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The 2,634th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
1:55pm EDT, Monday April 28, 2008 (Vol. Thirteen; No. 79)

 
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1. Stahl Discovers 'Polarizing' & 'Fascist' Scalia Really 'Charming'
In her two-part profile of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aired on Sunday night's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl seemed repeatedly surprised by how Scalia in person isn't the "polarizing figure" who protesters call a "fascist," as she conceded: "What's interesting is the difference between how you appear in person and the image that you have. Because the writings are so often combative, and your friends say that you're charming and fun." In short, Scalia really does not match the left-wing characterization of him adopted by Stahl's media colleagues. Stahl opened her piece by describing Scalia as "one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the court" before contending that he "is a polarizing figure who invites protestors and picketers." As she spoke, viewers heard from a man with a matching sign: "Scalia is a fascist!" Stahl told Scalia what she's heard about him: "'He's evil.' 'He's a Neanderthal.' 'He's going to drag us back to 1789.'" Stahl informed him: "The public sense of you is that you make your decisions based on your social beliefs." Citing "Roe v. Wade and affirmative action," she elaborated, "His critics argue that originalism is a cover for what they see as Justice Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the 60s and 70s."

2. ABC & CBS North Carolina TV Stations Refuse to Air Anti-Obama Ad
Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV channel 9, and Raleigh CBS affiliate WRAL-TV channel 5, have both refused to air the new ad from North Carolina's Republican Party which declares that two Democratic gubernatorial candidates "should know better" than to endorse Barack Obama since "he's just too extreme for North Carolina," as evidenced by his long association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The ad includes a clip of Wright yelling "Not God Bless America, God [bleep] America!" A Friday Charlotte Observer article reported: "A Charlotte TV station says it will not air an advertisement from the N.C. Republican Party that uses a soundbite from Barack Obama's retiring minister. 'I just don't think it's appropriate to be on our air,' said Joe Pomilla, general manager for WSOC-TV. 'I think it's offensive, and I'm not real comfortable with the implications around race.'"

3. CBS's Rodriguez Pushes McCain to Do More to Ban NC GOP Ad
On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed John McCain and asked about the recent ad put out by the North Carolina Republican Party that criticized Barack Obama's relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright: "The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?" McCain replied by once again denouncing the ad: "It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view."

4. ABC's GMA Defends 'Soft-Spoken' and Patriotic Jeremiah Wright
In an attempt to rehabilitate Jeremiah Wright and, by extension, Senator Barack Obama's connection to the man, Friday's Good Morning America featured two segments on the "soft-spoken," patriotic pastor, a man who urged God to damn America. Reporter David Wright, a well-known Obama partisan, described an appearance Pastor Wright made with liberal PBS journalist Bill Moyers. Wright cooed: "But the soft-spoken man who sits down with Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those soundbites."


 

Stahl Discovers 'Polarizing' & 'Fascist'
Scalia Really 'Charming'

     In her two-part profile of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia aired on Sunday night's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl seemed repeatedly surprised by how Scalia in person isn't the "polarizing figure" who protesters call a "fascist," as she conceded: "What's interesting is the difference between how you appear in person and the image that you have. Because the writings are so often combative, and your friends say that you're charming and fun." In short, Scalia really does not match the left-wing characterization of him adopted by Stahl's media colleagues.

     Stahl opened her piece by describing Scalia as "one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the court" before contending that he "is a polarizing figure who invites protestors and picketers." As she spoke, viewers heard from a man with a matching sign: "Scalia is a fascist!" Stahl told Scalia what she's heard about him: "'He's evil.' 'He's a Neanderthal.' 'He's going to drag us back to 1789.'" Stahl informed him: "The public sense of you is that you make your decisions based on your social beliefs." Citing "Roe v. Wade and affirmative action," she elaborated, "His critics argue that originalism is a cover for what they see as Justice Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the 60s and 70s."

     Stahl began the second segment, on Scalia's childhood in New York, his wife and kids and his future, by acknowledging, "In spending time with him, we found something we hadn't expected: a person so unpretentious and down to earth, you could easily forget he sits on the Supreme Court."

     [This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     CBS News.com has a rough transcript with video of the two segments: www.cbsnews.com

     Some excerpts from the stories on the April 27 edition of 60 Minutes:

     LESLEY STAHL Not many Supreme Court justices become famous. Antonin Scalia is one of the few. Known as "Nino" to his friends and colleagues, he's one of the most brilliant and combative justices ever to sit on the court and one of the most prominent legal thinkers of his generation.
     He first agreed to talk to us about a new book he's written about how lawyers should address the court. But over the course of several conversations, our story grew into a full-fledged profile -- his first major television interview -- including discussions about abortion and Bush v. Gore.
     At 72, Justice Scalia is still a maverick, championing a philosophy known as "orginalism," which means interpreting the Constitution based on what it originally meant to the people who ratified it over 200 years ago.
     Justice Scalia has no patience with so-called activist judges, who create rights not in the Constitution -- like a right to abortion -- by interpreting the Constitution as a "living document" that adapts to changing values.

....

     He's on a mission as an evangelist for originalism, at home and around the world. Here he is at the Oxford Union in England.

     JUSTICE ANTONIN SCALIA: Sometimes people come up to me and inquire, "Justice Scalia, when did you first become an originalist?" You know, as though it's some weird affliction, you know, "When did you start eating human flesh?" [laughter from students]
     STAHL: They may be laughing, but in the U.S. Justice Scalia is a polarizing figure-
     MAN WITH MATCHING SIGN: Scalia is a fascist!
     -who invites protestors and picketers. There haven't been many Supreme Court justices who become this much of a lightening rod.
     STAHL TO SCALIA: I'm surprised at how many people really, really hate you. These are some things we've been told: "He's evil." "He's a Neanderthal." "He's going to drag us back to 1789." They're threatened by what you represent and what you believe in.
     SCALIA: These are people that don't understand what my interpretive philosophy is. I'm not saying no progress. I'm saying we should progress democratically.
     SCALIA AT OXFORD: You think there ought to be a right to abortion? No problem. The Constitution says nothing about it. Create it the way most rights are created in a democratic society. Pass a law. And that law, unlike a Constitutional right to abortion created by a court can compromise. It can, oh I was going to say it can split the baby! I should not use -- a Constitution is not meant to facilitate change. It is meant to impede change, to make it difficult to change.
     STAHL But his critics argue that originalism is a cover for what they see as Justice Scalia's real intention: to turn back some pivotal court decisions of the 60s and 70s. He's been labeled a "counterrevolutionary."
     STAHL TO SCALIA: You've been labeled a "counterrevolutionary!"
     SCALIA: A counterrevolutionary.
     STAHL: The idea being-
     SCALIA: Sounds exciting.
     STAHL: The critics say his aim is to undo Roe v. Wade and affirmative action, and allow more religion in public life.
     STAHL TO SCALIA: The public sense of you is that you make your decisions based on your social beliefs. That is the perception.
     STAHL: I'm a law-and-order guy. I mean, I confess I'm a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases. On the abortion thing for example, if indeed I were, you know, trying to impose my own views, I would not only be opposed to Roe versus Wade, I would be in favor of the opposite view, which the anti-abortion people would like adopted, which is to interpret the Constitution to mean that a state must prohibit abortion.

....

     STAHL TO SCALIA: What's interesting is the difference between how you appear in person and the image that you have. Because the writings are so often combative, and your friends say that you're charming and fun.
     SCALIA: I can be charming and combative at the same time. What's contradictory between the two? I love to argue. I've always loved to argue. And I love to point out the weaknesses of the opposing arguments. It may well be that I'm something of a shin kicker. It may well be that I'm something of a contrarian.
     STAHL: He's a contrarian with a pugnacious temperament. He loves to "take 'em on," as he often does with the lawyers who argue cases before the court. Some of his victims from white shoe law firms have been brought to near tears under his scorching questioning.

....
     STAHL He's nothing if not certain and confident. How did he get that way? Where and how the Justice grew up, when we come back.
    
     STAHL, OPENING SECOND SEGMENT: Antonin Scalia's rise to Supreme Court justice is a distinctly American story. The son of an Italian immigrant, he earned his way into Harvard Law School through old-fashioned hard work and determination. In spending time with him, we found something we hadn't expected: a person so unpretentious and down to earth, you could easily forget he sits on the Supreme Court.
     But what stands out is his sharp intelligence, and street-fighter personality which he developed growing up in New York City.

....

     Scalia, after 22 years on the court, is starting another career as an author. His new book, Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges, is surprisingly breezy in that it's a primer for lawyers on how to win cases. His co-author is Bryan Garner, an expert on legal writing.
     STAHL TO SCALIA: You say things in it like, €˜Be prepared. Look the judge in the eye.' You almost make it sound like lawyers are imbeciles.
     SCALIA: You would be surprised.
     STAHL: They wrote the book together, occasionally sitting side by side, arguing. Surprisingly, Garner says, it was the justice who often showed humility by yielding.

....

     GARNER: I thought you were very deferential, and surprisingly so. It was disarming to me.
     STAHL: Scalia deferential? That's something you never hear about him on the court, where he has been unable to persuade his fellow justices to come over to his way of thinking. The only other originalist on the court is Justice Clarence Thomas....

 

ABC & CBS North Carolina TV Stations
Refuse to Air Anti-Obama Ad

     Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV channel 9, and Raleigh CBS affiliate WRAL-TV channel 5, have both refused to air the new ad from North Carolina's Republican Party which declares that two Democratic gubernatorial candidates "should know better" than to endorse Barack Obama since "he's just too extreme for North Carolina," as evidenced by his long association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The ad includes a clip of Wright yelling "Not God Bless America, God [bleep] America!"

     YouTube video of the ad: www.youtube.com

     A Friday Charlotte Observer article, "2 stations in N.C. will not air GOP ad: Charlotte, Raleigh broadcasters decline controversial spot that quotes Obama's former pastor," reported:

A Charlotte TV station says it will not air an advertisement from the N.C. Republican Party that uses a soundbite from Barack Obama's retiring minister.

"I just don't think it's appropriate to be on our air," said Joe Pomilla, general manager for WSOC-TV. "I think it's offensive, and I'm not real comfortable with the implications around race."...

     END of Excerpt

     Maybe some citizens of the state are not so "comfortable" with a local TV executive deciding the First Amendment doesn't apply in North Carolina.

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

     More from the April 25 story:

Raleigh television station WRAL also said it will not run it....

Jim Hefner, WRAL's vice president and general manager, called the ad "inflammatory" and said his station has turned down ads from conservative and liberal groups, including MoveOn.org. "We're not just an ATM machine," Hefner said. "We're going to make decisions, and it's not going to be a popular decision with all folks."

     END of Excerpt

     For the April 25 article in full: www.charlotte.com

     Video of a WSOC-TV news story on the station's refusal to air the ad: www.wsoctv.com

 

CBS's Rodriguez Pushes McCain to Do More
to Ban NC GOP Ad

     On Friday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez interviewed John McCain and asked about the recent ad put out by the North Carolina Republican Party that criticized Barack Obama's relationship with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright: "The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?" McCain replied by once again denouncing the ad: "It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view."

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

     However, that was still not enough for Rodriguez, who followed up with: "But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?"

     On Wednesday's Evening News, fill-in anchor and Early Show co-host Harry Smith suggested that the North Carolina ad was an example of the campaign getting "nastier." Check the April 24 CyberAlert on Smith's Evening News coverage: www.mediaresearch.org

     Here is the full transcript of the Friday Early Show segment:

     MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: But first this morning one of the most controversial figures of the 2008 presidential campaign has been Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former minister. His fiery words hurt Obama's campaign and may do so again in North Carolina. But Wright is now slamming those who he claims misrepresented him. We'll have more on that in a moment. The controversy over Reverend Wright came up in my interview with Senator John McCain, who campaigned yesterday in New Orleans, courting voters in a largely Democratic region.
     JOHN MCCAIN: Well, I'm here to talk to the people, with their great governor, who happens to be a Republican, by the way, and I want to assure them that this will never happen again. Never.
     RODRIGUEZ: When you say "this," are you referring to how the government handled Hurricane Katrina?
     MCCAIN: Yes. The mismanagement of this disaster will never happen again, whether it's natural or man-made. It will never happen again.
     RODRIGUEZ: Senator, I know that you plan to have Mike Huckabee along for part of your trip. Are you considering him, or anyone for that matter, as your running mate?
     MCCAIN: Governor Huckabee is a great person and contributed enormously in the campaign into our Republican Party, but we're not discussing the process Maggie.
     RODRIGUEZ: You haven't decided on a running mate. The Democrats haven't decide on a nominee. And your wife Cindy has said that this protracted battle is good for your campaign. How so?
     MCCAIN: I don't know whether it's good or bad for the campaign. I have no idea. We're running our own campaign. We can't do anything about it. So we're just moving on.

     RODRIGUEZ: The Republican Party of North Carolina is planning to run an ad bashing Senator Obama. I know that you oppose that ad, but they're running it anyway. So what does that say about you, that you haven't opposed it strongly enough or that your own party is blatantly disregarding your wishes?
     MCCAIN: It means that the Republican Party of the state of North Carolina is dead wrong. They are an independent organization. I'll do everything in my power to make sure not only they stop it but that kind of leadership is rejected. And the overwhelming majority of Republicans in North Carolina share my view.
     RODRIGUEZ: But as the Republican nominee for president, couldn't you pick up the phone and call the head of the North Carolina GOP and say, don't run it?
     MCCAIN: I have communicated that in every possible way, and I will continue to communicate that.
     RODRIGUEZ: Senator, you have criticized Senator Obama and continue to do so, calling him out of touch and elitist. Someone on the outside looking in might read into that, maybe he would prefer to go up against Senator Clinton in the election.
     MCCAIN: I have no preference in this race and I have no influence over it either. I have -- I have said that Senator Obama's remarks concerning the heartland of America are elitist. I didn't say he's elitist.
     RODRIGUEZ: Would you describe the difference for me.
     MCCAIN: Sure. One is a person who's an elitist and the other one is a person who makes elitist remarks.
     RODRIGUEZ: Senator, you're connecting with people who are facing two of the biggest issues in this election and in our country right now, the economy and health care. If you're elected president, where would your immediate focus be?
     MCCAIN: My immediate purpose would be to get our economy going again. And to make sure that families make the decisions in health care in America and not the big government, as Senator Obama and Senator Clinton want to do. As far as the economy is concerned, don't raise taxes the way Senator Obama wants to do on capital gains. If you want to raise taxes, then don't vote for me.
     RODRIGUEZ: Alright, Senator John McCain, thank you for your time.
     MCCAIN: Thank you, Maggie.
     RODRIGUEZ: And Senator McCain will campaign in Little Rock, Arkansas today, joined by Mike Huckabee.

 

ABC's GMA Defends 'Soft-Spoken' and Patriotic
Jeremiah Wright

     In an attempt to rehabilitate Jeremiah Wright and, by extension, Senator Barack Obama's connection to the man, Friday's Good Morning America featured two segments on the "soft-spoken," patriotic pastor, a man who urged God to damn America. Reporter David Wright, a well-known Obama partisan, described an appearance Pastor Wright made with liberal PBS journalist Bill Moyers. Wright cooed: "But the soft-spoken man who sits down with Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those soundbites."

     During his segment, the ABC reporter seemed to accept Reverend Wright's contention that he had been smeared by the media. Journalist Wright, no relation to the pastor, asserted: "In the interview, Pastor Wright expresses his horror that the media has made him a bogeyman." As though he were a PR representative, (reporter) Wright mentioned the reverend's military service and spun: "There's plenty in Wright's background that speaks to his patriotism." He argued that some of the pastor's comments were taken out of context, citing the background of Wright's "chickens are coming home to roost" remark. However, the ABC journalist skipped over the incendiary preacher's contention that "the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." See World Net Daily for full quote: www.wnd.com

     Was that "soft spoken" falsehood taken "out of context?"

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

     In a follow-up segment, GMA co-host Diane Sawyer also appeared to be doing her best to rehabilitate Jeremiah Wright's image. Before playing an extraordinarily long one minute and 11 second clip of the Moyers interview, Sawyer set up a template for the need to understand the reverend in a broader context: "'Cause I want to do something different. I want to let a long bite play, so we can really hear him talk, as opposed to the short sound bites and see if it doesn't effect everybody's idea of the total context of the man." Now, first off, it needs to be pointed out that at no time did David Wright or Sawyer mention that Bill Moyers is a committed leftist and former Democratic official in Lyndon Johnson's White House. Secondly, is there anything in the pastor's "total context" that gets past his "God damn America" exclamation or his belief that the United States government is responsible for the HIV virus? Are those ideas "patriotic?"

     Continuing the defense of Wright, Sawyer tried to draw a parallel between Senator Obama's preacher and John McCain. She brought up Reverend John Hagee, a minister who has made his own incendiary remarks against Catholics and homosexuals. Sawyer spun, "Let me turn the tables, though, and talk about Reverend John Hagee." A few seconds later she proceeded to ask guest Juan Williams if there was a "great deal of difference" between Obama's situation and McCain. Although Williams did criticize McCain for the Hagee issue, he also stated the obvious: "But it's a big difference of having been [in Wright's congregation] for all those years, which is a matter of judgment on Senator Obama's part."

     As has been noted several times on NewsBusters, reporter David Wright has a long history of aggressively defending Barack Obama. Just last week, on April 17, he dismissed the senator's connection to William Ayers, a man involved in domestic terrorism in the '70s, as simply a "neighbor." See an April 18, 2008 CyberAlert for more: www.mrc.org

     A transcript of the April 25 segment, which aired at 7:02am:

     ROBIN ROBERTS: But we begin with the race to '08 and Reverend Jeremiah Wright's first interview since his comments from the pulpit set off a political firestorm for Barack Obama. ABC's David Wright has the latest from Washington. Good morning, David.
     DAVID WRIGHT: Good morning, Robin. This interview comes at a time when Wright's mere association with Obama, has become political dynamite for Obama's enemies. But the soft-spoken man who sits down with Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those sound bites. In the interview, Pastor Wright expresses his horror that the media has made him a bogeyman.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: I felt it was unfair. I felt it was unjust. I felt it was untrue.
     BILL MOYERS: Did you ever imagine that you would come to personify the black anger that so many whites fear?
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: No, I did not.
     DAVID WRIGHT: Obama's former pastor says reporters cherry-picked sound bites from his sermon with an eye to defaming him and by association Obama.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: The blow up and the blowing up of sermons preached ten, fifteen, seven, six years ago, and now, becoming a media event, again, not the full sermon. But just snippets from the sermon and sound bites, having made me the target of hatred. Yes, that is something very new and something very, very unsettling.
     DAVID WRIGHT: He also describes his reaction to Obama's efforts to distance himself.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: He's a politician. I'm a pastor. We speak to two different audiences.
     DAVID WRIGHT: There's plenty in Wright's background that speaks to his patriotism. He was among the first black U.S. Marines during Vietnam. As a corpsman in 1966, he served on the medical team that cared for President Lyndon Johnson. The White House gave him three letters of commendation. And those controversial sound bites? Some were taken out of context. For instance, after 9/11, he famously preached that the chickens had come home to roost.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: American's chickens-
     DAVID WRIGHT: But as Wright made clear in the sermon, he was quoting President Reagan's former ambassador to Iraq, speaking on Fox News.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: This is a white man and he was upsetting the Fox News commentators to no end.
     DAVID WRIGHT: Wright told Moyers the controversy hasn't been easy.
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: Well, the church members are very upset because they know it's a lie, the things that are being broadcast.
     MOYERS: There have been death threats?
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: Yes, there have. Both on myself and on Pastor Moss and bomb threats at the church.
     DAVID WRIGHT: Now, the Obama campaign said it had nothing to do with either the content or the timing of Wright's interview. And frankly, they would have preferred to keep off center stage. But he's going to be in the limelight in the coming days. On Sunday, he's at the NAACP. And on Monday, he's speaking to the National Press Club. Diane?
     SAWYER: All right, David. Thanks. And as everybody knows, Tuesday, a week, another primary coming up, Indiana and North Carolina. So, how will Reverend Wright's return to the national spotlight affect all this this morning? We drive into the center of the debate with NPR senior political analyst Juan Williams and ABC's longtime political observer Cokie Roberts. Cokie, I'll start with you. Good or bad that Reverend Wright is speaking out now?
     COKIE ROBERTS: Oh, nothing good comes of this for Barack Obama. It's an excuse for everybody to play those bites over and over again. And what Reverend Wright said, even though he was defending himself, quite nicely, he said Barack Obama spoke as a politician. That is the last thing Obama wants people to think of him as. He has approached the American people as a pastor-type himself. And he does not -- he does not need this controversy comes back to the fore.
     SAWYER: Juan, what do you think?
     JUAN WILLIAMS: Well, he just keeps popping up. And I think, just as Cokie said, it doesn't hurt -- it doesn't help Barack Obama. If he really was a Barack Obama supporter, I think he would pull himself off of stage at this point and let Barack Obama and Barack Obama's message of healing and, sort of, post-racial tension, you know, racial unity, come to the fore. Instead, he continues a controversy that really dogs Barack Obama, brings into question exactly, as Cokie said, what was Barack Obama saying in his speech in Philadelphia? Was he simply being politically expedient? Or was he being sincere? All, you don't- If you're with the Barack Obama campaign this morning, you're pulling your hair out. You're -- Oh, my God!
     SAWYER: And yet the Republicans said, they're not going to let it go away one way or another.
     ROBERTS: Of course not.
     SAWYER: And when you listen to the man speak -- let me just play this bite, though, Cokie. 'Cause I want to do something different. I want to let a long bite play, so we can really hear him talk, as opposed to the short sound bites and see if it doesn't effect everybody's idea of the total context of the man. Let's listen.
     [Clip from Bill Moyers interview]
     JEREMIAH WRIGHT: The persons who have heard the entire sermon understand the communication perfectly. Failure to communicate is when something is taken, like a sound bite, for political purpose, and put constantly over and over again, looped in the face of the public. That's not a failure to communicate. Those who are doing that are communicating exactly what they want to do, which is to paint me as some sort of fanatic. Or as the learned journalist from the New York Times called me, a wack-a-doodle.
     BILL MOYERS: What do you think they want to communicate?
     WRIGHT: I think they want to communicate that I am unpatriotic, that I'm un-American, that I'm filled with hate speech, that I have a cult at Trinity United Church of Christ. And, by the way, guess who goes to his church. Hint, hint, hint.

     MOYERS: In the 20 years since you've been his pastor, have you ever heard him repeat any of your controversial statements as his opinion?
     WRIGHT: No, no. No, absolutely not. I don't talk to him about politics. And, so here, at a political event, he goes out as a politician and says what he has to say as a politician. I continue to be a pastor that speaks to the people of God about the things of God.
     [clip ends]
     SAWYER: So, Juan, I'll ask you. There's a website, I went on it this morning, it's called Truth about Trinity, where you can hear the whole sermon, in which some of these statements are made, or at least longer sections of the sermon. Anything here, that at least reframes a little bit those snippets that have been heard over and over again?
     WILLIAMS: Well, I think his man, his demeanor, comes off being as very appealing. You know, but, the thing is, it's always, his claim it's out of context or it's the media that's trying to set him up, there's always a rationalization and explanation. But if you actually look at the snippets for what they are, where he's damning America or talking about KKK of America, or the white government spreading AIDS in America, it's just so unappealing that at some point, you know, it's hard to explain why those kinds of words were coming from his mouth. And then invites the question about Barack Obama's judgment, in sitting there all those years and, you know, being part of that kind of, what he calls by his own admission, he calls divisive hate speech.
     SAWYER: Yeah, Cokie?
     ROBERTS: And the other thing that's already happened since the snippets of his interview with Bill Moyers has come out, the TV shout-fest are already in full cry. And the people who are defending Reverend Wright, are saying things that are also going to be incendiary to a lot of Americans. So, I think this is all about him and not about Barack Obama.
     SAWYER: Let me turn the tables, though, and talk about Reverend John Hagee. As we know, he's someone's endorsement Senator John McCain sought. And this is a pastor who said Hurricane Katrina was the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans, citing a homosexual parade there. And here is what Senator McCain says about that.
     SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: He's a part of campaigns. But I didn't attend Pastor Hagee's church for 20 years. There's a great deal of difference, in my view, between someone who endorses you and other circumstances.
     SAWYER: Juan, a great deal of difference?
     WILLIAMS: Well, the big difference is, as Senator McCain says, he wasn't in that congregation. I mean, as Senator McCain, I must say, a guy who once condemned people of like that as agents of intolerance and bigotry, is now trying to appeal to the right. And that's part of his, I think, weakness, his political expediency. But it's a big difference of having been there for all those years, which is a matter of judgment on Senator Obama's part. The problem for Senator McCain going forward, is to make it clear that he's not trying to have it both ways. He's not trying to play a game here. You know, that ad down in North Carolina, Diane, where the Republican Party is twinning Reverend Wright and Senator Obama, and making it out that, that, you know, really, if you support Reverend Wright, then you support candidate Obama. That is really playing on the edge of racial code language. Very dangerous. Senator McCain has said now he condemned it, asked the Republican Party of the state to pull it. But, I think, again, there's a difference between Hagee and Wright. But McCain is trying to, I think, do a very fancy dance. And I don't know if he can do it in this country, given all our racial tensions.
     SAWYER: And Cokie, we're out of time, but ten-second close?
     ROBERTS: Well, the Republicans or other outside groups are going to use those snippets over and over again, regardless of McCain. And it's going to be harmful to Obama.
     SAWYER: All right. Thanks so much for both of you joining us this morning. I want you everybody to know that the Bill Moyers's interview with Reverend Wright airs on PBS tonight at 9:00pm tonight. Check your local listing.

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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