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www.TimesWatch.org


 

The 2,848th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
8:55am EDT, Wednesday March 18, 2009 (Vol. Fourteen; No. 54)

 
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1. MSNBC's Shuster Frets Over GOP 'Fear Mongering' and 'Wing Nuts'
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster on Monday worried that "conservative fear mongering" about President Barack Obama could be "seriously dangerous." A graphic for the MSNBC segment hyperbolically read: "Stoking Hatred?" In a tease for the piece, Shuster played clips of former Vice President Dick Cheney asserting that Obama has made America less safe and of Fox News host Glenn Beck ("We are a country that's headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.") The MSNBC anchor asked: "The inflammatory rhetoric from the wing nuts, is it merely entertaining or seriously dangerous?" With a complete lack of irony, Shuster spoke of FNC's Beck and wondered, "Shouldn't there be some standards at some of these other networks? I mean, that's a problem, isn't it? There's no standards." Keep in mind, on May 14, 2008, Shuster's colleague Keith Olbermann accused then-President Bush of "murderous deceit" and told him to "shut the hell up!"

2. Today Show Continues Trek to Discover Obama's Global Appeal
Picking up from Al Roker's puffery about Barack Obama's Irish heritage from Monday, NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's Today show asked Ireland's President Mary McAleese to gauge the U.S. President's popularity on the Emerald Isle as she queried: "Barack Obama, our new President...I understand much loved here...What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?" To which McAleese responded that Obama is a "big favorite," and that "He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people."

3. CNN's Jack Cafferty: 'Refreshing' Obama is 'Working His Tail Off'
Deciding that he hadn't gotten enough of lauding President Obama, CNN's Jack Cafferty used another of his CNN.com commentaries on Tuesday to sing the Democrat's praises: "Whether it's creating commissions for women and girls, ordering the investigation of President Bush's use of signing statements, or jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress, the man is working his tail off. And he seems to be loving every minute of it. It's almost as though our president was born to do exactly what he's doing. He's leading, and boy, is that refreshing." He also returned to another one of his favorite subjects -- bashing former President Bush: "What a welcome change to feel like someone is running the country instead of running it into the ground."

4. No Party ID for Murtha, But CBS Tags Critic Flake as '(R)'
Tuesday's CBS Evening News highlighted an ethics investigation of a long-serving House Democrat, but viewers were not clued in to his party affiliation verbally or with any an on-screen notation. Yet CBS slapped a party name on screen as a Murtha critic spoke: "Rep. Jeff Flake (R) Arizona." Fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez avoided Murtha's party as she asserted "there are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha" and referred to him as "a powerful member of Congress." In a story which consumed about-two-and-a- half minutes, reporter Sharyl Attkisson also failed to identify Murtha's party.

5. CBS News Poll: Limbaugh Has Higher Favorables than Pelosi
"Limbaugh's Favorable Rating: 19 Percent," shouted the headline at the top of CBS News.com Tuesday night. A look, however, at the PDF of the full CBS News poll results, posted at 6:30 PM EDT Tuesday, pegged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorable rating a point lower at 18 percent -- within the margin of error, but evidence Limbaugh is no less popular than the leader of congressional Democrats. CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli had a news hook with Limbaugh since it was the first time the network asked about Limbaugh (at least in recent years), but his "CBS News Political Hotsheet" post failed to make the contrast with Pelosi, who stood at a mere 10 percent approval a month ago, as he used the Limbaugh finding to expound on the efficacy of the White House attacks on the radio talk show host: "Over the past few weeks, the White House has been casting right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh as the head of the Republican Party, and based on a new CBS News poll, it appears they may be onto something: According to the poll, Limbaugh's favorable rating stands at just 19 percent, a full 43 points lower than President Obama's."


 

MSNBC's Shuster Frets Over GOP 'Fear
Mongering' and 'Wing Nuts'

     1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster on Monday worried that "conservative fear mongering" about President Barack Obama could be "seriously dangerous." A graphic for the MSNBC segment hyperbolically read: "Stoking Hatred?" Shuster brought on Republican strategist Brad Blakeman and Democratic counterpart Chris Kofinis to discuss the topic.

     In a tease for the piece, Shuster played clips of former Vice President Dick Cheney asserting that Obama has made America less safe and of Fox News host Glenn Beck ("We are a country that's headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.") The MSNBC anchor asked: "The inflammatory rhetoric from the wing nuts, is it merely entertaining or seriously dangerous?" With a complete lack of irony, Shuster spoke of FNC's Beck and wondered, "Shouldn't there be some standards at some of these other networks? I mean, that's a problem, isn't it? There's no standards." Keep in mind, on May 14, 2008, Shuster's colleague Keith Olbermann accused then-President Bush of "murderous deceit" and told him to "shut the hell up!" See a May 15, 2008 CyberAlert posting for more: www.mrc.org

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

     The cable host repeatedly lectured conservatives and Republicans for vociferously attacking President Obama. He solemnly intoned, "So, how far is too far? Isn't there a danger when the rhetoric goes off the charts?"

     This is a topic that Shuster has been obsessively focusing on for weeks. On March 5, he suggested that Republicans who don't distance themselves from Rush Limbaugh "appear unpatriotic" See a March 6 CyberAlert posting: www.mrc.org

     A partial transcript of the segment, which aired at 6:31pm EDT on March 16:

     6pm tease
     DAVID SHUSTER : Later, the conservative fear mongering over President Obama.
     MSNBC GRAPHIC: Stoking Hatred?
     DICK CHENEY: He's making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.
     GLENN BECK: We are a country that's headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination.
     MIKE OZANIAN (Forbes): Madoff's scam is about $20 billion. Barack Obama's Ponzi scheme is $2 trillion.
     SHUSTER: The inflammatory rhetoric from the wing nuts, is it merely entertaining or seriously dangerous?

     6:31pm
     DAVID SHUSTER: President Obama's approval rating stands at a healthy 61 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll. However, some conservatives have decided to ratchet up their personal attacks on the President, and the rhetoric is increasingly harsh. Here's Vice President Cheney yesterday.
     JOHN KING: Do you believe the president of the United States has made Americans less safe?
     CHENEY: I do. He's making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack.
     SHUSTER: As controversial as Cheney‚€˜s statement was, that rhetoric was soft and cuddly compared to what was spewed out over the weekend on Fox News. On that network, President Obama was compared to Bernie Madoff, Wall Street's most hated criminal.
     MIKE OZANIAN (Forbes): Madoff scam is about 20 billion. Barack Obama's Ponzi scheme is two trillion. And if you look at how they work the schemes, they're very similar. Both falsify their returns. And to pay for that, he's got to bring in a lot of other scamsters, Obama does, which in this case really are taxpayers.
     SHUSTER: So, how far is too far? Isn't there a danger when the rhetoric goes off the charts? Joining us now, Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis, former communications director for John Edwards, and Republican strategist Brad Blakeman, former deputy assistant to President Bush. Welcome to you both. Brad, comparing President Obama to Bernie Madoff, you don't support that, do you?
     BRAD BLAKEMAN (GOP strategist): I do not, no. I think some of these attacks have gone too far on the President. You‚€˜re right. These are personal attacks. These are not attacks on his policy and principles. That's what we should be attacking, and we should be offering alternatives and not just attacks to be obstructionist.
     SHUSTER: Chris Kofinis?
     CHRIS KOFINIS (Democratic strategist): I mean, these Republican attacks by some in the party, folks like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Steele, and others, I mean, this is just a recipe to further dig a deeper hole for this party. I mean, listen, their ideas, their policies, their positions on the issues are not selling to the American people. So, the only thing they have left is to go on the attack and make it personal. What they don't understand, that is the worst strategy. It's going to make things worse for the party. It's going to further alienate the very voters they need to win over.
     SHUSTER: But it's good for them. I mean, Rush Limbaugh, it appears his ratings are up. Glenn Beck's ratings are through the roof. Glenn Beck was suggesting that the Obama administration is heading toward concentration camps, with those FEMA camps, and he accuses the Obama administration of embracing totalitarianism. Watch this.
     GLENN BECK: We are a country that is headed toward socialism, totalitarianism, beyond your wildest imagination. I wanted to debunk these FEMA camps. I'm tired of hearing about them. You know about them. I'm tired of hearing about them. I wanted to debunk them. We've now for several days done research on them. I can't debunk them.
     SHUSTER: I mean, it's crazy, isn't it?
     BLAKEMAN: It is. It's crazy as Jon Stewart is crazy or Bill Maher is crazy on the left.
     KOFINIS: No, no.
     BLAKEMAN: These guys- you have a massive deception because you want to take people away from your horrid policy. Jon Stewart started attacking Rush Limbaugh.
     KOFINIS: Jon Stewart is a comedian.
     BLAKEMAN: And so is Rush Limbaugh. He's an entertainer. He's an entertainer.
     KOFINIS: No. Rush Limbaugh got invited to CPAC to speak in front of conservative and Republican leaders. You know, Mr. Beck is another-
     BLAKEMAN: He closed the show.
     KOFINIS: Mr. Beck is another voice in the Republican Party.
     BLAKEMAN: Glenn Beck is not a member of the Republican Party, nor is Rush Limbaugh.
     KOFINIS: He is a voice in the Republican Party. Why Republicans do not come out and condemn these individuals. Aside from you, no one else is willing to do it, because they're all terrified they‚€˜re going to be on the next morning show.
     BLAKEMAN: Why aren't you out there condemning Bill Maher-
     KOFINIS: For what? For being funny?
     BLAKEMAN: Well, he's not funny. He's not funny when he attacked President Bush personally. You guys didn't do that. When Jon Stewart goes on television every night and attacked-
     KOFINIS: You have had Democrats come out and speak out against MoveOn and other groups.
     BLAKEMAN: You guys are joined at the hip with MoveOn. General Betray Us?
     KOFINIS: No, that's not true. You've had Democrats come at and criticize when they felt-
     BLAKEMAN: Very few.
     KOFINIS: No. You had leaders in the Democratic Party come out and willingly say this went too far. There is no one in the Republican Party at a leadership role who is willing to do that. Not Michael Steele, not Representative Cantor, not Senator Boehner- I'm sorry, Senator McConnell, not Representative Boehner, no one. They're not willing to do it. And the reason why-
     BLAKEMAN: Why should we give the guys the type of credibility that you're trying to give them?
     KOFINIS: It's not giving them credibility, it's speaking the truth.
     SHUSTER: Brad, why is it so difficult for people to say, as you just did, that this is wrong? When Glenn Beck is out there suggesting that there's going to be totalitarianism and concentration camps, when others are make these, sort of, crazy claims, why is it so difficult for Republicans to say, let's not make it personal? Let's keep it on the policy?
     BLAKEMAN: Because these people are not members of our party. They're not the leaders of our party. What, are we going to spend every day trying to apologize for entertainers?
     SHUSTER: Shouldn't there be some standards at some of these other networks? I mean, that's a problem, isn't it? There's no standards.
     BLAKEMAN: There should be standards at all networks. But, that's not for Mitch McConnell or Boehner to be out there policing everything that entertainers say.
     KOFINIS: It's disputing, it's disagreeing. The reality is Rush Limbaugh is-
     BLAKEMAN: Actions speak louder than words.

 

Today Show Continues Trek to Discover
Obama's Global Appeal

     Picking up from Al Roker's puffery about Barack Obama's Irish heritage from Monday, NBC's Meredith Vieira, on Tuesday's Today show asked Ireland's President Mary McAleese to gauge the U.S. President's popularity on the Emerald Isle as she queried: "Barack Obama, our new President...I understand much loved here...What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?" To which McAleese responded that Obama is a "big favorite," and that "He arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood of great despair. He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people."

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

     McAleese, after being prodded by Vieira, also revealed her own son campaigned for Obama in '08, and bragged that he predicted he would be President when he first met him at the 2004 Democratic Convention.

     The following is a transcript of the relevant portion of the interview on the March 17 Today:

     MEREDITH VIEIRA: Barack Obama, our new president.
     MARY MCALEESE: Yeah.
     VIEIRA: I understand much loved here.
     MCALEESE: Yeah, big favorite.
     VIEIRA: In part because he's a native son, on his mother's side

     MCALEESE: Of course in Moneygall, absolutely. Of Moneygall, County Offaly. Yes.
     VIEIRA: So he's an Irish boy, right?
     MCALEESE: Yeah.
     VIEIRA: In your book?
     MCALEESE: For sure. For sure. But even if he wasn't I think that we would have such faith and hope in him.
     VIEIRA: Why? Why? What is it about Barack Obama that instills in, in the people of Ireland?
     MCALEESE: Well he arrived at a time when the world was in a very ugly mood-
     VIEIRA: Yeah.
     MCALEESE: -of great despair.
     VIEIRA: Yeah.
     MCALEESE: He had really captured the imagination, particularly of young people. You know that's not easy to do. You know there's so much cynicism.
     VIEIRA: Your son, your son is one of them?
     MCALEESE: My son went over and campaigned for him. He did. My son saw him first in 2004, at the time that John Kerry was nominated.
     VIEIRA: Oh and saw Barack Obama speak at the convention?
     MCALEESE: He saw him speak at the convention. My son was a humble intern at that. And he rang us the early hours of the morning, I have to say interrupted my sleep at 4:00 o'clock in the morning to tell us that he had just meant a future President of the United States. I thought he was talking about John Kerry and I said to him, are you talking about John Kerry? And he said, "No, not at all. I'm talking about a man called Barack Obama." And I have to say, my immediate response was, "I've never heard of him, who is he?" And he said, "Mom, you'll never have that to say again."
     VIEIRA: That is for sure.

     To read about how Today show weatherman Roker celebrated Obama's Irish roots, see: www.mrc.org

 

CNN's Jack Cafferty: 'Refreshing' Obama
is 'Working His Tail Off'

     Deciding that he hadn't gotten enough of lauding President Obama, CNN's Jack Cafferty used another of his CNN.com commentaries on Tuesday to sing the Democrat's praises: "Whether it's creating commissions for women and girls, ordering the investigation of President Bush's use of signing statements, or jamming a huge stimulus package through Congress, the man is working his tail off. And he seems to be loving every minute of it. It's almost as though our president was born to do exactly what he's doing. He's leading, and boy, is that refreshing." He also returned to another one of his favorite subjects -- bashing former President Bush: "What a welcome change to feel like someone is running the country instead of running it into the ground."

     [This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     For Cafferty's full column, see the March 17 CNN.com item, "Commentary: Obama a leader who actually leads," at: www.cnn.com

     After making this hyperbolic claim about the last executive, the CNN commentator made an equally outlandish claim about the current commander-in-chief: "President Obama has done more in eight weeks than George W. Bush did in eight years -- unless you include starting a couple of wars." He continued by labeling Obama's critics "armchair quarterbacks."

     The commentary had a polarized rhythm to it, alternating between praise for Obama and ire for President Bush. He followed his "refreshing" comment with another blast at his Republican nemesis: "I remember many times when Bush was in office wondering who the hell was running the country. Then he would appear somewhere in front of a handpicked audience to utter some banalities or say something utterly stupid and I would be reminded. I don't miss him."

     Later, Cafferty didn't ignore the blunders made by President Obama and his administration in their first weeks, but made every effort to minimize them:

That's not to say President Obama hasn't stubbed his toe here and there. Signing that omnibus spending bill with all those earmarks in it after campaigning so hard against pork was probably a mistake. The opportunity was right there to send that bill back to Congress with a note that read, "I told you I am against earmarks and I meant it. Now do it over and send me something clean." Nancy Pelosi's head would have probably exploded, but the American people would have been ready to crown him king....

Better background checks on some of his appointees would have saved him some embarrassment. There's no excuse for asking someone like Tom Daschle with his problems to do anything.

     SUSPEND Excerpt

     Cafferty concluded by raving about the president's seeming calm in the midst of the country's problems, but didn't resort to the "sunlight" language he used a few weeks earlier. But he again couldn't resist making a parting shot at George W. Bush:

But the point, I guess, is this: President Obama is attacking our country's problems on several fronts. He's got ambitious ideas on how to solve them, and he communicates a sense of calm and confidence to the rest of us as he goes about his business. Will all his ideas work? Of course not. But if you throw enough stuff at the wall, some of it will stick.

And at least I don't go to bed at night worried that I'll wake up in the morning to find out we're about to invade someone.

     END of Excerpt

     For Cafferty's earlier "sunlight" praise of Obama, see the February 27 CyberAlert item, "CNN: Obama Leading U.S. 'Into Sunlight' & 'Up to Mountaintops,'" at: www.mrc.org

 

No Party ID for Murtha, But CBS Tags
Critic Flake as '(R)'

     Tuesday's CBS Evening News highlighted an ethics investigation of a long-serving House Democrat, but viewers were not clued in to his party affiliation verbally or with any an on-screen notation. Yet CBS slapped a party name on screen as a Murtha critic spoke: "Rep. Jeff Flake (R) Arizona."

     Fill-in anchor Maggie Rodriguez avoided Murtha's party as she asserted "there are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha" and referred to him as "a powerful member of Congress." In a story which consumed about-two-and-a- half minutes, reporter Sharyl Attkisson also failed to identify Murtha's party.

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

     Rodriguez teased the story at the top of the Tuesday, March 17 CBS Evening News: "Also tonight, a CBS News investigation. Questions about the actions of a powerful member of Congress and whether defense contractors unfairly got earmarked funds."

     She set up the subsequent story: "There are few politicians as polarizing as Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha. Voters in his district love all the federal funding he lines up for projects back home. But critics call him the king of earmarks who wastes a lot of taxpayer money. Now the FBI is taking a close look at some of those projects. More from Sharyl Attkisson in this CBS News investigation."

     SHARYL ATTKISSON: Under fire for his earmarking practices, Congressman John Murtha wouldn't grant us an interview today....
     Representative Jeff Flake, who's against earmarks of any kind, is calling for an ethics investigation and says it could dwarf the last lobby mess to hit Washington.
     ATTKISSON TO FLAKE: This is bigger than the Abramoff scandal?
     REP. JEFF FLAKE (R) ARIZONA: In terms of contributions and circular fundraising and the involvement of members, it's much bigger, much bigger.
     ATTKISSON: In the coming weeks Murtha will help divvy up new defense earmarks....

 

CBS News Poll: Limbaugh Has Higher Favorables
than Pelosi

     "Limbaugh's Favorable Rating: 19 Percent," shouted the headline at the top of CBS News.com Tuesday night. A look, however, at the PDF of the full CBS News poll results, posted at 6:30 PM EDT Tuesday, pegged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's favorable rating a point lower at 18 percent -- within the margin of error, but evidence Limbaugh is no less popular than the leader of congressional Democrats. (Friday's CBS Evening News highlighted President Obama's 62 percent approval level and a few other results about the bailouts, but didn't mention the Limbaugh or Pelosi numbers.)

     CBSNews.com: www.cbsnews.com

     CBSNews.com's Brian Montopoli had a news hook with Limbaugh since it was the first time the network asked about Limbaugh (at least in recent years), but his "CBS News Political Hotsheet" post failed to make the contrast with Pelosi, who stood at a mere 10 percent approval a month ago, as he used the Limbaugh finding to expound on the efficacy of the White House attacks on the radio talk show host:
     "Over the past few weeks, the White House has been casting right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh as the head of the Republican Party, and based on a new CBS News poll, it appears they may be onto something: According to the poll, Limbaugh's favorable rating stands at just 19 percent, a full 43 points lower than President Obama's."

     Montopoli's post: www.cbsnews.com

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

     Another "Political Hotsheet" posting, by Kevin Hechtkopf, was headlined: "Congressional Job Approval at 30 Percent." Hechtkopf did note, with a matching pie chart:
     "[P]ositive views of Democrats in Congress have not translated into a positive opinion of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Thirty-five percent have an unfavorable view of the California Democrat, while 18 percent have a favorable view. Nearly half of all Americans haven't formed an opinion either way." See: www.cbsnews.com

     But that post was not on the CBSNews home page.

     Limbaugh's unfavorable is at 40 percent, a little higher than Pelosi's 35 percent, but more know or have an opinion about Limbaugh: 41 percent "Don't know" or have "no opinion" on Limbaugh, yet, as noted above, 47 percent offered that reply when queried to assess Pelosi.

     The survey, conducted March 12-16, was weighted to count more Democrats than Republicans: 265 Republicans, 442 Democrats and 435 independents.

     PDF of the poll findings: www.cbsnews.com

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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