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The 2,412th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
10:50am EDT, Thursday May 17, 2007 (Vol. Twelve; No. 85)
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1. Williams Cues Up Bill Clinton to Blast Bush on Global Warming
Brian Williams turned over just under five minutes of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News to a live interview with former President Bill Clinton about his effort to address global warming, a fawning session which amounted to little more than pontificating from Clinton cued up by Williams, who set the tone by asking: "What does the current administration have to answer for? How much of it, in your view, is their fault?" The ostensible news hook for the segment: The "Clinton Climate Initiative's" announcement of "a global Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program." The three other questions Williams managed to squeeze in between Clinton's long-winded answers to the easy inquiries: "What have you done in your personal life that contributes to better environmental health, let's say, in this country?" Williams treated Clinton as an energy use expert: "For the people who find it hard to believe that replacing bulbs in their home or changing the vehicle they drive could make a difference, what's your counter-argument?" Finally, Williams turned cute: "How much of your personal time these days are you spending as, let's call it, political advisor to somebody close to you?"

2. Matthews Rips Huckabee's Edwards Jibe: 'Stupid' & 'Embarrassing'
Proving that he's not a fan of Republicans, Hardball host Chris Matthews slammed 2008 GOP contenders on Wednesday over their performance in the Republican debate the night before carried by FNC, accusing them of running a "mordant" and "negative campaign." Sounding like a Democratic activist, he appeared throughout the day on MSNBC and, at one point, bitterly complained about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's jibe that Congress spends money "like John Edwards at a beauty shop." Matthews condemned the line, which was delivered during a May 15 presidential debate, as "stupid," "embarrassing" and "pandering." But it's hardly surprising that a Republican would play to his Republican audience.

3. Jerry Falwell: An Extremist Punching Bag for Liberal Media
The sudden death of Rev. Jerry Falwell on Tuesday marked not just the passing of a television evangelist, but of a historic conservative leader and regular cable TV pundit. The mainstream media developed a strong distaste for him because he entered the political arena and helped establish a stronger conservative movement. For reporters, he was the definition of the far right, someone whose support made a Republican unacceptable, and any Republican who attacked him (like John McCain in 2000) quickly became a media hero. The Washington Post infamously described him as leading a flock that was "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

4. Hume Highlights How Newsweek Diagnoses Bush with Mental Illness
You read it here first. FNC's Brit Hume, in his Wednesday "Grapevine" segment, highlighted how in this week's Newsweek the magazine's science editor penned a piece accusing Bush of displaying the mental illness of "denial." Hume reported how Sharon Begley "offers as proof the President's insistence that the war will succeed, despite what she calls 'setback after setback.' She continues, quote: 'While it's always risky to psychoanalyze a politician from afar, a few things in his past are consistent with the capacity for denial.'"


 

Williams Cues Up Bill Clinton to Blast
Bush on Global Warming

     Brian Williams turned over just under five minutes of Wednesday's NBC Nightly News to a live interview with former President Bill Clinton about his effort to address global warming, a fawning session which amounted to little more than pontificating from Clinton cued up by Williams, who set the tone by asking: "What does the current administration have to answer for? How much of it, in your view, is their fault?" The ostensible news hook for the segment: The "Clinton Climate Initiative's" announcement of "a global Energy Efficiency Building Retrofit Program." See: www.clintonfoundation.org

     The three other questions Williams managed to squeeze in between Clinton's long-winded answers to the easy inquiries: "What have you done in your personal life that contributes to better environmental health, let's say, in this country?" Clinton insisted: "I have a hybrid vehicle which I drive, which I drove to New York to work today." Does the former President of the United States really drive his own car and not ride in a Secret Service-driven limo? And where do the agents ride in a puny hybrid? Or, it could be a larger hybrid SUV. But Williams didn't ask, but instead treated Clinton as an energy use expert: "For the people who find it hard to believe that replacing bulbs in their home or changing the vehicle they drive could make a difference, what's your counter-argument?" Finally, Williams turned cute: "How much of your personal time these days are you spending as, let's call it, political advisor to somebody close to you?"

     [This item was posted Wednesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     The MRC's Brad Wilmouth painstakingly labored to correct the closed-captioning against the video to provide this transcript of the 4:45 segment on the May 16 NBC Nightly News made up mostly of Clinton's long, uninterrupted answers:

     BRIAN WILLIAMS: Former President Bill Clinton today announced a broad initiative to make buildings in big cities around the world more energy efficient by renovating them and bringing them up to speed, at least environmentally. It is the latest gathering on the hot topic of going green, and the former President's been kind enough to duck out of what's going on across town to join us live here tonight. Mr. President, when did this reach, in your view, critical mass, and what does the current administration have to answer for? How much of it, in your view, is their fault?
     BILL CLINTON: Well, I think we've known now for many years that the world was warming at an unsustainable rate, that it's caused by human activity, and that we have to try to turn it around. There's still some debate about how bad it's going to get, how soon. And some people debate whether we can turn it around in a way that helps, rather than hurts, the economy. I'm convinced we can. But, you know, we did the Kyoto climate change treaty in the middle of my second term as President. And before that, we had had an attempt to make a car that tripled gas mileage with big auto companies. We undertook to green the White House and put conservation in the federal government's programs, which took the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of cars off the road. And we added about a billion dollars of clean energy research. But I think that in the last few years, as the evidence has mounted, we've seen more tax credits, we've seen more R and D, but the administration has not been willing to, in effect, limit carbon emissions and require reduction and then create a market by pricing carbons so that we can trade carbon credits, and the really efficient companies can find the most effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and others can pay them to do it. That's what I think should be done.
     WILLIAMS: I asked a question of Senator Obama in the Democratic debate I'd like to ask of you. What have you done in your personal life that contributes to better environmental health, let's say, in this country?
     CLINTON: I have a hybrid vehicle which I drive, which I drove to New York to work today. I have done an exhaustive audit on my home in New York. It's over a 100-year-old farmhouse that leaks like a sieve, and I've undertaken already over the last few years some energy efficiency measures, including replacing most of the lights with compact fluorescent bulbs. But I'm about to do a total overhaul of that with Hillary's concurrence. But I've got to do it at a time when we're going to be mostly out of the house. And, of course, my presidential library won a Silver Leads rating from the Leadership and Environmental and Energy Design and we're about to upgrade it to the top rating of platinum. So it's gonna be one of the most efficient big buildings in the entire world.
     WILLIAMS: I know you're after big-ticket items like big buildings in big cities, but for the people who find it hard to believe that replacing bulbs in their home or changing the vehicle they drive could make a difference, what's your counter-argument?
     CLINTON: Well, if you look at, let's just take lighting. Buildings account for 80 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions in an old city like New York, about a third in America as a whole. About 20 percent of that is straight from lighting. In a place like Las Vegas, it's more. But if everyone in America would go out and replace all their incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent ones, or the even more efficient LED ones, here's how it works. They cost three times as much, they use one-fourth as much energy, they last, depending on the price, five to 10 times as long. So if you screw them in and use them, you will save money the first year. Even after paying more for the bulbs, your net savings will be 25 to 40 percent because of lower utility rates. And you can cut the greenhouse gas emissions for buildings to approximately 20 percent. So it's a huge, huge deal.
     WILLIAMS: How much of your personal time these days are you spending as, let's call it, political advisor to somebody close to you?
     CLINTON: Not much. We, you know, we talk every day, of course, and I try to do some fund-raisers for her here in New York so she can be down in the Senate doing her job or be out in the primary states. And people here will normally take me in. And, of course, when we're, we talk about the big issues a lot, we talk about health care and the economy and climate change and foreign policy, as we have all of our lives. But I'm not very much involved in the day-to-day operations of the campaign. I do what I'm asked to do."
     WILLIAMS: All right, Mr. President, good luck with your gathering in New York. Thank you for taking time out to talk to us tonight.
     CLINTON: Thank you, Brian.

 

Matthews Rips Huckabee's Edwards Jibe:
'Stupid' & 'Embarrassing'

     Proving that he's not a fan of Republicans, Hardball host Chris Matthews slammed 2008 GOP contenders on Wednesday over their performance in the Republican debate the night before carried by FNC, accusing them of running a "mordant" and "negative campaign." Sounding like a Democratic activist, he appeared throughout the day on MSNBC and, at one point, bitterly complained about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's jibe that Congress spends money "like John Edwards at a beauty shop." Matthews condemned the line, which was delivered during a May 15 presidential debate, as "stupid," "embarrassing" and "pandering." But it's hardly surprising that a Republican would play to his Republican audience.

     The Hardball host showed up in the 2pm hour of MSNBC Live to trash Governor Huckabee for daring to make fun of John Edwards. Responding to a question by host Contessa Brewer about whether Huckabee prepared the line in advance, Matthews could barely contain his contempt: "Of course. You think he thought that up on the spot? Yeah. It's, it's, it's hokie panokie. It's Mickey Mouse. So what. And what a stupid thing. What did it have to do, John Edwards paid the price for his haircut weeks ago, to bring that up in front of that audience was pandering. Let's face it."

     [This item is adapted from a posting on the MRC's blog, with video, by Scott Whitlock. The audio/video will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, to watch or listen to Matthews ridiculing Huckabee, go to: newsbusters.org ]

     In an early morning interview with Imus replacement David Gregory, Matthews attacked Republicans as "desperate" for looking to former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson. He dismissed the Tennessean as just too old: "Certainly if Fred Thompson is their idea of a hero, they are desperate. He is not Ronald Reagan. He seems to be uninterested in the campaign. I, I think his first campaign pledge for something would be, 'Will somebody get my slippers?' I mean, he looks like a guy about to retire, not about to enter a race for President."

     Appearing on the newly minted Gregory Live show (MSNBC has been cycling through various possible replacements for the fired Don Imus), Matthews asserted that the only reason Republicans are supporting the war is because George Bush is part of the GOP: "They wouldn't be with this war for a second if it was Bill Clinton's war. They would say this is a crazy, ethnic war. What are we doing over there in the middle of all these nuts, nutty behavior? What, what are we doing there? But they are very loyal to their president and the leader of their party, George Bush."

     The Hardball anchor also expounded on a question about GOP themes in '08. After citing Hillary and Bill Clinton as issues to run on, Matthews snarled that the Republicans are "going to try to really scare the country about the dangers of that and they're going to use that as their rallying and unifying point."

     Transcripts of his various May 16 appearances:

     # Gregory Live, 7:37am. David Gregory: "But here's what I don't understand, how John McCain can stand up at a debate and use the very same language that George W. Bush uses about sticking with the strategy in Iraq, and not pay a penalty for that? Even among Republicans?"
     Chris Matthews: "Well, first of all, the Republican Party is a very disciplined party and even if you poll, you know this better than I, I mean, poll them today and they aren't with the president, they are with the president. They wouldn't be with this war for a second if it was Bill Clinton's war. They would say this is a crazy, ethnic war. What are we doing over there in the middle of all these nuts, nutty behavior? What, what are we doing there? But they are very loyal to their president and the leader of their party, George Bush. So, I think there's always that residual loyalty in the Republican Party that you never see in the Democratic Party. The Democrats love chaos. The Republicans like order and discipline and waiting your turn."

     # 7:41. Gregory: "Are you clear about what the Republicans, what the top Republicans are saying to the country about what their rational for keeping hold of the presidency is? What the campaign is about?"
     Matthews: "Well, I think it is about right now, the fear or the argument of what would happen if we left Iraq. That seems to be the chaos, the catastrophe to come. It is a very mordant, it's a very negative campaign. And it won't work with the American people. The American people are hopeful people and they are not going to vote for someone who simply proposes themselves as the only alternative to disaster. That is not going to work. But I do think down the road, you and I know that the issue is going to be Hillary Clinton. If she is the nominee and it looks like she will be, if she becomes the nominee, say, next February, from February to November, the Republicans are going to try to build up a head of steam against A, her coming back, B, him coming back, C, the Democrats coming back. And they're going to try to really scare the country about the dangers of that and they're going to use that as their rallying and unifying point. I'm not sure it will work. I think it will get her numbers down, but, you know, this could be a three-way race in which case Hillary could win with 45 percent. The Clintons are very lucky, I really believe in luck. I believe they have demonstrated their ability to win with good fortune and last time around Bill Clinton had 43 percent and he was elected president because of Ross Perot. I can see a situation developing where the Clintons both of them come back to the White House, given everything we know, just because of events, because of the three-way race or four-way race or simply the Republicans cannot find a hero. Certainly if Fred Thompson is their idea of a hero, they are desperate. And he is not Ronald Reagan. He seems to be uninterested in the campaign. I, I think his first campaign pledge for something would be, ‘Will somebody get my slippers?' I mean, he looks like a guy about to retire, not about to enter a race for president."

     # MSNBC Live, 2:05pm. Contessa Brewer: "And let's talk about Mike Huckabee, because last night he sort of had the humorous line of the night. I know a lot of people are talking about it."
     Chris Matthews: "That was set piece though. He brought that in with him."
     Brewer: "Okay, well, let's play it."
     Matthews: "How can you respect, these guys write this stuff down ahead of time with their staff people. They bring it aboard and they waste our time with this set pieces. I'm far more impressed by the candidates who can respond intelligently and spontaneously to the actual debate than the people who bring in" Well, go ahead. Let's show it. To me, it's like bringing in notebooks with information on it if they bring these set pieces in with them. It's embarrassing to everybody when they do these jokes."
     Brewer: "All right. We'll play it and then""
     [Brief montage of Huckabee statements.]
     Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee: "After I served for eight years as President I'd be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger. We've had a Congress that spent money like john Edwards at a beauty shop. And it's high time that we have a different kind of tax structure."
     Brewer: "So what you're saying is, they go into this, they prepare and they're going to figure out a way to use this line somewhere in the debate?"
     Matthews: "Of course. You think he thought that up on the spot? Yeah. It's, it's, it's hokie panokie. It's Mickey Mouse. So what. And what a stupid thing. What did it have to do, John Edwards paid the price for his haircut weeks ago, to bring that up in front of that audience was pandering. Let's face it."
     Brewer: "Do you think Mike Huckabee brings anything to the table except for bad jokes?"
     Matthews: "Well, that's for the voters to decide."

 

Jerry Falwell: An Extremist Punching
Bag for Liberal Media

     The sudden death of Rev. Jerry Falwell on Tuesday marked not just the passing of a television evangelist, but of a historic conservative leader and regular cable TV pundit. The mainstream media developed a strong distaste for him because he entered the political arena and helped establish a stronger conservative movement. For reporters, he was the definition of the far right, someone whose support made a Republican unacceptable, and any Republican who attacked him (like John McCain in 2000) quickly became a media hero. The Washington Post infamously described him as leading a flock that was "largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command."

     [This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Here's a selection of "Notable Quotables" capturing their attitudes:

     # "In 2000, John McCain ran for President as a different kind of politician....Straight talk included taking on powerful Christian conservatives like Jerry Falwell, whom he called an 'agent of intolerance.'....McCain is [now] trying to repair relations with the religious right.... For McCain, doing so could jeopardize his reputation for being a different kind of politician." -- Reporter Dan Harris on ABC's World News Tonight, April 14, 2006.

     # "Any decision that leaves Jerry Falwell feeling pleased and happy is a decision that you need to be skeptical about, and he was very happy with this decision." -- Time magazine national correspondent Jack White discussing President Bush's compromise position on federal embryonic stem-cell research on Inside Washington, August 11, 2001.

     # "George W. is one thing, but as long as the Republican Party -- you noted some of them -- is populated by the Pat Buchanans, the Jesse Helmses, the Jerry Falwells, the Bob Barrs, don't blacks have a right to be suspicious?" -- CBS's Bryant Gumbel to a panel of black men, August 2, 2000 The Early Show.

     # Dan Rather: "One issue that is sure to come up in the fall campaign that has already surfaced is Bush cozying up to the self-described religious right, including the Reverends Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell."
     Richard Schlesinger: "....Pollsters and pundits and politicians like to describe the primary season as a search for the soul of a party. Now the question is: Did George Bush sell his soul to the wrong group?" -- March 13, 2000 CBS Evening News.

     # "Goldwater was always honest, even when honesty didn't pay. My appreciation of Goldwater came in his and my later years when he called on Nixon to resign and when he said that Reagan was either a liar or incompetent for not knowing about Iran-Contra. He told the party to let abortion alone and to quote 'boot Jerry Falwell in the ass,' closed quote. He summed up gays in the military brilliantly. 'You don't have to be straight to shoot straight.' You don't get more honest than that." -- Time's Margaret Carlson, May 30, 1998 CNN Capital Gang.

     # "Sen. John Ashcroft of Missouri, an astringent and abstemious conservative, lambasted his fellow Republicans for their 'sin by silence,' and others started talking as well. The White House loves the exposure -- for the other side: Starr, televangelist Jerry Falwell, Internet gossip columnist Matt Drudge and assorted Republicans, among them Jesse Helms, Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott. To Clintonites, it seemed a usefully geeky crowd. 'They resemble a crew out of The Addams Family,' one White House spin doctor said, happily, 'with names by Charles Dickens.'" -- Washington reporter Howard Fineman in Newsweek, February 9, 1998.

     # NBC's Tom Brokaw: "The Promise Keepers and their charismatic leader have drawn plenty of attention over the years -- not all of it positive. In fact, some women's groups feel that Promise Keepers, their warm and fuzzy ideology, is a mask for something more sinister..."

     Jim Avila: "...and as their fundamentalist doctrines become better known, donations are dropping and rally attendance falling....Critics say there is more dangerous doctrine in the Promise Keepers agenda that to some looks more right wing than religious. Bill McCartney spoke at anti-abortion rallies, calls homosexuality a sin, and his group has received money and support from Jerry Falwell, the Christian Coalition, and Pat Robertson....As the Promise Keepers face their biggest weekend ever, they're finding that returning to a world where man has the final word will take more than a promise and a prayer." -- Nightly News, September 30, 1997.

     # "Preachers often mix religion and politics. In recent years, this temptation has arisen most prominently on the right, you know -- Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and those guys with celestial phones to God's ear. Back in 1992, after the hard-shell Republican convention in Houston, and humiliating defeat of President Bush, it looked like the religious right's influence might be waning. Not so...These righteous rightists are sure to be a major force in the fall election...Voters are blessed with common sense and free will. They customarily reject extremes of either the left, or the right." -- Former ABC Washington Bureau Chief George Watson in a commentary on the overnight newscast World News Now, June 23, 1994.

     # "Corporations pay public relations firms millions of dollars to contrive the kind of grass-roots response that Falwell or Pat Robertson can galvanize in a televised sermon. Their followers are largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command." -- Washington Post reporter Michael Weisskopf, February 1, 1993.

     # "An article yesterday characterized followers of television evangelists Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as `largely poor, uneducated, and easy to command.' There is no factual basis for that statement." -- Post corrections box, next day.

     # "Do you think it's a cosmetic change, what the Republicans are trying to do down here in New Orleans, forget about the evangelical look, the extremists, the Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, but change the whole cosmetics of the conservative right?" -- Question from CBS This Morning co-host Kathleen Sullivan to Dukakis campaign chairman Paul Brountas, August 17, 1988.

     # John McLaughlin: "What do you think of [Nicaraguan communist dictator Daniel] Ortega's implicit endorsement of Michael Dukakis this week?"
     Jack Germond: "George Bush has the endorsement of Jerry Falwell. I think it's a trade-off." -- exchange on The McLaughlin Group, August 13, 1988.

 

Hume Highlights How Newsweek Diagnoses
Bush with Mental Illness

     You read it here first. FNC's Brit Hume, in his Wednesday "Grapevine" segment, highlighted how in this week's Newsweek the magazine's science editor penned a piece accusing Bush of displaying the mental illness of "denial." Hume reported how Sharon Begley "offers as proof the President's insistence that the war will succeed, despite what she calls 'setback after setback.' She continues, quote: 'While it's always risky to psychoanalyze a politician from afar, a few things in his past are consistent with the capacity for denial.'"

     A May 16 CyberAlert item, first posted Tuesday on NewsBusters, "Newsweek Diagnoses Bush Ill for His 'Pathological Certainty,'" began: "Is President Bush mentally ill? Sharon Begley is a Senior Editor for science at Newsweek, which apparently entitled her to conduct a tired psychoanalysis of President Bush and his state of denial about the war in Iraq, suggested earlier in his life by his comforting his mother as his sister Robin died of leukemia at age three, and his alcohol abuse as an adult. It 'could all be dismissed as psychobabble,' Begley wrote in the May 21 issue, but she marshaled experts to diagnose him from afar for his 'pathological certainty that things are going well.'" See: www.mrc.org

     Hume's "Grapevine" item on the May 16 Special Report with Brit Hume: "The senior science editor at Newsweek magazine has suggested that President Bush is mentally ill -- writing that he is quote 'in a state of denial' over the Iraq war. Sharon Begley offers as proof the President's insistence that the war will succeed, despite what she calls 'setback after setback.' She continues, quote: 'While it's always risky to psychoanalyze a politician from afar, a few things in his past are consistent with the capacity for denial.'
     "She offers up the fact that as a seven-year-old boy, the President tried to comfort his mother after his baby sister died of leukemia. Begley writes, quote: 'The tip-off for denial is perpetual optimism, a pathological certainty that things are going well,' end quote. She also cites the fact that Mr. Bush has battled alcohol abuse, saying quote 'such people typically need to see the world in black and white in order to stay on the wagon.' Begley, though, has no formal education or training in the field of mental health that we could find. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Yale in something called 'combined sciences.'"

-- Brent Baker

 


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