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 World News Sunday, ABC correspondent Terry McCarthy filed his first report in a weeklong series, "Iraq: Where Things Stand," which will give a progress report on the six-year anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom's beginning. After anchor Dan Harris introduced the story by relaying that McCarthy had found "optimism" in Iraq, McCarthy began his report by informing viewers of some positive effects of the country's lower violence levels, and that Iraqis are now more concerned about the economy than security. The ABC correspondent continued: "Iraqis are slowly discovering they have a future. We flew south to Basra, where 94 percent say their lives are going well."
On Wednesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Anthony Mason made an observation rarely expressed in the mainstream media – that when the rich get richer, they do so by creating jobs that benefit everyone. Mason: "Two-thirds of these billionaires are self-made. They're the pioneering businessmen like Bill Gates who created the companies that have created the jobs and the wealth in this country. So we want them to get richer because when they do, we do."
Mason’s comments came after he had filed a report in which he filled in viewers on the staggering amount of wealth that has been lost by the world’s billionaires since last year. After he concluded by pointing out that "the pain of this recession is unrelenting and everywhere – from the bottom all the way to the top," anchor Katie Couric brought up the sentiment of class envy that many feel toward the wealthy, inviting Mason to explain why it is "short-sighted" for people to rejoice in the bad fortunes of the wealthy. Couric: "Having said that, Anthony, a lot of people aren't going to feel real sorry for these folks, even though on average they lost about 25 percent of their wealth. But you say that's shortsighted?"
On Monday’s Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, during the Fox All Stars panel discussion, liberal FNC analyst Kirsten Powers, also a columnist for the New York Post, characterized Barack Obama's recent decision to allow federal funding of embryonic stem cell research as merely a political move designed to please members of his base who blame President Bush for the plight of those who suffer from paralysis or Alzheimer’s, as she also brought up the progress made in stem cell research using adult stem cells. Powers: "He also talks about, you know, putting science before politics, whereas this actually seems to be a very political decision from where I'm sitting. It's something that the base is very excited about."
After noting the advances made in non-embryo destroying adult stem cell research, she continued: "So this is, really, sort of, to me, a political move to satisfy people who really wanted this to happen and blame George Bush, essentially, for people who are paralyzed or suffering from Alzheimer's."
On Monday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Ben Tracy filed a report documenting the thousands of guns that are illegally smuggled to Mexican drug cartels which they use in battle with the Mexican army, and suggested that lax gun laws in America are to blame. Without delving into the possibility that greater availability of guns in Mexico might help the country’s citizens to reduce that country’s overall crime rate, Tracy informed viewers that it is "nearly impossible" to buy guns in Mexico legally, as he pointed out America’s less strict laws:
Mexican law makes it nearly impossible to buy guns there legally, but less restrictive gun laws in the U.S. keep the firearms flowing over the border. Court papers in the [George] Iknadosian case claim U.S. border states provide three-quarters of black market firearms to Mexico. And with more than 1,000 people already killed in drug violence in Mexico this year, cutting off the gun supply is now a top concern on this side of the border.
On the December 9, 2008, Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann charged that Bush administration members – whom he did not specify by name but presumably President Bush was meant to be included – deserve to be "in hell," as he cited a report that a post-war insurgency in Iraq using roadside bombs to attack U.S. troops had been predicted by the U.S. military before the invasion. During the show’s regular "Bushed!" segment, Olbermann lambasted the Bush administration:
So not only did the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignore the prewar intel, that the WMD we sought to recover were not in Iraq, but the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignored that if we removed Saddam Hussein an insurgency of some sort would develop in Iraq. And now we learn the Bush administration and the Bush Pentagon ignored the prewar intel that when an insurgency did develop, it would use roadside bombs to kill the troops we needlessly sent there.
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!
Below is a complete transcript of the "Bushed!" segment from the December 9, 2008, Countdown show on MSNBC, with critical portions in bold:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC political analyst Richard Wolffe of Newsweek compared Rush Limbaugh to rapper Sister Souljah and Barack Obama's racist former minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, as Wolffe advised the Republican party to "kill some sacred cows" by denouncing "extremist" Limbaugh. Wolffe: "What they first of all need to do is to kill some sacred cows here. ... for President Clinton, it was Sister Souljah. For President Obama, he had to confront Reverend Wright. This is their Reverend Wright. And unless they deal with extreme voices within their own party, within their own movement, they're not going to reach those independent voters..." And after showing a clip of Limbaugh bouncing up and down on stage at CPAC, host Keith Olbermann cracked that "killer clowns from outer space is less disturbing for children."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, left-wing actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo appeared to talk about a recent poll finding that Rush Limbaugh is substantially less popular with women than with men. Evoking laughter from host Keith Olbermann, Garofalo remarked that "the type of female that does like Rush is the same type of woman that falls in love with prisoners." After mentioning serial killers Richard Ramirez and Charles Manson, she then compared women who like Limbaugh to Adolf Hitler’s girlfriend, Eva Braun: "Eva Braun, Hitler’s girlfriend. That is exactly the type of woman that responds really well to Rush." (Video of the entire segment can be found here.)
After mentioning that former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan used to date Limbaugh, Garofalo cracked that Kagan has Stockholm Syndrome, which she also attributed to RNC Chairman Michael Steele, with Olbermann agreeing that Steele suffers from "self-loathing":
JANEANE GAROFALO: She dated him, so either she suffers from Stockholm Syndrome – a lot like Michael Steele, who’s the black guy in the Republican party who suffers from Stockholm Syndrome, which means you try and curry favor with the oppressor.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Yes, you talk about self-loathing.
GAROFALO: Yeah, and there’s, any female or person of color in the Republican party is struggling with Stockholm Syndrome.
Below is a transcript of relevant comments from the Thursday, February 26, Countdown show on MSNBC:
It’s not even April 1 yet, and Keith Olbermann is already expressing fears that President Obama "is acting disturbingly like President Bush," because of a number of recent decisions by the Obama administration to continue policies similar to those of President Bush, which Olbermann recounted on Monday's Countdown while the words "Four More Years?" displayed at the bottom of the screen. The MSNBC host then introduced his guest for further discussion: "Here to help us tell the two men apart, Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post."
Responding to Huffington’s hope that Obama’s decisions would only be temporary, Olbermann queried that if, "after one of these six-month reviews – renditioning, for instance – continues on or other detentions without legal rights? What happens then?" prompting Huffington to convey her willingness to oppose Obama: "Well, everybody who cares about what are the fundamental American values of fairness and justice and due process needs to vociferously and unambiguously oppose the Obama administration. I don`t think there is any alternative to that."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann demonstrated his latest double standard in his treatment of conservatives and liberals. After attacking Sarah Palin several times during the presidential campaign with a misleading accusation that Palin had "gutted her own state's Special Olympics" – calling her "sick" and an "out of control liar" – even though she increased spending on the program by 10 percent over previous years, on Thursday’s show Olbermann came to the aid of President Obama after FNC’s Bret Baier made a charge that Obama planned to "cut" the defense budget by 10 percent, which could similarly lead viewers to believe an actual cut in spending was planned.
But between September 16 and October 3, the MSNBC host on four occasions misled his viewers by repeating accusations that originated with the far-left Think Progress that Palin had cut the Special Olympics budget, without informing viewers that Palin had not only increased spending on special education, but had even approved a 10 percent spending increase for the Alaska Special Olympics, as Olbermann used the story as a gimmick and repeatedly claimed that he would donate $100 to the Alaska Special Olympics for every lie Palin told on the campaign trail. Even though NewsBusters reported early on that Palin had increased state spending on the program, Olbermann was still repeating his version of the story on October 3 after the vice presidential debate.
On Tuesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seized on a portion of Sarah Palin’s daughter Bristol’s Monday interview from FNC’s On the Record with Greta van Susteren to portray the 18-year-old as having expressed a pro-choice view on abortion, even though Bristol Palin did not clearly state her general view on the legality of abortion. During one of the show’s before-commercial plugs, Olbermann trumpeted: "While head-in-the-sand social conservatives are pushing fairy tales [abstinence] over sound policy, life happens. As for a woman`s right to choose, it is implicitly accepted in Bristol Palin`s comments, despite her mother`s anti-choice position."
Before interviewing Laura Flanders of GritTV.org, Olbermann introduced the segment: "There is a whistle blower in the house of hypocrisy that is Governor Sarah Palin: her daughter, Bristol. In our third story on the Countdown, she is now speaking out about being a teenaged mother, and she says that abstinence is not "realistic" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS), and that having her baby was her own "choice" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS), and that her mother`s view on that, quote, "doesn`t matter" (PRONOUNCED WITH EMPHASIS). At one point, as he posed a question to Flanders, Olbermann referred to "Bristol Palin using that one word, 'choice,' such a, in that word such a profound repudiation of the social engineers on the right."
But in playing clips from the interview, the Countdown host edited out some of Bristol Palin's words which may suggest an alternative meaning to Olbermann’s interpretation.
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, FNC host Bill Hemmer brought up the media’s lack of interest in Barack Obama’s plans to exert control over the 2010 census from the White House, as the show’s panel discussed Republican Senator Judd Gregg’s decision not to accept appointment to the position of Commerce Secretary. Hemmer teased the show: "Is the White House effort to control the census a play to control the vote? And did most of the major media miss this major story?"
Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton blamed Gregg’s decision on White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel’s planned involvement in the census: "What clearly got under his skin was the issue of the census and the clear realization, as Republicans were pointing out to him, that the census, the biggest thing the Commerce Department has to do... And for Gregg to be told that Rahm Emanuel is going to be running that from the White House and changing the numbers around, I think, was too humiliating for him..." On the February 9, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC, correspondent Jim Angle had notably related: "Lawmakers such as Representative Barbara Lee reportedly yelled at a White House official until he agreed that Gregg would not be left in charge of [the census]."
On Saturday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent Kimberly Dozier filed a report profiling moderate Republican Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both from Maine, in light of their vote in favor of President Obama's economic plan, and relayed their criticisms that other Republicans should show more willingness to "compromise." Dozier also likened Collins to another former Republican Senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith, who is known for being "the first Senator to stand up to McCarthyism."
Dozier began her report: "President Obama owes his stimulus package to three Senators from the losing side. Three renegade Republicans tipped the balance: Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania and two women Senators from the sparsely populated state of Maine – Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins."
Tuesday’s NBC Nightly News presented a more whitewashed view of prospects for better relations with Iran compared to ABC’s World News with Charles Gibson as NBC’s Brian Williams portrayed Iranians as receptive to Barack Obama’s recent call for talks between the two nations as long as there was "mutual respect." Williams: "President Obama called on Iran to send a signal that it was ready to talk, and it turns out the Iranians were apparently listening. Today President Ahmadinejad, at a rally marking the 30th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, said he would welcome talks with the U.S. as long as they were based on what he called ‘mutual respect.’"
By contrast, on the same night’s World News, correspondent Jim Sciutto relayed the presence of anti-America sentiment in Iran – recounting chants of "Down, down with America," that were shouted during the day’s Islamic Revolution commemoration – and the Iranian public’s support for the country’s nuclear program. And while the ABC correspondent did allude to Ahmadinejad being a less likely prospect for successful negotiation than the more moderate former President Khatami who is running for office again, even Sciutto did not remind viewers of Ahmadinejad’s past anti-Israel rhetoric and the country’s support for terrorism not only against Israel but against American troops in Iraq.
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, correspondent John Blackstone presented the view that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to save birds from global warming, as the report related that migration patterns have changed as a result of rising temperatures. Blackstone vaguely relayed that Audubon scientists somehow "found" that "reducing greenhouse gas emissions" could be beneficial to birds: "Here in California, Audubon scientists went beyond measuring bird movement to look for solutions. They found that reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming could make a dramatic difference for many birds."
Katie Couric introduced the piece: "Meanwhile, global warming has a new warning sign. Instead of heading South, many birds are going North for the winter. A report released today only proves what birders already know: Many species are responding to climate change."
On Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, even after Katie Couric introduced a story about Israel’s election which will determine the next prime minister as being "too close to call," correspondent Richard Roth’s report spent more time focusing on the popularity of center-left Kadima party candidate Tzipi Livni – whom the report linked to Barack Obama – and featured positive soundbites of her supporters, but devoted little time to her conservative Likud party rival and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom Roth briefly presented as a "hitch" to Livni becoming Israel's leader.
In her introduction, Couric labeled Netanyahu as a "hardline" candidate: "In Israel they're counting votes in an election that remains too close to call. Late tonight, hardline candidate Benjamin Netanyahu claimed victory, but exit polls show Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni in front. Despite that, Richard Roth tells us the process of choosing a new prime minister is far from over."
Shortly after President Obama’s Monday press conference, during a special abbreviated edition of Countdown, MSNBC's Chris Matthews effused that he was "very impressed with [Obama's] amazing ability," opining that the President was "at his best intellectually." After reciting one of Obama’s answers, Matthews further gushed: "What a mind he has, and I love his ability to do it on television. I love to think with him."
Keith Olbermann also alluded to his perception of Obama being "intellectual" as the MSNBC host put down President Bush’s past performances. After referring to a Woody Allen joke about people’s standards being lowered over time, the MSNBC host continued: "This is an entirely different experience for anybody who really perhaps only knew in their young lives President Bush ... This news conference in which a President will answer a multi-part question with a series of four different answers, all of them absolutely common sense and also intellectual and will take seven minutes to answer them. Is he going to adjust to where people were with George Bush’s, kind of, more truncated performance, or is he anticipating the democracy to be participatory and people are going to go in there ... is he going to demand of, you know, citizens, to go along with him and listen for the whole seven minutes?"
Now that America has a liberal President, it is apparently no longer acceptable for a private citizen to express disagreement with the White House in Keith Olbermann’s world. On Thursday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant, this time calling for former Vice President Cheney to "leave this country," and made a suggestion that Cheney, who recently criticized President Obama’s plans for handling counterterrorism, should somehow be "made to desist" from such criticism. Olbermann: "You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist."
The Countdown host, who never showed any concern that his tirades against the Bush administration would "undermine" the war on terrorism, accused Cheney of "trying to sabotage" Obama’s "efforts against terrorism," and made a number of vulgar implications in attacking Cheney – including twice pronouncing the former Vice President’s first name with emphasis as if to call him by a vulgar word; saying that he would tell Cheney to "shove it"; and asking which "orifice" Cheney was pulling numbers from about the recidivism rate of former Guantanamo detainees.
Within the first few days of Israel’s campaign in Gaza, the Israeli military struck the Islamic University of Gaza, charging that the school served as a weapons research facility for Hamas. But while CNN, FNC and MSNBC all at some point reported on the school’s links to Hamas, CBS and NBC ignored the terrorist group’s connection in all its reports, while ABC vaguely noted that it was popular with Hamas students while still calling it a "non-military target." CBS, which had initially ignored the strike when it happened in late December, ran a report on the Friday, January 30, CBS Evening News in which correspondent Alan Pizzey, instead of informing viewers of the school’s reported role in terrorism, seemed more concerned that the damage would delay students from graduating, and relayed that "even the Islamic University" was bombed, suggesting it was an unreasonable target. After beginning the story focusing on a college-aged Palestinian man who was collecting explosive material to build bombs for revenge against Israel, Pizzey continued: "It will go in Qassam rockets – payback, the bomb maker says, for the destruction that has been part of his life since birth. Even the Islamic University was pounded by airstrikes, putting students' chances of graduating in jeopardy."
Then came an anti-Israel soundbite from one female student, named Nasser Barakat: "It's clear for us they want to attack everything, single thing in our life and every place in Gaza in order to destroy the whole community – not only the fighters, but the whole community."
By contrast, on December 29, during the 9:00 hour of MSNBC News Live, correspondent Tom Aspell reported: "Starting in the early hours of this morning, [the Israelis] attacked a building belonging to the Islamic University inside the Gaza Strip. The Israelis saying that the Hamas activists had been using it as a laboratory to develop weapons."
On the January 1 CBS Evening News, correspondent Mark Phillips took out of context an Israeli statement that "there is no humanitarian crisis" in Gaza and paired it with images of suffering Palestinian children, as if to blatantly embarrass the Israelis and make it appear that they were in denial of or indifferent to civilians who had been injured.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann branded Rush Limbaugh as the "extreme right," and made an analogy between Barack Obama talking about trying to divide jihadists from Muslim moderates during his inauguration, and the President's current efforts to isolate Limbaugh from other conservatives. Hosting Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter as guest, Olbermann began: "In his inaugural address, the President essentially tried to create a wedge between those who are reasonable and those who are not. Of course, he was talking about the Muslim world. Is it possible in this different context that he’s trying to do the same as he seeks bipartisanship with the Republicans, sort of, you know, separate, Mullah Limbaugh from the herd?"
Inspiring laughter from Olbermann, Alter’s opening act was to take a jab at Limbaugh’s past addiction to Oxycontin in distinguishing him from the Islamic mullahs: "Yes, I do think that`s what [Obama is] doing, although the mullahs don`t send their maid out into the parking lot to score drugs for them, so I`m not sure about the comparison."