From the Monday, August 6, 2001 MRC CyberAlert:
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center (MRC), the publisher of NewsBusters. He’s been the central figure in the MRC’s News Analysis Division since the MRC’s 1987 founding and in 2005 spearheaded the launch of NewsBusters.
Baker oversees the selection of the award nominees and “winners” for the MRC’s “DisHonors Awards,” presented at an annual gala, and each week he helps the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard select a “Mainstream Media Scream.” Those picks are added, on a one week delay, to NewsBusters. (Archive for 2012-2014 on MRC.org)
In 2001, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes dubbed Baker “the scourge of liberal bias.”
For 13 years he compiled and edited the daily CyberAlert e-mail and online report. In late May of 2009 the CyberAlert became an e-mail-only product based on BiasAlert postings on the MRC's Web site. BiasAlerts since early 2012. (In February 2015, the MRC discontinued posting BiasAlerts on MRC.org and began feeding the newsletter via CyberAlert posts on NewsBusters).
An avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL hockey team, in January of 2009 the Washington Post's "DC Sports Bog" took note of Baker's attendance at a Caps game with John Kerry: "The Caps, John Kerry and a Scourge."
Baker lived in Massachusetts through high school, whereupon he fled the liberal commonwealth for George Washington University in DC and, since graduation, a life in Northern Virginia. Full bio on MRC.org.
From the Monday, August 6, 2001 MRC CyberAlert:
NBC will air a special tonight on Tim Russert at 10 PM EDT/PDT (9PM CDT), taking the place of the second hour of the scheduled Dateline.
The hour, to be hosted Tom Brokaw, is titled: 'Remembering Tim Russert.'
MSNBC.com's page on Russert's untimely passing on Friday.
Six months after he chastised Congress for not following George McGovern's advice to impeach President Bush, CNN's Jack Cafferty on Thursday scolded House Democrats for disposing of the latest impeachment effort by the far-left Dennis Kucinich (earlier NB post on Cafferty's blog entry). Fretting that “the House of Representatives voted to send an impeachment resolution against President Bush to a committee where it will die,” Cafferty used his “Cafferty File” segment during the 4 PM EST hour of The Situation Room to lecture:
Congress continues to refuse to exercise its constitutional responsibility, which is oversight of the executive branch of our government. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi long ago said impeachment is off the table. This is a joke. We have a President who has abused the power of his office over and over and over again. It's what got the Democrats elected to the majority in Congress in 2006. The Democrats, no doubt, are worried what it will look like to many voters if they spend their time on impeachment. To hell with what's right or wrong.
The broadcast network evening newscasts gave as much emphasis Thursday night to the biting dissent as the majority opinion in the 5-4 Supreme Court ruling on behalf of the Guantanamo detainees, but told the story through the prism of the Bush administration getting rebuked by the decision characterized as “historic” and “landmark” -- with ABC's Martha Raddatz ominously warning “it could be very embarrassing for the administration.” CBS avoided any label for the majority while tagging the dissenters as “conservative” and only NBC noted how some of those already released have committed atrocities.
“The Supreme Court, for the third time, has slammed the Bush administration for its handling of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay,” CBS anchor Katie Couric announced. Wyatt Andrews asserted “the ruling essentially tells the Bush administration no more halfway justice at Guantanamo” as he segued to a soundbite from a representative of a left-wing group by relaying how “lawyers for the detainees called it a victory for America's reputation around the world.” Andrews, who applied no liberal labels, said the “ruling was bitterly rebuked by the court's conservatives.”
From Kabul, NBC's Brian Williams teased “a big defeat for the Bush administration,” though he later uniquely portrayed the “landmark ruling” as “victory” for the detainees, before Pete Williams tagged both sides, citing “the court's five more liberal members” and “the four conservative dissenters.” ABC anchor Charles Gibson reported that the court “today handed the Bush administration a stinging defeat.” Jan Crawford Greenburg applied the most accurate labeling, referring to how “moderate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the decision with the four liberal justices” while “conservative Justice Antonin Scalia read a sharp, almost personal dissent.”
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?
McClellan only disagreed about Bush:
Of the three broadcast network evening newscasts on Wednesday, only ABC's World News judged Jim Johnson's resignation from the Obama campaign as worth a full story. CBS and NBC limited coverage to brief items that failed to inform viewers of how Obama was caught in hypocrisy. ABC's Jake Tapper, however, explained the reason for the “big headache for Barack Obama,” that “the head of his vice presidential search committee, Jim Johnson, resigned amidst criticisms that Johnson personified the very special interests and Washington insiders whom Obama campaigns against.”
Tapper played a clip of Obama's “lofty” rhetoric from February: “The stakes are too high and the challenges are too great to play the same old Washington games with the same old Washington players.” Tapper reported Obama picked Johnson while “not knowing of Johnson's ties to Countrywide Financial, a mortgage lender Obama had rallied against on the campaign trail.” Viewers then heard from Obama earlier in the campaign: “Countrywide Financial was one of the folks, one of the institutions that was pumping up the sub-prime lending market.”
The three broadcast network evening newscasts on Tuesday framed coverage, of a Democratic Senate plan to somehow lower gas prices by imposing a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies which they would just pass on to consumers, around how Republicans “blocked” the effort. No one cast any doubt on the presumption the oil companies are earning “windfall” and/or “excessive” profits.
Fill-in NBC anchor Ann Curry's very short update: “Now to the high price of oil and gas. Senate Republicans today blocked a Democratic plan to impose a windfall profit tax on oil companies.” CBS's Katie Couric, who unlike Curry at least noted how “Republicans said it would have done nothing to lower the price of gas,” asserted: “Senate Republicans today blocked Democrats from slapping a tax on the windfall profits of oil companies.”
ABC twice displayed on screen text favorable to the liberal position: “Senate Republicans block Democratic plan to tax oil companies' windfall profits.” And: “Special tax for excessive oil profits.”
Tom Brokaw came aboard Monday's Late Show to promote his book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties: Personal Reflections on the '60s and Today, but soon chided David Letterman with some historical context after Letterman forwarded standard liberal claims about how the America of 2008 is in a “horrible” state thanks to the awful President George W. Bush, and when Letterman fretted about government inaction on global warming, Brokaw embarrassed the late night host by pointing out how he's a big carbon-producer since he drives a big vehicle and flies executive jets.
On the terrible state of the nation, Letterman contended “everything...has gone so lousy in the last eight years” so “things are horrible in ways they shouldn't be horrible.” Brokaw pointed to his book about 1968, and delivered a friendly lecture:
Let me remind you that forty years ago this year, Doctor King was killed, Bobby Kennedy was killed, we had the Chicago riots, 16,000 people were killed in Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson decided not to run for re-election, the Kerner Commission said we are two societies -- one white, one black, separate and unequal -- we had urban riots and in the fall we had as cantankerous and as contentious and in many way as mentally violent an election as we've ever had...
Similarly assuming the present is the worst ever, Letterman complained: “People are all talking about, 'okay we're going to change the emissions by 2035, by 2020.' That's too late. I mean, it's a hundred degrees now!” Letterman pleaded: “It's got to come from the government. They have to lead us.” Brokaw agreed, but then made the host uncomfortable:
BROKAW: The government has to lead and those of us who drive -- uhh uhh -- big carbon-emitting vehicles or fly in airplanes that have only two passengers on them-
LETTERMAN: Alright, alright, that's fine Tom.
Delivering the commencement address Sunday at Ohio State University in Columbus, where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams implied America is broken as he told the graduates: “We need you to fix the country.”
That clip, squeezed in between Al Gore at Carnegie Mellon and Martin Sheen at Notre Dame, aired as part of an annual compilation of commencement advice run at the end of Monday's NBC Nightly News. NBC also aired this from Williams: “We need you all now to step up. And every adult in this place has every faith that you're up to the job.”
Video of a commencement story on the Web site of NBC's Columbus affiliate, WCMH-TV, featured a longer version of the line from Williams: “We need you to fix the country -- and I'm sorry to ask this of you.” In another soundbite aired by the local station, Williams paraphrased Bill Clinton: “There is nothing wrong with America that someone from Ohio State can't fix. Go get them OH!”
[UPDATE, 10:30 PM EDT: I found full video on MSNBC.com (Breitbart TV has that same 13-minute Flash video here), and the entire address isn't as political as the “we need you to fix the country” comment suggested. Williams, however, apologized: “On behalf of my generation, I'm so sorry, the Internet is so cool we got sidetracked.” He urged the graduates to “pick one area” and do something about it, recommending they “start with climate” since “something tells me this may be a challenge in the years ahead” to “find a way to get around without fuel in our tanks that comes from an enemy of this country.”
Echoing a theme of those calling for “change,” Williams pleaded:
We won't see an election like this for decades again in this country. We are at a crossroads. They don't get more important and it's so important that you all get involved. Put your generational stamp on American politics.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz played a clip of CBS reporter Byron Pitts on Wednesday's CBS Evening News hailing Barack Obama's Democratic nomination victory as proof “one of America's oldest and ugliest color lines has been broken, and there is a new bridge for a new generation,” then proposed: “You obviously are paid to be an objective journalist, but some part of you must be excited that Barack Obama won this nomination.” Pitts confirmed his excitement:
Well, certainly. I mean, as an African-American man, this is significant. I mean, look, for my entire life I've been able to, as a man, dream of doing great things. But a dream I could never have was being President of the United States. Now, for instance, my sons, my nephew, they can have that dream. And I think those kinds of images are important.
George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars movies and writer/producer of the Indiana Jones film franchise, has hailed Barack Obama as “a hero in the making,” declaring that Obama, “for all of us that have dreams and hope, is a hero.” A Wednesday Agence France-Presse (AFP) dispatch headlined, really, “The force is with Obama, 'Star Wars' creator says,” reported:
Erroneously recounting a Tuesday NewsBusters post I wrote about how, unlike ABC and CBS, the NBC Nightly News did not report the lowest U.S. death level in May for any month since the war in Iraq began, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Friday night made FNC's Bill O'Reilly his “Worst Person in the World” runner-up for “picking up some of his features from the hilariously inept right-wing Web site NewsBusters.” Olbermann proceeded to claim that NewsBusters had “criticized our colleague Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News for leading Monday's newscast not with the lower May casualty figures from Iraq, but with a story on how underfunded mass transit system can't keep up with increased ridership caused by the rape of the driver by Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and their oil buddies.”
But Olbermann is the inept one. The June 2 NB item did not scold Williams for failing to lead with the development (nor, of course, for any “rape” of drivers by Bush), but for not mentioning it at any time in his newscast: “ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News.”
Derogatorily impersonating O'Reilly, Olbermann recited O'Reilly's Wednesday hit on Williams as his “pinhead” of the night. Olbermann then asked and answered about O'Reilly: “Surprised that you're a blithering sociopath cutting and pasting items from NewsBusters? No, I am not...”
After leading Friday's CBS Evening News with Morgan Stanley's prediction of $150 barrel of oil by the 4th of July and reporter Anthony Mason citing the “runaway price of energy,” anchor Katie Couric delivered a short item on how “today the Senate gave up on legislation to fight global warming.” Couric explained that “faced with a Republican-led filibuster, Democrats withdrew their proposal to cap carbon emissions from power plants and factories,” but she failed to make the connection to how the “cap and trade” bill would raise the price gas and other energy.
In a Monday column, Robert Samuelson, who dubbed the bill “cap and tax,” reported: “The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that a 15 percent cut of emissions would raise average household energy costs by almost $1,300 a year.”
“Far more Americans believe that the press coverage has favored Barack Obama than think it has favored Hillary Clinton,” a just-released survey, from the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, discovered in determining 37 percent recognize a bias in favor of Obama. Even 35 percent of Democrats “see a pro-Obama bias” compared to 45 percent of Republicans and 40 percnt of independents.
The poll, of about 1,000 Americans taken in late May, found about the same percentage of Republicans and Democrats rely on MSNBC for campaign news, but:
Far more Republicans (24%) than Democrats (10%) get most of their campaign news from Fox [News Channel], while the opposite is true for CNN: 24% of Democrats look to CNN compared with just 13% of Republicans.
Reliance on the Internet for campaign news has jumped 12 points since 2004 while those primarily reading newspapers or watching TV news has fallen. Specifically, those who “say they get most of their news about the election from television” fell 10 points since 2004 as those relying on newspapers dropped 12 points, but “as many people now cite the Internet as cite newspapers as their main source of campaign news (29%); just 17% cited the Internet in September 2004.”
CBS and NBC on Thursday night were as interested in highlighting the claims of torture, from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM) and four 9/11 terrorist attack co-conspirators who were arraigned by a military commission court in Guantanamo Bay, as to informing viewers about the charges against them. ABC didn't consider the torture allegations relevant and so didn't mention the topic as Jan Crawford Greenburg uniquely described KSM as “evil.” In contrast to NBC which called him a “man” and “defendant,” CBS anchor Katie Couric at least described him as a “terrorist.”
CBS reporter Bob Orr, who emphasized that “some legal critics called the hearing...a complete and utter farce,” relayed how “the self-proclaimed mastermind of 9/11 said openly in court that he had been tortured by the U.S., and he called the case against him a sham.” With the quote on screen, Orr reported: “KSM, who the CIA admits was subjected to water-boarding, questioned the legitimacy of the military hearing. 'For five years, they torture,' he said. 'After the torturing they transfer us to inquisition-land in Guantanamo.'” Orr proceeded to showcase how Aziz Ali charged: “This government failed to treat me as a human for five years.”
On NBC, Jim Miklaszewski highlighted how KSM “called the legal proceedings 'evil'" and featured criticism from the ACLU. Miklaszewski also highlighted the “after five years of torture, they transfer us to inquisition land, Guantanamo” quote, before asserting: “Mohammed was water-boarded by the CIA. Defense attorneys had intended to challenge any of Mohammed's statements on the grounds he was tortured.”
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led Wednesday night with celebratory interviews with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama -- with ABC and NBC plastering “MAKING HISTORY” on screen -- as the three anchors luxuriated in Obama's success. ABC's Charles Gibson wondered: “I'm curious about your feelings last night. It was an historic moment. Has it sunk in yet?” Gibson followed up by prompting Obama to share his excitement: “When everybody clears out, the staff is gone, you're in the hotel room at night, and you're alone, do you say to yourself, 'Son of a gun, I've done this?'” On CBS, Katie Couric was so giddy she couldn't complete her question: “Did you ever think you'd see this day? I mean, are you still just completely-”
Echoing Gibson, NBC's Brian Williams began: “What was it like for you last night, the part we couldn't see, the flight to St. Paul with your wife, knowing what was awaiting?” Williams next cued him up: “And you had to be thinking of your mother and your father.” Then Williams excitedly informed Obama of the popularity on the Internet of the “fist pound” with his wife on stage the night before:
And your wife came up on stage with you last night, and in an otherwise private moment, attempted to give her husband a fist pound the way a lot of Americans do, the way a lot of couples do. Only problem was, it was an inside move shared in front of seventeen and a half thousand people in the arena and millions watching at home. It's the most talked about fist pound on the Internet today, you'll be happy to know.
ABC, which on May 14 was so excited about the John Edwards endorsement of Barack Obama that its 6:30 PM feed of World News went live to Obama introducing Edwards -- complete with a Bruce Spingsteen song as Edwards bounded on stage -- on Tuesday night cut into Boston Legal at 10:08 PM EDT/9:08 PM CDT to go live for 14 straight minutes of a triumphant Barack Obama at a rally in the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. (CBS stuck with Without a Trace and NBC with Law & Order: SVU, though both ran Special Reports earlier to report Obama had secured the Democratic nomination.) After cutting away from Obama, ABC aired just over two minutes of excerpts from Hillary Clinton's earlier non-concession address and then a minute-and-a-half from Republican John McCain.
Anchor Charles Gibson trumpeted at the start of the Special Report:
You're looking at a picture from St. Paul, Minnesota, the Xcel Center, in Minnesota, Barack Obama, and his wife Michelle, have just been introduced to a rather raucous rally there to greet him on what is an historic night. On this night, June 3rd, 2008 an African-American has been nominated to be, or will be nominated to be, candidate of a major party for President of the United States....It is just over 50 years since America officially desegregated its schools. And now, an African-American nominated for President.
With the end of liberal Democrat Hillary Clinton's “historic campaign for the presidency” seemingly very near, CBS anchor Katie Couric devoted more than four minutes Tuesday night to wondering: “What will the many women who supported her do?” (Based on her reporting, that likely includes her.) Noting that “women helped propel Clinton to a big win in Pennsylvania,” Couric explained: “We asked seven of her supporters from that battleground state about her campaign and what they're thinking now.”
Amongst the comments featured from the seven liberals, a teacher blamed media hostility toward Clinton -- “It bothers me to think with the kind of coverage that we've had” -- for how “young men or other young women” inexplicably “say, 'I hate Hillary,' and just the venom that comes out of them.” Couric inquired of the group: “What has Hillary Clinton's candidacy taught you?” several saw sexism, as one woman replied: “We still have a long ways to go when it comes to sexism, and we will have a female President in the near future.” Another didn't see any hope for women candidates:
If she doesn't win this time, I don't know when -- at least, it won't happen in my lifetime -- when there would be any other candidate who would be as well qualified.
FNC's Brit Hume highlighted Monday night how Scott McClellan's original book proposal, posted Saturday by the Politico, “promised to be quote 'supportive of the President' and take a penetrating look at how the liberal media slant their coverage of him.” Interviewing McClellan on Sunday's Meet the Press, Tim Russert highlighted the proposal and declared: “That's not the book you wrote.” (Matt Sheffield's Monday post on the Politco's discovery, “McClellan Originally Wanted to Attack Media, Defend Bush.”)
In his “Grapevine” item, Hume relayed how “McClellan writes that while many recent books have portrayed President Bush in a negative light, he would take a different approach, quote: 'I will directly address myths that have been associated with him, some deliberately perpetuated by activist liberals and some created by the media'” and:
I will look at what is behind the media hostility toward the President and his administration, and how much of it is rooted in a liberal bias.
As lead-ins to short reports on the posthumous presentation of a Medal of Honor, ABC and CBS on Monday night managed to squeeze in -- more than 20 minutes into their evening newscasts -- brief mentions of how in May the fewest number U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in any month since the war began five years ago. But not NBC Nightly News. (And Sunday's Today and Nightly News, as well as Monday's Today, also skipped the good news.) NBC anchor Brian Williams on Monday led with worries that “because it's been underfunded for decades, mass transit may not be ready for all the Americans leaving their cars behind,” and ran his short update, on the Medal of Honor going to Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis, without anything about the decline in troops killed.
Fill-in ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos set up his report on the White House ceremony presenting the honor to the parents of McGinnis by dampening the positive news with the total death number:
The Pentagon reported 19 American troops were killed in May. That's the lowest monthly toll since the war began. The total number of Americans killed in the war is now approaching 4,100.
On the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric also noted the total, but CBS didn't display it on screen, as she painted the fewest killed as “perhaps” a sign violence is going down:
In Iraq, a sign perhaps that violence is decreasing. In the lowest monthly death U.S. toll since the war began, 19 Americans were killed in May. The total U.S. toll for the war is now 4,086.