Anti-Bush Communists Unlabeled; Dan Rather Lashed Out at Ashcroft for Daring to Counter Slanderous Charge; Jeffords Acted on “Principle”; An Actor Who Won’t Vote for Hillary
1) CBS’s John Roberts and NBC’s Campbell Brown failed to label a few German legislature who unfurled an anti-Bush banner during Bush’s Thursday address in the German Bundestag, thus implying they were in the mainstream. But ABC’s Terry Moran realized they were “far-left legislators” and FNC’s Jim Angle called them “members of a leftist party.”
2) On Friday morning Dan Rather lashed out at John Ashcroft for daring to question Rather’s claim that Ashcroft’s use of private planes last year suggested he knew terrorists might hijack a commercial flight. Rather told Don
Imus: “It probably would be better for him to spend a little less time trying to...sully up my reputation in some way, cover his own backside.” Rather smarmily blasted
Ashcroft: “At the same time he’s cutting back the anti-terrorism budget, he’s arranging for a private plane to fly himself around. That doesn’t look particularly good.”
3) CNN adopted the liberal spin on the decision last year of Senator Jim Jeffords to put Democrats in control of the Senate. In a Thursday promo for a prime time look back, CNN’s announcer declared as fact that Jeffords was “a Senator acting on principle.” Jonathan Karl went 30 minutes without describing
Jeffords’ ideology, but he made sure viewers realized that “as a tenor in the Singing Senators, Jim Jeffords harmonized with three of the most conservative fellow Republicans in Congress.”
4) Bias blasts from the past. How journalists reveled a year ago in Senator
Jeffords’ decision to put liberal Democrats in charge of the Senate. They labeled him a "moderate" or a "maverick," but never a liberal. Andrea Mitchell called him "perfectly suited" for the state since "Vermonters say they’re not liberal or conservative, just socially conscious." Time gushed: "Thanks to a stern, quiet man named
Jeffords, Bush may finally have the opportunity to create the kind of Washington he promised last fall."
5) Not everyone in Hollywood loves Hillary. During an appearance on NBC’s Tonight Show, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. promised “I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton” and declared: “I’m a Republican.”
6) As read by five sailors and five marines, Letterman’s “Top Ten Signs You've Been at Sea Too Long.”
By failing to properly label them, CBS’s John Roberts and NBC’s Campbell Brown imputed greater meaning than deserved to a few communist members of the German legislature who unfurled an anti-Bush and Schroeder banner during Bush’s Thursday address to the German Bundestag.
In fact, as Dana Milbank noted in the May 24 Washington Post, the three legislators were “from the Party of Democratic Socialism, the old East German Communist Party.”
“So far the President’s trip has been dominated by Europe’s concern he’s planning a war with Iraq,” Brown asserted on the May 23 NBC Nightly News. Brown continued: “In Germany, outcry from protesters demanding Bush back down. At the Bundestag today as the President spoke members of Parliament disrupted his remarks, unfurling a banner calling for Bush and German Chancellor Schroeder to quote, ‘Stop Your Wars.’”
CBS’s John Roberts attributed the rude protest of a few to the many, referring to reaction to Bush’s call for a war on terrorism: “It’s a tough sell among skeptical Germans. Some in the chamber heckled the President, calling on him to ‘Stop Your Wars.’”
But on ABC’s World News Tonight, Terry Moran pointed out the ideology of the dissenters: “The President’s speech was disrupted by a protest staged by far-left legislators, which seemed to startle him, but his answer to such concerns was a stark warning: You could be next.”
Bush: “Those who despise human freedom will attack it on every continent. Those who seek missiles and terrible weapons are also familiar with the map of Europe.”
Similarly, on Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle observed: “The President then paused as members of a leftist party shouted and unfurled a banner reading, ‘Mr. Bush and Mr. Schroeder: Stop Your Wars.’”
On the May 23 CBS Evening News on Thursday night, John Roberts observed: “In a parliament building that once stood at the edge of the Iron Curtain, President Bush today urged the leaders of a reunified Germany to stay the course declaring while the Cold War may be over, the war on terrorism has only just begun."
George W. Bush: "There can be no lasting security in a world at the mercy of terrorists for my nation or for any nation."
Roberts insisted: "It's a tough sell among skeptical Germans. Some in the chamber heckled the President, calling for him to 'Stop Your Wars.' Outside in the streets of Berlin, thousands of anti-war protesters demonstrated for three days against Mr. Bush's intent to widen the campaign to Iraq. Even Germany's government is balking at that, fearful an attack against Saddam Hussein could set fire to the entire region. President Bush today warned if Iraq develops weapons of mass destruction, no one on any continent will be safe from the threats."
Dan Rather not only refused to apologize to Attorney General John Ashcroft for suggesting on Wednesday’s Imus in the Morning that Ashcroft used private aircraft last year because he knew terrorists might hijack a commercial flight, he lashed out at Ashcroft for daring to question Rather’s claim: “It probably would be better for him to spend a little less time trying to, you know, sully up my reputation in some way, cover his own backside, and a little more time in let’s get this thing straight.”
Rather appeared by phone during the 8am EDT half hour of Friday morning’s Imus in the Morning radio show simulcast on MSNBC.
Instead of owning up to how he had impugned Ashcroft without nearly enough proof to justify such a slanderous charge, Rather rationalized his charge on how the Justice Department did not reveal last year that there was a personal threat against Ashcroft which had prompted the use of private planes: “The Justice Department said the decision not to take commercial flights was made because of quote, 'a threat assessment’ by the FBI. Nothing at that time about any specific threat to the person of the Attorney General. And when the Attorney General was asked about it at that time, his answer was frankly kind of confused and confusing.”
Rather lectured that it is Ashcroft’s job “to see what procedures in the FBI need to be improved and go about improving them, not spend his time trying to touch up some reporter he thinks has said the wrong thing. In this case, me. I don’t think the wrong thing was said.”
Rather also advocated an independent investigation of who knew what before September 11 and suggested that Ashcroft opposes that because, “unfortunately for us and for the country, anti-terrorism was not a priority for the Justice Department before 9-11.” Rather smarmily added: “At the same time he’s cutting back the anti-terrorism budget, he’s arranging for a private plane to fly himself around. That doesn’t look particularly good.”
More below from what Rather said this morning, but first some of what occurred Wednesday and Thursday morning on the Imus show:
-- As recounted in the May 23 CyberAlert, Wednesday on MSNBC’s Imus in the Morning Rather passed along the vile claim that the fact that Attorney General Ashcroft was “inexplicably” using private aircraft last year proves he feared a terrorist hijacking. An hour later, NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski informed Imus that Ashcroft’s private plane use had nothing to do with terrorism and was prompted by personal threats on his life.
“There are important questions that need to be asked, but again, until recently, I would say, until the last week, nobody was asking 'em,” Rather intoned. Rather asserted that “just before September 11th” Ashcroft “started inexplicably taking private aircraft to places where normally the Attorney General wouldn't take private aircraft, you know, government planes. Well, that would indicate that somebody somewhere was getting pretty worried, but if you're going to share that with the Attorney General, you know, why wasn't it shared with the public at large?”
For a full rundown, check the May 23
-- On Thursday’s Imus in the Morning, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, Imus had reported that someone from CBS had called the show looking for a transcript of what Rather had said on it the day before.
Imus related: "Apparently now, John Ashcroft's office, the Attorney General's office is jumping ugly with Dan Rather over something Rather -- god, this makes me so happy, I can't stand it...over something Rather said yesterday morning on the Imus in the Morning program.”
After reviewing what Rather had claimed, Imus recalled: “I walk back and Cara Dugan [sp?], who's the associate producer, the executive assistant to the Imus in the Morning program both locally and nationally, said that she had received a call from somebody at CBS, I guess wanting a transcript of this conversation I had with Dan Rather yesterday.”
Imus was impressed with himself: “It just makes me very happy whenever someone like Mr. Rather, who's a friend of mine, gets in trouble at the hands of Attorney General Ashcroft, who also is, not necessarily a friend of mine, but a huge Imus fan, and a guy who went to high school with Charles McCord.”
-- What Rather said on Friday morning, May 24. In time sequence, what I’ve had time in the past hour or so to get down from Rather’s appearance during the 8am EDT half hour this morning:
“It probably would be better for him [Ashcroft] to spend a little less time trying to, you know, sully up my reputation in some way, cover his own backside, and a little more time in let’s get this thing straight.”
• When the use of the private plane was announced in July, “the Justice Department said the decision not to take commercial flights was made because of quote, 'a threat assessment’ by the FBI. Nothing at that time about any specific threat to the person of the Attorney General. And when the Attorney General was asked about it at that time, his answer was frankly kind of confused and confusing. Now anyone listening right now may have ample evidence that everyone can be poorly spoken at any one time. But what I’m getting at is this: When the Attorney General and Justice Department don’t come out and say, clearly and unambiguously, that this is because of a specific threat to the person of Mr. Ashcroft, that they make -- at the time remember, after 9-11 they changed some -- but rather make vague pronouncements about threat assessments, maybe vague for good reasons, who knows, then I don’t think reporters can be blamed in light of what’s happened since for asking: 'Well, wait a minute, was the threat assessment at piece with similar warnings we’ve learned about concerning commercial airliner hijackings or not.”
In other words, in the absence of knowledge, feel free to impugn people.
“Now, final point, the way to get at this is the way that Senator Lieberman and Senator John McCain have suggested, and a lot of Democrats and Republicans, let’s take this thing out of the political arena as much as possible. Let’s have an independent investigation. Not to nail anybody, but about how we can do it better.”
“He’s [Ashcroft] had some of his publicity agents call around newspapers trying to plant some negative stories and, you know, that goes with the territory I guess, but I had thought he was bigger than that.”
Ashcroft’s job “is to see what procedures in the FBI need to be improved and go about improving them, not spend his time trying to touch up some reporter he thinks has said the wrong thing. In this case, me. I don’t think the wrong thing was said.”
(Rather’s job is to report accurately, not hurl speculative allegations.)
“It has been raised by Al Hunt in the Wall Street Journal and some others, the suggestion at least, that one reason that the Attorney General doesn’t want an independent investigation of any of this stuff is that, unfortunately for us and for the country, that anti-terrorism was not a priority for the Justice Department before 9-11.”
“At the same time he’s [Ashcroft] cutting back the anti-terrorism budget, he’s arranging for a private plane to fly himself around. That doesn’t look particularly good. There may have been good reasons for it. I’ve said that if he says there was a good reason for it and it had nothing to do with this other, I accept that for the moment. But let’s have an independent commission look into all of this.”
How about an independent commission to look at how Dan Rather abuses his position to advance his personal vendettas?
Rather's been on a roll recently. Last week on the BBC he compared suppression of dissent in the U.S. to how “there was a time, in South Africa, where people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways, the fear is that you’ll be necklaced here, you’ll have the flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck.” He also claimed: “What you have is a miniature....version of what you have in totalitarian states, where they produce films about how great the Great Leader is, and how he’s getting greater in every way every day.” For more:
CNN adopted the liberal spin on the decision last year of Senator Jim Jeffords to become an independent and thus put Democrats in control of the U.S. Senate. In a promo run during the day Thursday for a half-hour special show Thursday night to mark the one-year anniversary of what Senator Trent Lott dubbed a “one-man coup,” the CNN announcer claimed it was a case of “a Senator acting on principle.”
Opening that 8:30pm EDT show, Jonathan Karl hailed how “on that one fateful day a year ago, Jeffords rocked the political world and made a move that historians will still be talking about a hundred years from now.”
Karl managed to go 30 minutes without once describing Jeffords’ ideology, but he made sure viewers realized what he was not. Over matching video, Karl recalled: “The music may be an acquired taste, but as a tenor in the Singing Senators, Jim Jeffords harmonized with three of the most conservative fellow Republicans in Congress, a group that included John Ashcroft before he was Attorney General, and the top Republican in the Senate Trent Lott. But Jeffords would be increasingly out of tune with his band-mates after George W. Bush was sworn in as President.”
(In an FNC story, Carl Cameron managed to tag Jeffords: “A year ago cameras flashed like crazy when Jeffords, a little-known liberal Republican, shook up the Senate.”)
A bit past 11am on Thursday, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, CNN carried live coverage of Democrats celebrating the Jeffords switch. Co-anchor Leon Harris heralded how “the low-key Senator has become something of a political icon. He’s been on the cover of Rolling Stone, got a book deal, and he’s even had a beer named after him.”
Co-anchor Carol Costello quipped: “Whoa! No wonder he’s smiling back there.”
CNN then ran a lengthy promo for Karl’s upcoming special:
Karl: “This was the first time since 1881 that the Congress was perfectly divided between Democrats and Republicans. You knew that one individual could totally throw that into question.”
CNN announcer: “It was a pivotal moment in American politics, and CNN was there. First!”
Sen. James Jeffords from May 24, 2001: “I will leave the Republican Party and become an independent.”
Karl: “I got what I thought was a pretty solid tip from somebody that said, ‘Democrats are talking to Jeffords.’”
The CNN announcer declared as fact: “A Senator acting on principle.”
Karl: “Our first call came from him before he told anybody on his staff.”
CNN announcer: “And a shift in the balance of power.”
Karl: “The Democrats thought their carefully guarded so super-secret negotiations were over because we had blown the lid off it on CNN.”
Karl from May 18, 2001: “He is now openly flirting with the idea of possibly switching parties.”
Karl: “This was the event that changed the balance of power in Washington.”
CNN announcer: “‘The Shift of Power: The Jim Jeffords Story,’ 8:30 Eastern on CNN tonight.”
Bias blasts from the past. From the CyberAlert archives, how journalists reveled a year ago in Senator Jeffords’ decision to put liberal Democrats in charge of the Senate:
-- Jeffords Defection Theme #1: Bush should move left to the center. CBS’s John Roberts relayed how a Democratic pollster hoped, "he may be forced to govern from the middle." NBC’s Campbell Brown pushed Bush to the left: "The President’s options? Political analysts say bi-partisan compromise."
-- Jeffords Defection Theme #2: Label him a "moderate," or a "maverick," but never what he really is, a liberal. Looking at ideological ratings, Jeffords’ record makes him 24 points less conservative and 25 points more liberal than a true moderate like Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine.
-- Jeffords Defection Theme #3: Blame conservatives for making the Republican Party too conservative. ABC’s Linda Douglass referred to his "frustration with his increasingly conservative party." NBC’s Lisa Myers worried about how he "was treated as a pariah in his own party." On MSNBC, Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter suggested the Republican Party left him.
-- Jeffords Defection Theme #4: Scold the Bush White House for punishing him for working to eviscerate their bills. NBC’s Lisa Myers credited his departure to how "he is deeply offended by lack of respect from the White House and from key Senate Republicans."
-- Republican Party too conservative. ABC and CBS conveyed Jim Jeffords’ warning that Bush must listen to "moderates" or he’ll be a one-termer. CBS relayed the recommendation of one operative to reach out to "others who feel Jim Jeffords’s pain." NBC’s Lisa Myers put the burden on Bush: "This new reality will test the President’s promise to be uniter and not a divider."
-- The networks assumed Jeffords had only noble intentions as they focused on approval by Vermonters. Bob Schieffer: "He was treated like a rock star." Jim Axelrod claimed Vermont "values principle over party." Tom Brokaw admired how he "embraced a flinty kind of New England independence." Andrea Mitchell called him "perfectly suited" for the state since "Vermonters say they’re not liberal or conservative, just socially conscious."
-- Pressed by David Letterman about whether anyone was betrayed by Jeffords, Tom Brokaw rejected the idea: "No...I think he campaigned on the very issues that he said he’s leaving the Republican Party for." Brokaw maintained that "those flinty New Englanders, they treasure their independence, and they like someone who stands up for their state and for principle."
-- Despite his fairly liberal voting record, NBC’s Today insisted upon labeling Jeffords as a "moderate" and an "independent thinker."
-- NPR’s Nina Totenberg claimed Republicans have an "abusive relationship" with moderates as "the enables" and conservatives as "the abusers." Time’s Margaret Carlson praised Jeffords as "a man of principle" who spoke for her as "he gave word to what some of us have not been able to."
-- Two Washington Post reporters praised Jim Jeffords for dumping the GOP. E.J Dionne claimed his "departure may have been a profound act of loyalty toward his fellow embattled moderates." David Ignatius expressed relief at how Democrats can now "help" Bush: "An administration that managed the amazing feat of getting kicked off the U.N. Human Rights Commission this month clearly needs some help. And now the Democrats, thanks to Sen. Jeffords, are in a position to provide some advice and consent."
-- A Washington Post front page news story on Saturday echoed the liberal themes expressed by Dionne and Ignatius. Thomas Edsall and David Broder used the switch to argue that the Jeffords split "is the most glaring example of the difficulties facing the Republican Party in its struggle to hold together a fragile coalition under a party leadership dominated by conservative white southern men."
-- NBC’s Matt Lauer suggested to Karen Hughes: "Is this a chance for the party to look at itself and perhaps move more to the center, become more moderate in the wake of his defection?" ABC and CBS on Friday morning took a similar approach toward Hughes Friday morning.
-- "Vt. Moderate Might Leave Republican Party, But Rightward-Marching GOP Left Him First," announced a USA Today headline. In the story reporter Kathy Kiely more accurately dubbed Jeffords a "northeastern liberal." Pre-1990 Jeffords earned the same liberal rating, 87 percent, as Pat Leahy.
-- Newsweek proclaimed beside a cover picture of Jim Jeffords: "A Quiet Yankee Sends a Loud Message to the Republican Right." The other news weeklies also approached from the left, rebuking the GOP as too conservative and urging Bush left. Time’s Karen Tumulty complained Bush’s "compassionate rhetoric masked his conservatism"
and concluded by gushing: "Thanks to a stern, quiet man named Jeffords, Bush may finally have the opportunity to create the kind of Washington he promised last fall."
Not everyone in Hollywood loves Hillary. During an appearance Monday night on NBC’s Tonight Show with Jay Leno, actor Freddie Prinze Jr. promised “I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton” because “I’m a Republican!”
Prinze’s comments came as fellow guest Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel and Leno raised a potential presidential bid by Senator Clinton.
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory tracked down the exchange which occurred on the May 20 Tonight Show. Prinze was a guest to promote the new Scooby Doo movie in which he stars.
O’Reilly on Senator Clinton: “I think she’s got a constituency among unions, among minorities, and, because that’s who’s going to get the money that she takes from you, and I, and Freddie.”
Freddie Prinze, Jr.: “[unintelligible] take my money, wait a minute!”
O’Reilly: “Freddie, trust me, she’s taking your money.”
Prinze: “I’m not voting for Hillary Clinton!”
O’Reilly: “She’s coming to your house, gonna take your wallet right out of there-”
Prinze: “I’m a Republican!”
For more about Prinze, check the Internet Movie Database’s biography of him:
Not only have I never seen any of his movies, I’ve never even heard of most of them. I guess all the big stars are with Hillary.
From the May 23 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by five sailors from the U.S.S. Iwo Jima and five marines from the
2nd battalion, 25th Marine Regiment from Garden City, New York, the “Top Ten Signs You've Been at Sea Too Long.” Late Show Web page:
10. In cabs, you tell driver where you want to go using latitude and longitude
(Corporal Tim Ledwith)
9. You smell like kelp
(Operations Specialist Chief Michael Fry)
8. After turning on TV you scream, "My god! What's become of the young and virile Morley Safer?!"
(Lance Corporal John Aikler)
7. You spot a school of fish and actually recognize some of them
(Engineman 2nd Class Barbara Smith)
6. Not only do you have sea legs, you have sea hair
(Lance Corporal Chris Ferrier)
5. The first mate he got drunk, and broke in the captain's bunk, the constable had to come and take him away
(Quartermaster Chief Bob Hunt)
4. Your name is Larry, you sign letters "U.S.S. Larry"
(Sergeant David Messinger)
3. The other day I yelled at a seagull to shut the hell up
(Fire Controlman 2nd Class Jennifer Clark)
2. Stunned to learn there's a baseball team in Tampa Bay...actually most Americans have that reaction
(Lance Corporal Sean Ledwith)
1. You answer the phone, "Ahoy?"
(Damage Controlman 3rd Class Brian Patnoudes)
Have an enjoyable and, this year, an especially meaningful Memorial Day weekend.
-- Brent Baker
Sign up for
Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive
CyberAlerts via e-mail.
questions and comments about
You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC’s Web site by subscribing to the “MRC Web Site News” distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to:
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe