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.
Latest from Brad Wilmouth
ABC’s World News programs on Friday and Sunday highlighted "frank comments by Republicans" who indicated either an admission to having reservations over, or who called on a reversal of, the Republican party’s conservative stance on social issues. On Friday, Charles Gibson informed viewers that Sarah Palin confessed before a pro-life group to having briefly wondered about having an abortion after she discovered her son Trig would be born with Down’s Syndrome. Gibson also highlighted comments by Steve Schmidt, the former campaign manager for John McCain, as he addressed a gathering of the Log Cabin Republicans and "urged the Republican party to support same-sex marriage."
On World News Sunday, correspondent Rachel Martin filed a full story on pro-gay comments by both Schmidt and John McCain’s daughter Meghan. Anchor Dan Harris introduced the report: "There are some new and rather surprising voices wading into the debate over same-sex marriage. Last night, John McCain's daughter, Meghan, jumped into the fray, and she is not the only Republican suggesting that the party might want to reconsider its stance on this very divisive issue."
Martin began her report with a a clip of Meghan McCain boasting that she has many gay friends, and the ABC correspondent then continued: "The daughter of the GOP's most famous maverick headlined a Republican gay rights event, and, while she didn't go so far as to come out for gay marriage, her dad's former campaign manager did. ... even taking on the powerful religious right."
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, at the beginning of a segment about the Obama family’s pet dog, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and MSNBC political analyst Craig Crawford, joked about FNC host Bill O’Reilly being a dog. Picking up on Olbermann’s earlier suggestion that he gets tired of hearing about presidential dogs, Crawford opened the discussion by ribbing the Countdown host about the possibility of the show getting its own pet dog.
After Olbermann disagreed, Crawford came back with a lame joke: "Well, you’ve already got O’Reilly’s show.
Olbermann responded: "That would be a female dog."
The over-the-top name-calling against the FNC host came just minutes after Olbermann used his "Worst Person" segment to slam Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as he lectured the conservative talk radio hosts that one does not have to "spend every waking hour trying to annihilate" a political figure because of policy disagreements.
But Olbermann is well known for devoting a large portion of his program daily for the last several years to slamming President Bush – not only calling Bush a "fascist," but also suggesting last December that Bush administration members, presumably including President Bush himself, deserve to be "in hell" for some of their actions in the Iraq war. Olbermann: "I don’t know what, if any religion you belong to, but I suspect you’ll agree that people who ignored that many foretellings of preventable death should have a long time to think about it in hell!"
On Friday’s World News with Charles Gibson on ABC, substitute anchor Diane Sawyer previewed the same night’s special on guns in America, "If I Only Had a Gun," and, on World News, ran a report focusing on how challenging it is to react to a gunman when taken by surprise, even if one is armed. ABC News enlisted the services of police officers to train college students in firearm use and then had the students react to one of the officers as he pretended to be a crazed gunman and burst into a small lecture room. Sawyer informed viewers: "Our training is already more than almost half the states in the country require to carry a concealed weapon."
The report documented that all of the trained students performed poorly in trying to defend themselves. Sawyer narrated a clip of one such botched attempt at self-defense: "Joey struggles to get his gun out, but it's stuck in his shirt. He can't even get it out to aim it. Had this event been real, police say Joey would have been killed in the first five seconds." Each of the students taking part appeared to be wearing a T-shirt which the concealed handgun was tucked underneath.
But the report only focused on this one narrow scenario in which the law-abiding citizen is taken by surprise by a skilled gunman, while the report ignores other scenarios and crime situations when the record shows that armed citizens do sometimes succeed when forced to confront criminals.
In the May 31, 1999, National Review article, "Why New Gun Laws Won’t Work," University of Chicago Professor John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, wrote about two then-recent school shooting sprees that were cut short when an armed citizen in each case used his own weapon to capture the gunman. Lott:
During the 7:00 p.m. hour of Saturday’s CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon pushed the view that Barack Obama should try to emulate European gun laws as a way of reducing gun violence in America as he discussed the subject with four guests. During an interview with former FBI agent Gregg McCrary, who expressed support for an assault weapons ban, Lemon suggested Obama learn from the Europeans: "The one person who can probably weigh on this and may have the most influence is the President. Since he's over there in Europe now, and they're, you know, they're not perfect, but it seems that their gun laws seem to be at least working in a way that ours are not."
While Lemon tried to sound nonpartisan at times – once declaring, "We're just trying to find a solution here. No one is on one side or the other. We just want a solution" – and seemed to try to quell accusations of partisanship and liberal and conservative labels, at one point he seemed to single out conservatives to chide for criticizing liberals for advocating more gun control:
Every time we do something on gun control, it always boils down – when it comes to the e-mail, at least – that I get, we get as a response, it's a conservative issue or it's a liberal issue. "Liberals want to ban guns and take away my rights," conservatives say, "this is my right." But no one has the right to terrorize and kill people. And you heard the FBI agent say, people are being killed. Not conservatives or liberals.
Keith Olbermann, whose Countdown show once depicted an image of Rush Limbaugh as a target of gunfire, on Tuesday accused FNC host Glenn Beck of inspiring the recent murder of three police officers in Pittsburgh by Richard Poplawski, and of "personally encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans." (Video of the June 27, 2006, Countdown show with Limbaugh as a target of gunfire can be found here.)
Blaming Beck for inciting fear of a gun ban, Olbermann linked the FNC host to the shooting in several plugs. In one example, he referred to Beck as "Harold Hill": "Harold Hill keeps telling the bumpkins that Obama is going to take their guns away. One of them shoots and kills three policemen because he`s convinced Obama is going to take his guns away. Harold Hill does not see the connection." After several plugs in which he suggested the gunman was reacting to Beck’s show, Olbermann pulled back only slightly from the accusation as he concluded his "Worst Person in the World" segment:
You, Glenn Beck, you personally are encouraging Americans to shoot other Americans. Maybe, especially if you're right about your religion, maybe not this psychotic in Pittsburgh. Maybe he is not your fault. I hope not. But what about the next one, Glenn? You want to cry about something on television. Cry about the next one. Beg him to ignore you. Beg the kids the next one orphans to forgive you.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed to rationalize the actions of the Chile-based Marxist terror group MIR, as he compared one of the group’s followers who helped kidnap a Spanish businessman, and who is currently attempting to have Bush administration members indicted in a Spanish court on war crimes charges, to George Washington.
In response to FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, who last week pointed out that Gonzalo Boye, the attorney in Spain who is trying to have Bush administration members prosecuted, himself spent eight years in a Spanish prison for assisting the MIR, Olbermann suggested that the attorney’s involvement with the Chilean terrorist group was justified because the group's aim was to topple former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
But Olbermann did not mention that the crime Boye was convicted of being involved in was the 1988 kidnapping of Spanish businessman Emiliano Revilla, who was abducted outside his Madrid home and held eight months for ransom in a collaborated effort between the Chile-based MIR and the Spain-based ETA, another left-wing terror group which has perpetrated bombings and killed many in Spain. Olbermann responded to O’Reilly’s complaint that it was a "big omission" for a New York Times article not to mention Boye’s history by rationalizing Boye’s terrorist history. Olbermann: "Well, no, not as big an omission as forgetting to mention that the man whom Mr. Boye`s collaboration with terrorists targeted was the sadistic Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. This is like Bill-O calling George Washington a terrorist."
On the Monday, March 30, The O’Reilly Factor, FNC host Bill O’Reilly slammed the New York Times for not reporting that an attorney in Spain, Gonzalo Boye, who is trying to have Bush administration members charged with war crimes in a Spanish court, himself has served eight years in prison for "collaborating with terrorists," referring to the Chile-based MIR, and the Spain-based ETA, both left-wing terrorist groups. During his "Talking Points Memo," O’Reilly related: "The action is being driven by a man named Gonzalo Boye, a radical left lawyer in Madrid. On Sunday, the New York Times reported Boye's beef, but did not report this: Boye served almost eight years in a Spanish prison for collaborating with terrorists. He was sentenced in 1996. Now, that seemed to be a mighty big omission by the New York Times, does it not?"
But on the same night’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann informed his viewers of the possible indictment in Spain without mentioning Boye and his terrorist connections. Introducing a discussion with George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley, Olbermann announced: "The first steps towards opening a criminal investigation against the Bush administration about torture is now under way, only it`s not by the U.S. government but by Spain. The New York Times reporting a Spanish court now building a case against six high-level Bush officials."
On Sunday's CBS Evening News, without providing a pro-gun rights view for balance, correspondent Randall Pinkston filed a report which featured the views of two public figures who support an assault weapons ban, including a clip of Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat and leading supporter of gun control in Congress, as she complained about her efforts being thwarted by the NRA.
RANDALL PINKSTON: She ran for Congress, intent on curbing access to guns, but hasn't had much success.
REP. CAROLYN MCCARTHY (D-NY) CLIP #1: People say, "Yes, we should have better laws. Yes, we shouldn't have assault weapons." But then it goes away.
MCCARTHY CLIP #2: All they hear from is the NRA.
On Sunday's Good Morning America, ABC co-anchor Kate Snow interviewed New York University Professor Jim Jacobs, author of Can Gun Control Work?, as the show gave attention to the view that gun control has little effect in stopping criminals from obtaining guns. While it is to the show's credit that they allowed him to make his case as Snow presented a contrarian point-of-view, Snow did seem sincerely skeptical toward his presentation. As she plugged the segment, she referred to his views as a "controversial take," and seemed surprised by his views: "We're going to have a guest on this morning, a criminologist who has a, interesting take, you could say controversial take."
As one of her contrarian questions, Snow brought up the argument that a new law should be passed even if it would only save one life: "But the counterargument would be if it's possible to, a chance to save one life, to pass one new law, one new regulation to save one life, why shouldn't we at least try?" She also cited the Brady Campaign: "They have a very different view than your own. They say 1.7 million convicted felons have been stopped from obtaining guns with the laws that we already have on the books. Do you disagree with that?"
For both the Binghamton, New York, shooting spree, and the Pittsburgh case, Saturday's NBC Nightly News made a point of relaying word that the gunman either had a love of guns or was "passionate" about supporting gun rights. During a report on Jiverly Voong, who attacked the immigration center in Binghamton, correspondent Ron Allen referred to "some reports" that Voong "loved guns and hated America." Allen: "Some reports described him as an angry loner who loved guns and hated America. He had no criminal record, and police say they had no clue he was so dangerous."
In a report on Richard Poplawski, who murdered three police officers in Pittsburgh, correspondent Jeff Rossen related: "While the motive is unclear, friends say the gunman was upset after getting laid off from a local factory and became passionate about gun rights."
Then came a soundbite of Edward Perkovic, a friend of Poplawski: "He always said that if anybody ever tried to take his firearms, he was going to stand by what his forefathers told him to do and defend themselves."
One night after ABC's World News featured Diane Sawyer and Pierre Thomas fretting over the lack of interest by Congress in passing new gun laws in response to recent shooting sprees, Thomas appeared on World News Saturday and again treated as problematic the statistic that there are "more than 250 million legally registered guns in this country," and seemed to complain that Congress is not planning to enact more gun laws. After recounting several incidents of mass shootings in the past month, Thomas fretted: "Even with all that carnage, there's no major gun control legislation pending before Congress." And earlier on ABC's Good Morning America, co-anchor Bill Weir had also brought up the statistic that there are more than 250 million guns in America as he recounted mass murder statistics from various decades.
Of the three network evening newscasts, ABC's World News, substitute hosted by Diane Sawyer, uniquely seemed to lament the lack of political interest in enacting new gun laws to combat what correspondent Dan Harris earlier called "a signature American disaster, a shooting rampage," referring to the shooting spree in Binghamton, New York.
Sawyer introduced a discussion with correspondent Pierre Thomas by reading a statement from the Brady Campaign complaining about the government's lack of interest in more gun control compared to "salmonella poisoning in peanut butter crackers," and then the two fretted over the large number of guns in circulation in America and the unlikely prospects of more gun laws being passed by Congress. Sawyer: "We keep hearing there is a gun for every man, woman and child in this country, and now they have gone up by that much more. But what about Congress? Is there any move in Congress to try to take some kind of action?"
Thomas responded: "Well, one of the reasons why you heard that frustration from the Brady group today is that there's not a lot of sense of urgency on gun control." After mentioning Attorney General Eric Holder's recent expression of interest in a new assault weapon ban, Thomas continued: "But since that time, no real urgency from the White House or from Congress to take any meaningful gun control legislation to fruition."
In recent weeks, both the NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson repeated charges that Israeli troops had witnessed the deliberate killing of Palestinian civilians by fellow troops during the Gaza War. In recent days, the New York Times has informed its readers that, after investigation, the Israeli military concluded that the incendiary claims were untrue and that the soldiers in question had actually been repeating rumors rather than describing events they had witnessed. But so far, neither NBC nor ABC has updated their viewers on the story. And in the case of ABC, even though some of the allegations had already been debunked, as reported in the conservative Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, March 24, the original inaccurate accounts were still repeated two days later on the Thursday, March 26, World News.
Anchor Charles Gibson introduced the March 26 story: "There is a debate under way right now throughout Israel about soldiers, war and morality. Two months after the war in Gaza, Israeli soldiers are providing the accounts of what they saw and did on the battlefield. And some of those accounts are deeply disturbing."
After recounting that Palestinians had previously made accusations of war crimes against the Israeli military, ABC’s Simon McGregor-Wood continued: "The army denied it. And the public accepted the denial. But now, for the first time, disturbing evidence from Israeli soldiers themselves. Personal accounts from the front line, published word for word in the newspapers. From Aviv, a squad leader. "One of our officers saw someone walking on a road, an old woman. He sent people up onto the roof, and, using machine guns, they took her down."
On the March 19 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Martin Fletcher had similarly charged: "The Israeli army insisted during the war they were extra careful to avoid unnecessary damage and to protect Palestinian civilians. But today Israelis were shocked by reports of soldiers speaking out, saying they intentionally destroyed Palestinian property and killed civilians." (Complete transcripts follow)
On the March 28 World News Saturday, ABC correspondent John Hendren observed that the "pure adulation" formerly shown for President Obama in Europe has now faded as the President prepares for the G-20 summit in London to convince the group of economic superpowers to adopt his plans to increase spending to stimulate the economy. After anchor Dan Harris introduced the report noting that "Mr. Obama is facing a huge challenge on this trip, convincing reluctant European leaders to rescue the global economy his way," Hendren began his piece:
JOHN HENDREN: "The last time President Obama came to Europe, it was pure adulation. But now, Mr. Obama is President in the midst of a global economic crisis. Next week, he will try to persuade 19 other heads of state that they must sign on to his rescue plan and increase government spending in their own countries as he has here, signing a $787 billion rescue plan. Germany's Angela Merkel has criticized the plan and European Union chief Mirek Topolanek calls it-
MIREK TOPOLANEK, EUROPEAN UNION: -a way to hell.
HENDREN: What a difference a few months make.
On Thursday’s Countdown show, while recounting the story of shoddy electrical work done by Halliburton subsidiary KBR which has resulted in several American troops being electrocuted while taking showers in Iraq, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann referred to the dangerous showers as "Dick Cheney electrocution showers," and stated as fact his absurd opinion that the Bush administration decided to invade Iraq partly to provide "no bid sweetheart contracts" to Halliburton.
As he ended his rant during the show’s regular "Bushed!" segment, Olbermann repeatedly referred to KBR as "Dick Cheney’s old pals" as he complained that the Defense Contract Management Agency plans to get KBR to repair the electrical problems. Olbermann:
Dick Cheney`s old pals get billions of taxpayer dollars from a war Dick Cheney helped foment. Then Dick Cheney`s old pals do a criminally negligent job and they kill some of the soldiers who are not killed in Dick Cheney`s phony war. Now, to prevent Dick Cheney`s old pals from killing even more Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon has assigned the urgent, essential, life or death repair work to Dick Cheney`s old pals.
On Friday’s Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Shannon Bream informed viewers of a letter written to Attorney General Eric Holder from 65 House Democrats who oppose the Attorney General’s recently expressed wish to "reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons" to try to reduce violence by Mexican drug cartels. Bream further relayed the recommendations of Democratic Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both from Montana, that the Obama administration should focus on enforcing current gun laws.
Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Friday, March 27, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC:
On the March 28 World News Saturday, ABC gave rare attention to the plight of drought-stricken farmers in California who have been denied access to a major water supply by a judge citing the Endangered Species Act to protect a type of fish. During a story recounting the unusual level of problems facing these farmers – a recession coinciding with drought – correspondent Lisa Fletcher informed viewers: "And for the first time ever, farmers may be completely cut off from one of their sources of water. Farmers don't have access to this water that runs right through the center of their farmland. It is being allocated to the delta smelt, a little fish protected by the Endangered Species Act. Conservationists say the smelt are dying in the irrigation pumps, so a judge ruled they must be shut off for much of the growing season."
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, the duo of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and new CNBC contributor Howard Dean delivered a gem of both double standard and apparent amnesia as both generalized about the inappropriateness of calling any President a "fascist." As Dean was interviewed by Olbermann, who famously called President Bush a "fascist" in a "Special Comment" rant last year which was even picked up by Iranian television, the former DNC chairman bluntly stated his view that even President Bush did not deserve to be called by such a name.
And just as Olbermann seemed to be trying to defend his own history of applying the "fascist" label to Bush, which he did not directly acknowledge, even he stopped short of proclaiming outright that such name-calling could sometimes be rational, as he contended that a person doing so "may be crazy" and "may be wrong." Olbermann: "If you have a case to call somebody a ‘fascist,’ lay it out. Define your terms and say where you, I mean, you may be crazy and you may be wrong, but at least put some meat on the bones."
Dean's response: "Even in the darkest days of the Bush-Cheney administration, I don't think there was any reason to call George Bush a fascist."
MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who has a history of using distorted or even factually inaccurate information -- much of which he gets from far-left sources like Media Matters for America and Think Progress -- on Friday's Countdown show accused FNC's Brit Hume of making a "dumbfounding" admission that "he was fed a buffet of daily talking points" by the "lunatic fringe, right wing" Media Research Center, which the MSNBC host identified as a Web site "run by the perpetually angry Brent Bozell." During the show's "Worst Person in the World" segment, after designating Hume with the second place distinction, Olbermann also claimed that Hume's "admission" was "as startling as if he had confessed to making up the news out of whole cloth or reading it off a ouija board." Olbermann was referring to Hume’s Thursday speech at the MRC’s annual Dishonors Awards gala, as the former FNC anchor accepted the "William F. Buckley Jr. Award for Media Excellence."
And during a discussion with left-wing Family Guy producer Seth MacFarlane about a number of off-color comments made by several conservative public figures during the week, the two characterized Joe the Plumber's stage entrance at the MRC event as "gay," with MacFarlane cracking that "they're the people who are supposed to be opposed to homosexuality," and that "that‘s kind of an oddly gay entrance, wasn't it? 'God Bless the USA' and that welting, wistful tone." Olbermann played along, adding that "the guy looks like he just jumped off the Brawny towel thing."
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hosted left-wing actress and comedian Janeane Garofalo to discuss FNC analyst Bernard Goldberg’s recent enumeration of the "five worst offenders" of what Bill O’Reilly called the "far-left smear machine,"and Garofalo took the opportunity to paint conservatives as angry racists who inspire violence from some of their non-intellectual followers. Garofalo: "The right wing has a way of always having an enemy, whether it be immigrants or Arabs or brown-skinned people, black-skinned people, homosexuals, women. They all, kind of, rally around an enemy, an other, that they can get mad at. And death does occur."
After accusing conservative activist Grover Norquist of "handing out talking points" to a "right-wing machine," and after mentioning former Vice President Cheney’s recent contention that President Obama’s policies would endanger the nation’s homeland security, Garofalo called the "personality type" that she claimed motivates some non-intellectual conservatives a "scourge" and an "unfortunate part of our society." Garofalo: "A lot of the people in the right-wing base are not the most intellectual people in the world, not the most savvy people in the world, and they are definitely quick to anger, and quick to blame other people. ... it's a very sad, sad thing, and it's part of the human nature of a personality type that tends to identify as Republican or conservative. And it's an unfortunate part of our society. It's a scourge on our society." Olbermann concurred: "It is, indeed."