Rather Willing to ID a Republican; Rather Conceded Contrast with Packwood, Called Self a "Dumbass"; "Funnel" Tax Money to Religious
1) Dan Rather refused to identify Gary Condit as a
Democrat, but on Thursday night he made sure viewers realized the party
affiliation of another Congressman, warning that "if Arizona
Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe has his way" the penny "will
2) Dan Rather told Don Imus that his show did not report
on drug use charges against candidate George W. Bush when, in fact, the
CBS Evening News ran multiple stories; expressed regret for his 1992
coverage of allegations against Senator Bob Packwood as he realized it
contradicted his rationale for avoiding Condit; and proclaimed "Iím
boneheaded," conceded "Iím bizarre" and boasted that
"Iíve been a dumbass all my life."
3) Both CBSís Dan Rather and NBCís Brian Williams
referred Thursday night to how Bushís faith-based initiative will
"funnel" tax dollars to religious groups.
4) "NIH stem cell report gives 2 sides fodder,"
announced the headline over a July 19 Boston Globe story. But ABCís
Peter Jennings asserted: "The Senate got a report from the National
Institutes of Health on stem cell research...and it says that embryonic
cell research holds enormous promise."
5) In a tribute to Katharine Graham, the long-time
Washington Post publisher who passed away the day before, veteran Post
reporter and editor Robert Kaiser hailed Mikhail Gorbachev as "the
man who changed the modern world."
6) Peter Jennings considered it newsworthy that 30 guys in
India claim "they were insulted that President Bush had called his
Correction: The July 17 CyberAlert quoted NBCís Katie Couric as
saying of Hillary Clintonís relations with other Senators: "They're
like puddy in her hands up there." Puddy should have read
Wednesday night the CBS Evening News avoided identifying Congressman Gary
Condit as a Democrat, but Thursday night Dan Rather made sure viewers
realized the Congressman trying to take away their pennies is a
Rather ended the July 19 broadcast: "The
Rodney Dangerfield of the currency, the penny. It gets no respect. And if
Arizona Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe has his way it will become
obsolete. Heís introduced a bill that would require all cash sales be
rounded to the nearest nickel. Critics and backers agree the idea would
make no cents."
No less "cents" than Ratherís
inconsistency. On Thursday night Rather did not mention the Chandra Levy
case, but in airing his one and only story so far on the subject on
Wednesday night, Rather and his colleague Jim Stewart failed to point out
Conditís party affiliation. As detailed in the July 18 CyberAlert Extra,
Rather didnít utter Conditís name in his introduction. Stewart refrain
from naming Conditís party as he referred only to "the belief that
local police have put an Ďinappropriate emphasisí on the role of
Congressman Gary Condit in the case," to how "FBI agents will
start at ground zero and Ďfocus on areas other than Representative
Condití" and to "laboratory tests on a hat, a jacket and other
items taken from Conditís Washington apartment..."
(Thursdayís NBC Nightly News repudiated the
thrust of Wednesdayís CBS Evening News story. Andrea Mitchell asserted:
"Now the FBI is trying to help local police create a profile of
Chandra to better understand her behavior. But tonight theyíve issued a
statement denying reports that the FBI has either taken over the
investigation or assigned it to a cold case unit.")
Rather told Don Imus on Thursday morning during his appearance by phone on
the Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC:
-- That the CBS Evening News avoided the
Chandra Levy case "because the facts were so few" and he
didnít want to fuel a "feeding frenzy" because, Rather intoned
in setting a high standard for what is newsworthy, "whatever one may
think of the Congressman and his behavior before and after the
disappearance of the young woman, the police have said repeatedly that
heís not a suspect in any crime."
-- Asked if he reported the unsubstantiated
charges of drug use by candidate George W. Bush, Rather answered with an
emphatic "no," though he later promised to go "back to our
computer files and if Iíve misstated to you, Iíll come back to you and
say I misstated it. But, I donít think I ran anything on that." In
fact, in 1999 the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather ran multiple stories on
-- After conceding he did run stories in 1992
on sexual harassment allegations against Senator Bob Packwood, Rather
realized the contradiction with his current rationale for ignoring Condit
and expressed regret for his previous news judgment: "I think the
Packwood thing was another feeding frenzy and unfortunately we took part
in it in a way that I wish we hadnít."
-- Mocked himself as he self-deprecatingly
proclaimed "itís a matter of record Iím boneheaded,"
conceded "Iím bizarre" and boasted that "Iíve been a
dumbass all my life."
-- Asked about former CBS News reporter
Bernard Goldbergís charge that he has a liberal bias, Rather denied it,
insisting heís just "in favor of strong defense, tight money, and
Some more extensive excerpts from the July 19
Imus in the Morning made possible thanks to the transcribing of MRC
analyst Ken Shepherd:
-- Imus: "There was a long period time
that the CBS weekend news was reporting it. The CBS Web site was. The New
York Times, the Washington Post. Even our friend Jim Lehrer. And my point,
I guess there is hardly was this a story confined to the gossip-oriented
media. And we did have the spectacle of a sitting Congressman under siege,
if nothing else, by the media and almost rendered inoperative in the
ability to conduct his business. And in connection with a missing
government intern. And it seemed to a lot of people that it did
warrant...but it seemed to me that it did warrant at least an
acknowledgment that it was a story that people were interested in. And my
question for you is why didnít you think so."
Rather: "Well, because the facts were so
few, and they remain so few. And you know, I appreciate you touching on it
and taking it seriously but, letís, you know, Iím willing to discuss
it but itís important to me to keep in mind that, you know and I do have
it very much in mind, you know, youíve got a missing person here. Itís
a missing person case. You said well why didnít you, well, first of all
the facts are so few. You know, weíve got rumors, speculation, gossip,
innuendo. And you know, we decided, I decided to try to exercise some
restraint. You know, maybe we should have done something with it. I
donít think so. I have no argument with these other journalists who have
made other judgments. Some of whom youíve had on lambasting us while
justifying their own fairly heavy play of the story. Naturally, I was
disappointed in that. I understand that they have to do that. Itís a
competitive business. My only hope is that, you know, those who really
unloaded on us about this, and the public will come to understand that it
was and still is, my judgment that, for to be extra careful in this kind
of atmosphere. This current atmosphere is a classic news feeding frenzy.
"...What went into the thinking was one,
thereís no criminal case. No criminal case. A missing person case:
itís important for the family of the missing person. It is for all of
those families. Thereís something like a hundred thousand missing person
cases around the country, but thereís no criminal case here. Not yet
anyway. Thereís no suspect. No suspect. Whatever one may think of the
Congressman and his behavior before and after the disappearance of the
young woman, the police have said repeatedly that heís not a suspect in
any crime. I know that, you know, there are people of the opinion that he
should be charged with some crime, but my point is that he hasnít been.
Nor do the police indicate they have any plans to charge him with
anything. Now beyond that, the police have not even accused him of any
crime, which is something the police often do before they finally charge
him. They havenít accused him of any crime. Now, if the Congressman were
accused, much less charged, heíd be entitled to presumption of innocence
til proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt in a court of law.
"Now, I think this last point canít be
emphasized too much. Maybe it went too strongly into our thinking. But it
applies to every American citizen. Whether they are a homeless person or a
Congressman. And I thought there was, and I still think there is a real
danger that an innocent person could be convicted in the court of public
opinion on the basis of rumor, gossip, and speculation. And I do want to
point out that, you know, Richard Jewell, this guy in Atlanta. He was
accused by the police. And a lot of people ran hard with that story. We,
we exercised some restraint with that. And as a consequence, when other
people got sued and settled quietly out of court for a lot of money for
tainting Richard Jewell, it was still hard for him to get his reputation
-- Rather: "I want the CBS Evening News
to be high road hard news. And if weíve underdone it then, hold us
accountable. You know, weíll take a public caning about it and maybe we
deserve it, but I donít think so....Now for anybody that says, well, you
know itís a Democratic Congressman and so they want to give him a break,
I think thatís, Iím not going to complain about it but, when the Bush
daughters had their difficulty, we didnít broadcast a word about it, and
a lot of people ran hard with it. The point here is that we want to have a
record, we try to build a record of some restraint on these kind of cases.
And I felt fine when everybody else was running with the story about the
Bush daughters and we didnít run a line. Some of the people internally
and externally were saying, you know, youíve got your head in the sand.
Well, I donít have my head in the sand. I want us to stand for something
and we try to stand for something and it didnít work and I feel badly
because guys like, you know, Jimmy Murphy I work with and other people
have been criticized for, I guess you could say, my determination, I guess
others say hard-headedness about this thing."
While itís true the weekday CBS Evening News
with Dan Rather didnít jump on the Bush story, the weekend CBS Evening
News covered it on the first Saturday after her escapade became news.
-- Imus: "Did you report the --
which were unsubstantiated and I guess still are -- allegations of drug
use by George W. Bush when he was running for the presidency?"
Imus: "Did you report on the Bob
Packwood situation that although they were accusations of sexual
harassment and the Washington Post first revealed the story, I believe on
November 22 or 23, 1992?"
Rather: "I think we did something on
the Packwood situation in Ď92. Yeah."
Imus: "So what would be the difference
between the Packwood situation and the Condit situation."
Rather: "Well, I donít know that
there is a big difference. We learned. I think the Packwood thing was
another feeding frenzy and unfortunately, we took part in it in a way that
I wish we hadnít. But I do want to come back to the George Bush thing.
You know, Iíll go back to our computer files and if Iíve misstated to
you, Iíll come back to you and say I misstated it. But, I donít think
I ran anything on that. I know my feeling at the time was, well if
somebody brings me some proof, then weíll run with it."
REALITY CHECK: The "CBS Evening News with
Dan Rather," but without Dan Rather as anchor because of vacation,
jumped right on the allegations against Bush. The Wednesday, August 18
edition of the program anchored by Bob Schieffer featured a full report
from Bob McNamara, who began: "As the spotlight zeros in on George W.
Bush's front-running campaign, over and over now comes the Ďdid you
everí question. Again today, he was asked if he ever did cocaine and
refused to answer."
CBS followed up with another story the next
night. For more on coverage that week, go to:
Dan Rather canít have it both ways. He
canít pretend stories on Bush and drugs on the CBS Evening News with Dan
Rather donít count because he was on vacation but then take credit for
how the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather this year ignored the Condit
story for nine week when on at least ten of those weekdays Rather was not
in the anchor chair.
-- Rather: "....Hereís the thing, if
they, if they believe heís obstructed justice, then charge him with
that, and when they charge him with that, weíd certainly consider that
news. But they havenít done that. And let me say that Iíve worked the
police beat for a long time and I have great respect for the police but, I
donít, if if itís true that we havenít handled this situation in our
reporting as well as we should, I donít think the Washington police have
been flawless in their handling of the thing. But, where I come out with
this Imus, look, weíve made mistakes in the past. Somebody wrote in the
paper the other day that I was quote Ďboneheaded.í Well, of course,
itís a matter of record Iím boneheaded, said, Ďwell, this is
bizarre.í Well of course Iím bizarre, you know, weíve known that for
a long time-"
Imus: "Whatís the frequency,
Rather: "I donít know, somebody, I donít
know he put it exactly this way but he said, well, you know, itís a
dumbass thing heís doing. Well, you know, Iíve been a dumbass all my
life, why would anybody expect me to be any different about this?"
-- Imus: "Bernard Goldberg, your former
colleague, in the Wall Street Journal the other day said that you possess
a liberal bias that youíre even unaware of. What did you think of that?
Well, first of all do you? And second of all what do you think of his
Rather: "Do I what?"
Imus: "Possess a liberal bias."
Rather: "No, I donít think so but other
people have to judge that and you know heís entitled to his opinion and
thatís, you know, Iím in favor of strong defense, tight money, and
clean water. I donít know what that makes me. Whatever that makes me
thatís what I am. But people are going to take those shots. When
youíre on television every night, people are going to take those
In Ratherís case, well-deserved ones.
For more on Goldbergís analysis of how
Rather and other mainstream media figures are not even aware of how the
assumptions they make match liberal thought, go to:
hear Dan Rather or Brian Williams refer to how some government program
will "funnel U.S. tax dollars" to pork barrel projects,
regulatory agencies, the unproductive members of society or to a
prescription drug entitlement? Me neither, but Thursday night both anchors
used the "funnel" term to characterize of the impact of
President Bushís faith-based initiative.
Rather intoned on the July 19 CBS Evening
News: "With President Bush off on a six-day European trip, the
Republican-controlled House of Representatives pressed ahead today with
one of his most-cherished and controversial campaign promises. The House
voted 233 to 198 for a bill to funnel U.S. tax dollars to church and other
religious charities that provide social services."
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams echoed
Ratherís terminology: "Back at home a big win for the President in
the House of Representatives which today approved a key part of his
agenda, the so-called faith-based plan to funnel more federal money to
religious charities. The White House managed to beat back yesterdayís
moderate Republican rebellion against the plan, but nonetheless the
measure, as written, has a very doubtful future in the
stem cell report gives 2 sides fodder," announced the headline over a
July 19 Boston Globe story which presented a model of balance not followed
Wednesday night by ABC. The Globeís subhead: "Senator offers plan
to regulate research."
On the July 18 World News Tonight Peter
Jennings stressed: "In Washington today, the Senate got a report from
the National Institutes of Health on stem cell research. The President's
already received the NIH report. It is, of course, the leading government
body for medical research and it says that embryonic cell research holds
enormous promise." Jennings proceeded to relay how "today, a
close ally of the President, the Republican Senator from Tennessee Bill
Frist, who is the only physician in the Senate, told a hearing he, too,
supported funding." CBS also considered Fristís testimony and his
view worth an entire story.
ABC's John Martin reported around matching
soundbites, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "The NIH
report endorsing stem cell research was discussed by senators and medical
experts. Senator Frist, a heart and lung transplant surgeon and someone
the President is likely to listen to because he's an anti-abortion
Republican, supported the idea....Frist cautioned Senators that the
research he supports must not violate the sanctity of life, which means
embryos should only be used if they are destined to be discarded....In an
interview, Frist praised the potential benefits of stem cell
research....Medical advocates called Frist's support a very important step
toward convincing the Bush White House to fund a promising new form of
research. If the President decides not to support funding, Senator Harkin
of Iowa pledged today to sponsor an appropriation on his own, a measure
likely to pass the Senate with strict guidelines."
On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather celebrated
how supporters of embryonic stem cell research "got a boost today
from an influential Senator." Elizabeth Kaledin described Frist as
"a doctor and conservative Republican who has President Bush's ear on
matters medical, testified the research must go forward with federal
funds." But after Kaledin ran a soundbite from Frist, she allowed
viewers to hear from Senator Sam Brownback as she explained:
"Opponents of embryonic stem cell research argue there are
alternatives, namely adult stem cells, not taken from embryos but
extracted instead from other human tissues, including bone marrow and
She countered, however, that one doctor who
testified that his "research on adult stem cells in mice suggests
they, too, have potential, but are not nearly as flexible in becoming
other cell types as their embryonic cousin. To study one and not the other
is a mistake, he says."
Putting an adult face on the cause, Kaledin
showcased how "it may be too slow for Shelbie Oppenheimer, a
34-year-old mother slowing dying from Lou Gehrig's disease. She's urging
President Bush to look beyond the politics." Oppenhemier pleaded:
"When he's looking at a frozen embryo that's going to be discarded,
and when he's looking at me, a loving mommy who just wants to spend my
time with our daughter, I would ask him to choose and value life, and I
would ask him for it to be mine."
Kaledin concluded: "The pressure is on
from mothers, scientists and now trusted fellow Republicans urging
President Bush to find a compromise. He's expected to make a decision in
the next few weeks."
CNNís Judy Woodruff, MRC analyst Patrick
Gregory observed, set up a July 18 Inside Politics segment: "With
President Bush said to be wrestling with whether to allow federal funding
of embryonic stem cell research each new development in the debate over
the issue is seen as potentially crucial to his thinking. Two such
developments happened today, both of which favor support for the funding.
One was a report from the National Institutes of Health recommending
further stem cell research, and on the political side a key endorsement
from the only physician in the U.S. Senate."
But Thursday Boston Globe delivered a less
strident assessment of that NIH report. Reporter Jennifer Bayot began her
July 19 story from Washington:
Supporters and critics of government-funded research on stem cells
taken from human embryos hailed different parts of a 200-page report
released by the National Institutes of Health yesterday.
Advocates for embryonic stem cell research focused on the sections of
the scientific review that dwelt on the benefits of conducting research on
stem cells taken from embryos. Those opposed to the research cited the
parts of the report that speak of the promise of stem cells taken from
"This NIH study clearly presents adult stem cells as a legitimate
alternative with great future potential," said Representative Chris
Smith, a New Jersey Republican who is critical of embryonic stem cell
research. "This confirms what we have been saying all along.''
But Senator William Frist, a Tennessee Republican and heart surgeon who
advises the White House on health-care issues, said the study concludes
that "the more versatile embryonic stem cells have greater potential
for medical research than adult stem cells."...
So far, only stem cells taken from embryos and fetal tissue have
demonstrated the potential to develop into almost all of the more than 200
different known cell types, the report said. These stem cells hold the
promise of replacing cells damaged or destroyed by disease.
Adult stem cells, which are also unspecialized, are found in developed
tissues, such as bone marrow. But "adult stem cells are rare,"
said the report. "Often they are difficult to identify, isolate, and
Because adult stem cells cannot replicate indefinitely, the report
questioned whether enough are available for therapeutic applications, such
as transplants to regenerate organs or tissue.
Nevertheless, the report said that "today there is new evidence
that stem cells are present in far more tissues and organs than once
The NIH report neither recommends whether the government should fund
stem cell research nor answers the heavily debated scientific questions
about such research, including whether adult and embryonic stem cells have
equal potential for generating replacement cells and tissues....
still revered by leading journalists. In a July 18 tribute to Katharine
Graham, the long-time Washington Post publisher who passed away the day
before, veteran Post reporter and editor Robert Kaiser admired Gorbachev
as "the man who changed the modern world."
The MRCís Rich Noyes brought to my attention
this passage deep within Kaiserís piece:
"For this reporter the enduring memory of
Katharine Graham as newswoman will be the interview a group of us had with
Mikhail Gorbachev in 1988. Mrs. Graham, Meg Greenfield, Jim Hoagland and
I, joined by Rick Smith of Newsweek, spent weeks preparing for this
opportunity. Mrs. Graham was our drill sergeant. When we got to Moscow,
she wanted to keep planning, so we held more meetings as we walked in the
open air in Gorky Park, away from KGB microphones, we hoped.
"When we walked into Gorbachev's office,
Katharine Graham was beautifully coiffed and nervous as a schoolgirl (as
was I). But she looked him straight in the eye and asked the long-planned
first question, then followed up. We had a fascinating conversation with
the man who changed the modern world."
For Kaiserís reflections on Graham in full,
doesnít take much to be considered newsworthy by ABC News. In this case,
on Thursday night Peter Jennings made time to report on 30 guys in India
upset that President Bush has a cat named "India." Iím not
Jennings announced on the July 19 World News
Tonight: "In India about 30 people demonstrated outside the U.S.
consulate in Bombay. They said they were insulted that President Bush had
called his cat ĎIndia.í Their posters read, as you can see, Ďdonít
make a mistakeí Mr. President, Indians are lions not cats.í"
As Jennings spoke viewers saw this sign held
up by four men:
"Mr. PRESIDENT, DONíT MAKE
MISTAKE, INDIANS ARE LIONS
NOT THE CAT"
The AP ran a story on this big scandal and it
reported that the men are upset not so much by the catís name but that
the name is listed on the White House Web siteís biography of President
Bush. Indeed, the bio includes this paragraph: "President Bush is
married to Laura Welch Bush, a former teacher and librarian, and they have
19-year-old twin daughters, Barbara and Jenna. The Bush family also
includes their two dogs, Spot and Barney, and a cat, India."
That bio is posted at: http://whitehouse.gov/president
If only 30 conservatives milling around a
poster in this country could so easily earn network air time.