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The 2,496th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
7:35am EDT, Wednesday September 26, 2007 (Vol. Twelve; No. 169)
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1. ABC's Moran Gushes Over 'Thoughtful' Bush Is a Racist Rapper
Terry Moran spent almost the entirety of Monday's Nightline gushing over Bush-bashing rapper Kanye West and when West reaffirmed his infamous "George Bush doesn't care about black people" slam, Moran praised him as a "complex and thoughtful pop star." After West asserted that "I have a hard time believing that George Bush cares about anyone," Moran extolled how the original 2005 remark turned West "into a cultural force to be reckoned with" who "is looking for new worlds to conquer." Moran opened the program by asking: "What went through [West's] mind when he blasted the President in the wake of Katrina?" The co-anchor breathlessly wondered: "Would he say it again?" Moran could hardly be more effusive in his adulation for the rapper. During the course of the program, he rhapsodized that West "is more than merely popular. He's a very interesting figure on the cultural landscape, a complex icon of music and style." Dropping all pretext of objectivity, Moran lauded the performer, who essentially called President Bush a racist, as "a shrewd and self-reflective observer of America's racial politics" and someone who has "got a lot to say."

2. ABC Wonders Why Republicans Are 'Snubbing Minority Events'
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, the ABC program once again demonstrated the template for GOP figures to receive air time: Trash your fellow Republicans. GMA featured former Congressman J.C. Watts questioning whether top 2008 GOP presidential candidates are racist for skipping a PBS debate on minority issues. Continuing the theme, co-host Robin Roberts asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "Why are Republicans so reluctant to talk to minorities?" In a piece setting up the Gingrich interview, Roberts intoned that the absence of Republican front-runners at the event is "raising questions about the message it sends to some voters." GMA co-host Diane Sawyer teased the segment by not-so-subtlety asking, "Are the Republican candidates snubbing minority events?" Roberts and Sawyer never bothered to mention that Thursday's PBS debate will be moderated by liberal host Tavis Smiley who, for instance, wondered in May, "Why shouldn't we be outraged" at George Bush. Perhaps the Republican front-runners simply don't want to go into a hostile, left-wing event. Would Good Morning America insist that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attend a forum hosted by the NRA?

3. In Time: Ken Burns Bashes Bush, 'Extreme Rightward' Court Tilt?
In the October 1 issue of Time magazine, TV critic James Poniewozik interviewed PBS star Ken Burns -- star filmmaker, to be sure, but still a star, someone they rush out to Congress at PBS funding time -- and he bashed the Bush administration along a traditional liberal line on the subject of his new World War II documentary, The War, airing this week and next on PBS. Comparing the sacrifices of that era to now, Poniewozik wrote: "Today the government is loath to lay out a price, or ask one. 'People yearn for the memory of shared sacrifice that the Second World War represents,' Burns says. 'Now we're all free agents. We don't give up nothin'. We were asked after 9/11 to go shopping. It was sort of 'Don't worry your pretty little head about it.'" Elsewhere in Time, the magazine cited "the Judicial Branch's" supposed "recent extreme rightward trajectory."

4. Reuters Sees 'Embarrassing Gaffe' by Bush, But Gaffe Was Reuters'
Catching up with an item from last week, OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto suggested "stupidity," "laziness" or "dishonesty" were the only choices to explain a September 21 Reuters dispatch about a supposedly "embarrassing gaffe" by President Bush. Yahoo headlined the story: "Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark." It began: "Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq." Piling on the Bush is a moron theme, the unbylined Reuters story concluded: "References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa." But Reuters made the "embarrassing gaffe," not Bush, since Bush was speaking metaphorically and never said Mandela was dead.

5. Using Bill as Bait, Hillary Clinton Team Kills a Negative Story
Picking up on a Monday report by Politico, FNC's Brit Hume on Tuesday highlighted how the Hillary Clinton campaign successfully muscled one magazine out of a negative story by using Bill Clinton as bait: "GQ magazine agreed to kill a critical piece about fighting within the Hillary Clinton campaign team in exchange for access to Bill Clinton for another story." Indeed, Politico revealed that the Clinton campaign gave the CondeNast/Fairchild publication "a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity cover boy Bill Clinton. Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign's demands." Hume observed how "the episode is said to be an illustration of the power of the Clinton celebrity factor, and the fact that the Clintons have the rare ability within the political world to actually affect magazine sales."

6. CNN Sees 'Imus Moment' for O'Reilly, Williams Calls CNN 'Idiots'
As a CNN anchor wondered if it could be "a Don Imus moment," CNN and MSNBC on Tuesday advanced the political agenda of a left-wing group which took a quote from Bill O'Reilly out of context to prove he's a racist, a case undermined Tuesday night when Juan Williams, a black journalist who was O'Reilly's guest when he made the allegedly racist remarks, asserted: "It had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except these idiots at CNN."

7. Flashback: In 1980, Future CNN Chief Baffled by Push for Tax Cuts
Reading Bob Novak's new book about his years as a Washington reporter, I came across his recollection about how back in 1980, when marginal income tax rates stood at 70 percent, political reporters considered it bizarre that then-candidate Ronald Reagan supported the Kemp-Roth plan to reduce income taxes by 30 percent. On page 357 of 'The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington,' Novak related a conversation he had, the week before the 1980 election, with Walter Isaacson, then a new Time magazine reporter. Isaacson eventually moved up the ranks to run the magazine and later CNN: "He said he believed I was the only journalist he knew who actually supported Kemp-Roth, which accurately reflected the political press corps' mind-set. 'I just wonder if you could explain to me how you got there,' he said. Walter sounded like a modern scientist encountering somebody who believed the earth was flat."

8. 'Top Ten Things Overheard During Ahmadinejad's Trip to New York'
Letterman's "Top Ten Things Overheard During President Ahmadinejad's Trip to New York City."


 

ABC's Moran Gushes Over 'Thoughtful'
Bush Is a Racist Rapper

     Terry Moran spent almost the entirety of Monday's Nightline gushing over Bush-bashing rapper Kanye West and when West reaffirmed his infamous "George Bush doesn't care about black people" slam, Moran praised him as a "complex and thoughtful pop star." After West asserted that "I have a hard time believing that George Bush cares about anyone," Moran extolled how the original 2005 remark turned West "into a cultural force to be reckoned with" who "is looking for new worlds to conquer." Moran opened the program by asking: "What went through [West's] mind when he blasted the President in the wake of Katrina?" The co-anchor breathlessly wondered: "Would he say it again?"

     Moran could hardly be more effusive in his adulation for the rapper. During the course of the program, he rhapsodized that West "is more than merely popular. He's a very interesting figure on the cultural landscape, a complex icon of music and style." Dropping all pretext of objectivity, Moran lauded the performer, who essentially called President Bush a racist, as "a shrewd and self-reflective observer of America's racial politics" and someone who has "got a lot to say." The ABC host briefly played music critic and marveled at West's "complex and intricate rap lyrics." It's probably not surprising that, during a discussion over whether the rapper is boastful, West complimented Moran as "definitely one of the better reporters who have interviewed me."

     This isn't the first time Moran has fawned over a liberal icon. In June, he touted Michael Moore's new health care documentary and wondered if the left-wing filmmaker would run for political office. See the June 15 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

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

     A partial transcript of the September 24 Nightline:

     TERRY MORAN's TEASE: At home with Kanye West. The hottest artist on the charts invites us over for a Nightline exclusive. Like it is. What went through his mind when he blasted the President in the wake of Katrina?
     KANYE WEST, in 2005: George Bush doesn't care about black people.
     MORAN: Would he say it again"

     MORAN OPENED THE SHOW: Good evening, I'm Terry Moran. Tonight, a star at his zenith. You don't get any bigger, any hotter than Kanye West is right now. He just opened at number one in the country with his new album Graduation. He's also got the number one song, Stronger. Now, if you're not a fan, don't go anywhere. Stay tuned, because Kanye West is more than merely popular. He's a very interesting figure on the cultural landscape, a complex icon of music and style. Brash, prone to controversial comments and outbursts, a Christian, a shrewd and self-reflective observer of America's racial politics. He's got a lot to say, as I found out when I spent sometime with him and his mom in Los Angeles."

     ....

     MORAN: He's a hard worker, both in the gym and the recording studio. And because he composes his complex and intricate rap lyrics in a unique way, he can get a lot of work done here or anywhere. You just told me something very interesting. You don't write down your lyrics.
     WEST: No.
     MORAN: It's all in your head?
     WEST: Yeah. I think it's a new, a new breed of rappers that don't do that.
     MORAN: And why not?
     WEST: You know, 'cause I think the paper is a middle man. You know, 'cause at the end of the day, it's like, it's like you're your [sic] concepts and trying to get the purest form to the fans. And it's like you don't want to read it wrong and forget the pattern that you had. So a lot of, you know, half of it is what you say and half of it is how you say it. Like, I got a line, 'Why is everybody so mad at me for, I wish I wasn't me so I could talk about me more.
     MORAN, laughing: That's a classic Kanye West line.

     ....

     MORAN: But to millions of people around the world who haven't heard a lick of his music, Kanye West is famous for one moment.
     [CLIP FROM KATRINA TELETHON, MIKE MYERS: The landscape of the city has changed dramatically, tragically and perhaps irreversibly.]
     MORAN: In 2005, during a televised benefit to raise money for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, comedian Mike Myers dutifully read the teleprompter and Kanye went way off script.
     WEST, in 2005 telethon: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family. It says they're looting. You see is a white family, it says they're looking for food.
     MORAN: As Myers continued, obviously nervous, Kanye could not keep silent.
     WEST: George Bush doesn't care about black people.
     MORAN to WEST: What did that do to your life when you said that?
     WEST: I think it changed my life for the better. I think people understood me a little bit more. They understood, like, this guy is like, has a little baby Tourettes, maybe not quite diagnosed, but the truth just comes out, like, accidentally. Like what's on top of his mind.
     MORAN: Do you think it was fair? In the heat of the moment it came out. Reflecting now, do you still believe George Bush doesn't care about black people?
     WEST: I mean, I have a hard time believing that George Bush cares about anyone. So side bar, black people also, you know?
     MORAN: The outburst turned Kanye West into a cultural force to be reckoned with and now this complex and thoughtful pop star is looking for new worlds to conquer. He's working on a line of clothes, on a sitcom, on playing sold-out stadiums for years to come.
     [Clip of West singing]
     MORAN: You aren't a modest man.
     WEST: No.
     MORAN: People would call it boastful, and some call it arrogant.
     WEST: Yeah. Sometimes the truth isn't modest. People ask you to blur the truth in some way, you know, to apologize for my greatness.
     MORAN: What if I said that to you, that I'm the greatest?
     WEST: I would be proud of you. I feel like you're definitely one of the better reporters who have interviewed me.
     MORAN: Thank you.
     WEST: You know? I don't know about positively the greatest, but if you felt that way I imagine whether it's months from now, years from now, you can make other people feel that way. Think it, say it, do it.
     MORAN: A pep talk from Kanye.


     # For video of West's September 2, 2005 impugning of Bush, check the "Barbra Streisand Political IQ Award for Celebrity Vapidity" in the MRC's "BEST NOTABLE QUOTABLES OF 2005: The Eighteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting," online at: www.mrc.org

     West ranted during NBC's Concert for Hurricane Relief: "I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food....A lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way, and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us....George Bush doesn't care about black people."

 

ABC Wonders Why Republicans Are 'Snubbing
Minority Events'

     On Tuesday's Good Morning America, the ABC program once again demonstrated the template for GOP figures to receive air time: Trash your fellow Republicans. GMA featured former Congressman J.C. Watts questioning whether top 2008 GOP presidential candidates are racist for skipping a PBS debate on minority issues. Continuing the theme, co-host Robin Roberts asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: "Why are Republicans so reluctant to talk to minorities?"

     In a piece setting up the Gingrich interview, Roberts intoned that the absence of Republican front-runners at the event is "raising questions about the message it sends to some voters." GMA co-host Diane Sawyer teased the segment by not-so-subtlety asking, "Are the Republican candidates snubbing minority events?" Roberts and Sawyer never bothered to mention that Thursday's PBS debate will be moderated by liberal host Tavis Smiley who, for instance, wondered in May, "Why shouldn't we be outraged" at George Bush. See the May 8, 2007 CyberAlert for more on Smiley: www.mediaresearch.org

     Perhaps the Republican front-runners simply don't want to go into a hostile, left-wing event. Would Good Morning America insist that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attend a forum hosted by the NRA?

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

     Gingrich and Watts certainly seemed to know what the GMA reporters were looking for. The former House Speaker lauded Smiley as "a very responsible, very clear-cut commentator and analyst." He then criticized President Bush, saying, "Levees shouldn't fall. Levees shouldn't fail. Bridges should not fall." Watts indicated that racism might have caused Mitt Romney, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani to skip the PBS debate: "People watching this, they surely have to conclude at the end of the day, was it because of my skin color? Now, maybe it wasn't. But I guarantee you, African-Americans do say, 'It crossed my mind.'"

     A transcript of the two segments, which aired on September 25 at 7:10am:

     7am tease, Diane Sawyer: "And, are the Republican candidates snubbing minority events? Newt Gingrich, here this morning, on why his fellow Republicans are wrong and why he might run after all."

     7:10, Robin Roberts: "Now to the race for '08 where GOP candidates have already taken part in six debates. But this morning, it's the debate the front-runners are skipping that is getting so much attention. And their absence is raising questions about the message it sends to some voters. Senior political correspondent Jake Tapper is in Washington with the latest on that. Good morning, Jake."

     Jake Tapper: "Good morning, Robin. Well, amidst all the struggles the Republican presidential candidates are facing with the war in Iraq, an unpopular president, lack of enthusiasm among conservative voters, this week, the Republican front-runners are being criticized for refusing to attend debates hosted by minority groups. John McCain, no. Rudy Giuliani, no. Mitt Romney, no. Fred Thompson, no. None of the Republican presidential front runners will attend Thursday's Republican debate focused on minority issues, hosted by Tavis Smiley."
     Tavis Smiley: "What does it say when you don't think that black issues and brown issues and issues for red and yellow people, what does did it say when you don't think that all of us are valuable in this process?"
     Tapper: "African-Americans are the most reliably Democratic voters around, with up to 90 percent voting Democratic in the last five elections."
     J.C. Watts, former Republican Congressman: "I think it's a huge mistake strategically and you kind of scratch your head, thinking, why are they making decisions like that?"

     Tapper: "Former Congressman J.C. Watts, a conservative Republican, says that's exactly why Republicans need to reach out. And he calls the decision not to attend the debate stupid."
     Watts: "People watching this, they surely have to conclude at the end of the day, was it because of my skin color? Now, maybe it wasn't. But I guarantee you, African-Americans do say, 'It crossed my mind.'"
     Tapper: "These no-shows just come just days after the Spanish language channel Univision canceled its debate because only one of the 11 Republican candidates, Senator McCain, accepted. In 2004, President Bush scored better with Hispanics than previous Republicans, garnering 44 percent of their vote. But the recent debate over immigration reform may drive those voters back to Democrats in 2008. The one potential presidential candidate on the Republican side, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, called the decision not to attend these debates, quote, 'fundamentally wrong.' And while the front-runners claim scheduling conflicts, Robin, Gingrich calls that excuse, quote, 'baloney.'"

     Robin Roberts: "We'll hear what he has to say right now. Thank you, Jake. Because Newt Gingrich, as you heard, chastised his fellow Republicans for missing this week's debate. And the former Speaker of the House, very happy to have him live from Virginia. Thank you so much for your time this morning. We certainly do appreciate it. And it's widely known that the Republicans need at least 10 percent of the black vote to win the general election. And we just heard in Jake Tapper's piece how the Latino vote helped President Bush get re-elected, so, why are Republicans so reluctant to talk to minorities?"
     Newt Gingrich: "Well, Robin, I actually don't know. Let me first of all congratulate Governor Huckabee and other candidates who said yes because I think they're right. Tavis Smiley is a very responsible, very clear-cut commentator and analyst. He's going to run a very fair debate. I said publicly I thought it was a mistake not to go to it. I am delighted that Governor Huckabee and the other candidates are going and I think they deserve some phrase for showing up and for sharing the message. I think Republicans could have, if they had the nerve to do it, a tremendous message. They could go into Detroit and promise to work to educate the children who are currently being cheated by the bureaucracy there which is failing so badly. They could go into Philadelphia and promise to lock up murders and protect the people of Philadelphia who are currently threatened by an enormous rise in violent crime. They could go around the country and talk about programs that would increase the number of jobs, help people be able to buy a house. There are a lot of good cases to be made that the African-American community has been hurt more by the failures of government than any other community. Look at New Orleans, where the African-American community was devastated by the failure of the federal, state and local governments in Katrina. So, I'm puzzled by their decision. I can't speak for them. I think it's a mistake. I wish they would change their mind. They still have a few days. And I wish they would, in fact, go to the debate on Thursday night."
     Roberts: "You're puzzled. You've said you've been disappointed. And you've also tantalized us a little bit, saying you may very well be the solution and run. Will you run?"
     Gingrich: "Well what I've said is that after we're done with the American Solutions workshops which are Thursday night and Saturday, are going to be nationwide both on the internet and at AmericanSolutions.com and on DirectTV and dish satellite television. These are bipartisan workshops. They include Democrats and Republicans. And they're an effort to create a new generation of solutions on immigration, on education, on energy, on the environment, on a wide range of issues. After those, then, next Monday, my good friend and adviser Randy Evans will have a press conference and will outline a process for us to spend the next few weeks finding out whether or not there are enough resources to wage a serious campaign. If we find that there are enough resources, then I think I have citizen's obligations to respond to that. But I'm not going to try to get into a race where Governor Romney can write a personal check for $100 million, as a middle class candidate, if we can't find a way to raise money and to be competitive."
     Roberts: "Fred Thompson took his time in getting into the race. And has had a bit a backlash, has not gone as well as some might have thought in recent weeks. And you were even saying you were looking forward to him getting into the race. And now with you considering it, it would seem you're less than impressed with how he's running so far. Is that true?"
     Gingrich: "Well, look, all I can say is I was at Mackinac Island in Michigan on Saturday at the Republican conference. We had about 900 people in a workshop I did on American Solutions and on new ideas for Detroit and Michigan, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country, before the strike. And all I can tell you is there was an amazing amount of people who walked up to me and said they want somebody who can debate Senator Clinton, who can go toe to toe next September and October and who can explain our values and our visions and the kind of changes we need in America. And so I'm prepared to try to" after we get done with the workshops. But I want to be clear. The workshops this week are bipartisan. They're not part of any potential candidacy. I'm very concerned because we have 513,000 elected officials in America and we don't just need change in the White House, we need change across the entire system to get to the kind of country we want to be."
     Roberts: "You say about change and I've heard you say this, quoted as saying that if a Republican is going to win, is going to remain in the White House, that they have to, quote, ‘make a clean break.' What do you mean by 'make a clean break?' From what?"
     Gingrich: "Well, let me say, first of all, if you go to YouTube, you'll see a little three and a half minute video called 'FedEx Versus Federal Bureaucracy,' over a million people have watched it. It sort of gives you a sense of the scale of change I believe in. And let me put it in simple language. Levees shouldn't fall. Levees shouldn't fail. Bridges should not fall. Schools should actually educate. The border should be controlled. English should be the official language of government. Congress should not spend more than it has. Those are the six examples of dramatic change that would be different than the Washington we've seen recently."

 

In Time: Ken Burns Bashes Bush, 'Extreme
Rightward' Court Tilt?

     In the October 1 issue of Time magazine, TV critic James Poniewozik interviewed PBS star Ken Burns -- star filmmaker, to be sure, but still a star, someone they rush out to Congress at PBS funding time -- and he bashed the Bush administration along a traditional liberal line on the subject of his new World War II documentary, The War, airing this week and next on PBS. Comparing the sacrifices of that era to now, Poniewozik wrote: "Today the government is loath to lay out a price, or ask one. 'People yearn for the memory of shared sacrifice that the Second World War represents,' Burns says. 'Now we're all free agents. We don't give up nothin'. We were asked after 9/11 to go shopping. It was sort of 'Don't worry your pretty little head about it.'" Elsewhere in Time, the magazine cited "the Judicial Branch's" supposed "recent extreme rightward trajectory."

     What's with the popularity of this "We were told 'go shopping'"? Is Burns stealing lines from Susan Sarandon, or this just part of the liberal talking points? Yes, the President urged us not to let the economy tank, but he didn't say "don't worry your pretty little head about it" in any way.

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

     Turn the page, and quickie reviews of new products included a review of CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin's new book on the Supreme Court. Wrote Time's anonymous blurb-composers: "With stylish writing and unparalleled access to the Justices, he explores the Judicial Branch's recent extreme rightward trajectory. His conclusion? The John Roberts court is on the move and gunning for precedents." See: www.time.com

 

Reuters Sees 'Embarrassing Gaffe' by
Bush, But Gaffe Was Reuters'

     Catching up with an item from last week, OpinionJournal.com's James Taranto suggested "stupidity," "laziness" or "dishonesty" were the only choices to explain a September 21 Reuters dispatch about a supposedly "embarrassing gaffe" by President Bush. Yahoo headlined the story: "Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark." It began: "Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq." Piling on the Bush is a moron theme, the unbylined Reuters story concluded: "References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa." But Reuters made the "embarrassing gaffe," not Bush, since Bush was speaking metaphorically and never said Mandela was dead.

     An excerpt from the Johannesburg-datelined article:

Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

"It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage.... "I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday....

References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa.

     END of Excerpt

     For the Yahoo posting: news.yahoo.com

     In his September 21 "Best of the Web Today" column/e-mail, Taranto asked: "So, what did President Bush actually say?" Taranto provided a transcript of Bush from his September 20 news conference: "Part of the reason why there is not this instant democracy in Iraq is because people are still recovering from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule. I thought an interesting comment was made when somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, where's Mandela? Well, Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas. He was a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families, and people are recovering from this. So there's a psychological recovery that is taking place. And it's hard work for them. And I understand it's hard work for them. Having said that, I'm not going the give them a pass when it comes to the central government's reconciliation efforts."

     Taranto picked up:

In this context, it is clear that the literal meaning of "Where's Mandela?" is "Where is the Iraqi who will play the role in his country that Mandela played in post-apartheid South Africa?" This was a pithy metaphor, not an "embarrassing gaffe."

Now, how did Reuters get the story wrong? There are, it seems to us, three explanations:

- Stupidity. The reporter was so bone-headedly literal-minded that he simply did not understand the rhetorical device Bush was employing.

- Laziness. The reporter wasn't actually at the press conference and didn't bother to check the context of the quote.

- Dishonesty. The reporter knew full well that Bush was speaking metaphorically and deliberately twisted his meaning in order to fit the stereotype that Bush "has a reputation for verbal faux pas."

In the case of the particular Reuters dispatch...laziness is the most likely answer. It's datelined Johannesburg, so the reporter surely was not at the press conference. But ultimately the explanation for the "worldwide coverage" this "gaffe" has received is either stupidity or dishonesty. Some journalist either failed to understand or deliberately misrepresented Bush's remark...

     END of Excerpt

     For Taranto's September 21 compilation in full: www.opinionjournal.com

 

Using Bill as Bait, Hillary Clinton Team
Kills a Negative Story

     Picking up on a Monday report by Politico, FNC's Brit Hume on Tuesday highlighted how the Hillary Clinton campaign successfully muscled one magazine out of a negative story by using Bill Clinton as bait: "GQ magazine agreed to kill a critical piece about fighting within the Hillary Clinton campaign team in exchange for access to Bill Clinton for another story." Indeed, Politico revealed that the Clinton campaign gave the CondeNast/Fairchild publication "a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity cover boy Bill Clinton. Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign's demands." Hume observed how "the episode is said to be an illustration of the power of the Clinton celebrity factor, and the fact that the Clintons have the rare ability within the political world to actually affect magazine sales."

     Hume's led September 25 "Grapevine" item on Special Report with Brit Hume: "GQ magazine agreed to kill a critical piece about fighting within the Hillary Clinton campaign team in exchange for access to Bill Clinton for another story. Fox's Carl Cameron has confirmed that the publication struck a deal despite the story in order to secure Bill Clinton's cooperation in a cover piece planned for December. The Politico newspaper says GQ confirmed that the Clinton article had been killed, but would not say why. The Clinton team isn't talking either. Politico writes that a spokesman for Bill Clinton delivered the ultimatum to GQ editors. It says that they succumbed to the threat despite plenty of internal protests. The episode is said to be an illustration of the power of the Clinton celebrity factor, and the fact that the Clintons have the rare ability within the political world to actually affect magazine sales."

     An excerpt from the September 24 Politico article, "Clinton campaign kills negative story," by Ben Smith:

Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for president learned that the men's magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland.

So Clinton's aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.

Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign's demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton's spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.

GQ writer George Saunders traveled with Clinton to Africa in July, and Clinton is slated to appear on the cover of GQ's December issue, in which it traditionally names a "Man of the Year," according magazine industry sources.

And the offending article by Atlantic Monthly staff writer Josh Green got the spike.

"I don't really get into the inner workings of the magazine, but I can tell you that yes, we did kill a Hillary piece. We kill pieces all the time for a variety of reasons," Nelson said in an e-mail to Politico.

He did not respond to follow-up questions. A Clinton campaign spokesman declined to comment.

The campaign's transaction with GQ opens a curtain on the Clinton campaign's hard-nosed media strategy, which is far closer in its unromantic view of the press to the campaigns of George W. Bush than to that of Bill Clinton's free-wheeling 1992 campaign....

The spiked GQ story also shows how the Clinton campaign has been able to use its access to the most important commodity in media -- celebrity, and in fact two bona fide celebrities -- to shape not just what gets written about the candidate, but also what doesn't.

There's nothing unusual about providing extra access to candidates to reporters seen as sympathetic, and cutting off those seen as hostile to a campaign.

The 2004 Bush campaign banned a New York Times reporter from Vice President Dick Cheney's jet, and Sen. Barack Obama threatened to bar Fox News reporters from campaign travel.

But a retreat of the sort GQ is alleged to have made is unusual, particularly as part of what sources described as a barely veiled transaction of editorial leverage for access.

The Clinton campaign is unique in its ability to provide cash value to the media, and particularly the celebrity-driven precincts of television and magazines. Bill Clinton is a favorite cover figure, because his face is viewed within the magazine industry as one that can move product. (Indeed, Green's own magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, ran as its October cover story "Bill Clinton's campaign to save the world.")...

The Clinton campaign has more sway with television networks than any rival. At the time Clinton launched her campaign, the networks' hunger for interviews had her all over the morning and evening news broadcasts of every network -- after her aides negotiated agreements limiting producers' abilities to edit the interviews.

This past weekend, she pulled off another rare feat -- sitting for interviews with all the major Sunday talk shows. In most cases, the Sunday shows will reject guests who have appeared on competing shows....

Green approached the Clinton campaign to discuss the details of the story, which he described to Wolfson over dinner at a downtown Washington, D.C. restaurant, a source familiar with the conversations said.

Soon after that, Carson, who is now Hillary Clinton's traveling press secretary, told GQ that the former president would not cooperate with Saunders' planned profile if Green's piece ran....

     END of Excerpt

     For the Politico piece in full: www.politico.com

 

CNN Sees 'Imus Moment' for O'Reilly,
Williams Calls CNN 'Idiots'

     As a CNN anchor wondered if it could be a "Don Imus moment," CNN and MSNBC on Tuesday advanced the political agenda of a left-wing group which took a quote from Bill O'Reilly out of context to prove he's a racist, a case undermined Tuesday night when Juan Williams, a black journalist who was O'Reilly's guest when he made the allegedly racist remarks, asserted: "It had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except these idiots at CNN."

     Williams, author of 'Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America -- and What We Can Do About It,' lamented on Tuesday's O'Reilly Factor on FNC: "It's outrageous because the discussion we had was about how too often the images on TV are these rappers glorifying drugs, glorifying violence, degrading women....Here's my complaint. They're trying to shut up anybody who's having an honest thought about race relations in this country, and wants to speak honestly about the damage being done by the likes of these rappers or these comedians who use the N-word, and all of that."

     Amazon's page for the book: www.amazon.com

     Last week on his radio show, in the context of how whites who don't personally know black people may presume rappers and comedians who use the "N-word" and "M-F" are typical of all blacks, O'Reilly countered that potential stereotype by recalling how when he went out to dinner with Al Sharpton at Sylvia's in Harlem "there wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' They were ordering and having fun, and it wasn't any kind of craziness at all....There was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was -- it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship; it was the same. And that's really what this society is all about, now, here in the U.S.A. There's no difference. There's no difference..."

     Tuesday morning on CNN's American Morning, Kiran Chetry announced that "the blogs are buzzing this morning over some comments made by Bill O'Reilly during last Wednesday's edition of his nationally syndicated radio program." She asked: "Is this going to be one of those Don Imus moments?"

     Roland Martin launched an attack on conservative media bias watchdogs like the MRC: "This is one of those moments why I think what Bill O'Reilly should do is not sit there and go on the war path and say, 'I'm being attacked, poor me.' I mean, you have conservative Web sites that attack us all the time for so-called liberal bias."

     For more on the September 26 American Morning segment, see Matthew Balan's NewsBusters blog posting: newsbusters.org ]

     Later in the day, during the 2pm EDT hour, Rick Sanchez suggested O'Reilly's listeners are unable to recognize racism as he related a conversation he had with O'Reilly: "He goes on to say that, 'Look, we didn't get any complaints at my radio station.' But, you know, obviously, you know, that may have to do with his audience as well."

     MSNBC's Morning Joe crew regaled themselves Tuesday by playing the audio clip over and over, as Matthew Balan recounted in a second blog posting:

Less than a half-hour after Kiran Chetry and Roland Martin speculated whether O'Reilly's recent comments on race would be the next "Imus Moment," the cast of MSNBC's Morning Joe mocked the Fox News host. Co-host Mika Brzezinski put on her best Meryl Streep imitation after a clip of O'Reilly's comments were played. "Oh, my God....Wow...That's attractive," and also made an audible Al Gore-style sigh. Guest host Willie Geist went further: "Also using the term 'blacks.' I don't think anybody's said that since like 1973." Come again?

While the Morning Joe cast played the O'Reilly clip for the first time, a caption spun O'Reilly's words: "O'Reilly Shocked That Harlem Restaurant is 'Normal.'" The three were so "overwhelmed" by the clip that they played it again.

Following the above-mentioned "blacks" comment, Geist went even further over-the-top. "What, what was he expecting? You walk in, and they throw the food in the middle of the room and everybody just, it's a free for all. What did he think was going to happen?" Scarborough concluded the segment by imitating Brzezinski's routine: "It is shocking. So, I've got chills right now, going up and down my back. I'm gonna throw it over to you all and think I'm gonna take a shower."

     END of Excerpt

     For that blog posting in full: newsbusters.org

     Reaction from Juan Williams, O'Reilly's guest on the radio show in question, on Tuesday night's The O'Reilly Factor (transcript provided by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth):

     JUAN WILLIAMS: It's rank dishonesty, and the troubling thing is that if I hadn't participated in the discussion, if I was just tuning into CNN, or listening to MSNBC, and heard that, oh, Bill O'Reilly said he went to Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem and they weren't using M-F and all this kind of stuff, I'd say, "Oh, my God. What is he thinking? Where's that coming from? Why did he say something like that?" Not understanding that that discussion, Bill O'Reilly, you know, I'm telling you, it's just, it's so frustrating. They want to shut you up. They want to shut up anybody who has an honest discussion about race....
     And now they take this discussion and somehow turn it on its head. I'm really appalled. And I say that as someone, you know, who's, I mean, I just can't believe that this is going on. It's outrageous because the discussion we had was about how too often the images on TV are these rappers glorifying drugs, glorifying violence, degrading women....
     Here's my complaint. They're trying to shut up anybody who's having an honest thought about race relations in this country, and wants to speak honestly about the damage being done by the likes of these rappers or these comedians who use the N-word, and all of that. You know what? They're willing to celebrate Snoop Dogg, or Twista, or any of these guys who go out there and present these minstrel show images of black people. ...
     When you said you went up to Sylvia's, you said you went in there, the place was a normal restaurant, healthy discussion, people were pleased, and, in fact, they celebrated the fact that here is Bill O'Reilly with Al Sharpton -- Oh, my gosh, two celebrities are in the house. And then you said everything settled down like a normal restaurant, ethnic like an Italian restaurant.
     O'REILLY: Yeah, there wasn't any, it was an attempt to tell the radio audience that there is no difference-
     WILLIAMS: Correct.
     O'REILLY: -black, white, we're all Americans, the stereotypes they see on television are not true. None of that was mentioned.
     WILLIAMS: That's right. And I'm glad you said that. You should repeat that so they hear it again. You said stereotypes are not true. I said you should go up there more often, it shouldn't be a foreign trip. But it had nothing to do with racist ranting by anybody except these idiots at CNN.

 

Flashback: In 1980, Future CNN Chief
Baffled by Push for Tax Cuts

     Reading Bob Novak's new book about his years as a Washington reporter, I came across his recollection about how back in 1980, when marginal income tax rates stood at 70 percent, political reporters considered it bizarre that then-candidate Ronald Reagan supported the Kemp-Roth plan to reduce income taxes by 30 percent. On page 357 of 'The Prince of Darkness: 50 Years Reporting in Washington,' Novak related a conversation he had, the week before the 1980 election, with Walter Isaacson, then a new Time magazine reporter. Isaacson eventually moved up the ranks to run the magazine and later CNN:
     "The connection of Reagan's emphasis on tax reduction to his late [1980] campaign surge was lost on reporters covering the Republican candidate. One of them was Walter Isaacson, a twenty-eight-year-old Time correspondent. The former Rhodes scholar, in his second year with the magazine, was given the plum assignment of covering Reagan. On the campaign trail that last week, he introduced himself to me and started a conversation about Reagan's and my tax-cutting views. He said he believed I was the only journalist he knew who actually supported Kemp-Roth, which accurately reflected the political press corps' mind-set. 'I just wonder if you could explain to me how you got there,' he said. Walter sounded like a modern scientist encountering somebody who believed the earth was flat."

     Amazon's page for Novak's book: www.amazon.com

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

     Isaacson's views must have been in sync with those running Time and the larger journalism community since, by the mid-1990s, he had risen to the top news slot at the magazine, Managing Editor, where he remained until jumping in mid-2001 to CNN as CEO and Chairman of the CNN News Group. He left CNN about a year-and-a-half later and landed at the Aspen Institute where he continues to serve as President of that foundation devoted to "timeless values, enlightened leadership." Aspen's bio of Isaacson: www.aspeninstitute.org

     Isaacson's quote is one of 19, five with video, in the September 24 edition of the MRC's Notable Quotables newsletter, "a bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media." See: www.mrc.org

     Incidentally, the screen shot of Isaacson is from a July 5, 2006 Aspen Institute forum during which then-future CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric denied there's any media bias, except on FNC. The September 5, 2006 CyberAlert item, "Katie Couric: I'm Not Biased, But My Viewers Are -- and So Is FNC," recounted:

Asked at the Aspen Institute's "Ideas Festival" in early July -- but just broadcast Saturday night on C-SPAN -- about the charge of liberal bias, incoming CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric was condescendingly dismissive. She blamed her viewers, calling it a "Rorschach test" which demonstrated how "oftentimes people put their, they see you from their own individual prisms. And if you're not reflecting their point of view or you're asking an antagonistic question of someone they might agree with in terms of policy, they see you as the enemy." Later in the July 5 session, however, she presumed FNC does have a bias: "You have Fox which espouses a particular point of view." Bob Schieffer appeared alongside Couric at the Colorado forum hosted by Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, the former CEO of CNN and Managing Editor of Time magazine.

     For the previous CyberAlert in full: www.mrc.org

 

'Top Ten Things Overheard During Ahmadinejad's
Trip to New York'

     From the September 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things Overheard During President Ahmadinejad's Trip to New York City." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. "Being here makes me realize how much I miss torturing dissidents"

9. "I would like to meet 'Whoopi'"

8. "For a blood-thirsty madman, he dressed pretty sharp"

7. Let's go to Mahmoud on the car phone who wants to talk about Notre Dame football"

6. "He looks more 'Ahmadinejad-I' in person"

5. "Yes, Mahmoud, I got it -- In America you watch TV, In Iran TV watches you"

4. "Death to overpriced midtown parking garages"

3. "Instead of dealing in terror, maybe we should look into this sugar business"

2. "You call this Times Square? Where's the porn?"

1. "I thought I was a prick, but then I met Donald Trump"

-- Brent Baker

 


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