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The 1,934th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:20am EST, Thursday March 17, 2005 (Vol. Ten; No. 48)
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1. Gregory Insists Personal Accounts "Unpopular," Poll Differs
At Wednesday morning's presidential news conference, NBC's David Gregory told President Bush that the idea of personal accounts for Social Security "remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with the majority of Americans." In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News survey released on Tuesday found that 56 percent support "a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market." But Gregory's misperception is somewhat understandable given that the Washington Post headlined its Tuesday front page story on the poll: "Skepticism of Bush's Social Security Plan Is Growing."

2. Bumiller of the NY Times Again Poses the Most Obnoxious Question Obnoxious question of the day. New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, who at a presidential news conference last year demanded of President Bush, "Do you feel any sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?", at Wednesday morning's news conference set up a question with a proposition: "Paul Wolfowitz was the chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history is your choice to be the President of the world bank." Bush recognized her agenda and jumped in to point out over her supposition: "That's an interesting start."

3. ABC's Moran and Jennings Fret Over "Very Big Issue" of Rendering
The U.S. policy of "rendering" terrorist suspects to their native countries really disturbs many journalists who seem more concerned about the welfare of the suspects than in how the policy has disrupted and prevented terrorist attacks. The current round of media vexation began with a 60 Minutes piece and New York Times stories a couple of weeks ago and it continues to animate ABC. At Wednesday's presidential news conference, Terry Moran wanted Bush to explain why the U.S. takes suspects "to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people in custody?" The night before, Peter Jennings claimed the transfers are "a very big issue in the United States" as he told Jordan's King Abdullah that is "because Americans believe that prisoners are being sent...to countries where torture is permissible or acceptable rather than here." Jennings described those involved as "quote, 'suspected terrorists,' unquote."

4. Networks Falsely Claim Oil and Gas at "Record High" Prices
The futures price for a barrel of oil and the cost of a gallon of gas at the retail pump have been soaring, but they are far from record highs, yet the networks make that false assertion. On Wednesday night, Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, the price of oil is at another record high." Betsy Stark soon issued an inaccurate prediction that "gas prices are now within a penny of their all-time record." On CNN, Erica Hill referred to how "crude oil prices hit a record high today closing" and the "AAA predicts U.S. gas prices could reach an all-time high tomorrow." CBS's Bob Schieffer insisted that "the price of oil hit a record $56 a barrel today." NBC's Brian Williams declared that "the price of oil set a new record high -- $56 a barrel." PBS's Jim Lehrer maintained that "the price of crude oil rose to an all-time high today." FNC's Shepard Smith warned: "The cost of oil hitting an all-time high. It looks like the cost of gas is not far from behind." In fact, adjusted for inflation, oil will have to hit $90 a barrel to set a record high and gasoline would reach a record not at $2.07 per gallon but at a $2.97.


 

Gregory Insists Personal Accounts "Unpopular,"
Poll Differs

     At Wednesday morning's presidential news conference, NBC's David Gregory told President Bush that the idea of personal accounts for Social Security "remains, according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with the majority of Americans." In fact, a Washington Post/ABC News survey released on Tuesday found that 56 percent support "a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market." But Gregory's misperception is somewhat understandable given that the Washington Post headlined its Tuesday front page story on the poll: "Skepticism of Bush's Social Security Plan Is Growing."
    
     During the March 16 press conference, NBC News White House reporter David Gregory asked President Bush, as tracked down by the MRC's Ken Shepherd: "Mister President, you say you're making progress on the Social Security debate. Yet private accounts as the centerpiece of that plan, something you first campaigned on five years ago and laid before the American people, remains according to every measure we have, poll after poll, unpopular with the majority of Americans. So the question is, do you feel that this is a point in the debate where it's incumbent upon you, and nobody else, to lay out a plan to the American people for how you actually keep Social Security solvent for the long term?"

     Bush responded that he has not laid out plan but only principles.

     On the Washington Post/ABC News poll, the March 15 Post headline announced: "Skepticism of Bush's Social Security Plan Is Growing." The subhead: "Polling and Interviews Find Concerns Across Age Groups."

     Jonathan Weisman began his front page article:
     "Three months after President Bush launched his drive to restructure Social Security by creating private investment accounts, public support for his program remains weak, with only 35 percent of Americans now saying they approve of his handling of the issue, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
     "While the White House has helped convince more than two-thirds of those polled that Social Security is heading for a crisis or possible bankruptcy without change, 56 percent disapprove of his approach, a survey of 1,001 adults conducted March 10-13 shows. By comparison, 38 percent approved of his handling of the issue and 52 percent disapproved of it in mid-December."

     For the story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

     However, as FNC's Brit Hume pointed out in his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday night, a look at the full poll questionnaire reveals fairly solid support for Bush's personal accounts idea. Question 9G: "Would you support or oppose a plan in which people who chose to could invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market?" Support: 56 percent, oppose: 41 percent, no opinion: 3 percent.

     For the complete poll results: www.washingtonpost.com

    

 

Bumiller of the NY Times Again Poses
the Most Obnoxious Question

     Obnoxious question of the day. New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller, who at a presidential news conference last year demanded of President Bush, "Do you feel any sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?", at Wednesday morning's news conference set up a question with a proposition: "Paul Wolfowitz was the chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history is your choice to be the President of the world bank." Bush recognized her agenda and jumped in to point out over her supposition: "That's an interesting start."

     Bumiller's question in full with Bush's interjection: "Paul Wolfowitz was the chief architect of one of the most unpopular wars in our history is your choice to be-"
     President Bush, chuckling: "That's an interesting start."
     Bumiller, partially re-stating her question: "-is your choice to be the President of the World Bank. What kind of a signal does that send to the rest of the world?"

     Rewind to a prime time news conference on April 13, 2004 and Bumiller inquired of Bush: "To move to the 9/11 Commission, you yourself have acknowledged in the, that Osama bin Laden was not a central focus of the administration in the months before September 11th. I was not on point,' you told the journalist Bob Woodward. I didn't feel that sense of urgency.' Two-and-a-half years later, do you feel any sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?"
     Bush disagreed with her quotes of him: "Let me put that quote to Woodward in context. He had asked me if I was -- something about killing bin Laden. That's what the question was. And I said, compared to how I felt at the time, after the attack, I didn't have that. I also went on to say, my blood wasn't boiling, I think is what the quote said. I didn't see -- I mean, I didn't have that great sense of outrage that I felt on September the 11th...."

     Bumiller soon repeated her question: "Do you feel a sense of personal responsibility for September 11th?"

    

 

ABC's Moran and Jennings Fret Over "Very
Big Issue" of Rendering

     The U.S. policy of "rendering" terrorist suspects to their native countries really disturbs many journalists who seem more concerned about the welfare of the suspects than in how the policy has disrupted and prevented terrorist attacks. The current round of media vexation began with a 60 Minutes piece and New York Times stories a couple of weeks ago and it continues to animate ABC. At Wednesday's presidential news conference, Terry Moran wanted Bush to explain why the U.S. takes suspects "to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people in custody?" The night before, Peter Jennings claimed the transfers are "a very big issue in the United States" as he told Jordan's King Abdullah that is "because Americans believe that prisoners are being sent...to countries where torture is permissible or acceptable rather than here." Jennings described those involved as "quote, 'suspected terrorists,' unquote."

     At the March 16 news conference, Moran pressed Bush: "Mister President, can you explain why you've approved of and expanded the practice of what's called rendition of transferring individuals out of U.S. custody to countries where human rights groups and your own State Department say torture is common for people in custody?"

     Bush explained that in a post-9/11 world we must protect the U.S. from attack and he asserted that the nations promise not to use torture.

     Moran followed up: "As Commander-in-Chief, what is it that Uzbekistan can do in interrogating an individual that the United States can't do?"

     With King Abdullah in Washington, DC on Tuesday for a meeting with President George W. Bush, Peter Jennings flew down to the District to interview him someplace with an ornate setting. On the March 15 World News Tonight, Jennings touted the interview: "The King of Jordan says President Bush deserves credit for recent changes in the Middle East. An ABC News exclusive." The MRC's Brad Wilmouth caught this exchange from that session:

     Jennings: "Why do you think the United States is sending, quote, 'suspected terrorists,' unquote, to Jordan?"
     King Abdullah: "I'm not fully aware of that process."
     Jennings claimed: "It's a very big issue in the United States, as I'm sure you know, because Americans believe that prisoners are being sent or rendered, as it's called, to countries where torture is permissible or acceptable rather than here."
     Abdullah: "Right, I think that we have standards that we want to keep as part of the international community. And if there are any wrongdoings done in Jordan, then, you know, we need to make sure that those issues are addressed."
     Jennings: "Can you imagine yourself saying no to the United States if the United States wanted to send a suspected terrorist to the Jordanian system?"
     Abduallah: "Well, I guess we'd cross that bridge when we come to it."

    

 

Networks Falsely Claim Oil and Gas at
"Record High" Prices

     The futures price for a barrel of oil and the cost of a gallon of gas at the retail pump have been soaring, but they are far from record highs, yet the networks make that false assertion. On Wednesday night, Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, the price of oil is at another record high." Betsy Stark soon issued an inaccurate prediction that "gas prices are now within a penny of their all-time record." On CNN, Erica Hill referred to how "crude oil prices hit a record high today closing" and the "AAA predicts U.S. gas prices could reach an all-time high tomorrow." CBS's Bob Schieffer insisted that "the price of oil hit a record $56 a barrel today." NBC's Brian Williams declared that "the price of oil set a new record high -- $56 a barrel." PBS's Jim Lehrer maintained that "the price of crude oil rose to an all-time high today." FNC's Shepard Smith warned: "The cost of oil hitting an all-time high. It looks like the cost of gas is not far from behind." In fact, adjusted for inflation, oil will have to hit $90 a barrel to set a record high and gasoline would reach a record not at $2.07 per gallon but at a $2.97.

     During President Bush's morning news conference on Wednesday, CBS White House reporter John Roberts set up a question: "Mister President, the price of oil is at record levels..."

     By the network reasoning, whenever the price of any product reaches a nominally high price that should be news. So we should be hearing about "record high" prices for furniture and cars and cereal, etc.

     "Oil Prices Closes at Record High of $56" read the misleading headline over a Wednesday AP dispatch. But Brad Foss acknowledged in his fifth paragraph: "While oil prices are 50 percent higher than a year ago, futures would need to climb above $90 a barrel to approach the inflation-adjusted peak set in 1980." See: news.yahoo.com

     The front page of Tuesday's USA Today featured a headline which declared: "Gas just shy of record." Reporter James R. Healey led: "The price of gasoline is less than a penny from the record, the government reported Monday, meaning that a new high is probable this week. U.S. average for a gallon of unleaded regular is $2.056, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly fuel-price report. That's up a hefty 5.7 cents from last week and just 0.8 of a cent shy of the $2.064 nominal record EIA posted last May 24."

     Not until his seventh paragraph did Healey note: "Gas would have to hit $2.973 for an inflation-adjusted record, according to government data."

     For Healey's March 15 story: www.usatoday.com

     But unlike the networks, at least the AP and USA Today included facts which undermined their headlines.

     Fuller quotations of the network claims, from Wednesday night March 16, cited in brief above, several of which were taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

     -- Peter Jennings teased, with "Record High" on screen over an image of oil barrels and a gas station's price list: "On World News Tonight, the price of oil is at another record high. But what can be done to control the rising prices?"

     Jennings opened his broadcast: "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin tonight with something of a mystery in the world oil markets, which have such a broad impact on the economy. Oil prices hit a record high today -- $56 a barrel. The price jumped by more than a dollar a barrel today."

     With "Record Oil Price" as the on-screen slug for her story, Betsy Stark proceeded to explain how OPEC says it will produce more oil, but analysts worry that OPEC can't provide enough more to match increased demand from China and India. She concluded by adding: "Gas prices are now within a penny of their all-time record."

     -- CBS Evening News. Bob Schieffer: "And one final note from the news conference today, the President said he hopes members of Congress will listen to consumer complaints about rising gasoline prices and pass his energy bill. The price of oil hit a record $56 a barrel today."

     -- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams teased: "Wilderness fight: On the very day oil prices hit a new high, a decisive vote in the battle over drilling for new oil in Alaska."

     Williams began: "Good evening. They say the same thing about oil as they do about real estate: They're not making any more of it. Today, the price of oil set a new record high -- $56 a barrel."

     -- PBS NewsHour. Jim Lehrer: "The price of crude oil rose to an all-time high today. In New York, trading oil futures gained $1.40 cents to close at $56.46. The price rose despite OPEC announcing it would pump another 500,000 barrels of oil per day."

     -- FNC's Fox Report. Anchor Shepard Smith plugged an upcoming story: "The cost of oil hitting an all-time high. It looks like the cost of gas is not far from behind."

     Smith set up the subsequent report: "What next for the price of a gallon of gas? You better hang on. It could soon be higher than we've ever paid. That's what. A Triple A spokesman saying we're just a tenth of a cent short of that mark right now."

     -- CNN. Erica Hill in a news update at 10:17pm EST during NewsNight: "Crude oil prices hit a record high today closing at almost $56.5 a barrel. That jump followed a new report showing sharp declines last week in gasoline and heating oil inventories. Meantime, AAA predicts U.S. gas prices could reach an all-time high tomorrow."

-- Brent Baker

 


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