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 Tonight Show on NBC, Jay Leno incorrectly called New York’s former Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer a Republican during the show’s monologue as he joked about Republican sex scandals. Inspired by John McCain’s daughter Meghan’s recent declaration that she is a "pro-sex Republican," Leno used her comment to poke fun at Republican Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, as well as Democrat Spitzer, who were both revealed to have hired prostitutes. But Leno’s joke assumed both disgraced politicians were Republicans: "Don’t confuse that with other Republicans like Senator Vitter and Eliot Spitzer. They like to get their sex from a pro."
If Leno was confused about Spitzer's party affiliation, it is hardly surprising, as the MRC’s Brent Baker previously documented the mainstream media’s reluctance to label Spitzer as a Democrat, and Rich Noyes documented the media’s greater willingness to label Republicans involved in sex scandals.
Below is the complete text of Leno’s joke from the Monday, May 25, Tonight Show on NBC:
On Thursday's Beck program on FNC, actor Craig T. Nelson complained about excessive taxation and spending by the California state government, as well as the federal government, as he suggested that people should stop paying taxes to protest the government's handling of their money. Nelson: "If my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchild who is about to be here, is not going to be educated properly, then I'm through with it, you know. I'm not going to spend money on these things that you're asking me to. Look, they should be allowed to go bankrupt. What happened to, we are a capitalistic society. Okay, I go into business, I don't make it, I go bankrupt. They're not going to bail me out."
She went on to quote Rivera: "This is as important to us as Obama was to the African-American community. I have goosebumps."
During a news brief on the Saturday, May 23, The Early Show, CBS’s Priya David used that famous euphemism of liberals, “woman’s right to choose,” to refer to the legal right to an abortion, as the show gave attention to ’s recent decision to withdraw recognition of the school’s club for young Democrats. She also incorrectly exaggerated Liberty's action by claiming that the Democratic group "won't be allowed on campus anymore" when in reality, according to the school, the group can still hold meetings, but just cannot use the school's name or money.
On the Monday, May 18, Today show, NBC’s Ann Curry also used the term in a story about President Obama’s speech at Notre Dame, which allowed the pro-choice President to speak despite being a Catholic university.
Below are complete transcripts of the relevant news briefs from the Saturday, May 23, The Early Show, on CBS, and the Monday, May, 18, Today show, on NBC:
Fennell summed up the treatment POWs endured in 1991 in Iraq, despite the fact that the country was a signatory of the Geneva Convention:
We have 17 POWs, the injuries range from broken legs, fractured skulls, beatings that were so bad that the body looked like it had been dipped in indigo dye. Techniques that were used where things such as beatings to the point where most of the beatings stopped only when the POW reached unconsciousness, use of electric shock, cattle prods, drug injections.On April 5, 2002, the Washington Post article, "Hussein Sued by Ex-POWs; U.S. Gulf War Veterans Say They Were Beaten, Tortured," by Peter Slevin, reported:
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Fox All Stars segment from the Friday, May 22, Special Report with Bret Baier on FNC:
During his Saturday, May 16, commencement speech at Fordham University, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw fretted that the "vital signs" of "Mother Earth" have "taken a turn for the worse," as he cited global warming as a problem this year's graduating class would need to help solve. He also used the term "economic justice," a term commonly invoked by the Left, as he called on graduates to "restore economic justice." Brokaw: "We need you to celebrate one another in a common cause of restoring economic justice and true value, advancing racial and religious tolerance, creating a healthier planet."
Early in his speech, Brokaw referred to the current economic problems that largely originated in the financial sector as he argued that "the economic model that has defined your lives was, in too many ways, a house of cards," and referred to "greed and avarice" in that sector, before he more optimistically praised America as a relatively more prosperous place than the rest of the world. Brokaw: "America remains a land of unparalleled economic opportunities with a standard of living that even in these constricted circumstances is well beyond the hope of hundreds of millions in less developed countries."
Update: Brokaw also spoke at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 17, and made similar comments.
As he appeared as a guest on Thursday’s Countdown show on MSNBC to discuss Joe the Plumber’s recent criticism of the Republican party, Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe started off by suggesting that Republicans had "lost their heart" in the 1980s and had "lost their mind" in the 1990s. Wolffe: "You know, if they lost their heart in the 1980s, and they lost their mind in the 1990s, what we've seen in the 2000s is Republicans losing their image, and they lost it on national security."
On Friday’s Special Report with Bret Baier, FNC correspondent Molly Henneberg highlighted the controversial decision by Notre Dame to invite the pro-choice President Obama to speak and be awarded an honorary degree. Henneberg filled in viewers on recent remarks by Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Vatican Supreme Court as the Catholic Church official voiced disapproval of Obama’s planned appearance. Henneberg: "He does not think Notre Dame, a Catholic university, should have invited President Obama to give the commencement address on May 17. And he does not think the university should present the pro-choice President with an honorary degree."
On Friday’s Hannity show on FNC, correspondent Ainsley Earhardt filed an in depth report on the plight of farmers in California who are starving for water, exacerbated by a federal court which ordered that one of their sources of water be shut down due to fears that irrigation would harm an endangered species of fish, the delta smelt. Earhardt began: "California's Central Valley is considered by many to be the richest and most productive farmland in the nation. But this land is being threatened by the small, harmless-looking minnow called the delta smelt. Recently, it has landed on the endangered species list, causing a federal court to shut down vital pumps to farmers to help preserve it."
A shot was soon shown of Earhardt walking on dry ground that used to be a canal full of water until environmentalists convinced a federal court to shut off the water supply: "This was a canal full of gushing water irrigating the farmland here in the San Joaquin Valley. But as you can see, it is all dried up. The pumps were turned off after environmentalists won a federal court case."
On Thursday’s Countdown show, Michael Musto of the Village Voice made an appearance to help MSNBC host Keith Olbermann lambast Miss California, Carrie Prejean, because of her expression of opposition to same-sex marriage. After Olbermann set up the segment by revealing that Prejean had received breast implants paid for by the Miss California organization, Musto made a number of crude sexual jokes, and even cracked that she was like a "Klaus Barbie Doll," presumably a reference to Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, who was a Gestapo officer responsible for thousands of deaths during World War II.
Referring to the Miss California organization, Musto cracked: "They also paid for Carrie to cut off her penis, and sand her Adam`s Apple and get a head to toe waxing. I know for a fact that Carrie Prejean was Harry Prejean, a homophobic man, who liked marriage so much, he did it three times. Now he`s a babe who needs a brain implant. Maybe they could inject some fat from her butt. Oh, they have?
On ABC’s World News Saturday, and the same day’s CBS Evening News, correspondents suggested that conservative positions on social issues were responsible for the Republican party’s recent electoral misfortunes, as the two programs filed stories about an appearance in Arlington by Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor and Mitt Romney as part of an effort to rebuild the party’s appeal. ABC cited a recent ABC News / Washington Post poll showing only 21 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans, while CBS cited a Pew Research poll finding the number had dropped from 30 percent in 2004 to 23 percent currently.
After a soundbite of Jeb Bush explaining that Republicans needed to spend more time "listening," "learning," and "upgrading our message," ABC’s Rachel Martin contended that "That means moving hot-button social issues like abortion and gay marriage to the side, and shifting the focus to health care, education and the economy."
And, ignoring the fact that a substantial number of moderate House Democrats have taken conservative positions on issues like guns and abortion to win in their own conservative leaning districts, CBS’s Kimberly Dozier more directly charged that conservative positions on such issues by Republicans had hurt the party: "The trio notably avoided controversial touch stones like gun rights or abortion, which are blamed for driving away moderates and independents." Notably, 65 House Democrats recently sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder stating their opposition to a new assault weapons ban.
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, which aired at 9:00 p.m. after President Obama's news conference, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann viciously slammed Republican Congresswoman Virginia Foxx for claiming that murder victim Matthew Shepard – whom the current hate crimes bill is named after – was targeted out of a desire to commit robbery rather than because of anti-gay sentiment by his attacker, contradicting the conventional wisdom that the grisly murder was a hate crime. The MSNBC host was so outraged at the North Carolina congresswoman that he named her as the night’s "Worst Person in the World" and showed particular venom toward her, even suggesting she should resign. Olbermann: "She is at best callous, insensitive, criminally misinformed. At worst she is a bald-faced liar. And if there is a spark of a human being in there somewhere, she should either immediately retract and apologize for her stupid and hurtful words or she should resign her seat in the House."
On the 11:00 p.m. special edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews and guests Joan Walsh of Salon and MSNBC political analyst Michelle Bernard also lambasted Foxx for her claim, with Walsh contending that she was either "lying" or "ignorant," and Matthews calling Foxx’s words "rough stuff." Walsh: "She's a hoax, Chris. She disgraced herself today. That was inaccurate. And what I really don't know is whether she’s lying – she knows the facts and she’s lying – or whether she’s so ignorant and arrogant that she didn’t need to delve into the facts."
But, on the November 26, 2004, 20/20, ABC host Elizabeth Vargas ran a report in which a number of figures tied to the case, including the prosecutor, were interviewed, and made a credible case that Shepard was targeted by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson not because of anti-gay sentiment, but because McKinney was high on methamphetamines, giving him unusual violent tendencies as well as a desire for cash to buy more drugs. Vargas not only found that a meth high can lead to the kind of extreme violence perpetrated against Shepard, but that McKinney had gone on to similarly attack another man, causing a skull fracture, very soon after his attack on Shepard. Additionally, McKinney’s girlfriend and another friend of McKinney’s even claimed that McKinney himself has bisexual tendencies, although McKinney himself denied it.
Vargas appeared on the November 19, 2004, The O’Reilly Factor on FNC and summarized her findings:
On Friday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter seemed to take turns reining in each other’s conspiracy theories as the two discussed the latest on former Vice President Cheney’s request for the release of classified information regarding the results of waterboarding al-Qaeda detainees. Alter charged that former Vice President Cheney is attacking President Obama’s national security policies so that his own popularity will be "resurrected" if there is another 9/11-style attack, as the Newsweek editor called Cheney’s behavior "sick":
It`s the former Vice President who is becoming a forlorn and, I think, soon to be even further disgraced figure. But this is his bid for resurrection. Because what he is betting on – and this is the sick thing to me, Keith – is that if there's another attack that he will then be back as a huge and important figure who predicted that this would happen if we stopped torturing. And this is his bid for historical resurrection.
Olbermann assumed Alter was charging that Cheney desires another 9/11 attack for his own benefit, and actually seemed to halfway defend Cheney, prompting Alter to clarify that he did not actually think the former Vice President was hoping for another attack, but he also contended that it was "not a very patriotic thing to do" for Cheney to call President Obama "weak":
On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton pointed out that, contrary to the impression given by the mainstream media, President Barack Obama’s approval rating, as measured by Gallup, is relatively low compared to his recent predecessors for the 100-day mark, and is even below where President George W. Bush was after his first 100 days. Pinkerton observed: "Judith Klnghoffer, writing for the History News Network, made the point that Obama actually ranks seventh of the last nine presidents in Gallup poll opinion ratings. So seventh out of nine isn't so good."
Judith Klinghoffer’s article, "Obama’s Polls Trail Those of W.; Gallup Covers it Up," notes that Bush’s approval rating taken by Gallup stood at 62 percent after his first 100 days, while Obama’s currently stands at 56 percent.
A few minutes later, moderator John Scott returned to the subject:
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor, comedian and FNC contributor Dennis Miller quipped that any President who chose to let Los Angeles get attacked by terrorists instead of using information obtained from waterboarding should be "impeached because you’re crazy at that point." He also optimistically theorized that "I don't think Barack Obama is anywhere near crazy." Miller: "But if you're telling me, if you're the President and they say, ‘Listen, they wanted to blow up L.A., we got some information out of this guy and we saved L.A.,’ and you look and say, ‘Well, I'm not going to use it. We're going to let L.A. go,’ then you've got to be impeached because you're crazy at that point. And I don't think Barack Obama is anywhere near crazy."
As the conversation turned to President Obama’s friendly reaction toward Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and other left-wing, anti-America world leaders, Miller quipped that Obama "doesn't have to spoon this mook." Concerned with the image that such public cordiality would send to those who fight against tyranny, he continued: "Imagine how it breaks the spirit of a freedom fighter to look up and see Barack Obama in a pas de deux with this pig. It's unbelievable to me."
On Wednesday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann mocked Ronald Reagan as "dead," and called him a "lousy President." After reading a quote from Warren County, Ohio, commissioner Mike Kilburn proclaiming his intention not to use any of the federal stimulus money, citing Reagan’s famous line that "government is the problem," Olbermann shot back: "Uh, Commissioner Kilburn, Reagan's dead and he was a lousy President."
The MSNBC host also slammed moderate Democratic Senator Ben Nelson as the day’s "Worst Person in the World" because the Nebraska Democrat dared to lump Olbermann and fellow MSNBC liberal Rachel Maddow in with conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, as Nelson charged that both conservative and liberal hosts spread misinformation to their viewers.
Olbermann, who has a history of repeating incorrect or distorted information on his show, and who also once depicted an image of Rush Limbaugh as a target of gunfire, charged that Limbaugh "supports racism and encourages violence," and that FNC’s Glenn Beck "makes up stuff," as the MSNBC host indignantly answered Nelson: "Thanks for the opportunity to tell you you don't know what the hell you're talking about. I am fed up with this equating of what we do here to circus performers like Limbaugh and the Fox crowd. We don't make up stuff like Beck does, we don't stalk people like O'Reilly does, we don't support racism and encourage violence like Limbaugh does, we don't recite talking points like Hannity does."
On Tuesday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports on MSNBC, Mitchell hosted two liberal guests in a discussion about President Obama’s national service program and the prospects for more gun control laws being passed by Congress in the near future. Speaking to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mitchell repeated a grossly inaccurate statistic that 90 percent of guns used by Mexican drug cartels are manufactured in the U.S. Mitchell: "Mr. Mayor, first to you, why not go after the assault weapon ban, as President Calderone in Mexico is calling for? Ninety percent of the weapons used in the drug cartel crimes south of the border are said to have originated in the United States."
But, as previously documented by Mike Sargent, FNC's William LaJeunesse reported on April 2 that 83 percent of guns recovered from Mexican drug cartels are not from the United States. Most of these weapons are never submitted to the U.S. for tracing because they are clearly not American in origin.
After Bloomberg advocated passage of an assault weapon ban, but later indicated that almost all those killed using guns each day are killed using "illegal handguns," Mitchell did not take the opportunity to challenge the Mayor on just how much impact an assault weapon ban could have if such guns are are so rarely the weapon of choice by criminals. She then moved on to set up New York’s Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy to promote the passage of more gun laws. Mitchell: "And, Mr. Mayor, you mentioned Virginia Tech, Columbine anniversary was yesterday. Only weeks ago, we had the killings of police officers in Pittsburgh and in Oakland. Congresswoman McCarthy, is there any chance that something will be done in Congress? And also the gun show loophole which is sitting out there?"
On Friday’s Hannity show on FNC, host Sean Hannity challenged former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw to speak out in response to Janeane Garofalo’s recent tirade on MSNBC host Keith Olbermann’s Countdown show on Thursday, a screed which seemed to have Olbermann’s approval as he appeared to agree with her accusations of racism against Tax Day Tea Party participants.
On Friday’s Hannity show on FNC, host Sean Hannity played an audio clip of liberal CNN contributor Paul Begala as he was interviewed on the April 15 Imus in the Morning, in which Begala engaged in name-calling against Tax Day Tea Party participants: "Why are they out there whining with this Tea Party thing? Just a bunch of wimpy, whiny, weasels who don't love their country and don't want to support – there are guys at Walter Reed who gave their legs for my country, and they're whining because they have to write a check?" He went on to single out FNC’s Hannity and Neil Cavuto before Imus stepped in to defend them. Begala: "Mr. Cavuto, Mr. Hannity, all the rest of those guys, they have representation, they just lost an election – that's not tyranny, that's democracy." After Imus defended Cavuto and Hannity, and called Hannity a patriot, Begala shot back: "Then tell him to pay his taxes and support our country and stop whining about it."
After playing the clip, Hannity held a discussion with FNC’s Kimberly Guilfoyle and conservative columnist S.E. Cupp. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, April 17, Hannity show on FNC: