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The "mainstream" media today, in a stunning display of left-wing bias, engaged in a coordinated anti-war propaganda campaign designed to overshadow an attempt by President Bush on Thursday to rally America's troops. The effort was so gratuitously spiteful, partisan, and transparent that Joseph Goebbels himself would have applauded it.



Staff writers Robert E. Pierre and Hamil Harris report today in the Metro section of the Washington Post on Louis "Farrakhan's Message of Defiance and Unity"* in his march planned for tomorrow in Washington, D.C., commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March.



Israeli-based Steven Erlanger's "news analysis" from Jerusalem in Friday's New York Times is purportedly about the Israel-Palestinian "road map" toward peace ("Mideast Knot: One Map, Many Paths"), but Erlanger devotes most of his space to sympathy for Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.


On last night's Hardball Chris Matthews claimed his colleagues at the current White House Press Corps weren't tough enough, declared current Republican problems worse than Watergate and thought Reagan, "got away with a lot."

The following is the relevant portion of Matthews interview with Craig Crawford on his new book:



In August, I blogged about CBS reporters using the medical term "fetus" to describe an unborn child, even in stories where the child was a "planned and wanted child" as former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders was wont to say.


 

In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.

In the Bush/Iraq segment, Today screened footage indicating that prior to engaging in a video conversation with President Bush, soldiers on the ground in Iraq were given tips by a Department of Defense official.

But the only advice that the official was shown as giving was a suggestion to one solider to "take a little breath" before speaking to the president so he would actually be speaking to him. It was also stated that some of the soldiers practiced their comments so as to appear as articulate as possible. But there was no indication, or even allegation, that the soldiers were coached as to the substance of their comments or in any way instructed what to say.

Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media



As Brent Baker noted last night, the networks were far more excited about the supposed scandal of the administration having “a staged event” where the President talked by satellite with soldiers serving in Iraq. (Speaking of “staged,” how often do you think Brian Williams or Bob Schieffer sit down in the anchor chair and just wing it?)

Andrea Mitchell pretty much gave it away on Thursday’s Nightly News, allowing that “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events. And often the news media ignore the choreography.” But the networks didn’t want to “ignore the choreography” yesterday, because it didn’t fit their spin. Mitchell preferred to expose what she called “a rare look behind the curtain of a White House trying to sell an increasingly unpopular war.”

If the Iraq war is “increasingly unpopular” — and polls suggest it is — one reason may be because the broadcast networks have heavily skewed their news agenda toward the bad news coming out of Iraq: car bombings, U.S. casualties, terrorist attacks, squabbling among Iraqi politicians, etc., etc.

I just finished a study of every Iraq story aired on the three broadcast network evening newscasts this year, from January 1 through September 30, nearly 1,400 stories. (More)


George Clooney gave an interview to Village Voice critic J. Hoberman on his Murrow tribute film. Before Clooney passed on that esteemed film critic "Dan Rather loves, loves, loves this movie," he explained why he made it: "I was concerned about the lack of debate. The conception changed only in that a book came out about how great McCarthy was and how wrong Murrow was." Hoberman asked: "Ann Coulter’s 'Treason'?" Clooney said: "Yes.



It was Gene Shalit's turn on Today Thursday to hail "Good Night and Good News," the George Clooney movie glorifying CBS's Edward R. Murrow hatchet job on Joe McCarthy. Please read Jack Shafer's very thorough takedown for Slate. Shafer reminds that Andrew Ferguson said the Murrow show was "a compendium of every burp, grunt, stutter, nose probe, brutish aside, and maniacal giggle the senator had ever allowed to be captured on film." He also has a link to the show's original transcript.



Mirroring the same evening's NBC Nightly News (see earlier NewsBusters item), on Thursday night's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann led with the rehearsed meeting between President Bush and U.S. troops serving in Iraq. Olbermann spent considerable time showing and making fun of clips from this event and from a contentious White House press briefing with Scott McClellan before proceeding to an interview with Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, during which he seemed to play along with and was amused by Milbank mimicking the accent of an Iraqi soldier at the Bush event, a politically incorrect action which would bring ridicule if performed by a conservative: "I just want to say thank you, Mr. Olbermann. I like you's, I like anything."

Video of Milbank: Real or Windows Media



Thursday's NBC Nightly News led, yes led, with how, as anchor Brian Williams put it, President Bush had that morning conducted “a staged event" via satellite with ten U.S. soldiers and one Iraqi soldier in Iraq. “Today's encounter was billed as spontaneous,” Williams intoned. “Instead, it appeared to follow a script.” Andrea Mitchell warned that “the troops were coached on how to answer the Commander-in-Chief” and, indeed, not until two minutes into her three-minute story -- after showing clips of how a DOD official had told the soldiers the questions Bush would ask -- did Mitchell note how “the White House and at least one of the soldiers says the troops weren't told what to say, just what the President would ask." So, the answers were not staged. The soldiers, naturally nervous about appearing on live TV with the President of the United States, were simply told who should answer which question and to “take a breath” before answering. Scandalous! Over video of Bush on the aircraft carrier, Mitchell went on to remind viewers of how “this isn't the first time this administration used troops to help sell the Iraq war.” But she also admitted a media double-standard: “Many administrations, Democrat and Republican, stage-manage events and often the news media ignore the choreography.”

ABC's World News Tonight also devoted a full story, though not the lead, to the media-generated controversy. Terry Moran contended that “the fact that this was so carefully choreographed...shows just how urgently the White House wants not just a success on the ground in Iraq, but a PR success at home for this embattled President." Over on the CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer opined that “unfortunately for the President, after satellite cameras caught administration aides rehearsing the soldiers beforehand, Democrats dismissed the whole thing and said the troops deserved a lot better.” Lara Logan managed to cover other material in her story and uniquely showcased a soldier who told CBS: "The truth is that everything that was said was meant to be said, though it may have sounded scripted in some places. Nerves kick in, for one. Two, everyone puts their thoughts together. You put it down, you go over and over it a hundred times."

MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann also led Thursday with the “staged” event and the AP distributed a story breathlessly headlined, “Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged.” But on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume noted complaints the event was "not entirely spontaneous" before Carl Cameron pointed out that Bush posed an unplanned question to the Iraqi soldier. In the panel segment, Washington Times reporter Bill Sammon recalled how when “back in December” a soldier asked Rumsfeld about armor, a question that “had been planted by a reporter, I didn't hear any outcry from the press.” (UPDATE with CNN coverage and transcripts follow.)



     For the media, Hurricane Katrina has been a story of zeroes – the more, the better. While reports before the hurricane’s landing incorrectly warned of tens of thousands of deaths, one prediction that has panned out is the gargantuan cost of the storm. Katrina wrought tens of billions of dollars in destruction and set in motion a $250-billion rebuilding effort.


At today's White House Press Briefing, Helen Thomas wanted to know what a 'total victory' meant in Iraq. As Scott McClellan was answering the question to her dissatisfaction, she interrupted and tried to trip him up again. Scott, tired of her anti-War rhetoric, came right out and said she was against the War on Terror. Helen responded and said that the Middle East knows we invaded Iraq and ended her remarks with "I'm opposed to preemptive war".



Washington Post columnist Tina Brown today took the opportunity to mark the 80th birthday of Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female prime minister, with a scathing attack on Harriet Miers.

In, "You've Come a Long Way, Ladies," Brown begins:



Cam Edwards, a talk-radio host at NRANews.com, drew out CBS Public Eye facilitator Vaughn Ververs on the subject of "60 Minutes" star Mike Wallace appearing at a $250-a-pop fundraiser (and birthday party for political humorist Art Buchwald) for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Ververs took that question to Wallace and CBS senior vice president for standards Linda Mason.