A follow-up, with Friday morning coverage, to the Thursday night NewsBusters posting, “Shocked, Just Shocked Network Reporters Hype 'Staged’ Bush Event with Troops,” which detailed how the NBC Nightly News LED with the supposed scandal and how the other networks devoted full stories to it. The network obsession, with the ordinary preparation for a presidential event involving nervous participants, continued on Friday morning. Plugging upcoming stories at the top of Good Morning America, ABC’s Charles Gibson referred to “an embarrassing, staged photo-op.” Diane Sawyer soon cited the event as a “new embarrassment” for the administration and reporter Claire Shipman asserted that “an embarrassing White House blunder lifted the veil on the Bush administration's meticulously managed photo-ops." With “WAS TALK WITH TROOPS SCRIPTED?” plastered on-screen, NBC’s Today made the incident its story of the day as Katie Couric announced: "On Close-Up this morning, is the Bush administration using staged events to sell the war in Iraq?”

Over on CNN’s American Morning, co-host Miles O’Brien insisted to Major General Rick Lynch in Iraq that the participating soldiers were “coached.” Though Lynch repeatedly denied the soldiers were told what to say, O’Brien stuck to his claim they were “coached,” citing how the Pentagon official told them, “here's what he's going to say, here's what you might want to say in response, right?" Lynch maintained that “those soldiers yesterday were giving their opinion." To which an oblivious O’Brien replied: “Well, I guess it's too bad, if that's true, that people would have another impression this morning, because of the way they were coached." But the best O’Brien could come up with was how the Pentagon’s Allison Barber suggested how to segue to another soldier for an answer and that “a few smiles wouldn't hurt back here on the TV.” When news reader Carol Costello wondered: "Is anything spontaneous in politics, really? I don't think so," O'Brien heralded a left-winger: "Jeez. Dennis Kucinich, maybe?" O'Brien also had the gall to contend that “truth be told, if they were not coached, they would have said things that the administration would have liked to hear, I'm convinced. Because they are, you know, these troops are gung ho about their mission. And so it's a shame that they have cast this cloud." Wow, that’s chutzpah given it was O’Brien and the media which cast the “cloud.” (Full transcripts follow.)

September employment was little-changed despite predictions of 500,000 job losses.

     Remember all those reports filed by the mainstream media predicting doom and gloom right after Katrina devastated New Orleans? Well, the first significant piece of economic data to be released since the hurricanes hit suggests that these media prognostications – as predicted by the Free Market Project on September 6 – had no basis in fact.

CNN’s Kelly Wallace interviewed former president Bill Clinton for an “American Morning” segment today while he was visiting Hurricane Katrina evacuees.  Although the intention was to discuss the money that Clinton and former president Bush have raised for hurricane relief, as well as how they plan on spending this money, CNN couldn’t help but include a few digs for the current president.

The first came from a New Orleans evacuee sitting in a “roundtable” discussion with Clinton:

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the difference? Why we couldn't get the attention and the help that Texas got, when a whole -- I mean, from the east bank to the west bank was destroyed?

The next shot came from Wallace herself in a voice-over: “Along the way, he steered clear of criticizing the Bush administration's response to Katrina and how he thinks the president should roll back tax cuts for the wealthy to help pay for rebuilding the Gulf Coast.”

What follows is a full-transcript of this report, along with a video link.

On CNN's “American Morning” today, host Miles O’Brien and correspondent Aneesh Raman downplayed the significance of the announcement that the number 2 al Qaeda operative in Iraq was killed on Sunday by a joint Iraq/U.S. maneuver.  In fact, their exchange suggested that even if the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was killed or captured, things still wouldn’t improve in that country:

RAMAN: But, Miles, it's always unclear whether the capture of anyone outside of the Zarqawi himself, will really impede this organization.

M. O'BRIEN: Well, you have to ask the question, if they get Zarqawi, will that stop it either?

Yet, maybe more interesting is that the report began with Raman discussing a suicide bombing in Baqubah that killed nine innocent Iraqis rather than the news about the death of the #2 al Qaeda operative.

What follows is a complete transcript of this report, and a video link.

In the weeks that have followed Hurricane Katrina hitting New Orleans, much of the mainstream media have been pointing a finger of blame at the federal government for not properly funding that city’s levee system.  This morning, CNN did a report that tears some holes in this premise.

On “American Morning,” John King visited South Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, a coastal community just thirty-five miles south of New Orleans.  What he found was quite surprising: a town that has been hit by Katrina and Rita just like New Orleans, but has not suffered near the damage. 

Why?  Well, because the local community decided to augment federal funds for their levee system with local tax dollars to install higher quality storm and hurricane protection than what surrounding parishes and cities did.  As a result, CNN this morning gave us all a wonderful look at what happens in this nation when local communities look out for themselves without relying on the federal government's protection. 

What follows is a full-transcript of this interview, along with a video link. 

CNN this morning did a series of reports from New Orleans focusing on the problems with that city’s levees. “American Morning’s” Soledad O’Brien first interviewed Joey DIFatta, chairman of St. Bernard Parish, along with New Orleans city council president Oliver Thomas. Later, O’Brien questioned an Army Corps of Engineers colonel. During these discussions, it was suggested that lower quality repairs to the levee system were made in the poor neighborhoods of New Orleans, an assertion that the colonel thoroughly refuted (video to follow):

As amazing as it might seem, it is now four weeks since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Louisiana.  Yet, even though another major storm has pummeled our country this weekend, CNN is still fixated on the perceived errors made by the federal government four weeks ago rather than the successful evacuation and preparations for Hurricane Rita.

On CNN's "American Morning" today, anchor Soledad O'Brien played part of a taped interview with former President Clinton. Ms. O'Brien raised what she thought would be an impediment to Clinton and President Bush getting along: "I mean you raised tax cuts and that's sort of a good issue because when people talk about, OK, how do we pay for Hurricane Katrina when you're talking about an atmosphere where it's clearly going to be very expensive. We have troops in Iraq. We have troops in Afghanistan.

On CNN’s “American Morning” today, Soledad O’Brien spent much of her interview with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff focusing on what happened in New Orleans three weeks ago when Katrina hit rather than questioning the secretary about how prepared the Gulf coast is for the looming Hurricane Rita (video link and full transcript to follow):

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Lots of officials have told us that they're looking forward in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And I understand that. But I'm curious to know what you see as your responsibility in the big problems in responding to that storm. We heard from the mayor who said he'll take his fair share of the blame. The governor who said the state response buck stops with her. The president said the federal response issues are his fault. Do you take blame for some of the problems?

Tax cuts have been the latest craze in gas price management, but CNN’s Miles O’Brien suggested on the September 8 “American Morning” that raising taxes might be the way to go.

“I think there’s a lot of people who’d tell you long-term, raising the gas tax would be a good idea,” O’Brien said. Andy Serwer replied, “Oh yeah. That’s right. But it’s politically suicidal to suggest that, as we’ve seen.”

In a harried, fast-moving interview with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien this morning, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin had many words of praise for President Bush, while pointing much blame at Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco:

CNN's American Morning was all about "Troubling News for President Bush." On the top of the list, a new poll showing a 40% approval rating and, of course, Cindy Sheehan. President Bush is in Idaho meeting with military families.