams and CBS colleague Lara Logan, and Engel's mother.

     Williams asserted that Engel's reporting was fearless against annoying media critics: "'In an era of instant media criticism, he calls balls and strikes in the middle of a war zone,' says NBC anchor Brian Williams. 'He is completely unbothered by any Web site that may have problems with his reporting while he's over in Iraq dodging bullets....He is the most agenda-less person I've met in our business, I think, in the past 20 years.'"

     For the October 26 "Style" section profile of Engel: www.washingtonpost.com

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

     Does it sound a little like Williams is saying Internet media critics should shut up and go fight in Iraq before they can have an authoritative opinion? It's certainly easy for Engel to seem unbothered by critics in a Post story that never asks a media critic of any stripe for an opinion. Here's the context for Engel's declaration of pacifism:
     "Why does he stay? When NBC made Engel its Middle East bureau chief over the summer, he agreed to a new contract and moved to the relative calm of Beirut. Days later he found himself covering a fierce war between Israel and Hezbollah -- and was suddenly re-energized. This, for better or worse, is what he does. Not that Engel necessarily approves of military conflict.
     "'I think war should be illegal,' he says. 'I'm basically a pacifist.'"

     Kurtz washed over that philosophy by stressing how Engel feels the pain of the troops:
     "He has little patience for the notion that the media are suffering from Iraq fatigue because the story -- day after day of death and destruction -- has gotten so repetitive.
     "'Whether you agree with the war or not, I have a very soft spot for the guys who are out there. These guys have saved my life on more than one occasion, and they are dying at the rate of two a day, and they deserve to be talked about.'"

     Kurtz also forwarded the claim that Engel doesn't really decide that only the bad news is news:
     "Not everything he covers involves bombs and bullets. Engel did a piece earlier this year on the plight of children at a Baghdad orphanage, which drew so much public reaction that NBC Nightly News aired it a second time.
     "'I don't look for good-news stories or bad-news stories. I don't have an abacus,' he says."

     That's not the impression you get from watching NBC. Brent Bozell noticed Engel finding little chance of success in 2005 as they put together an Iraqi constitution:
     "NBC's Richard Engel growled online that the new constitution was 'a deeply flawed document, peppered with religious slogans, and leaves plenty of room for Shiites and Kurds to govern themselves.' Engel says Iraqis disagree on the constitution, but 'with the daily pressures of the insurgency, power cuts and lawlessness, there might not be enough time to start over before this country and the people lose hope -- along with many of their lives.' Does Engel wear black everywhere he goes?" See: www.mrc.org

     The MRC's Rich Noyes found last year that in studying the first nine months of 2005 coverage of Iraq on the Big Three networks, which were all gloomy in news from Iraq, NBC was the gloomiest, tying for the highest percentage of negative news stories (62 percent) and standing out with the lowest percentage of positive news stories (13 percent). See: www.mrc.org

 

Geraldo Rivera Fuels Gas Price 'Pimping'
Conspiracy

     Fox's Geraldo Rivera did his part to feed the gas price election conspiracy theory on Wednesday's Geraldo at Large. Rivera pondered about the lower prices, "Is it gas pump pimping?" and "Doesn't it make you even a little suspicious that the cost to fill 'er up dropped almost a dollar a gallon and the elections are just two weeks away?" Rivera asked those questions and then proceeded to tick down several nutty theories during his final commentary on his October 25 show. The commentary wasn't completely without skepticism, but it wasn't enough to keep his end of show rant from sounding utterly ridiculous.

     [This item by Geoffrey Dickens was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     From the opening and throughout the show Rivera tantalized the conspiracy nuts in his audience with the following teases:

     # "Then gas prices plunge in the days before election, voters wonder, coincidence or a conspiracy?"

     # "Still ahead, so gas prices are down, way down but before you run out to buy a new Hummer ponder this. Doesn't it make you even a little suspicious that the cost to fill 'er up dropped almost a dollar a gallon and the elections are just two weeks away? That's coming up."

     # "Stand by everybody we'll be back in a flash with election year prices, is it gas pump pimping?"

     Finally Rivera unleashed this commentary before the close of the show:
     "Do you remember how painful it was to fill up your car last summer? Not even three months ago during the first week of August the gallon regular unleaded gas? Three bucks. That pain at the pump froze the sale of SUVs, Hummers began looking like dinosaurs and a lot of people began rethinking their opposition to drilling for oil offshore or up in the Alaskan wilderness. Back in August even the gas jokes hurt."
     Jimmy Kimmel: "A lot of people wonder how the prices can fluctuate so wildly?"
     [Video of skit with wheel of fortune spinning around with varying prices]
     Rivera: "$3.00 a gallon in August and even more out on the coast and many Americans listed high fuel prices as their top concern even more than terrorism. But do you know what gas averages today? $2.19! So what made gas prices fall off the cliff? Back in September a Gallup poll found that 42 percent of the people agreed with the statement that the Bush administration deliberately manipulated the price of gasoline so that it would decrease before this fall's elections. So is there a conspiracy to artificially lower gas prices and get Republicans re-elected in November? Let's examine the allegations. Item: the Saudi Royal family is doing their buddy the President a big one and taking a price cut until the elections are over. Maybe? Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack does claim the Saudis promised in 2004 to keep oil production high enough to take pressure off prices during that presidential election year but on the other hand not even the Saudis have the spit to really control world oil supply any more. So item: Treasury Secretary Henry Paulison got his former partners at the financial giant Goldman Sachs to dump gasoline futures to drive down the price at the pump and help Republicans get elected. Well Goldman Sachs did dump its position in gas futures recently but they said they did it to invest instead in gasoline blended with ethanol, the new favorite of government regulators. How about item: Big Oil companies want to help former oil men George Bush and Dick Cheney keep a Republican majority in Congress. Well according to Public Citizen, that's a left-leaning advocacy group quoted in the Washington Post, 81 percent of the $63 million that Big Oil donated to politicians did go to Republicans, 81 percent. But would they really hurt their short-term profits to reap long-term political advantage? We report, you decide."
     Jay Leno: "The good news, oil has fallen to $60 a barrel. Experts predict it will continue to fall until exactly one minute after the polls close on November 7th."
     Rivera: "In fairness there were no hurricanes this season that really disrupted supply, so that's probably a factor too. That's it for us, until next time thanks for watching."

 

CNN Reporter: 'Many Say' Bush Has 'Trampled'
the Constitution

     With a title like "Broken Government: Power Play," one could probably assume that the Thursday night at 8pm EDT CNN special wouldn't be very fair to President Bush. But just in case there were any doubt, reporter John King appeared on Thursday's American Morning to drive home the point: "It's a fascinating subject. Many say, post-9/11, this President has crossed, stretched, some say trampled the Constitution in his pursuit of the war on terrorism. The President says whatever it takes. Some say he has busted the balance of powers, if you will, the constitutional lines. The President, of course, says no. It's one of the issues we're exploring as we look at the 'Broken Government.'"

     [This item is adopted from a Thursday afternoon posting, by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     American Morning co-host Miles O'Brien set up King on October 26: "Twelve days to the election. We're looking at the power of the presidency. A new CNN poll out this morning, we asked some people if they think the President does in fact have too much power. And like so many issues in this country, shows a lot of division among the electorate. CNN's John King is here with a preview of what's going on tonight in our 'Broken Government' series. Good morning, John."
     John King: "Good morning to you, Miles. It's a fascinating subject. Many say, post-9/11, this President has crossed, stretched, some say trampled the Constitution in his pursuit of the war on terrorism. The President says whatever it takes. Some say he has busted the balance of powers, if you will, the constitutional lines. The President, of course, says no. It's one of the issues we're exploring as we look at the 'Broken Government.' He began on a very different course, a governor with a famous name who conveyed more West Texas than Washington. Compassionate conservative was his label of choice. Kinder, gentler, his promised world view. A crisp September morning suddenly changed from gorgeous to gruesome. A few whispered words in a Florida school room, transformed a presidency and a President."

     How nice of CNN to offer the caveat that President Bush does, in fact, deny stretching and trampling the Constitution. The special focused on whether President Bush has more power than any in history. American Morning previewed the program with an extended clip that showcased a man supposedly mistreated by the U.S.:
     King: "Islamabad, Pakistan. An edgy place in the weeks after September 11th. Moazzam Begg among the newcomers arriving from neighboring Afghanistan after the bombs started falling. He thought he had escaped, until a midnight knock at the door introduced him to the most expansive display of presidential power in American history -- no search warrant, no arrest warrant; enemy combatant was his designation."
     Moazzam Begg: "Dragged across the floor, thrown onto the ground. Our clothes were ripped off with knives, with several soldiers sitting on top of us. We were being kicked, punched, beaten, sworn at, spat at. Dogs were barking around us. We were photographed naked, and then dragged naked and shivering into interrogation rooms where the first questioning began."
     King: "The President, obsessed with preventing another attack, and convinced people like Begg were the key."

     The preview for the special accepted at face value that Mr. Begg is an innocent victim, and only at the very end of the piece does King inform the viewer that the U.S. government is still watching the Afghani man. Also, note that President Bush is "obsessed" with preventing another attack. The selection of this adjective is generally not done with friendly intent. CNN, which has taken heat in recent days for airing footage of U.S. soldiers being murdered, even allowed Mr. Begg to threaten doom for the United States:
     King: "Mr. Bush argues the results justify the extraordinary steps."
     Bush: "There can be a legal debate about whether or not they have the authority to do this. I'm absolutely convinced I do."
     King: "Moazzam Begg says the President who jailed him in the name of keeping America safe will someday learn his lesson."
     Begg: "Once you take this road and once you go down this road, you're actually make the world a less, much less safe place, because if that's what the Americans are going to do around the world, then they must accept repercussions."

     A discussion followed the clip, in which King continued his harsh critique of Bush with American Morning co-host Miles O'Brien. O'Brien began by asserting that Begg did, indeed, have a point:

     O'Brien: "Well, he makes an interesting point, but it's very difficult in a time of war when people feel threatened to strike that balance. We've seen it all throughout history, Japanese detention camps in World War II. These kinds of things inevitably happens; the pendulum swings."
     King: "It does, and you seeing the pendulum swing back a little bit now. The Supreme Court ruling, saying the President has gone too far. Congress getting involved. Leading Republicans like John McCain on the detainee issue saying, hey, we write the laws; we have a role in this debate, too. It is a fascinating subject. Dick Cheney has wanted to do this, Miles, exert more executive power. It has nothing to do with 9/11, in his view. He was Gerry Ford's chief of staff after Watergate when they took power from the presidency. So it's a very fascinating subject."
     O'Brien: "So when we talk about presidential power, we need to talk about the vice president's role in this. There is -- it is a function of that. And this is something, as you say, that long predates 9/11."
     King: "It does predate 9/11 in Cheney's case. He came to office saying, 'Look, after Watergate, they stripped away the prerogatives of the presidency; I think that's wrong'. He argued this when he was in Congress, when Reagan had the problems with Iran Contra. Cheney argued then when he was in the House, saying, look, Congress has no role; the President controls foreign policy. This President has said he believes he will withstand the test of history, but he has lost some big court cases. And I think Congress is beginning to push back, and the person who will pay the biggest price, if you will, if there is a price to be paid for this, will probably be the next President."

     So, to recap, "many say" that President Bush has "stretched" or "trampled" the Constitution and Vice President Cheney used 9/11 as a pretext to expand presidential power.

     King ended the segment with another negative characterization of Bush's foreign policy and an acknowledgment that there is some confusion over Mr. Begg's status:
     O' Brien: "It'll be interesting to see how that all plays out. Now Moazzam Begg, the person we saw there, who made those allegations, where is he now? What's he doing? What's his status?"
     King: "This is the paradox of Mr. Bush's 'whatever it takes' approach. Mr. Begg is now back in Birmingham. He says he did nothing wrong. He says he's not a terrorist. But to this day, the CIA and the FBI say that they believe the confession he signed in custody is true. And in that confession, he said he trained at al Qaeda camps. He said he knew a whole bunch of al Qaeda operatives, including the shoe bomber, Richard Reid, Abu Zubaydah, a big 9/11 planner. What Begg says is, no, they coerced me, they tortured me, they made me sign that. The CIA says, no, he's a threat to the United States. He was released, one of the few people released when Tony Blair was coming under so much pressure back home in Britain because of the controversy about Abu Ghraib, about Gitmo. He was released. The CIA objected to his release. The President did it as a favor to Tony Blair."
     O'Brien: "So he remains under a cloud of suspicion essentially then?"
     King: "He certainly does. Now the CIA says he's not the kind of guy who's going to get on a plane and fly it into a building, but he's one of the type that supports people. He raises money. He's a sympathizer. So they say he's a threat. And we do know that he's still under the watchful eye of U.S. and British intelligence people."

 

Mag's Recipe for Success: Dump Conservative
Policies, Go Left

     Would Republicans be popular again if they'd only dump their conservative principles? That's the advice in this week's U.S. News & World Report, contained in Thomas K. Grose's "Letter from Bournemouth, England." Grose saluted Britain's Conservative Party leader David Cameron for his thoroughly un-conservative approach of eschewing tax cuts, supporting gay marriage and the minimum wage, and calling Britain's National Health Service a "great achievement."

     Grose thinks American Republicans should also morph into liberals: "Cameron's centerward drive contrasts sharply with American conservatism, where the Republican Party is fighting the midterm congressional elections by lurching even further to the right to appease its base voters. While Cameron chirps about sunshine, Vice President Dick Cheney stumps for GOP candidates by depicting the world in gloomy terms and playing to voters' fears of terrorism."

     [This item by Rich Noyes was posted Thursday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Grose's piece was filled with unkind adjectives for British conservatives -- their old platform was "harsh," a pollster says the Conservative Party had a "nasty image," and Grose predicted "even the most troglodyte of Tory voters will very likely reconcile themselves to Cameron's liberalism if it looks as if it'll reverse their electoral losing streak."

     I don't know about our British cousins, but I don't think there are many authentic American conservatives who would suddenly switch into big government, blame-America-first liberals if it meant winning a few more seats in Congress. After all, who needs two Democratic Parties?

     Here are some longer excerpts from Grose's essay on Cameron, "The Not-So Conservative," which appeared in the October 30 issue, picking up after he recited the problems of the post-Thatcher Conservative Party:

So now for something completely different: The new Tory leader, David Cameron, is bragging that his party is "back in the center ground of British politics" and preaching the politics of optimism. "Let sunshine win the day," Cameron, 39, tells voters. Says Martin Boon, associate director of pollster ICM Research: "He's saying, 'Here's an organization that's shed its nasty image.'" When Cameron addressed his party's annual conference three weeks ago in this seaside resort city, he ignored Europe and immigration. Instead he stressed the importance of the NHS (calling it a "great achievement"), saluted gay marriages, supported the minimum wage, and called for strict measures to combat global warming. More startlingly, Cameron is refusing to pledge to cut taxes, which is usually the first promise out of the mouth of a Tory leader. If Rush Limbaugh were British, he'd be bloody apoplectic with rage.

Indeed, Cameron's centerward drive contrasts sharply with American conservatism, where the Republican Party is fighting the midterm congressional elections by lurching even further to the right to appease its base voters. While Cameron chirps about sunshine, Vice President Dick Cheney stumps for GOP candidates by depicting the world in gloomy terms and playing to voters' fears of terrorism....

It was Blair's success in pushing his once Socialist-leaning party to the middle ground that helped him capture 10 Downing Street. Cameron faces hurdles, of course-especially given that another election isn't expected before 2008. "A lot of Labor's negatives might disappear with Blair," notes Andrew Cooper, director of Populus, a polling firm. And not all in the Conservative Party are comfortable with Cameron's tactics, especially his disavowing tax cuts. Convincing voters his party is as centrist as he claims to be may prove a hard sell. Still, Cameron's a welcome change to some Bournemouth voters. Chris Weale, 51, calls him a "fresh face in politics." And though Weale has voted Conservative in the past because he favors low taxes, he says Cameron's refusal to promise cuts is "very sensible."...

British historian Niall Ferguson, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, predicts Cameron's "liberal conservatism" is a winning formula, not only in the United Kingdom but in the United States, where pragmatic, centrist Republicans like California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg "float untainted above the ghastly morass created by the Republican right."

Even the most troglodyte of Tory voters will very likely reconcile themselves to Cameron's liberalism if it looks as if it'll reverse their electoral losing streak. Says London School of Economics politics Prof. Rodney Barker: "They would still rather vote for a Conservative leader they don't trust than a Labor leader they don't trust."

     END of Excerpt

     For the article in full in the October 30 issue: www.usnews.com

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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