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The 2,343rd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
7:40am EST, Monday January 22, 2007 (Vol. Twelve; No. 13)

 
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1. With Another Candidate, Stephanopoulos Calls for Gas Tax Hike
Another Democratic presidential candidate, another chance for ABC's George Stephanopoulos to push for higher taxes on energy. On Sunday's This Week, when just-announced candidate Bill Richardson outlined how his energy policy would be based on conservation and improved technology, listing how "it's going to take more efficient air conditioning, it's going to take green buildings, it's going to take fuel-efficient vehicles," Stephanopoulos jumped in: "Higher gas taxes?" The Governor of New Mexico rejected the plea from Stephanopoulos: "No, you don't have to do it with taxes. You need a conservation effort that every American participates in, inspired by the President." Stephanopoulos remained unpersuaded, proposing: "But aren't higher energy taxes the best way to get people to conserve?" On the December 3 This Week, Stephanopoulos told Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a then just-announced Democratic candidate for President, that "just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?"

2. ABC: Plame/Libby Trial to Remind Americans of 'Dirty Politics'
On ABC's World News Saturday, correspondent Laura Marquez filed a story on the upcoming trial of Lewis Libby regarding his role in leaking CIA analyst Valerie Plame's identity. Marquez relayed the theory that Bush administration members deliberately leaked her identity "to get back at" her husband, Iraq War critic Joe Wilson, without mentioning the revelation that Richard Armitage, formerly an assistant to Colin Powell and a dove in the run-up to the Iraq War, admitted to having inadvertently been the original leaker. Instead of mentioning this aspect of the story which undermines the theory of a deliberate conspiracy, Marquez suggested "dirty politics" was behind the leak as she pointed out the trial's bad timing with the President's upcoming State of the Union speech. Marquez: "It will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get."

3. NBC's Jane Arraf Admits Coverage of Iraq Misses Good News
Back in the United States from Baghdad, NBC News correspondent Jane Arraf, who joined NBC last year after eight years with CNN, conceded that life in Iraq "isn't entirely what it seems" from the constant media focus on bombings. In studio with Brian Williams on Friday's NBC Nightly News, she acknowledged how journalists are "really good at getting across the relentless bombing and the violence, but it's really a lot harder for us to portray those spaces in between. I mean, for us, we live in the city. It's as secure as it can be, but we wake up to the sound of car bombs. We feel the mortars sometimes. And in a horrible, inevitable way, it becomes sort of like the weather, and it's kind of the same for Iraqis. Unless they're in the middle of it, life looks amazingly normal." Williams noted how "we get asked all the time....where's the good news we know is going on there?" Arraf conceded there's "a piece of good news that's out there every day that's really hard for us to get at," and that's how "there are children walking to school, there are girls and boys, there are Iraqi girls who are walking to school, and it's that wonderful sign of resilience that is the fabric, the background of life there." AUDIO&VIDEO

4. Moyers Promises More Shows, Scorns Rest of Media as Neocon Pawns
In his latest left-wing tirade at a radical "media reform" conference in Memphis on January 12, long-time PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers announced he would resurface again with another regular show on PBS this spring, titled once again Bill Moyers' Journal. He also is creating a documentary titled "Buying the War." In his Castro-length speech, rebroadcast for an hour on Tuesday on Pacifica's nationally distributed "Democracy Now" radio/TV simulcast, Moyers decried an alleged conservative stranglehold on the American news media (apparently, the New York Times is a "sitting duck" for "neoconservative propaganda"), cited left-wing media watchdog theories and studies, and said his private "fantasy" was all about strident leftist "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman: that the Memphis crowd would lobby every public TV station to run her daily radical hootenanny.

5. Sawyer: Tough, Determined Pelosi a 'Force to be Reckoned With'
When Diane Sawyer interviewed Nancy Pelosi for Friday's Good Morning America, the ABC co-host seemed more interested in subjects such as building up the new House Speaker's reputation for toughness and talking about trash (see item #6 below), than she did on quizzing Pelosi about Iraq. While Sawyer did ask about the conflict, she also pressed the San Francisco Democrat from the left, twice wondering if Pelosi would consider cutting off funds. More often, Sawyer characterized Pelosi in positive, almost glowing terms, such as: "Did any of your grand kids say 'Madame Speaker'?" She began, however, by asking whether toughness or determination would be a better description of the new Speaker: "Like a freight train she's already moved six major pieces of legislation through the House. Everything from stem cells to minimum wage. And whatever side you're on, when this new Speaker moves, she moves fast. Nancy Pelosi says power is not handed to you. You have to know how to win it. When she walks into a room, she is quiet, polite. But her fellow politicians say she's galvanized steel with a smile....What's the word that you, that you would use for yourself in those first 100 hours? Tough? Determined? What's the word?"

6. GMA's Sawyer Gushes Over Pelosi's Proclivity to Pick Up Trash
As detailed in item #5 above, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer conducted a fawning interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which aired on Friday's show. However, the ABC journalist also opened and closed the taped segment by obsessing over how Pelosi picked up lint from the floor of the Capitol Rotunda. Sawyer saw it as a historic event and teased her colleagues about it prior to the interview: "I'm going to tell you what she did, I'm willing to bet, no Speaker of the House has ever done in the entire history of the United States of America. You want to guess? Sam? David? Robin?"


 

With Another Candidate, Stephanopoulos
Calls for Gas Tax Hike

     Another Democratic presidential candidate, another chance for ABC's George Stephanopoulos to push for higher taxes on energy. On Sunday's This Week, when just-announced candidate Bill Richardson outlined how his energy policy would be based on conservation and improved technology, listing how "it's going to take more efficient air conditioning, it's going to take green buildings, it's going to take fuel-efficient vehicles," Stephanopoulos jumped in: "Higher gas taxes?" The Governor of New Mexico rejected the plea from Stephanopoulos: "No, you don't have to do it with taxes. You need a conservation effort that every American participates in, inspired by the President." Stephanopoulos remained unpersuaded, proposing: "But aren't higher energy taxes the best way to get people to conserve?"

     On the December 3 This Week, Stephanopoulos told Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a then just-announced Democratic candidate for President, that "just about every expert on energy says the best way to become energy independent is to raise the price of oil and gas, to have a serious energy tax. Why not call for it?" Stephanopoulos followed up by pointing to Europe as a model to emulate: "Couldn't we become independent much more quickly if we had the kind of energy tax you see in Europe?" For details, see the December 4 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

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

     The exchange about energy policy in the interview taped at the New Mexico Governor's Mansion in Sante Fe and played back on the January 21 This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

     George Stephanopoulos: "You were Secretary of Energy. Energy independence, as you say, is going to be one of the number one issues in the campaign. And you've talked about alternative energy. But isn't it going to take real sacrifice, real cutbacks in consumption if we're going to be energy independent?"
     Governor Bill Richardson: "If we're going to be energy independent, it's going to take a man on the moon effort. It's not going to be a little energy bill here and there. The President and the American people, he has to inspire the American people to conserve, to find ways to sacrifice, together to invest in renewable technologies. Sixty-five percent of our oil is imported, 65, with dangerous sources that right now could hurt us. We have to reduce that within a period of 15 years to ten percent by massive investments in solar, wind, bio-mass, fuel efficiency, distributed generation, ethanol. We've got to find ways to reduce that dependency and it's going to take the American people, it's going to take more efficient air conditioning, it's going to take green buildings, it's going to take fuel-efficient vehicles-"
     Stephanopoulos: "Higher gas taxes?"
     Richardson: "-It's going to be a collaborative effort. No, you don't have to do it with taxes. You need a conservation effort that every American participates in, inspired by the President."
     Stephanopoulos: "But aren't higher energy taxes the best way to get people to conserve?"
     Richardson: "No, that's not, I believe, realistic. I believe what is needed is public and private investment in renewable sources. I think we can do that with technology. I've done it in New Mexico."

 

ABC: Plame/Libby Trial to Remind Americans
of 'Dirty Politics'

     On ABC's World News Saturday, correspondent Laura Marquez filed a story on the upcoming trial of Lewis Libby regarding his role in leaking CIA analyst Valerie Plame's identity. Marquez relayed the theory that Bush administration members deliberately leaked her identity "to get back at" her husband, Iraq War critic Joe Wilson, without mentioning the revelation that Richard Armitage, formerly an assistant to Colin Powell and a dove in the run-up to the Iraq War, admitted to having inadvertently been the original leaker. Instead of mentioning this aspect of the story which undermines the theory of a deliberate conspiracy, Marquez suggested "dirty politics" was behind the leak as she pointed out the trial's bad timing with the President's upcoming State of the Union speech. Marquez: "It will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get."

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

     Marquez summarized the Libby story referring to the theory that the leak was an intentional retaliation against Wilson: "At the heart of the mystery, leaking to the media the name of undercover CIA spy Valerie Plame. The apparent motive, to get back at her husband, Joe Wilson, for challenging the President's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The man in the middle, Scooter Libby, charged with lying to a grand jury about how and when he learned Plame's true identity."

     Marquez relayed Wilson's criticism of President Bush for citing evidence that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire uranium from Africa without pointing out that some, including former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, have argued that Wilson's own investigation had bolstered that claim rather than undermine it.

     After airing a soundbite of liberal law professor Jonathan Turley asserting that the trial would "remind people how the war was sold to them and how the original justifications proved to be false," Marquez concluded: "And it will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get."

     Below is a complete transcript of the story from the January 20 World News Saturday:

     Anchor John Berman: "In Washington this week, the beginning of a trial that reaches the highest levels of power. Former White House aide Lewis 'Scooter' Libby is being tried on five felony counts stemming from the investigation into who outed an undercover CIA agent. While the case involves weighty issues of national security and could send a man to prison, for many in Washington it has all the makings of a good thriller. Here's ABC's Laura Marquez."

     Laura Marquez: "The Libby trial is quickly becoming Washington's favorite parlor game, with a juicy plot and a who's who of characters."
     Jonathan Turley, George Washington University law professor: "This is the World Series. This is the closest this city comes to a real organized sport. And everyone's going to be watching, you know. These are the Untouchables."
     Marquez: "At the top of the witness list, Vice President Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby's former boss. Also, NBC's Tim Russert and the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. The plot reads like a whodunnit novel, with the Bush administration at its center. At the heart of the mystery, leaking to the media the name of undercover CIA spy Valerie Plame. The apparent motive, to get back at her husband, Joe Wilson, for challenging the President's claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The man in the middle, Scooter Libby, charged with lying to a grand jury about how and when he learned Plame's true identity."
     Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian Magazine: "This is not necessarily about obstruction of justice. It is about power politics in the media and how we play that game in Washington, D.C."
     Marquez: "Harry Jaffe, a national editor for Washingtonian Magazine, says the trial gives people outside the Beltway a front-row seat to how the game is played."
     Jaffe: "I don't think anybody knows how to play nice. I think this is the way we play, and negative character assassination is what we do."
     Marquez: "In what can only be called bad timing, opening statements in the Libby trial begin Tuesday, the same day as the President's State of the Union Address. It was the President's 16 words he gave at a State of the Union Address four years ago which Plame's husband originally criticized."
     George W. Bush, January 28, 2003: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
     Turley: "This case is going to remind people how the war was sold to them and how the original justifications proved to be false."
     Marquez: "And it will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get. Laura Marquez, ABC News, Washington."

 

NBC's Jane Arraf Admits Coverage of Iraq
Misses Good News

     Back in the United States from Baghdad, NBC News correspondent Jane Arraf, who joined NBC last year after eight years with CNN, conceded that life in Iraq "isn't entirely what it seems" from the constant media focus on bombings. In studio with Brian Williams on Friday's NBC Nightly News, she acknowledged how journalists are "really good at getting across the relentless bombing and the violence, but it's really a lot harder for us to portray those spaces in between.


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

I mean, for us, we live in the city. It's as secure as it can be, but we wake up to the sound of car bombs. We feel the mortars sometimes. And in a horrible, inevitable way, it becomes sort of like the weather, and it's kind of the same for Iraqis. Unless they're in the middle of it, life looks amazingly normal."

     Williams noted how "we get asked all the time....where's the good news we know is going on there?" Arraf conceded there's "a piece of good news that's out there every day that's really hard for us to get at," and that's how "there are children walking to school, there are girls and boys, there are Iraqi girls who are walking to school, and it's that wonderful sign of resilience that is the fabric, the background of life there." But, "to go out and do that story....we'd probably be putting those children in danger because that is the nature of television."

     This item was posted, with video, Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. The audio and video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert. But in the meantime, to listen to the MP3 audio to watch the Real or Windows Media video, go to: newsbusters.org

     The MRC's Brad Wilmouth took down the 90-second segment on the January 19 NBC Nightly News with Jane Arraf sitting next to Brian Williams at the anchor desk:

     Brian Williams: "For more on what life is like these days in Iraq, we're joined here in our New York studios tonight by NBC News correspondent Jane Arraf, who reported full time from Iraq for eight years, much of that time for CNN. She was, for several years, the only Western correspondent based in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein."
     Williams to Arraf: "We want to take advantage of your home leave to talk to you about the question you must get all the time: What is life like on the streets there?"
     Jane Arraf: "I guess the short answer, Brian, is it isn't entirely what it seems. You know, we're really good at getting across the relentless bombing and the violence, but it's really a lot harder for us to portray those spaces in between. I mean, for us, we live in the city. It's as secure as it can be, but we wake up to the sound of car bombs. We feel the mortars sometimes. And in a horrible, inevitable way, it becomes sort of like the weather, and it's kind of the same for Iraqis. Unless they're in the middle of it, life looks amazingly normal."
     Williams: "And we get asked all the time where are the views of normal Iraqi families? And where's the good news we know is going on there?"
     Arraf: "I'll tell you what I think is a piece of good news that's out there every day that's really hard for us to get at. And it's a picture I try to keep in my mind when things get really horrible, it is, when you wake up early in the morning, if you can be out on the streets, which we can't anymore, the sun shining, there are children walking to school, there are girls and boys, there are Iraqi girls who are walking to school, and it's that wonderful sign of resilience that is the fabric, the background of life there. Now, to go out and do that story, we would not only be putting ourselves in danger and our local people in danger, we'd probably be putting those children in danger because that is the nature of television. I worked under Saddam Hussein in Saddam's Iraq, and this is harder now than it ever was then."

     MSNBC.com's bio page for Arraf: www.msnbc.msn.com

 

Moyers Promises More Shows, Scorns Rest
of Media as Neocon Pawns

     In his latest left-wing tirade at a radical "media reform" conference in Memphis on January 12, long-time PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers announced he would resurface again with another regular show on PBS this spring, titled once again Bill Moyers' Journal. He also is creating a documentary titled "Buying the War." In his Castro-length speech, rebroadcast for an hour on Tuesday on Pacifica's nationally distributed "Democracy Now" radio/TV simulcast, Moyers decried an alleged conservative stranglehold on the American news media (apparently, the New York Times is a "sitting duck" for "neoconservative propaganda"), cited left-wing media watchdog theories and studies, and said his private "fantasy" was all about strident leftist "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman: that the Memphis crowd would lobby every public TV station to run her daily radical hootenanny.

     Text and video of Moyers' diatribe: www.democracynow.org

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

     Let me try to boil this address down to the bizarre lowlights, as broadcast for the entire hour of Goodman's show on Tuesday. Moyers quite typically contended that conservatives have despoiled the American Dream and turned truth inside out with their incessant, Orwellian lying:
     "For years, the media marketplace for opinions about public policy has been dominated by a highly disciplined, thoroughly networked, ideological 'noise machine,' to use David Brock's term. Permeated with slogans concocted by big corporations, their lobbyists, and their think tank subsidiaries, public discourse has effectively changed the meaning of American values. Day after day, the ideals of fairness and liberty and mutual responsibility have been stripped of their essential dignity and meaning in people's lives. Day after day, the egalitarian creed of our Declaration of Independence is trampled underfoot by hired experts and sloganeers, who speak of the 'death tax,' 'the ownership society,' 'the culture of life,' 'the liberal assault on God and family,' 'compassionate conservatism,' 'weak on terrorism,' 'the end of history,' 'the clash of civilizations,' 'no child left behind.' They have even managed to turn the escalation of a failed war into a 'surge,' as if it were a current of electricity through a wire, instead of blood spurting from the ruptured vein of a soldier.
     "The Orwellian filigree of a public sphere in which language conceals reality, and the pursuit of personal gain and partisan power, is wrapped in rhetoric that turns truth to lies and lies to truth. So it is that limited government has little to do with the Constitution or local economy anymore. Now it means corporate domination and the shifting of risk from government and business to struggling families and workers. Family values now mean imposing a sectarian definition of the family on everyone else. Religious freedom now means majoritarianism and public benefits for organized religion without any public burdens. And patriotism has come to mean blind support for failed leaders."

     Earlier, Moyers spun his theory that "democracy" is equivalent with unfiltered left-wing media bias, and a country denied that progressive journalism is a country whose "democracy" has been choked. The conservatives dominated with their "establishment views" and the socialists were described favorably as chroniclers of "the bleak realities of powerlessness" for the ordinary people:
     "You bet something is amiss, and it goes to the core of why we are here in Memphis. For this conference is about a force, the media, that cuts deep to the foundation of democracy. When Teddy Roosevelt dissected what he called 'the real masters of the reactionary forces' in his time, he concluded that, indirectly or directly, 'they control the majority of the great newspapers that are against us.' Those newspapers, the dominant media of the day, choked 'the channels of the information ordinary people needed to understand what was being done to them.'
     "And today, two basic pillars of American society, shared economic prosperity and a public sector capable of serving the common good, are crumbling. The third pillar of American democracy, an independent press, is under sustained attack, and the channels of information are choked. A few huge corporations now dominate the media landscape in America. Almost all the networks carried by most cable systems are owned by one of the major media common conglomerates. Two-thirds of today's newspapers are monopolies.
     "As ownership gets more and more concentrated, fewer and fewer independent sources of information have survived in the marketplace; and those few significant alternatives that do survive, such as PBS and NPR, are undergoing financial and political pressure to reduce critical news content and to shift their focus in a mainstream direction, which means being more attentive to establishment views than to the bleak realities of powerlessness that shape the lives of ordinary people.
     "What does today's media system mean for the notion of an informed public cherished by democratic theory? Quite literally, it means that virtually everything the average person sees or hears, outside of her own personal communications, is determined by the interests of private, unaccountable executives and investors whose primary goal is increasing profits and raising the share prices. More insidiously, this small group of elites determines what ordinary people do not see or hear. In-depth coverage of anything, let alone the problems real people face day-to-day, is as scarce as sex, violence and voyeurism are pervasive. Successful business model or not, by democratic standards this is censorship of knowledge by monopolization of the means of information."

     What? That sounds a bit Marxist, the "means of information." But political communication has exploded in the last 20 years into talk radio, the Internet, podcasting. Moyers dismisses it all by redefining it down into a contraction of media democracy, since the only media that matter are the "investigative" engines of progressive reform:
     "Despite the profusion of new information platforms on cable, on the Internet, on radio, blogs, podcasts, YouTube and MySpace, among others, the resources for solid, original journalistic work, both investigative and interpretative, are contracting, rather than expanding."

     Moyers then tried the hypocritical argument that the Bush administration are pathetic paragons of government secrecy (but don't ever try to get Moyers or PBS to give you any details of his multi-million-dollar business dealings inside his public-private gravy train, or you'll really see secrecy in action). He then suggested the mainstream media are like slaves on a plantation:
     "But now they have found new methods in the name of national security and even broader claims of executive privilege. The number of documents stamped 'Top Secret,' 'Secret,' or 'Confidential' has accelerated dramatically since 2001, including many formerly accessible documents that are now reclassified as 'Secret.' Vice President Cheney's office refuses to disclose, in fact, what it is classifying. Even their secrecy is being kept a secret.
     "Beyond what is officially labeled 'Secret' or 'privileged' information, here hovers on the plantation a culture of selective official news implementation, working through favored media insiders to advance political agendas by leak and innuendo and spin, by outright propaganda mechanisms, such as the misnamed public information offices that churn out blizzards of factually selective releases on a daily basis, and even by directly paying pundits and journalists to write on subjects of mutual interest.
     "They needn't have wasted the money. As we saw in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the plantation mentality that governs Washington turned the press corps into sitting ducks for the war party, for government, and neoconservative propaganda and manipulation. There were notable exceptions -- Knight Ridder's bureau, for example -- but on the whole, all high-ranking officials had to do was say it, and the press repeated it until it became gospel. The height of myopia came with the admission (or was it bragging?) by one of the Beltway's most prominent anchors that his responsibility is to provide officials a forum to be heard, what they say more newsworthy than what they do."

     Journalists aren't lazy, Moyers declared. They're just willing pawns:
     "I think what's happened is not indifference or laziness or incompetence, but the fact that most journalists on the plantation have so internalized conventional wisdom that they simply accept that the system is working as it should. I'm doing a documentary this spring called 'Buying the War,' and I can't tell you again how many reporters have told me that it just never occurred to them that high officials would manipulate intelligence in order to go to war. Hello?"

     Let's skip way ahead to the part about how public broadcasting needs to be much more leftist, and his "private fantasy" about Amy Goodman:
     "And let me tell you, it means reclaiming public broadcasting and restoring it to its original feisty, robust, fearless mission as an alternative to the dominant media, offering journalism you can afford and can trust, public affairs of which you are a part, and a wide range of civic and cultural discourse that leaves no one out. You can have an impact here. For one thing, we need to remind people that the federal commitment to public broadcasting in this country is about $1.50 per capita, compared to $28 to $85 per capita in other democracies.
     "But there is something else I want you to think about. Something else you can do. And I'm going to let you in here on one of my fantasies. Keep it to yourself, if you will, because fantasies are private matters, and mine involves Amy Goodman. But I'll just ask C-SPAN to bleep this out. Oh, shucks, what's the use. Here it is. In moments of revelry, I imagine all of you returning home to organize a campaign to persuade your local public television station to start airing Democracy Now.
     "I can't think of a single act more likely to remind people of what public broadcasting should be, or that this media reform conference really means business. We've got to get alternative content out there to people, or this country is going to die of too many lies. And the opening rundown of news on Amy's daily show is like nothing else on any television, corporate or public. It's as if you opened the window in the morning and a fresh breeze rolls over you from the ocean. Amy doesn't practice trickle-down journalism. She goes where the silence is, and she breaks the sound barrier. She doesn't buy the Washington protocol that says the truth lies somewhere in the spectrum of opinion between the Democrats and the Republicans.
     "On Democracy Now the truth lies where the facts are hidden, and Amy digs for them. And above all, she believes the media should be a sanctuary for dissent, the Underground Railroad tunneling beneath the plantation. So go home and think about it. After all, you are the public in public broadcasting and not just during pledge breaks. You live there, and you can get the boss man at the big house to pay attention."

     Before you trail to the end (and Moyers ended with a weird poem from the poet Marge Piercy), there is the paragraph where Moyers announces he's resurfacing like Rasputin on PBS to marshal the "armies of the Lord" against conservative capitalist running dogs:
     "Last time we were together, I said to you that I should put my detractors on notice. They might just compel me out of the rocking chair and back into the anchor chair. Well, in April, I will be back with a new weekly series called Bill Moyers' Journal, thanks to some of the funders in this room. We'll take no money from public broadcasting because it compromises you even when you don't intend it to -- or they don't intend it to. I hope to complement the fine work of colleagues like David Brancaccio of Now and David Fanning of Frontline, who also go for the truth behind the news.
     "But I don't want to tease you. I'm not coming back because of detractors. I wouldn't torture them that way. I'll leave that to Dick Cheney. I'm coming back, because it's what I do best. Because I believe television can still signify, and I don't want you to feel so alone. I'll keep an eye on your work. You are to America what the abolition movement was, and the suffragette movement, and the civil rights movement. You touch the soul of democracy. It's not assured you will succeed in this fight. The armies of the Lord are up against mighty hosts. But as the spiritual sojourner Thomas Merton wrote to an activist grown weary and discouraged protesting the Vietnam War, 'Do not depend on the hope of results. Concentrate on the value and the truth of the work itself.'"

 

Sawyer: Tough, Determined Pelosi a 'Force
to be Reckoned With'

     When Diane Sawyer interviewed Nancy Pelosi for Friday's Good Morning America, the ABC co-host seemed more interested in subjects such as building up the new House Speaker's reputation for toughness and talking about trash (see item #6 below), than she did on quizzing Pelosi about Iraq. While Sawyer did ask about the conflict, she also pressed the San Francisco Democrat from the left, twice wondering if Pelosi would consider cutting off funds. More often, Sawyer characterized Pelosi in positive, almost glowing terms, such as: "Did any of your grand kids say 'Madame Speaker'?" She began, however, by asking whether toughness or determination would be a better description of the new Speaker: "Like a freight train she's already moved six major pieces of legislation through the House. Everything from stem cells to minimum wage. And whatever side you're on, when this new Speaker moves, she moves fast. Nancy Pelosi says power is not handed to you. You have to know how to win it. When she walks into a room, she is quiet, polite. But her fellow politicians say she's galvanized steel with a smile....What's the word that you, that you would use for yourself in those first 100 hours? Tough? Determined? What's the word?"

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

     The remainder of the taped interview aired on the January 19 Good Morning America:

     Sawyer: "As we sit here right now, 3,500 troops are moving in. That's the first of the surge. It has begun. Are you going to move to cut off funding for troops going into Iraq as part of the surge?"
     Pelosi: "Democrats will never cut off funding for our troops when they are in harm's way. But we will hold the president accountable. He has to answer for his war. He has dug a hole so deep he can't see the light on this. It is a tragedy, a historic blunder."
     Sawyer: "Are you acquiescing in the surge? Since the pocketbook is the only other control mechanism?"
     Pelosi: "The President knows that because the troops are in harms way that we won't cut off the resources that's why he's moving so quickly to put them in harm's way."
     Sawyer: "Are you saying that the President deliberately manipulated the timing? That he sent the troops in in order to avoid congressional action?"
     Pelosi: "Well, I would certainly hope he didn't manipulate the timing of sending the troops in. I think he could have told us about it sooner, and invited any comments we might have had, any constructive proposals we might have had. We found out about it as the troops were going in."

     After the first segment, which aired at 7:03am, a second piece followed at 7:48. At this point, Sawyer reiterated her point about just how tough and fierce Nancy Pelosi can be. Attributes, strangely, that didn't seem to be so positive when they were assigned to Newt Gingrich:

     Sawyer: "As the sun comes up on the Capitol dome, the first female Speaker of the House is picking up her gavel. Now a personal conversation with Nancy Pelosi, starting with what happened the day she was sworn in. We saw in Congress something we ve never seen before. We saw children running around. Some of them, some of them, I believe rearranging your notes if I'm not wrong. On the right side of the screen, the little guy down next to the podium. He likes the gavel too. Did any of your grand kids say 'Madame Speaker'?"
     Pelosi: "They still call me Mimi. But they tell other people that their Mimi is the Speaker. When we were going to mass and they heard a motorcycle escort and my grandson said, I want to do this when I grow up. And his mother said, €˜Well, Mimi is the Speaker. That's why she has this.' And he said, €˜No. I want to drive a motorcycle.'"
     Sawyer: "But as we said, grandmother Mimi is a force to be reckoned with in Congress. Here's her reaction to the Republican Minority Leader complaining yesterday she's ramrodding legislation through too fast."
     Pelosi: "It's about our promise, not their process."
     Sawyer: "She also fires back at an alpha Democrat, John Dingell of Michigan, who complained that her newly created committee on global warming duplicates his energy committee. And he said, €˜We need more committees like we need a fish needs feathers.' There are already, what, five committees dealing with it."
     Pelosi: "And they will all continue to deal with it. This is a new way, we're democratizing Congress. "
     Sawyer: "100 hours in. Do you think the fact that you're female is-"
     Pelosi: "I'll be very honest with you, I didn't realize how much thirst there was for a change, for a change to say that women can do any of these jobs. Interestingly, fathers of daughters have been so excited about the prospect for their daughters. Women waited, but not just waited, they worked all that time to get full equality in our country. And breaking this marble ceiling, I think makes the sky the limit for young girls, and, and women. They, they can do whatever they want. Because this marble ceiling is a pretty tough ceiling to break."
    
     Finally, Sawyer closed the interview by encouraging the new House Speaker to get annoyed over an article critiquing Pelosi's fashion choices:
    
     Sawyer: "Clothes. Somebody writes about clothes. Now, do you say, 'Oh, give us a break?' Does it just seem inevitable to you that somebody, if it is female is going to worry about clothes?"
     Pelosi: "Clothes and hair."
     Sawyer: "Clothes and hair."
     Pelosi: "Clothes and hair. You know what? I didn't have anytime to think about it. I really don't. If that's what draws people to pay attention to what's happening in politics, that's okay with me. Because important decisions are being made here that affect people's lives and whatever draws them to it, makes the process more legitimate and wholesome. I do believe that women's involvement in the political process, in the government is the single most important factor in making government more wholesome, more relevant to the lives of the American people and more ready for change."

     So, Sawyer finds it demeaning when someone assumes that a woman Speaker would worry about fashion choices? Only two days ago, the ABC anchor interviewed all 16 female members of the Senate and asked them simplistic questions such as whether women running the world would result in the end of war. See: www.mrc.org

 

GMA's Sawyer Gushes Over Pelosi's Proclivity
to Pick Up Trash

     As detailed in item #5 above, Good Morning America co-host Diane Sawyer conducted a fawning interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi which aired on Friday's show. However, the ABC journalist also opened and closed the taped segment by obsessing over how Pelosi picked up lint from the floor of the Capitol Rotunda. Sawyer saw it as a historic event and teased her colleagues about it prior to the interview: "I'm going to tell you what she did, I'm willing to bet, no Speaker of the House has ever done in the entire history of the United States of America. You want to guess? Sam? David? Robin?"

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

     Later, Sawyer giddily recounted the exciting event: "We're walking along with the camera, she looks at the carpet. It has lint on it, little scraps of paper. She can't stand it. She gets down and cleans the carpet so we could walk. And she looks up at me and says, 'It's just the bonus of having a female Speaker of the House."
     Robin Roberts: "Yeah. Don't think any of the guys did that. All right, Diane. Have a safe trip back home."
     David Muir: "A clean rotunda on Capitol Hill."
     Roberts: "Got to love it!"

     Some recent polls have shown that Nancy Pelosi is, thus far, enjoying relatively high popularity. And with members of the media gushing over the fact that she picks up trash, it's not hard to see why.

     A transcript of the January 19 lint conversations:

     Diane Sawyer, just past 7:30am: "Coming up in this half hour, from down here in Washington, we're going to have more of our interview with Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. And we are going to talk to her, by the way, she commands the gavel right under that dome over there. And she got a chance to tell us what she's learned about being a female, the first woman Speaker, what she, yes, what she thinks about those articles on clothes. And, I'm going to tell you what she did, I'm willing to bet, no Speaker of the House has ever done in the entire history of the United States of America. You want to guess? Sam? David? Robin?"
     David Muir: "No. I can't."
     Robin Roberts: "Oh, come on! Don't we, give us another clue. Is there a little something else?"
     Muir: "Little something?"
     Sawyer: "You have to have a very eagle eye to do it."
     Roberts: "Oh. I still have no clue. That's a good one!"

     Sawyer, after the interview segment: "And by the way, she says her husband buys her clothes because she hates to shop. Are you ready for the answer?"
     Robin Roberts: "Come on!"
     Sawyer: "We're walking along with the camera, she looks at the carpet. It has lint on it, little scraps of paper. She can't stand it. She gets down and cleans the carpet so we could walk. And she looks up at me and says, 'It's just the bonus of having a female Speaker of the House."
     Roberts: "Yeah. Don't think any of the guys did that. All right, Diane. Have a safe trip back home"
     David Muir: "A clean rotunda on Capitol Hill."
     Roberts: "Got to love it."

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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