top


The 2,694th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
6:35am EDT, Thursday July 24, 2008 (Vol. Thirteen; No. 139)
Back To Today's CyberAlert | Free Subscription

1. ABC Scolds McCain & Admits Obama Driving the Campaign 'Narrative'
Matching CBS on Tuesday night, on Wednesday evening ABC's World News followed its exclusive Barack Obama session of the day with a shorter interview segment with John McCain as anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Barack Obama, here in Israel, holding meetings at breakneck speed on the Middle East conflict." Obama got a full five minutes with anchor Charles Gibson in Israel, not counting a glowing minute-long introduction -- Obama's "schedule here in Israel looked like a Middle East shuttle mission" -- while ABC allocated two-and-a-half minutes to David Wright with McCain. Gibson did press Obama on his foreign policy "inexperience" and Obama's declaration that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel," wondering if that was "a rookie mistake?" Wright began by scolding McCain for his "extraordinary statement" that "Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." Wright demanded: "Do you really think he's that craven?" Bizarrely, as if the media's decisions are not primarily responsible, Wright told McCain the fact that "the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does" shows a McCain campaign failure.

2. CBS Frets Obama Can't Escape 'Hussein' Middle Name in Israel
The Wednesday CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama's day in Israel presumed Jewish concerns about his commitment to Israel are unreasonable as reporter Sheila MacVicar empathized with Obama's plight while she fretted about how an Israeli newspaper columnist "referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama." After noting that Obama "did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here," MacVicar stressed the "the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him." From Jerusalem, she then held up a copy of the newspaper as she rued: "It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters." MacVicar concluded by bemoaning: "However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted."

3. NY Times' Tom Friedman on GMA: Obama Middle Name Now a Plus
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to gush that the very act of Barack Obama going on his Middle East trip makes one think "he comes back a little wiser, a little smarter." Friedman also asserted that the candidate's middle name, Hussein, would be a plus for him as President. He opined: "I was in Cairo a few weeks ago. And one of things that was so striking is how impressed Egyptians were, simply with the prospect that after 9/11, Americans might actually elect a man whose middle name was Hussein." GMA co host Diane Sawyer set up the Friedman critique by very carefully offering qualifiers about how "we know [Obama] is absolutely American. Absolutely a Christian." She then offered up the new spin that Obama's heritage could be a presidential positive: "...But in the greater Arab world, does his parental history, his father's history, mean he can move the Arabs more than someone else might be able to?"

4. CBS's MacVicar: Obama 'In Statesman Clothes' On Trip
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Sheila MacVicar described Barack Obama's visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial during his continuing Middle East tour as "yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes." MacVicar imbued Obama with the mantel of "statesman" just last Friday, July 18, when she described the upcoming trip: "Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East." Earlier in Wednesday's report, MacVicar described Obama's meeting with top Israeli officials and made sure label the conservative: "The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu."

5. NBC Breaking News: Shimon Peres Aide Thinks Obama is a 'Hunk!'
Apparently it's not just the American press corp that has fallen head over heels for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night's Hardball, NBC News reporter Martin Fletcher revealed the quote that "went rushing around the media" in Israel -- that a female assistant to Shimon Peres remarked of Obama: "What a hunk!"

6. Pro-Obama Bias? New York Times TV Critic: What Pro-Obama Bias?
Alessandra Stanley misses the obvious: "But it's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas." New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley's Wednesday "TV Watch" column covered the only thing that's been on the tube lately: "Obama Overseas! In Presidential Mode! Back Home, It's McCain in a Golf Cart." Amazingly, Stanley doesn't see a pattern of pro-Obama bias in the overwhelming media hype, simply an accurate reflection of a "presidential candidate acting so presidential overseas," one "at home talking to generals and heads of state." That's the only reason the media has gone ga-ga over the Democrat, you see.

7. Letterman: 'Bush's Administration Clearly Guilty of War Crimes?'
David Letterman, who a month ago doubted George Bush and Dick Cheney have any "humanity," on Wednesday's Late Show pushed a guest to confirm "that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes." Far-left "journalist" Jane Mayer of the New Yorker was invited onto the Late Show to plug her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Late in her second segment, Letterman recalled how "about a year ago" a Democratic presidential candidate was a guest and during a commercial break Letterman had wondered: "'What do you think George Bush's legacy might be?' And he says, 'well, I tell you what ought to happen to him, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes.' And we all sort of thought, well, he's being wacky, he's being funny. But now, you wonder..." After Mayer suggested "I don't think they're laughing about it in the White House" and relayed how "in Congress there are people who are at least pushing for truth commissions," Letterman pressed her: "But can a case be made that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes? That's easy enough to make that case, or." Mayer demurred: "I'm not a lawyer."


 

ABC Scolds McCain & Admits Obama Driving
the Campaign 'Narrative'

     Matching CBS/Katie Couric on Tuesday night, on Wednesday evening ABC's World News followed its exclusive Barack Obama session of the day with a shorter interview segment with John McCain as anchor Charles Gibson teased: "Barack Obama, here in Israel, holding meetings at breakneck speed on the Middle East conflict." Obama got a full five minutes with anchor Charles Gibson in Israel, not counting a glowing minute-long introduction -- Obama's "schedule here in Israel looked like a Middle East shuttle mission" -- while ABC allocated two-and-a-half minutes to David Wright with McCain. Gibson did press Obama on his foreign policy "inexperience" and Obama's declaration that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel," wondering if that was "a rookie mistake?"

     Wright began by scolding McCain for his "extraordinary statement" that "Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." Wright demanded: "Do you really think he's that craven?" Wright also lectured: "But what you seem to be saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country." Bizarrely, as if the media's decisions are not primarily responsible, Wright told McCain the fact that "the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does" shows a McCain campaign failure:
     "You've been touring here in the states, had the domestic stage all to yourself. And yet, we're talking an awful lot about foreign policy. It seems like the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does and that you're left to kind of react to that."

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

     For the July 23 CyberAlert item, "Couric Showcases Obama Over McCain, Admits a Media 'Obamathon,'" go to: www.mrc.org

     Gibson's tease, from Jerusalem, at the top of the Wednesday, July 23 World News on ABC: "Mideast shuttle: Barack Obama, here in Israel, holding meetings at breakneck speed on the Middle East conflict. We'll ask him how he plans to bring peace to the region. Counterpunch. John McCain goes on the defensive, saying Obama's policies will mean defeat in Iraq and won't solve te energy crisis at home."

     Gibson introduced his Obama interview (ABC led with Hurricane Dolly): "We turn next to the flurry of events for Senator Barack Obama, whose schedule here in Israel looked like a Middle East shuttle mission. We caught up with him in Jerusalem, between meetings and photo ops, with among others, Israeli President Perez, and Defense Minister Barak. And then it was on the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Abbas.
     "We talked with him again in the Israeli town of Sderot, which has been the frequent target of Palestinian rocket fire. The most solemn moment came as he laid a wreath at the Yad Vashem, the memorial of the six million victims of the holocaust. When you're hitting seven countries in eight days, the schedule gets a bit hectic. This trip to Israel presented a number of pitfalls for Obama for he has promised to make the search for a Middle East peace a top priority. But how to do that? How to balance Israeli and Palestinian interests? How to deal with Iran's nuclear threat? We talked about all of that with the Senator today."

     The questions to Obama from Gibson, aired on the Wednesday, July 23 World News, with both sitting together in Israel:

- Senator, let's talk about the trip as a whole. The polls indicate that a considerably larger percentage of the people of the United States think that John McCain would make a good Commander-in-Chief than you. So, is the trip principally designed to narrow that gap?

- If people have a reservation about you, it is that you are young, that you're inexperienced and that you're very new to the international stage.

- Do you sense that there's a considerable portion of Israelis, and even American Jewry, who are very reserved and even distrusting of your commitment to Israel?

- Obama recently caused a great deal of controversy here, when he said in a speech:

[Obama: Let me be clear. Israel's security is sacrosanct. It is nonnegotiable. And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.]

To Palestinians, that is flat out unacceptable. When you said that, did you not realize the significance that that has for so many people in this region?

[Obama: Well, look, number one, the fact is that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. So, I was simply stating a fact.With respect to-]

You said must remain undivided. Those are code words.

[Obama: Well, the issue of it being undivided, I have said and I said immediately after the speech, that that word was poorly chosen. That what I was referring to is making sure that we're not setting up barbed wire across Israel.]

Senator, it's a very simple declarative statement. And you started the paragraph by saying, "let me be clear."

[Obama: Charlie, if the day after or the day of making the speech I concede that the wording is poor, and it's immediately corrected, then-

Rookie mistake?

[Obama: I wouldn't say rookie mistake. I think that veterans make mistakes, as well.]

In the two states, what do you envision is the capital of Palestine?

[Obama: You know, I'm going to let the parties sort that out. And I don't think that it's the United States' job to make that decision.]

Would you move the U.S. embassy -- if you were President, would you move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem?

[Obama: Charlie, you know, I think that we're going to work through this process before we make these kinds of decisions.]

- Aren't these things that you thought through in your head?

- Let me turn to Iran. John McCain has said the only thing worse than war with Iran would be a nuclear Iran. John Abizaid was one of the top military leaders in the United States, has said, well, we may have to live with a nuclear Iran. I know it's a choice you don't want to make. Who's right?

- So, what if Israel decides, in the name of its own security, that it needs to make strikes on Iran?

     Gibson set up the subsequent segment with John McCain: "Barack Obama may be out of the country, but he's not been out of range by attracts by John McCain. Day after day, the Republican candidate has challenged Obama's domestic policies, and been quick to point out his inexperience in foreign affairs. ABC's David Wright covers John McCain and talked with the Arizona Senator today."

     Wright's questions:

- Senator, I want to start by asking you about an extraordinary statement you just made in that town hall meeting.

[JOHN McCAIN: So, apparently, Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.]

That's pretty strong language. Do you really think he's that craven?

[McCAIN: I think that it's very clear that Senator Obama has refused to recognize that the strategy in Iraq called the surge has succeeded.]

But what you seem to be saying there is that it's all about personal ambition for him and not about what he honestly thinks is right for the country.

- But it sometimes seems, as an outside observer, that both of you guys sometimes get stuck in the past. Senator Obama's kind of stuck in 2003 and whether the war was a good idea in the first place. And you kind of seem stuck, sometimes, in 2007, whether the surge was the right strategy. Shouldn't this debate really be about the future and where we go from here?

- Charlie Gibson sat down today with Senator Obama in Jerusalem. And as you can imagine, they talked a lot about the Middle East peace process. How would that initiative look different in a McCain administration than it would in an Obama administration?

- You've been touring here in the states, had the domestic stage all to yourself. And yet, we're talking an awful lot about foreign policy. It seems like the narrative of this campaign is being driven by whatever Senator Obama does and that you're left to kind of react to that.

[McCAIN: It may seem like that to you. It doesn't seem like that to me. We're getting very good crowds. We're doing well in the polls. So, I'm very happy with where we are.]

     ABCNews.com's page for World News features several articles about, and some video clips of, the Obama and McCain interviews: abcnews.go.com

     Next up on the Obamathon interview parade: Obama with NBC's Brian Williams on Thursday's NBC Nightly News. Wednesday night Williams, who hasn't anchored for a week-and-a-half, showed up to anchor from Germany.

 

CBS Frets Obama Can't Escape 'Hussein'
Middle Name in Israel

     The Wednesday CBS Evening News story on Barack Obama's day in Israel presumed Jewish concerns about his commitment to Israel are unreasonable as reporter Sheila MacVicar empathized with Obama's plight while she fretted about how an Israeli newspaper columnist "referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama." After noting that Obama "did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here," MacVicar stressed the "the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him." From Jerusalem, she then held up a copy of the newspaper as she rued: "It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters."

     MacVicar concluded by bemoaning: "However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted."

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

     An excerpt from article MacVicar cited, "Obama visit all about wooing Jewish American voters," by Aluf Benn:

....Israelis don't interest McCain and Obama. Rather, it is their Jewish voters and contributors at home. Barack Hussein Obama -- with his Muslim stepfather and his childhood in Indonesia, his suggestion to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the leftist image that adheres to his advisors -- has raised deep anxieties among the Jewish establishment. Republicans sensed a massive defection of Jewish voters. Obama's campaign managers have identified it as a problem and their candidate has been working on calming things down and issuing pro-Israel statements. McCain visited Sderot and expressed his support for Israel. Obama will follow in his footsteps Wednesday, as the city is experiencing a rare moment of lull. But Obama will also have a chance to denounce terror in real time: Tuesday's bulldozer terror attack took place next to his hotel in Jerusalem....

     For the entire column: www.haaretz.com

     Transcript of the story on the Wednesday, July 23 CBS Evening News:

     HARRY SMITH, ANCHOR: Barack Obama continued his overseas tour today in a country that could be very important to his presidential aspirations: Israel. As Sheila McVicar reports, what he's trying to do is simple, succeeding, though, may not be.

     SHEILA MacVICAR: In Jerusalem this morning, wearing a symbolically colored tie -- blue and white like Israel's flag -- Barack Obama set out to prove his friendship for Israel and woo voters back home. His hand shakes with senior Israeli statesmen.
     BARACK OBAMA, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: I'm here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel the United States.
     MacVICAR: His head bowed in prayer at the holocaust memorial were meant to convey his commitment to the Jewish state. The Senator did spend an hour with the Palestinian President, something John McCain did not do on his trip here.
     But the focus of the day was to try to reassure Jewish voters who are suspicious of him. It's an uphill battle. An example? A commentator writing in this morning's Israeli Ha'aretz newspaper referred to him by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama, talked about his Muslim stepfather, his childhood in Indonesia, his openness to dialogue with Iran as real sources of anxiety for both the Israeli establishment and American Jewish voters. A key issue for many American Jews is the future of Jerusalem. Obama did say it should remain Israel's capital undivided, but then was seen to back-pedal.
     BARACK OBAMA, AT PRESS CONFERENCE: No, I didn't change my statement. I continue to say that Jerusalem will be the capital of Israel.
     MacVICAR: How he is viewed on Israel will be crucial in swing states, especially hotly contested Florida.
     JEANNE CUMMINGS, POLITICO: In a state like Florida, it can make the difference between victory and not.
     MacVICAR: However unfair it may be, it will take more than this trip to alter the very deeply held perception of some that on Israel the Senator is not to be trusted. Sheila MacVicar, CBS News, Jerusalem.

 

NY Times' Tom Friedman on GMA: Obama
Middle Name Now a Plus

     New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman appeared on Wednesday's Good Morning America to gush that the very act of Barack Obama going on his Middle East trip makes one think "he comes back a little wiser, a little smarter." Friedman also asserted that the candidate's middle name, Hussein, would be a plus for him as President. He opined: "I was in Cairo a few weeks ago. And one of things that was so striking is how impressed Egyptians were, simply with the prospect that after 9/11, Americans might actually elect a man whose middle name was Hussein."

     (Of course, members of the media became apoplectic when radio talk show host Bill Cunningham used Obama's middle name at a campaign rally for John McCain.)

     GMA co host Diane Sawyer set up the Friedman critique by very carefully offering qualifiers about how "we know [Obama] is absolutely American. Absolutely a Christian." She then offered up the new spin that Obama's heritage could be a presidential positive: "...But in the greater Arab world, does his parental history, his father's history, mean he can move the Arabs more than someone else might be able to?"

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

     On a topic unrelated to the 2008 race, Friedman snidely suggested Americans were like crack addicts in their use of foreign oil. He scolded Obama and McCain for believing the U.S. has a "gasoline price problem." He then analogized: "Well, I don't think that's the problem any more than a crack addict has a crack price problem."

     Earlier in the segment, the NYT columnist found another positive assessment for the Democratic presidential candidate. Agreeing with Sawyer that Senator McCan was "right" about the surge, Friedman claimed: "And what the surge, though, has ironically done is make Iraq safe for Barack Obama's foreign policy and the Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki's domestic policy."

     He added: "So the sad thing from McCain's point of view is, yes, he was right, but the story has moved on quickly past 'Were you right or wrong about the surge?' to the effect of the surge on the whole region and the American presence in Iraq." Well, who is moving the discussion past this point? Wouldn't it make sense for Friedman and other journalists to question just how badly Obama got the surge wrong and what else he would misjudge as President?

     A transcript of the July 23 segment, which aired at 7:09am:

     DIANE SAWYER: And as Obama moves on to Europe, perfect time to hear from Washington from one of the best known guides to the Mideast world and the world at large for that matter, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of "The World is Flat." Good morning, Tom.
     THOMAS FRIEDMAN: Good morning, Diane.

     ABC GRAPHIC: How the World Sees the Race: Tom Friedman Weighs In

     SAWYER: What about Charlie's question? Was something accomplished here by this trip? How did Obama do as a player on the Mideast stage?
     FRIEDMAN: Well, he sort of didn't make any visible gaffes so far. You know, Diane, as someone who is a columnist and deals with foreign affairs, I've always had a motto: If you don't go, you don't know. And I've never taken a trip abroad that I didn't learn something by interacting with people on the ground, smelling, hearing, listening and I'm sure he has, as well. Did he just get a Masters degree in Middle East studies? No. But you have to think he comes back a little wiser, a little smarter.
     SAWYER: And what about the reaction to him overseas? How have they been reporting it? And we know he is absolutely American. Absolutely a Christian, but in the greater Arab world, does his parental history, his father's history, mean he can move the Arabs more than someone else might be able to?
     FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, I was in Cairo a few weeks ago. And one of things that was so striking is how impressed Egyptians were simply with the prospect that after 9/11, Americans might actually elect a man whose middle name was Hussein. Many of them, you know, think he is of Middle Eastern origin or has some Muslim background, which he doesn't, but it was actually quite a compliment by them to America, because many of them look around at their own societies and ask, could someone like that, someone from such a minority background ever be elected president of our country? And the answer is no and they're actually quietly impressed with America for simply giving Obama the chance they've given him so far.
     SAWYER: Let me address for a minute, McCain-- Senator McCain's reaction to the trip. He's had sort of a two-pronged reaction. One is to complain about the vaunted media coverage of it all but the other was to keep saying, no one is holding Barack Obama accountable for opposing the surge in Iraq. I'm going to play the clip and ask you if he's got a fair point.
     SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: The surge has succeeded. It has succeeded. We are winning the war. If we'd have done what Senator Obama wanted, we'd have lost.
     SAWYER: So is he right that if Senator Obama's wish not to have a surge had been fulfilled that we would have lost?
     FRIEDMAN: Well, you know what I wrote this morning, Diane, is that you can understand where McCain is coming from. As someone who supported the war and had, you know, himself beaten up for four years for that, he took a very strong, early position in support of the surge and he was right. And what the surge, though, has ironically done is make Iraq safe for Barack Obama's foreign policy and the prime minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki's domestic policy. What do I mean by that? You know, Obama has kind of been in the same place for a long time. Once I'm president, he says, "I will withdraw all combat forces from Iraq within 16 months." And basically that position now, now that the surge has worked, has a certain viability on the ground. At the same time, the prime minister of Iraq now that the surge has worked understands that Iraq is going to have parliamentary and provincial elections and the issue of the American presence in Iraq will be a political issue. And that's why the prime minister of Iraq is also saying, "Hmm, I think that Obama guy has got it right," 'cause he doesn't want to be outflanked by any of his domestic opponents in terms of calling for the Americans to withdraw. So the sad thing from McCain's point of view is, yes, he was right, but the story has moved on quickly past "Were you right or wrong about the surge?" to the effect of the surge on the whole region and the American presence in Iraq.
     SAWYER: Must be confounding politically to the McCain camp to have that happen. One quick question to you. You've been tough on the Bush administration for the failure to lead America off of dependence on foreign oil or to begin to, anyway. Called the president "the addict in chief." Anything you see from either of the two candidates, Obama or McCain, that leads you to believe that they will break dependence on foreign oil?
     FRIEDMAN: I really haven't seen anything serious coming from them. They continue to focus really the same way the President does, to tell the American people, we have a problem. We have a gasoline price problem. Well, I don't think that's the problem any more than a crack addict has a crack price problem. Our problem is we're addicted to a fuel, fossil fuels, that are causing petro dictatorship all over the world, shipping billions of dollars abroad weakening the dollar, causing climate change, and that's our problem and our solution is to break that addiction, not to bring the price of our crack, fossil fuels, lower.
     SAWYER: Thomas Friedman, always great to have you here. Thanks so much.

 

CBS's MacVicar: Obama 'In Statesman Clothes'
On Trip

     On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Sheila MacVicar described Barack Obama's visit to Israel's Holocaust memorial during his continuing Middle East tour as "yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes." MacVicar imbued Obama with the mantel of "statesman" just last Friday, July 18, when she described the upcoming trip: "Senator Obama is taking to the skies to stride on the world stage. It's a chance for Americans to take a look at how he measures up as a statesman...it's an attempt to demonstrate he has the necessary gravitas to maneuver through diplomatic minefields, especially in the Middle East."

     Earlier in Wednesday's report, MacVicar described Obama's meeting with top Israeli officials and made sure label the conservative: "The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Prime Minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu." MacVicar concluded her report with a preview of Obama's next stop: "This afternoon he'll travel by helicopter with not one, but two ministerial tour guides, the foreign minister and the defense minister, to the Israeli town of Sderot, which is frequently a target of Palestinian rockets. For Obama it's a chance to show that he understands and feels the plight of Israelis. For the Israelis, it's a chance to make their point about their strategic weakness."

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

     Following MacVicar's report, co-host Harry Smith played a clip of Katie Couric's interview with Obama in Amman, Jordan. Couric provided some challenging questions: "Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month. The country was rife with sectarian violence and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying, even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying why?...If you believe, Senator, Afghanistan is, in fact, the central front in the war on terror, why was this your first trip there?"

     Here is the full transcript of the July 23 Early Show segment:

     7:00AM TEASER:
     HARRY SMITH: Obama in Ramallah. The Senator's Mideast tour continues.
     KATIE COURIC: Do you really believe, Senator Obama, that peace in the Middle East is possible?
     SMITH: We'll have Katie Couric's exclusive interview with him.

     7:06AM SEGMENT:
     HARRY SMITH: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is making stops in Israel and the West Bank this morning. CBS News correspondent Sheila MacVicar is in Ramallah with more on that. Sheila, good morning.
     SHEILA MACVICAR: Good morning -- good morning Harry. Well it's another busy day for Senator Obama. He's already met with two key Israeli leaders, and he's just wrapping up a meeting inside that building now with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Of all the stops on this trip, Harry, this day in Israel and Palestinian territory is the one with the greatest risk of misstep. And he's already had some explaining to do with the Palestinians. The day began with a double helping of breakfast and conversations with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former prime minister and leading right-winger Benjamin Netanyahu. Like many Israelis, they both worry about the Senator's willingness to talk to Tehran and worry, too, that if elected president, his lack of foreign policy experience would lead him to push Israel too hard in negotiations with the Palestinians. But it was this remark to a pro-Israeli lobby group last month that raised Palestinian concerns:
     BARACK OBAMA: And Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.
     MACVICAR: Both Israelis and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. The Senator had to clarify his remarks. Hours before Obama arrived in Jerusalem, a Palestinian bulldozer driver was shot dead after he attacked passing motorists, the second such attack in weeks. Last night, Obama reminded Israelis and their supporters back home that he would be tough on terror.
     OBAMA: And it's just one more reminder of why we have to work diligently, urgently, and in a unified way to defeat terrorism.
     UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Senator Barack Obama.
     MACVICAR: In a trip rich with photo ops, this stop at the Holocaust memorial this morning, a mandatory stop for every V.I.P. visitor to Israel, was yet another chance to see how the Senator looks in statesman clothes. This afternoon he'll travel by helicopter with not one, but two ministerial tour guides, the foreign minister and the defense minister, to the Israeli town of Sderot, which is frequently a target of Palestinian rockets. For Obama it's a chance to show that he understands and feels the plight of Israelis. For the Israelis, it's a chance to make their point about their strategic weakness. Harry.
    
     SMITH: Sheila MacVicar live in Ramallah this morning, thank you so much. CBS 'Evening News' anchor Katie Couric is on the road. She's in Amman, Jordan. She sat down with Senator Barack Obama for an exclusive interview. Let's take a look.
     KATIE COURIC: By now you know we've moved on and Barack Obama is already in Israel, but before he left Amman, Jordan, I had the chance to sit down with him for his first one-on-one interview following his visits to two war zones, Afghanistan and Iraq. You're visiting some of the most ancient places in the entire world. For example, the palace where we'll be speaking. There have been so many wars, so much violence, so much hatred in this region. Do you really believe, Senator Obama, that peace in the Middle East is possible?
     OBAMA: Well, you know, I think that a perfect peace eludes all of us here on Earth.
     COURIC: You have not been to Iraq since 2006. What did you learn on your recent visit that surprised you, or what was new?
     OBAMA: Well, there's no doubt the security situation's improved. What hadn't changed was there's still enormous suspicion between the Sunni and the Shia. And until, I think, that gets resolved, I think you're still going to have a fragile situation.
     COURIC: Before the surge, as you know, Senator, there were 80 to 100 U.S. casualties a month. The country was rife with sectarian violence and you raised a lot of eyebrows on this trip saying, even knowing what you know now, you still would not have supported the surge. People may be scratching their heads and saying why?
     OBAMA: If we continue to put $10 to $12 billion a month into Iraq, if we are willing to send as many troops as we can muster continually into Iraq, there's no doubt that that's going to have an impact. But it doesn't meet our long-term strategic goal, which is to make the American people safer over the long term. We have to recognize that Iraq is just one of our security problems. It's not the only one, we've got big problems in Afghanistan. We've got a significant threat in Iran. By us putting $10 to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that's money that could have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States.
     COURIC: If you believe, Senator, Afghanistan is, in fact, the central front in the war on terror, why was this your first trip there?
     OBAMA: The fact that I didn't visit Afghanistan doesn't detract from my accurate assessment that this has been the central front on terror. I've been saying for over a year that we need to have more troops there. My visit confirmed, every commander on the ground saying we, in fact, do need the two or three brigades that I've been recommending there. You know, my hope is that whoever the next president is that we're going to get that policy right because it is absolutely critical for us being successful long term.
     SMITH: That was Katie Couric in Amman, Jordan.

 

NBC Breaking News: Shimon Peres Aide
Thinks Obama is a 'Hunk!'

     Apparently it's not just the American press corp that has fallen head over heels for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night's Hardball, NBC News reporter Martin Fletcher revealed the quote that "went rushing around the media" in Israel -- that a female assistant to Shimon Peres remarked of Obama: "What a hunk!"

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

     When asked by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, on the July 23 Hardball, to give his assessment of the media coverage given to Obama in Israel, Fletcher dropped the following nugget:

     CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you Martin for a final question there, as Barack Obama leaves the Middle East. What's the general assessment of the people over there, in terms of news coverage? Has he shown himself to be a commander-in-chief, potentially?
     MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC NEWS: I think so, very much so Chris. I mean he's been, he's been seen, he's been seen here really as much as, as, a rock star, as a leader. And people are surprised. By the way when he visited the president, Shimon Peres' office today, one of Peres' female assistants came out and said in Hebrew, "Hey what a hunk!"
     MATTHEWS: Ha!
     FLETCHER: That was the, that was the quote that went, that went rushing around the media here. I think, I think he seemed very much as, as, as, it's been a successful trip for him, not only with Israelis but also with the Palestinians who were, who were very happy that he went to see them in Ramallah, even if it was short visit to the president, which of course, McCain when he was here in March he didn't do. So I think Obama scored strongly, both with the Israelis and with the Palestinians on this trip.

 

Pro-Obama Bias? New York Times TV Critic:
What Pro-Obama Bias?

     Alessandra Stanley misses the obvious: "But it's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas." New York Times TV-beat reporter Alessandra Stanley's Wednesday "TV Watch" column covered the only thing that's been on the tube lately: "Obama Overseas! In Presidential Mode! Back Home, It's McCain in a Golf Cart."

     Amazingly, Stanley doesn't see a pattern of pro-Obama bias in the overwhelming media hype, simply an accurate reflection of a "presidential candidate acting so presidential overseas," one "at home talking to generals and heads of state." That's the only reason the media has gone ga-ga over the Democrat, you see.

     [This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Wednesday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

     An excerpt from Stanley's July 23 article:

All three cable news networks carried Mr. Obama's news conference live and in full. They showed only parts of Mr. McCain's forum and focused mostly on his reaction to Mr. Obama's statements. Even Fox News broke away from Mr. McCain midevent to cover the rescue of a bear cub wounded in a California fire and nicknamed Lil' Smokey.

Mr. McCain's surrogates complained bitterly about the Obama news blitz; on Tuesday the McCain campaign put out a Web video mocking reporters' doting coverage with a montage of anchors' gauzy looks and glowing praise set to the tune of the Frankie Valli hit "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You."

But it's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas. Mr. Obama looks supremely confident and at home talking to generals and heads of state, so much so that some viewers may find the pose presumptuous -- as if Mr. Obama believes that not only is his official nomination at the Democratic convention in August a mere formality, so is the November election....

Touring ruins of the Citadel in Amman, Mr. Obama strode confidently with his jacket crooked over his shoulder in classic Kennedy style. He also practiced statesmanly restraint, telling reporters in Amman that he wouldn't criticize his opponent while abroad.

Some images are so potent that Fox News, which hammers at Mr. Obama's lack of foreign policy experience, uses its headline crawls as disclaimers: Shots of his arrival in Iraq were captioned, "Obama in Iraq: Second-Ever Trip There."

     End of Excerpt

     For Stanley's piece in full: www.nytimes.com

     Stanley recognized the "potency" of the Obama imagery being helpfully transmitted by the media, but apparently that's just because Obama's such a princely candidate.

 

Letterman: 'Bush's Administration Clearly
Guilty of War Crimes?'

     David Letterman, who a month ago doubted George Bush and Dick Cheney have any "humanity," on Wednesday's Late Show pushed a guest to confirm "that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes." Far-left "journalist" Jane Mayer of the New Yorker was invited onto the Late Show to plug her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals. Late in her second segment, Letterman recalled how "about a year ago" a Democratic presidential candidate was a guest and during a commercial break Letterman had wondered: "'What do you think George Bush's legacy might be?' And he says, 'well, I tell you what ought to happen to him, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes.' And we all sort of thought, well, he's being wacky, he's being funny. But now, you wonder..."

     After Mayer suggested "I don't think they're laughing about it in the White House" and relayed how "in Congress there are people who are at least pushing for truth commissions," Letterman pressed her: "But can a case be made that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes? That's easy enough to make that case, or." Mayer demurred: "I'm not a lawyer."

     About a year ago two Democratic candidates were Late Show guests: Dennis Kucinich on Friday, June 29, 2007: lateshow.cbs.com

     And Joe Biden on Tuesday, July 31, 2007: lateshow.cbs.com

     Calling for Bush's arrest sounds a lot more like Kucinich than Biden.

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

     Last week on NewsBusters, Mark Finkelstein noticed that CNN's Jack Cafferty had highlighted Mayer's "war crimes" allegations: "A new book titled The Dark Side, by New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, suggests top administration officials, including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and others, may be guilty of war crimes." See: newsbusters.org

     Back in 1994, Mayer wrote the anti-Thomas screed, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. Amazon's page for it: www.amazon.com

     Amazon's page for her new book: www.amazon.com

     My June 12 CyberAlert item, "Letterman on Bush & Cheney: 'Is There Any Humanity in Either of These Guys?'" recounted:

Channeling Keith Olbermann, David Letterman on Wednesday night proposed to guest Scott McClellan that President Bush and Vice President Cheney "just couldn't care less about Americans" since "all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office," and so he marveled: "Is there any humanity in either of these guys?" Letterman's conspiratorial rant:
     "My feeling about Cheney, and also Bush, but especially Cheney is that he just couldn't care less about Americans. And the same is true of George Bush. And all they really want to do is somehow kiss up to the oil people so they can get some great annuity when they're out of office. [audience applause] 'There you go Dick [hand motion of distributing cash], nice job. There's a couple of billion for your troubles.' I mean, he pretty much put Halliburton in business and the outsourcing of the military resources to private mercenary groups and so forth. Is there any humanity in either of these guys?"

     For the entire previous CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

     The discussion about "war crimes" on the Wednesday, July 23 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS:

     DAVID LETTERMAN: About a year ago we had a guy on who was running for President of the United States " is out now -- but was campaigning and during the commercial I said to him, "what do you think-" -- and he's a Democrat -- I said, "what do you think George Bush's legacy might be?" And he says, "well, I tell you what ought to happen to him, he should be arrested and tried for war crimes." And we all sort of thought, well, he's being wacky, he's being funny. But now, you wonder, what was he talking about?
     JANE MAYER: Well, I don't think they're laughing about it in the White House, anyway, right now. There are people talking about war crimes trials. I, you know, in Congress there are people who are at least pushing for truth commissions, they want to see what happened in this program. There are all these dark secrets, still. I mean, I got as many as I could get into this book, but there's a lot that we still don't know.
     LETTERMAN: Well we believe that a trial will never happen, but can a case be made that George Bush's administration is clearly guilty of war crimes? That's easy enough to make that case, or-
     MAYER: Well, you know, I'm not a lawyer, also, but I think that what they did was they said that the Geneva conventions don't apply to terrorists. so when that happened they basically said war crimes are just not applicable, so-
     LETTERMAN: Is that spelled out in the Geneva convention, "oh by the way none of this applies to terrorists?"
     MAYER: No, it's not. It took special lawyers to come up with special answers, which is what they did here.

-- Brent Baker

 


Sign up for CyberAlerts:
     Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive CyberAlerts via e-mail.

Subscribe!
Enter your email to join MRC CyberAlert today!

 

questions and comments about CyberAlert subscription

     You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC’s Web site by subscribing to the “MRC Web Site News” distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cybersub.asp#webnews

 


Home | News Division | Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts 
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact the MRC | Subscribe

Founded in 1987, the MRC is a 501(c) (3) non-profit research and education foundation
 that does not support or oppose any political party or candidate for office.

Privacy Statement

Media Research Center
325 S. Patrick Street
Alexandria, VA 22314