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Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters
Brad Wilmouth is a former Media Research Center news analyst and an alumnus of the University of Virginia.
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On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered a "Special Comment" lambasting members of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of centrist House Democrats because most of the group's members have pressured more liberal congressional Democrats compromise in their push for public health insurance. After reciting campaign contributions received by some Blue Dog members from the health care industry, he suggested that these Democrats should just be called "dogs." Olbermann: "I could call them all out by name, but I think you get the point. We do not need to call the Democrats holding this up Blue Dogs. That one word 'dogs' is perfectly sufficient."
The MSNBC host also shamelessly tried to use Senator Ted Kennedy's illness to suggeset that Democratic Senator Blanche Lincoln, a centrist Democrat from Arkansas, should feel guilty about her role in forcing more liberal Democrats to compromise. Olbermann: "Senator Lincoln, by the way, considering how you're obstructing health care reform, how do you feel every time you actually see Senator Kennedy?"
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann disputed a claim by a New York Times article that there exists a truce between FNC and MSNBC as he accused the Times’s Brian Stelter of ignoring Olbermann’s denial that such a truce existed, and contended that the story was a "misinterpretation" of the Countdown host’s own pledge from June 1 to discontinue Bill O’Reilly’s inclusion in the show’s regular "Worst Person in the World" segment because Olbermann blamed O’Reilly for abortion Doctor George Tiller’s assassination.
During Monday’s "Worst Person" segment, Olbermann awarded the third place dishonor to Stelter: "Mr. Stelter asked me at least twice last week if there was such a deal, and I told him on and off the record there was not, and I told him I rather obviously would have to be a party to such a deal, and I told him that not only wasn't I, but I had not even been asked to be by my bosses. And he printed it anyway, and I had even written to him that this was merely a misinterpretation of an announcement I made here on June 1 that because Bill O'Reilly of Fox News had abetted the assassination of Dr. George Tiller, he'd become too serious to joke about..."
On Friday’s 20/20 on ABC, co-anchor John Stossel exposed the flaws in the Canadian and British government-run health care systems, and even showed viewers a clip of President Obama as he once expressed a belief that single-payer health care would be an acceptable system, even while taking the position that he would not pursue it, during one of the Democratic party presidential debates in 2008. During the January 21, 2008, debate on CNN, Obama said:
It's fine for us to have a debate about how the best way to get there is, but to suggest somehow that I'm not interested in having everybody covered, or to suggest, as Hillary just did, that I was in favor of single payer, I never said that we should try to go ahead and get single payer. What I said was that if I were starting from scratch, if we didn't have a system in which employers had typically provided health care, I would probably go with a single-payer system.
During the six-minute, 20-second segment -- which can be seen here -- Stossel informed viewers of the long waits patients must endure in countries with government-run health systems – like Canada and Britain. He recounted that some patients – including world leaders and wealthy celebrities – come to America for treatment of serious conditions, and relayed the case of one Canadian woman who came to America to treat a clogged artery whose American doctor told her she would not have survived waiting a few more weeks for Canada's government health care. Additionally, Stossel found that even patients waiting in emergency rooms in Canada have to wait an average of 23 hours for service.
On Friday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson filed a report recounting mortgage company Countrywide Financial’s history of offering special deals on loans to government officials – including figures with connections to President Clinton, President Bush, and President Obama. But, while the two most prominent figures currently still in government who are implicated in the scandal are Democratic Senators Christopher Dodd and Kent Conrad, neither Senator was identified by Attkisson as a Democrat. Even while soundbites of the two Senators were shown, there was not even an on-screen label showing the party of either Senator. Until the end of the story, the only clue viewers had as to either Senator’s party was when Attkisson identified Dodd as being the "head" of a Senate committee.
But later, the CBS correspondent did more directly link one other figure to Republican members of Congress as she read documentation citing Countrywide’s interest in a former House committee counsel, Clinton Jones. Quoting an "internal Countrywide email," Attkisson described him as "‘an advisor to ranking Republican members of Congress responsible for legislation of interest [to Countrywide].’"
It was not until the end of the report, after a soundbite of Republican Congressman Darrell Issa – whose party was labeled on screen – complaining about Countrywide’s actions, that Attkisson finally hinted that Democrats may have more to fear from the scandal as she relayed that "Democrats are blocking a Republican effort to subpoena Countrywide documents."
NewsBusters previously documented a claim made by NBC News correspondent Richard Engel on the June 22 Countdown show on MSNBC that the apparent murder of 27-year-old Neda Agha-Soltan during a crackdown by Iranian government forces, and the possibility that she will become the visual symbol for her country’s pro-democracy movement, was reminiscent of the Mohammed al-Dura video of September 2000 which, at the time, was claimed to show a Palestinian boy being shot and killed by Israeli troops. But, while evidence has mounted over the years that the al-Dura video was likely a hoax, Engel and host Keith Olbermann both spoke of the al-Dura "shooting" as if the event were not in dispute, and Engel recounted to viewers that Palestinians see the event as a "symbol of injustice" perpetrated by Israelis against Palestinians. Engel: "I was thinking more, remember Mohammed al-Dura, the boy who was shot in Gaza in his father’s arms and who became a symbol of injustice? I think this is a similar moment."
The pro-Israel group CAMERA (recounts on its Web site that after the group's executive director, Andrea Levin, on June 25 sent a letter of complaint to Engel -- which was also copied to NBC News President -- requesting that NBC revisit and "clarify" Engel's assertions, Capus sent a letter of response accusing CAMERA of "taking a cheap shot" at Engel, even suggesting that the pro-Israel group was not "truly dedicated to advancing journalism," as the NBC News head did not revise Engel's claims about the al-Dura case. Capus, as quoted by CAMERA on its Web site: "If you were truly dedicated to advancing journalism, you would be going out of your way to praise Richard for his work – rather than taking a cheap shot." The NBC News head went on to praise Engel as "a non-biased, dedicated journalist. NBC News considers itself lucky to have him.")
On Wednesday's The O'Reilly Factor on FNC, host Bill O'Reilly cited the Business and Media Institute's recent study finding that broadcast network evening and morning news shows have slanted their coverage of President Obama's health care proposals heavily in the Democratic President's favor, as O'Reilly introduced a segment with FNC analyst and former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg. O'Reilly:
Tonight, we have a number of topics for Mr. Goldberg, beginning with a new study by the Media Research Center, a conservative group out of Virginia. They analyzed more than 200 health care stories on the big three network morning and evening news programs. The Center found 70 percent of the soundbites used in those stories favored President Obama's health care vision – 70 percent.
On Tuesday's Glenn Beck Program on FNC, host Beck picked up on P.J.
On Monday's Countdown show, substitute hosted by liberal MSNBC political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell, during a segment with Newsweek's Jonathan Alter about former Governor Sarah Palin's resignation speech from the weekend, Alter referred to what he called Palin's "fibs" and "absurdities" as he reminded viewers that she is very popular in the Republican party despite the flaws Alter and his ilk see in her. Alter: "She is now an icon within the Republican party, and we can, you know, laugh at her and point out all of her fibs and all of her absurdities, but she has a hard core constituency within that party that suggests that her career is not entirely over."
Alter later recounted some of the elements of her weekend speech, including "attacking the national media," and contended that her words would play well with Republicans, "even if it rubs us the wrong way." Alter:
On the Thursday, July 16, Glenn Beck Program on FNC, magician Penn Jillette and ABC’s 20/20 anchor John Stossel – both self-described libertarians – appeared as guests to talk about health care reform. Stossel used the time to preview his upcoming segment on the problems with socialized medicine in Canada, which will air on a future episode of 20/20. Stossel informed viewers of Canada's shortage of doctors: "What stuck most with me was the town that had a lottery. So many people are waiting to get a family doctor, they can't get one. Once a month, the town clerk pulls names out of a box and he calls the lucky winners – congratulations, now you can have a family doctor." FNC later played a clip from the upcoming segment in which the 20/20 anchor talks about a privately run veterinary hospital in Canada which provides medical care for animals much more quickly than humans can receive similar care from the government-run system.
After Jillette, who co-hosts the show, Penn and Teller: B.S., on Showtime, argued that too much health insurance reduces price competition and leads to higher prices, Stossel complained that the plans promoted by politicians, by increasing the amount of insurance, would make matters worse: "As Penn said, is if you had grocery insurance, you wouldn't care, and the grocery store, and the incentives that creates to spend more are just insane. And that's the problem with health care, and yet, the politicians say the solutions are always more insurance."
Jillette soon complained that too much socialized medicine already exists in America – in the form of Medicaid and Medicare – and touted individual choice:
Tuesday's CBS Evening News gave attention to a proposed new gun law that would strengthen the right of gun owners who hold a concealed weapon permit to carry a weapon across state lines into states with more restrictive gun laws than where the permit was obtained. As he presented arguments both for and against passage of the law, while Orr presented two soundbites opposing the law and only one from a supporter of the law, the report also devoted twice as much time – 35 seconds versus 17 seconds – to the anti-gun arguments opposing the law compared to pro-gun arguments supporting it.
Orr began his report by relaying that supporters of the new law "call it a crime fighting tool," and by showing a clip of Republican Senator John Thune arguing that potential hate crimes victims could protect themselves more effectively if the law were passed.
The CBS correspondent then touted the views of "450 U.S. mayors who signed this full-page ad in USA Today," and showed two soundbites opposing the law -- one from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the other from Democratic Senator Charles Schumer -- as both argued that the new law would increase crime:
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly asserted that former CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite "had no use for" his successor, and was "bitter about being replaced by [Dan] Rather." Citing an interview from a few years after Rather raplaced Cronkite on the Evening News, O’Reilly recounted that Cronkite expressed his view that Rather "shouldn’t succeed." O’Reilly: "He didn't say it on the record. He said it after the interview was over. He said to me, quote, in Boston, ‘You are really on to something. Dan is not going to succeed – and shouldn't.’"
O’Reilly made his assertion both during the show’s "Talking Points Memo," and again during a discussion with FNC analyst Bernie Goldberg as the two argued that the CBS Evening News and other media took a sharp turn to the left when Dan Rather took over the CBS Evening News – which coincided with Ronald Reagan becoming President and giving liberals the experience of being out of power.
During the show’s "Talking Points Memo," the FNC host recounted:
On Monday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s Bill O’Reilly gave attention to the recent dustup between Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer and National Black Chamber of Commerce CEO Harry Alford, as O’Reilly hosted Alford to discuss Boxer’s recent attempt to use other black organizations to discredit Alford’s opposition to Cap and Trade during a Senate hearing. While Boxer declined to appear on the show, O’Reilly defended her in his discussion with Alford, arguing that her attacks on black political figures like Justice Clarence Thomas are rooted more in her opposition to their conservative views than by race, while Alford renewed his criticisms of Boxer. Alford:
It was pure race. It was like down there in Mississippi back in the bad old days when one black preacher would rise up against the big boss. He'd go find another black preacher to fight against that black preacher. You know, it was ugly. And she jumped, she opened up a mud pit that I wasn't going to jump into.
On Monday’s Hannity show on FNC, actor Jon Voight accused the press of "protecting" and "covering for" President Obama by not giving enough coverage to dissatisfaction with the President’s economic policies, including the anti-tax TEA party protests:
But the press, the press brought him in, and now they want to make sure that nobody topples the throne, it seems. So they don't report anything that will interfere with his policies. But when the news is biased, it can, you know, it can control the people in a dangerous way. We see what's going on in Venezuela, and we're shocked. We're shocked to see Hugo Chavez closing down the, the opposition media. We're shocked when we see what's happening to the truth in Iran. But this same thing is happening in our country right now. The Obama regime is controlling the press. They protect him, they cover for him, and they don't want the truth to come out that there is this dissatisfaction, that people are waking up, and it's being expressed in these TEA parties.
He also charged that Obama had been dishonest in promising to protect Israel, and that the President had a "cunning ability" to push his policies through Congress without proper debate:
In recent months, actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez has made known his defection from the Democratic party because of the party's lack of interest in helping drought-stricken farmers like himself in California who have had water denied to them by court order under the Endangered Species Act to save an endangered fish, the delta smelt. As he addressed the 2009 Annual California Republican Assembly Convention in May, Rodriguez complained that the fundraising support he has given to environmental groups in the past has come back to hurt him and his family: "I always saw myself as an environmentalist. ... I’ve funded many of these things, I guess, because I’ve performed for them. Every time they call, you go there not really knowing what you’re backing, not knowing that those dollars are going to turn around and, and hurt me, hurt those I love the most." The complete audio of Rodriguez's speech can be found here.
As he recounted that environmentalists compare the delta smelt to the canary in a coal mine, he quipped that environmentalists treat the farmer like the canary. Rodriguez quoted his uncle who used to be a coal miner: "The job of the canary is to, you know, we were digging and we’re looking at the canary, we’re digging and looking, when the canary dies, man, you run the hell out of there! That canary’s job is to die so you live, see?”
He continued: "And that really got to me, and I said, 'They got it wrong. They want the farmer to die and the canary to live.'”
On the July 12 World News Sunday, ABC correspondent John Hendren filed a report relaying concerns by a former CIA agent that recent attacks on the CIA has hurt the agency’s morale and will weaken its ability to protect America. Hendren even ran clips of Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky accusing the CIA of lying as examples of "harsh accusations" that have created a "rift" between Congress and the CIA.
Anchor Dan Harris introduced the report: "The CIA is, of course, an agency that largely operates in secrecy. There are concerns tonight that two full-blown investigations of the agency might undermine its ability to gather intelligence. John Hendren has that part of the story."
Hendren introduced clips from former CIA agent Robert Baer:
JOHN HENDREN: This legendary spy sees dark days ahead.
ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA AGENT: It's one of the last nails in the CIA's coffin. It's finished. It's over. It's done.
HENDREN: Bob Baer, whose exploits as a case officer in the Middle East made him the model for George Clooney's role in Syriana, says the damage at CIA has already taken its toll.
BAER: It's demoralizing the rank and file completely. I've been getting e-mails from officers overseas, you know, they're talking about quitting.
On Monday’s Fox and Friends, FNC judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano summarized the implications for the Supreme Court when President of liberal ideology is elected in a way rarely seen in the media. As he explained the goals that Republicans will have during this week’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Napolitano contended that electing a liberal President can lead to the appointment of judges with some of the "strange" and "odd" views and rulings exemplified by Sotomayor. Napolitano:
The Republicans want to accomplish making the country aware of the fact that when you elect a liberal Democrat as President, you get a judicial nominee with these strange ideas. Like, if you take a test, and you pass the test and you're supposed to get promoted, well, you won't get promoted because not enough people from another race passed the test. A lot of Americans will reject that attitude which she embraced. ... If they can show her as embracing odd attitudes like that, they can show up the President for being the liberal that we know he is and that the American people might not be willing to accept.
In light of recent reports that Vice President Cheney had ordered the CIA to withhold information about a counterrorism program that was being planned during the Bush administration, on Sunday ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on both Good Morning America and on This Week suggested that the revelations may be "vindication" for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or that they at least "bolster" her claims about the CIA lying to her. Stephanopoulos even seemed to be pushing Pelosi to claim "vindication" even while the Speaker’s office was reluctant to do so. Stephanopoulos, from Good Morning America: "I spoke with Speaker Pelosi's office about that, and they don't want to use the word "vindication," but, clearly, it does bolster their case that on several occasions, they were either misled or not given relevant information that the Congress was supposed to have."
During the roundtable discussion on This Week, after conservative columnist George Will brought up the danger of leaks by members of Congress, since congressional members leaked the current story, Stephanopoulos again suggested the story helps Pelosi: "And part of the reason they wrote those letters was in defense of the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi ... they said that they had been misled, and, of course, the Speaker had said the CIA has lied to us on many occasions. I think she said they lie all the time. So this is a measure of vindication, I suppose, for the Speaker, even though she doesn't want to claim it."
During the roundtable discussion, it was left to Will to point out not only that the program "remained in the planning stages," but that the law Democrats are alleging may have been broken has a loophole, suggesting that withholding information on the program may have been legal. Will:
As President Obama headed to Russia, the American news media highlighted the negative views many Russians feel toward America, and left the impression that this trend started during the Bush administration. But conveniently forgotten was that Russian views toward America were just as negative toward the end of President Clinton's time in office. Even recent poll numbers on Russian public opinion are similar those measured in 1999.
In the June 23, 1999, Washington Times article, Janine Wedel wrote:
On Saturday’s broadcast network evening newscasts, the CBS Evening News uniquely gave attention to the tea parties that were inspired by the Tax Day Tea Parties from April. Anchor Jeff Glor set up the report: "In scores of communities tonight, people spent their Fourth of July not celebrating but protesting. Taking a cue from the 1773 Boston Tea Party, they rallied against federal tax and spending policies. "
Correspondent Terrell Brown ran clips of several protesters who attended one of the rallies complaining about excessive taxation and spending by government. But, while the previous tea parties from April 15 were known to attract not only Republicans upset about federal taxes and spending but also Democrats, Brown did not speak of there being any Democrats at the rally he attended. But he did relay the complaints of a disaffected Republican toward the Republican party. Brown also managed to tie in Fox News as he showed a brief clip of FNC hosts Glenn Beck and Neil Cavuto talking on air:
On Friday's Fox Report, FNC correspondent Carl Cameron informed viewers: "Those ethics complaints have all been dropped or dismissed, and yet they've taken a toll and she acknowledged as much earlier." Then came a soundbite of Palin from her news conference, which was partially played on the CBS Evening News but not on ABC or NBC. Palin:
Todd and I, we’re looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills just in order to set the record straight. And what about the people who offer up these silly accusations? It doesn't cost them a dime. ... My staff and I spend most of our days, we're dealing with this stuff instead of progressing our state now.