Our Weekday Hosts
Peter B. Collins
Active forum topics
Media Matters for America
Latest Media Matters for America items
Last update2 days 10 hours ago
February 20, 2006
Couric failed to question Matalin on earlier statements absolving Cheney of blame in shooting; echoed Matalin's account of shooting's disclosure
In interviewing Republican political strategist Mary Matalin regarding Vice President Dick Cheney's public relations disclosures following his accidental shooting of a hunting partner in Texas on February 11, NBC Today host Katie Couric failed to question Matalin regarding remarks she and other Cheney surrogates previously made absolving Cheney of blame in the shooting. Couric did not ask Matalin why she told the press on February 12 that Cheney was blameless in the accident. Nor did Couric ask Matalin why, given Cheney's February 15 admission that he was solely to blame for the accident, Cheney allowed his defenders to blame the accident on the victim, Harry Whittington. Couric also uncritically repeated Matalin's assertion that Katharine Armstrong -- the host of the hunting expedition during which the shooting occurred -- disclosed the accident to the press at Cheney's behest. This explanation is contradicted by statements Armstrong reportedly made to both CNN and National Review that she decided to notify the press independently of the vice president.
Couric failed to question Matalin regarding her assertion -- reported in the February 13 Washington Post -- that in the shooting incident, Cheney "was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." Moreover, Armstrong and White House press secretary Scott McClellan both faulted Whittington instead of Cheney. The New York Times reported February 13 that Armstrong blamed Whittington because he "did not announce" that he had returned to the hunting party after leaving it. From the Times article:
Mr. Whittington, she [Armstrong] said, "did not announce -- which would be protocol -- 'Hey, it's me, I'm coming up,' " she said.
"He didn't do what he was supposed to do," she added, referring to Mr. Whittington. "So when a bird flushed and the vice president swung in to shoot it, Harry was where the bird was."
McClellan referred reporters to Armstrong's statement blaming Whittington in a February 13 White House press briefing, stating: "I think Mrs. Armstrong spoke publicly about how this incident occurred. And if I recall, she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there."
But in a February 15 interview with Fox News host Brit Hume, Cheney took responsibility for the incident, stating: "It was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend." Although NBC News White House correspondent Kelly O'Donnell had already noted this fact in an earlier Today segment, stating, "The vice president used his TV appearance to try to undo an assertion first made by the first person he authorized to talk about it: witness and ranch owner Katharine Armstrong, who along with the White House suggested Whittington's own actions contributed to the accident," Couric did not ask Matalin why Cheney allowed his defenders to fault Whittington for days without correcting them.
From the February 16 broadcast of NBC's Today:
O'DONNELL: The vice president accepted responsibility for two major aspects of what happened: the hunting accident itself, and decisions made about how to tell the public he had shot a man.
O'DONNELL: The vice president used his TV appearance to try to undo an assertion first made by the first person he authorized to talk about it: witness and ranch owner Katharine Armstrong, who along with the White House suggested Whittington's own actions contributed to the accident.
McCLELLAN [video clip]: The protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there.
O'DONNELL: But Cheney took full blame.
CHENEY [video clip]: It was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.
Couric also echoed Matalin's assertion that Armstrong contacted the Corpus Christi Caller-Times to notify the paper of the shooting -- at Cheney's behest. The Caller-Times was the first news outlet to report the shooting, prompted by Armstrong's notification.
As Media Matters for America previously noted, National Review White House correspondent Byron York reported February 13 that "Armstrong said she did not coordinate with the vice president's office before calling the Corpus Christi paper." And during the February 13 White House press briefing, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux asked McClellan to explain the discrepancy between Armstrong's reported statement "that she did not believe the Vice President's Office was aware that she was going to go to the local press" and McClellan's earlier statement -- at the briefing -- that "[t]he vice president spoke with Mrs. Katharine Armstrong, and they agreed that she should make that information [regarding the shooting] public." A later statement by Armstrong to the Associated Press contradicted her earlier reported statements to York and CNN. From a February 15 AP article:
"I said, Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper," she told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "And he said you go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing."
But rather than challenging Matalin on her disputed account of how Armstrong decided to notify the press of the accident, Couric echoed Matalin. Matalin then reasserted that Armstrong had contacted the Caller-Times at Cheney's behest. From the interview:
COURIC: I know that the vice president said he felt comfortable with the way the story itself -- or the release of the story -- was handled. But in hindsight, do you believe he should have notified the media in a more timely way?
MATALIN: No. And in fact, if you look at the facts of the case, Katharine Armstrong, who was an eyewitness and is a hunter who was there, was on the phone trying to reach the media as early as 8 Sunday morning. The objective was to get the story out. Not get it out fast, but get it out right. Sometimes accuracy -- and the vice president believes this, and I believe he's correct -- accuracy and completeness should take priority over quickness. We saw in the coverage of Katrina, the first stories out of there were so horrific they impeded the rescue effort.
COURIC: Right. But to get the owner, I guess -- to get the owner of the ranch to call the local paper, does it strike you as odd in any way that, say the vice president's office or the --
MATALIN: She's -- Katie, she's not the owner -- she was not just the owner of the ranch. She was an eyewitness to the event. By the time I spoke with the vice president Sunday morning, I had gotten four different accounts of what happened. So I know from personal experience in dealing with Cheney press that just putting out a statement does not make any story just be humdrum. Any routine -- anything of the vice president's requires complete, fulsome, accurate, conveyance of information. We've seen this repeatedly every time he goes to the hospital for a routine test. So the effort there was to get not just the ranch owner -- she -- Katharine is a hunter, she is an expert on gaming down there in Texas official [sic] in such regard. She did own the ranch, and mostly importantly [sic], she was an eyewitness to the account. The vice president only knew what he did. He saw Harry leave. He didn't see Harry come back. Katharine saw the whole thing. I think that he was correct in trying to put out the most complete and accurate rendition. How he got it out, where she got it out, and our expectation that getting it out and getting it on the wire in the most expeditious way she could accomplish without any staff down there was the right decision.
Media declared that Cheney took responsibility for shooting, failed to note that his supporters had first put blame on victim
Following Vice President Dick Cheney's exclusive February 15 interview with Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume, the media widely reported that he took "full responsibility" for accidentally shooting 78-year-old Texas lawyer Harry Whittington while hunting the previous weekend. Most reports have cited Cheney's statement in the interview that "it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend." But numerous news outlets have failed to note that Cheney's acceptance of responsibility contradicts the accounts put forth by his friends and supporters in the days following the incident, in which they put the blame squarely on Whittington.
On the morning of February 12, the day after the shooting, the vice president agreed that Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch where the incident took place, would alert "a reporter she knew at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times" to issue the first news of the incident, according to a February 16 New York Times article. During the subsequent two days, Armstrong was the only person who was present when the incident occurred to provide details to reporters. On February 13, numerous newspapers quoted Armstrong asserting that Whittington had not followed proper hunting protocol by failing to make his presence known as he rejoined the hunting group prior to the shooting:
During his February 13 press briefing, White House press secretary Scott McClellan repeated Armstrong's claim that Whittington had not followed protocol:
McCLELLAN: I don't know all the specifics about it, but I think Mrs. Armstrong spoke publicly about how this incident occurred. And if I recall, she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there.
Armstrong was not the only one who directed blame at the victim. Appearing on the February 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-WY) touted the hunting prowess of his "old pal" Cheney while also blaming Whittington:
SIMPSON: Cheney has his full bag of doves and quail. He's an expert shot and a great hunter and a great sportsman, but if the people with him aren't following the laws and the protocol of quail hunting, somebody gets hurt.
Moreover, according to an anonymous "GOP source" quoted in a February 15 New York Daily News article, in the days following the incident, Cheney himself confided to friends that Whittington "was in a place he shouldn't be."
But during his February 15 interview with Hume, Cheney said he was the one to blame:
HUME: So how, in your judgment, did this happen? Who -- what caused this? What was the responsibility here?
CHENEY: Well, ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line. And there's no -- it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.
Following the interview, numerous news outlets highlighted that Cheney had accepted responsibility without noting that his friends -- and reportedly he himself -- had earlier placed the blame on Whittington. A February 16 New York Times article by staff writers David E. Sanger and Anne E. Kornblut uncritically reported that Cheney "took full responsibility," despite the fact that a separate Times article published that day noted that "Ms. Armstrong initially faulted Mr. Whittington." Further, Sanger and Kornblut wrote that Cheney "said no one intended to blame" Whittington. But at no point in the interview did he comment on anyone else's intentions, merely stating, "You can't blame anybody else."
Other media outlets that uncritically reported Cheney's acceptance of responsibility included USA Today, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), Reuters, Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, ABC's Nightline, and CBS' The Early Show.
By contrast, a February 16 Los Angeles Times article by staff writers Peter Wallsten and Nicholas Riccardi reported that Cheney "took responsibility" for the accident, but noted that his tone differed from "earlier statements by the White House and some defenders of the vice president, who had said Texas lawyer Harry Whittington might have erred by stepping into Cheney's line of fire and failing to announce his presence." AP staff writer Nedra Pickler similarly contrasted Cheney's acceptance of responsibility with Armstrong's prior suggestion "that Whittington was at fault in the shooting because, she said, he failed to announce himself as he rejoined the hunting line." A February 16 article by Washington Post staff writer Peter Baker noted that "according to Armstrong, [Whittington] did not let his partners know he had returned."
Moreover, ABC's World News Tonight not only mentioned Armstrong's previous efforts to place the blame on Whittington but went a step further, noting that the apparent discrepancy between her and Cheney's accounts of who was to blame for the incident seemed to contradict the vice president's assertion that, for reasons of accuracy, it was the "right call" to choose Armstrong as the primary spokesperson. In a report on the February 15 edition of the program, ABC News chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz contrasted Cheney's claim in the interview that "accuracy was enormously important" with the fact that Armstrong's representation of the event was apparently inaccurate:
RADDATZ: The vice president said today he agreed with Armstrong that she should be the one to tell the local paper. Why?
CHENEY: She'd seen the whole thing. Secondly, she'd grown up on the ranch, she'd hunted there all of her life. Third, she was the immediate past head of the Texas Wildlife and Parks Department. I thought that was the right call.
HUME: What do you think now?
CHENEY: Well, I still do. I still think that the, the accuracy was enormously important.
RADDATZ: But it was Armstrong who placed blame on Whittington, saying he made a mistake by not announcing to the vice president that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line.
Later in the show, anchor Elizabeth Vargas and ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos agreed that this apparent contradiction "undercut" Cheney's assertion that he made the "right decision" in selecting Armstrong to speak to the press:
VARGAS: But there is still a contradiction, isn't there? I mean, he says it was the right decision to let Katharine Armstrong give that version of events, while saying it was his responsibility. And her version of the events placed responsibility squarely on Mr. Whittington's shoulders.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It did. And you know, the fact that he thought she was going to be the more credible witness is undercut right now.
On February 15, Media Matters for America noted that anchor Kyra Phillips and White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux had uncritically reported that Cheney had accepted responsibility. In her subsequent reports on the story, however, Malveaux has continued to stress that Cheney took full responsibility in the interview while ignoring that Armstrong had earlier placed the blame on Whittington [see here, here, here, here and here]. Meanwhile, CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash's separate reports on the Cheney interview have included mention of this aspect of the story.
HUME: Vice President Cheney breaks his silence tonight on this broadcast. In an exclusive interview, Mr. Cheney responds to questions regarding that hunting accident over the weekend, including accepting full responsibility for the incident. The interview itself is coming up, but first, highlights in this report from chief White House correspondent Carl Cameron.
CARL CAMERON (Fox News chief White House correspondent): Four days after the incident, in an interview with Fox News, Vice President Dick Cheney spoke publicly for the first time about accidentally shooting his Texas hunting partner late Saturday afternoon.
CHENEY: Ultimately, I'm the guy that pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line. And there's no -- it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.
TERRY MORAN (anchor): We begin with the vice president as we've never seen him before. Personal, pained and decidedly unpolitical. Dick Cheney described today what he called one of the worst days his life, Saturday's disastrous Texas hunting outing, when he accidentally shot his fellow hunter, 78-year-old lawyer Harry Whittington. Today, Whittington remains in the hospital. And Dick Cheney, under increasing pressure for the silence and information delays that followed the shooting, sat down with the Fox News Channel to explain himself.
Dick Cheney broke his silence and took responsibility for his actions.
CHENEY: Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time but that's the bottom line. And there's no -- it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.
BILL PLANTE (CBS White House correspondent): So yesterday, with a push from the White House, the vice president himself took full responsibility for the accident.
CHENEY: You can't blame anyone else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And to say that's a moment I'll never forget.
PLANTE: Why didn't the White House announce that the vice president had been involved in a shooting accident? The White House was notified of the incident, but Cheney himself didn't talk to anyone until Sunday morning and then decided to let his hostess, Katharine Armstrong, make the announcement.
CHENEY: I think Katharine was an excellent choice. I don't know who you could get better as the basic source for the story than the witness who saw the whole thing.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly alleged on the February 13 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, The Radio Factor, that "left-wing media ... dominates the newspaper industry." O'Reilly then listed a number of alleged examples of "left-wing" newspapers -- including five that endorsed George W. Bush in the 2004 presidential election.
O'Reilly made these comments during a segment celebrating the upcoming 10th anniversary of Fox News Channel, which produces and airs O'Reilly's nightly cable television broadcast, The O'Reilly Factor. O'Reilly named the Fox News Channel, along with the Wall Street Journal editorial page, as "the only bulwark against this [liberal media]." He then added The Washington Times to his "bulwark," but qualified that, saying, "[T]hat's a lesser paper. Their circulation isn't big."
Concluding the segment, O'Reilly stated:
O'REILLY: Now, if we live in a country where all the media is left-wing, and before the Fox News Channel, that's pretty much it, then we are in trouble. So, everybody should be celebrating the Fox News Channel as it approaches its 10th anniversary in October. Are we celebrating? I don't think so."
From the February 13 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Anyway, Fox News has risen up to become a major force -- factor, if you will -- in America. And it is a counter to the secular progressive, left-wing media, which dominates the newspaper industry and is very sympathetic in the television industry. And everybody knows that. That, that's provable. The studies have shown it. Newspaper, after newspaper, after newspaper where you live.
I mean let's run down the list. We got the Boston Globe, far left. Hartford Courant, left-wing. New York Times, left-wing. New York Daily News, pretty much left-wing. New York Post is right-wing. Okay, Albany [New York] paper, left-wing. Syracuse, New York, paper, left-wing. Philadelphia Inquirer, left-wing. Washington Post, left-wing. Baltimore Sun, left-wing.
I mean on and on and on and on. And I'm just going down the coastline. Atlanta [Journal-] Constitution, far left. St. Petersburg Times [Florida], far left. Miami Herald, left-wing. Houston Chronicle, left-wing. Dallas Morning News, drifting left. Kansas City Star, left-wing. San Francisco Chronicle, off-the-chart left. L.A. [Los Angeles] Times, left-wing. Oregonian, left-wing. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, left-wing. Denver Post, left-wing. I mean on and on and on and on. You're never going to get the truth from those newspapers. They're always going to skew it their way. So the only bulwark against this is the Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal editorial page. And, you know, The Washington Times, but that's a lesser paper. Their circulation isn't big.
You see? Now, if we live in a country where all the media is left-wing, and before the Fox News Channel, that's pretty much it, then we are in trouble. So everybody should be celebrating the Fox News Channel as it approaches its 10th anniversary in October. Are we celebrating? I don't think so.
During the February 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly called Maureen Dowd's February 15 New York Times column (subscription required) about Vice President Dick Cheney's hunting accident "the best illustration I have seen in years of a media out of control." O'Reilly asserted that even though Cheney publicly took full responsibility for the incident, Dowd "claims the White House is blaming the guy who got shot." In fact, as Dowd wrote, White House press secretary Scott McClellan did suggest Cheney's hunting partner, Harry Whittington, the man Cheney shot, was at fault. Dowd noted that McClellan referred reporters to statements by Katharine Armstrong, the host of the February 11 hunting party whom Cheney originally designated to tell the press about the incident, in which she suggested that Whittington was to blame for what had happened. Moreover, viewers would never have known this from O'Reilly's accusations, but there is no way Dowd could have cited Cheney's comments, in which he acknowledged he was responsible for the shooting, since her column was published hours before Cheney actually made those comments in his interview with Fox News' Brit Hume.
O'Reilly, who called Dowd "a notorious Bush-Cheney basher," said of her column:
O'REILLY: She [Dowd] also claims the White House is blaming the guy who got shot. I mean, I have never seen a column like this. Today, Mr. Cheney discussed that charge with Brit Hume.
O'Reilly then proceeded to play a clip of Cheney's Fox News interview in which Cheney stated: "[I]t was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend." After playing the clip, O'Reilly lamented that whether one "like[s] Cheney or not, once critical thinking degenerates into hatred, there's no value."
But O'Reilly failed to inform his viewers that Dowd's column appeared in the February 15 edition of The New York Times hours before Cheney's interview took place and was subsequently released to the public. In the column, Dowd condemned Cheney's failure to admit guilt, which, at the time, he had not yet done, and went on to criticize the administration:
Private citizens have been enlisted to blame the victim. Maybe poor Mr. Whittington put himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. But he was, after all, behind Vice, not in front of him. And the hunter pulling the trigger is supposed to make sure he has a clear shot. Wouldn't it be, well, classy for Shooter to express just a bit of contrition and humility?
Instead, the usual sliming has begun, with the Cheney camp trying to protect the vice president by casting a veteran hunter as Elmer Dud.
Scott McClellan told the White House press corps that Katharine Armstrong, a lobbyist with government ties who owns the Texas ranch (and whose mother, Anne, was on the Halliburton board that hired Mr. Cheney as C.E.O.), "pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying the others that he was there."
Moreover, as Dowd wrote, the White House did suggest Whittington was at fault by allowing a Cheney surrogate to publicly say essentially that and then directing reporters to those statements. As Media Matters for America has noted, Armstrong publicly faulted Whittington's conduct before the shooting. According to the Houston Chronicle, Armstrong blamed Whittington for not "announcing himself" when he returned to the hunting line, explaining, "You're always supposed to let other hunters know where you are." During a February 13 White House press briefing, McClellan endorsed Armstrong's description of the accident:
McCLELLAN: I don't know all the specifics about it, but I think Mrs. Armstrong spoke publicly about how this incident occurred. And if I recall, she pointed out that the protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington, when it came to notifying the others that he was there. And so, you know, unfortunately these types of hunting accidents happen from time to time.
Moreover, during the February 13 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, former Sen. Alan K. Simpson (R-WY), a Cheney friend, also suggested Whittington was negligent:
SIMPSON: [I]t's a sad thing what happened to him [Whittington], but it has less to do with Dick Cheney and much more to do with him. He apparently went for another bird, picked it up, came back and got behind the two other hunters and didn't say, "I'm back, I'm behind you, I'm here." And if you don't do that, let me tell you, anything can happen.
From the February 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is a notorious Bush-Cheney basher. Ms. Dowd can be amusing, but, she, like many at The New York Times, has gone completely off the rails. Writing about the Cheney hunting accident today, Ms. Dowd brings in the following: soldiers dying in Iraq, Cheney's Vietnam deferment, Halliburton, Katrina, oil prices, Medicare, corrupt lobbyists, Osama [bin Laden], Tora Bora, and a possible grand jury investigation.
You think I'm kidding? Check out her column. Every American should read it. Ms. Dowd describes Cheney's hunting hobby as -- quote -- "his macho kicks gunning down little birds" -- unquote.
She also claims the White House is blaming the guy who got shot. I mean, I've never seen a column like this. Today, Mr. Cheney discussed that charge with Brit Hume.
CHENEY [clip]: Ultimately, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry. And you can talk about all of the other conditions that existed at the time, but that's the bottom line. And there's no -- it was not Harry's fault. You can't blame anybody else. I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend. And, as I say, that's something I'll never forget.
O'REILLY: Now, like Cheney or not, once critical thinking degenerates into hatred, there's no value.
This incident is the best illustration I've seen in years of a media out of control.
USA Today Washington bureau chief Susan Page, in a February 15 article, suggested that criticism of Vice President Dick Cheney's decision to withhold information concerning his accidental shooting of a hunting companion, lawyer Harry Whittington, in Texas on February 11 came only from Democrats. In an article that addressed what she said critics called Cheney's "penchant for secrecy," the only Cheney critics Page quoted were two prominent Democrats -- Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). The two supporters Page quoted are Republicans.
Contradicting the misleading suggestion in Page's report, a separate article in the same edition of USA Today noted that the conservative National Review was also critical of Cheney's handling of the shooting. The Los Angeles Times reported on February 15 that former Republican presidential press secretaries Ari Fleischer, who held the position during President Bush's first term, and Marlin Fitzwater, who served under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, also criticized the vice president and his staff for withholding the information. The Times article also quoted Fox News contributor Robert D. Novak calling the White House "secretive." Even current White House press secretary Scott McClellan suggested that the situation could have been handled better.
Giving a more accurate picture than Page, USA Today staff writer David Jackson, in addition to quoting Schumer, reported that "[s]ome conservatives are also pressing Cheney to speak out":
National Review magazine posted an editorial on its website that said, "not talking only feeds speculation and aids the cause of those who want to lampoon and smear him. Let's hear from the vice president."
The Los Angeles Times quoted Fleischer saying, "It would have been better if the vice president and/or his staff had come out last Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning and announced it." Fitzwater told the newspaper that Cheney had "ignored his responsibility to the American people" by not disclosing information about the shooting to the public.
In a separate February 14 story, the Times also quoted Novak, who said, on the February 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, "It's news, and it reflects an attitude in this White House of holding back information, of being too clever by half, and being secretive."
Finally, during the February 14 White House press briefing, McClellan said, "There were some very legitimate questions that were asked [during the February 13 press briefing]. As I indicated, I always believe that you can look back and work to do better."
From Page's article in the February 15 edition of USA Today:
Once again, Vice President Cheney is at the center of a White House firestorm. And once again, his critics fault him for a penchant for secrecy.
"My personal preference is to go along with the press' sense of entitlement because it's easier to go along with it than try to fight it," says Charlie Black, a Republican strategist close to the White House. "But I don't think he thinks that way."
For President Bush, however, the resulting furor -- the subject of 42 of the 60 questions posed at the White House briefing Tuesday -- is an unwelcome interruption at a time his approval rating has slipped to 39% in the latest USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll. It reinforces Democratic charges that the administration is incompetent and secretive.
Press secretary Scott McClellan tried unsuccessfully to move attention to the president's speech today in Dublin, Ohio, on health care. Instead, late-night comics are having a field day while some Democrats draw darker conclusions.
"I think the reason it took the vice president a day to talk about this is part of the secretive nature of this administration," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. "The American people are not entitled to know what's going on, in their mind-set."
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., sent the vice president a letter -- and immediately e-mailed it to reporters -- that said Cheney was "disturbingly averse to having an open discussion with the American people on matters both large and small."
Others call the controversy a tempest in a teapot. "It's just a simple hunting accident," says Roger Pilon of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. "It's a striking example of the media obsession with any peccadillo that may come from the White House."
Cheney's attitude toward the news media changed when he served as secretary of Defense in the first Bush administration, according to former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, an old friend. During his tenure in the U.S. House, Cheney was "open and responsive" to reporters' questions as they campaigned together in the Cowboy State, Simpson said.
From the February 15 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
The White House's delay in releasing information drew public rebukes from Ari Fleischer, Bush's former press secretary, and Marlin Fitzwater, who served in that position for presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
"It would have been better if the vice president and/or his staff had come out last Saturday night or first thing Sunday morning and announced it," Fleischer said Tuesday in an interview with Editor & Publisher, a newspaper trade publication. "It could have and should have been handled differently."
Fitzwater told the magazine that Cheney had "ignored his responsibility to the American people" by failing to disclose the accident.
From the February 14 edition of the Los Angeles Times:
Cheney -- known for having testy relations with the media -- on Monday came under criticism from Democrats and Republicans who said the White House should have disclosed the incident immediately.
"It's news, and it reflects an attitude in this White House of holding back information, of being too clever by half and being secretive," columnist Robert Novak said on Fox News.
In reporting on Vice President Dick Cheney's February 15 admission that he had consumed "a beer at lunch" prior to accidentally shooting Texas lawyer Harry Whittington during a February 11 hunting trip, numerous media outlets failed to report that Cheney's admission contradicted earlier statements by Katharine and Anne Armstrong, co-owners of the ranch where the accident occurred, who had said that Dr. Pepper was served with lunch and "heavily implied," according to The New York Times, that "no alcohol was served at all." The Washington Post went so far as to report that Cheney's account "largely squared" with Katharine Armstrong's.
Katharine Armstrong was the first person to alert the press that the incident had occurred and, according to a February 13 article in The Washington Post, Cheney's office directed reporters to Armstrong for an eyewitness account of the incident. Moreover, Cheney acknowledged in his February 15 interview with Fox News host Brit Hume that he agreed with Armstrong that she should be the one to inform the press because "the accuracy was enormously important."
Cheney, during his interview with Hume, claimed that he drank "a beer at lunch," hours before the accident happened. But, as The New York Times reported on February 16, Cheney's admission was inconsistent with earlier statements made by other members of the hunting party who denied that alcohol was involved at all. From the February 16 New York Times:
Until Mr. Cheney acknowledged having had a beer at lunch, members of the hunting party had been adamant that no alcohol was involved. Katharine Armstrong, whose family owns the ranch, had said in interviews that Dr Pepper was served at lunch and that no one was drinking. In interviews with The Times and other papers, Ms. Armstrong heavily implied that no alcohol was served at all.
"No, zero, zippo, and I don't drink at all," she said in an interview published on Monday in The Corpus Christi Caller-Times, the paper she initially called. "No one was drinking."
Anne Armstrong was quoted in the February 14 Los Angeles Times saying that the hunting party "broke for a lunch of antelope, jicama salad and camp bread, washed down with Dr. Pepper." Also, as the ThinkProgress weblog noted in a February 15 entry, the Armstrongs' media accounts of the incident changed on a daily basis -- from claiming that nobody was drinking (February 13), to acknowledging that beer was available (February 14), to telling CNN that Cheney had a cocktail after the accident (February 15).
Nevertheless, The Washington Post reported on February 16 that Cheney's account of the incident "largely squared" with Armstrong's:
The 27-minute interview, in Cheney's ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, was a remarkable moment in modern politics as a vice president described shooting another person. Cheney's account largely squared with that of Katharine Armstrong, one of the owners of the huge Armstrong Ranch in southern Texas where the vice president was hunting Saturday. But, in his own reserved way, Cheney sounded emotional about what happened.
Other news outlets, such as the Associated Press, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News reported that Cheney admitted to drinking a beer but failed to note the contradiction with Armstrong's statements.
Limbaugh: Wal-Mart should charge Massachusetts "lib babes" $1,000 per pill for emergency contraception
Commenting on a Massachusetts lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart over its refusal to stock emergency contraception pills, nationally syndicated radio host Rush Limbaugh told listeners on February 14 , "[I]f I were Wal-Mart ... I would stock one bottle [of emergency contraception pills]" and charge "a thousand bucks a pill." Limbaugh also said that "the last place you want to be is between a ... liberal woman and her morning-after pill. You don't want to be in her path when -- if ... she needs her morning-after. Just get out of the way." Limbaugh later added: "Wal-Mart's one of the biggest enemies that the libs have in this country. And now, all of a sudden, here you had a couple lib babes -- three of them -- that needed a morning-after pill and wanted to go to Wal-Mart." As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Limbaugh made nearly identical comments on the February 2 broadcast of his radio program.
On February 1, three women filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart for allegedly violating a Massachusetts state regulation that "requires pharmacies to provide all 'commonly prescribed medicines.' " Wal-Mart resisted, stating that the company "chooses not to carry many products for business reasons." Wal-Mart has refused to elaborate further, but according to a February 1 Associated Press article, "in a letter to [the plaintiffs' attorney Sam] Perkins regarding the lawsuit, Wal-Mart attorney John W. Delaney wrote that Wal-Mart has 'long had the corporate policy of declining to make available EC (emergency contraception) medication, based on, among other things, a view that EC medication is not 'commonly prescribed.' ' " On February 14, the Massachusetts state pharmacy board -- in a unanimous decision -- ordered Wal-Mart to begin stocking emergency contraceptive pills.
From the February 14 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: I don't believe this either. This is -- you know that story -- we had this -- some -- Wal-Mart was not stocking the morning-after pill. And I said, "Oh, this is -- this is big trouble."
It's in Massachusetts. The last place you want to be is between a -- a liberal woman and her morning-after pill. You don't want to be in her path when if -- if -- if she needs her morning after. Just get out of the way and then Wal-Mart didn't stock 'em.
And, of course, that doesn't matter because you've got bureaucrats in Massachusetts that can tell Wal-Mart what they have to carry. Now, this is a big problem for the libs 'cause here they're trying to put Wal-Mart out of business.
Wal-Mart's one of the biggest enemies that the libs have in this country. And now, all of a sudden, here you had a couple lib babes -- three of them -- that needed a morning-after pill and wanted to go to Wal-Mart.
What I would do if I were Wal-Mart here -- I would stock one bottle. "You going to make me do this? OK. I'll put one bottle and we're charging a thousand bucks a pill." That's what I would do.
February 15, 2006
During the February 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly said that the "5 to 7 percent" of San Francisco police officers alleged in a recent series of news articles in the San Francisco Chronicle to have used excessive force do not constitute "a lot" of officers and stated further that "I'm not sure what the big deal is out of that." O'Reilly was responding to former San Francisco Board of Supervisors president Angela Alioto, whom he hosted along with San Francisco Police Officers Association president Gary Delagnes in order to discuss the Chronicle series about incidents of violence employed by the San Francisco Police Department, titled "The Use of Force."
From the February 13 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
O'REILLY: But how pervasive is this?
ALIOTO: Five to 7 percent.
O'REILLY: This is what I'm trying to get at. Look, every police force has bad people on it. I mean, everybody knows that.
ALIOTO: My point --
O'REILLY: But if you have 100 officers out of 2,200, that's not a lot.
ALIOTO: No, but --
O'REILLY: I mean, that's less than 5 percent. And there's -- the Chronicle doesn't assert they did anything. All they say is that these guys -- and they could be, you know, in the worst neighborhoods, in the worst kind of stuff, narcotics, or whatever -- are responsible for a high rate of force violations. Look, you know -- you've been on the supervisors' board. You know what police work is. If you're down in the sewer and the gutter with these people, they're going to throw everything they can at you, particularly if you're good, if you're a good cop. They're going to try to get you.
ALIOTO: I not only know what police work is, my son, Joe, before he was police commissioner, was a San Francisco police officer at 19 years old.
ALIOTO: I'm fully aware of that. But Bill, you surely are not suggesting that we just let the 100 be 100 and continue that kind of behavior?
O'REILLY: No. I'm not sure -- it's not many. And I'm not sure what the big deal is out of that. Most other police forces would say, "Gee, just 100? That's not so bad."
ALIOTO: No, but do something about the 100 who have excessive records.
In his February 14 nationally syndicated column, Media Research Center (MRC) president L. Brent Bozell III wrote of Vice President Dick Cheney's February 11 hunting accident: "With apologies to the Cheney friend who received the pellet facial, the incident was funny." According to a Google news search, Bozell's column was first posted on the MRC website at roughly 6 p.m. ET on February 14 -- well after news reports indicated that Texas lawyer Harry Whittington, who was part of Cheney's hunting party and is the man Cheney shot, was transferred to an intensive care unit after suffering a "cardiac event" brought on by birdshot lodged in his heart. Bozell further downplayed the seriousness of Whittington's injuries by using euphemisms such as "pellet-facial" and "sprinkled with birdshot."
From Bozell's February 14 column:
Once it was clear that the man sprinkled with birdshot would survive, Vice President Cheney's hunting accident was widely expected to become a late-night comedian's bonanza, a frenzy like Wal-Mart shoppers scrambling for $29 DVD players.
With apologies to the Cheney friend who received the pellet facial, the incident was funny. Now we learn the vice president received a warning citation from a Texas Ranger for not buying a $7 hunting stamp in advance. As a friend e-mailed me, "Where else can you shoot a lawyer in the face with a shotgun and get off with just a warning?"
Hume noted White House claim that "video news releases" are legal, ignored that GAO thinks otherwise
During a February 13 report on a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that found that the Bush administration has spent $1.6 billion on public relations contracts since 2003, Fox News Washington managing editor Brit Hume noted that the "White House says the use of PR firms is legal and helps get important information to the public." But Hume failed to inform viewers that according to the GAO, the White House's use of such firms to produce video news releases (VNRs) -- prepackaged news stories promoting administration policies and programs -- violates federal law. The agency's repeated criticism of this practice even led the U.S. Senate to pass legislation in 2005 requiring the government to clearly inform viewers that such VNRs, which are often presented as unbiased news stories by local television news programs, were created by a federal agency.
On February 13, Democratic congressional leaders released a new GAO study that found that the Bush administration spent $1.6 billion on contracts with public relations firms, advertising agencies, media organizations, and individuals since 2003. As The Washington Post reported, "Democrats asked the GAO to look into federal public relations contracts last spring at the height of the furor over government-sponsored prepackaged news and journalism-for-sale."
On the February 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume briefly mentioned the study:
HUME: The Government Accountability Office, in a survey of seven of the 15 cabinet level departments, finds that the Bush administration has spent about one and a half billion dollars on public relations efforts in 2003, 4 and the first half of 2005. The bulk of the money was spent by the Defense Department.
Congressional Democrats requested the report after disclosures that a commentator had been paid to promote the No Child Left Behind Act, and that some federal departments had paid for video news releases that appeared to some viewers at least to be independent newscasts. The White House says the use of PR firms is legal and helps get important information to the public.
But in simply reporting that the "White House says the use of PR firms is legal," Hume presented only one side -- the White House's -- and ignored the GAO's conclusion that the administration's use of these firms to produce and distribute certain VNRs violates the law.
In May 2004, the GAO determined that the Department of Health and Human Services broke federal law by releasing VNRs that favorably depicted a new Medicare law supported by the administration without indicating that the government had created and paid for the video segments. On January 6, 2005, the GAO announced that the Bush administration had again violated the law by producing similar "news segments" about drug use, saying the segments "constitute covert propaganda" because the government was not identified as the source of the materials. The GAO added that the administration "made it impossible for the targeted viewing audience to ascertain that these stories were produced by the government."
In a letter dated February 17, 2005, Comptroller General David M. Walker explained that, in both of these cases, the prepackaged news stories violated the government-wide prohibition, first enacted in 1951, on the use of appropriated funds for purposes of "publicity or propaganda." (The GAO released a full report rebuking the administration for this practice on May 12, 2005.):
In neither case did the agency include any statement or other indication in its news stories that disclosed to the television viewing audience, the target of the purported news stories, that the agency wrote and produced those news stories. In other words, television-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government. We concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition.
The GAO's conclusions were immediately met with resistance by the Bush administration. According to a March 13, 2005, New York Times article, numerous government agencies responded by simply instructing their various departments to ignore its findings:
Although a few federal agencies have stopped making television news segments, others continue. And on Friday [March 11, 2005], the Justice Department and the Office of Management and Budget circulated a memorandum instructing all executive branch agencies to ignore the G.A.O. findings. The memorandum said the G.A.O. failed to distinguish between covert propaganda and "purely informational" news segments made by the government. Such informational segments are legal, the memorandum said, whether or not an agency's role in producing them is disclosed to viewers.
The legality of the VNRs has since been a matter of debate in Congress. On April 14, 2005, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment to a supplemental spending bill that prohibited, for one year, "the use of funds by any Federal agency to produce a prepackaged news story without including in such story a clear notification for the audience that the story was prepared or funded by a Federal agency." Congressional leaders have since continued their efforts to advance legislation requiring that the Bush administration's use of this public relations tool comply with the GAO's 2005 ruling.
Media find lying about illicit sex more newsworthy than lying about warrantless domestic wiretapping of Americans
Which is more newsworthy -- a president caught lying about an inappropriate sexual relationship, or a president caught lying about having spied on Americans without court orders?
Media Matters for America has completed a review of television coverage on CNN, Fox News, and the broadcast networks in the 66 days since White House press secretary Scott McClellan was asked during a December 20, 2005, press briefing to explain the apparent contradiction between President Bush's April 20, 2004, statement that "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires ... a court order" and the recently revealed existence of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic wiretapping program, The review found just 16 instances in which Bush's 2004 remarks were quoted or replayed. In contrast, over a similar period following President Clinton's August 17, 1998, acknowledgment of a relationship with Monica Lewinsky, the same outlets quoted or replayed 73 times Clinton's earlier January 26, 1998, statement denying such a relationship existed.
Media Matters did not review MSNBC's coverage because the Nexis database does not include MSNBC transcripts dating earlier than November 8, 1999.
Using the Nexis database, Media Matters compared the coverage by CNN, Fox News, and the three major broadcast networks of Bush's apparently false statement on warrantless domestic eavesdropping to the coverage these same news outlets devoted to Clinton's false denial of a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. A search* for the text of Bush's remarks from December 20, 2005 -- when a reporter first raised the issue at a White House press briefing -- through February 13 revealed 16 unique hits. But a search** for the text of Clinton's remarks revealed 73 hits from August 18, 1998, when Clinton admitted having a relationship with Lewinsky, through October 22, 1998 -- the same number of days included in the search for Bush's remarks. Searching the Nexis database for each outlet individually revealed more hits for Clinton's remarks than for Bush's remarks.
The data from Media Matters' Nexis searches follows:
Nexis hits for Clinton remarks,
Nexis hits for Bush remarks,
* any time you hear the united states government talking about wiretap or a wiretap requires a court order or when we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so and date(geq (12/20/05) and leq (2/13/06))
** i did not have sexual relations with that woman and date(geq (8/18/98) and leq (10/22/98))
*** excludes hits from CNN.com, which was not archived in the Nexis database during the 8/18/98-10/23/98 period
In recent days, media reporting on the delay between when Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot one of his hunting partners and the public disclosure of that information have overlooked unanswered questions and inconsistent accounts of how the incident was revealed to the press. Many media outlets have uncritically repeated the White House claim that the Vice President's Office was solely responsible for the delayed announcement of the accident, without noting that White House senior adviser Karl Rove discussed the accident with his longtime friend Katharine Armstrong, the host of the hunting expedition, the night before she disclosed it to a Corpus Christi, Texas, newspaper. Other media reported that Armstrong said she conferred with Cheney before disclosing the story but failed to note that this account conflicts with initial reports that Armstrong said Cheney was not aware that she was going to contact the local media.
Many news outlets uncritically reported Armstrong's claim that she obtained Cheney's approval before revealing the story to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times on February 12, without mentioning that this version of events conflicts with initial reports that Armstrong said Cheney had been unaware that she was going to contact the local media about the accident. For example, a February 14 New York Times article reported that Armstrong "said Mr. Cheney participated in discussions on Sunday morning about disclosing the incident, agreeing that it should be made public but deferring to the Armstrong family on how to do so." A February 14 Washington Post article similarly reported:
In a telephone interview, Armstrong said that she, her mother and her sister, Sara Storey Armstrong Hixon, decided on Sunday morning after breakfast to report the shooting accident to the media. "It was my family's own volition, and the vice president agreed. We felt -- my family felt and we conferred as a family -- that the information needed to go public. It was our idea," Armstrong said.
As Media Matters for America has documented, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on February 13 that Armstrong "told CNN that she did not believe the Vice President's Office was aware that she was going to go to the local press." Malveaux challenged White House press secretary Scott McClellan to why Armstrong's account differed from that of the White House, which claimed that Armstrong had coordinated with Cheney before contacting the press. By contrast, National Review White House correspondent Byron York wrote that day that Armstrong told National Review Online that "she did not coordinate with the vice president's office before calling the Corpus Christi paper," but later simply printed an "author's note" relaying the administration's account without indicating any attempt to resolve the apparent discrepancy. Media Matters also documented that CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash -- while reporting the White House claim that Armstrong went to the press only after conferring with Cheney -- failed to note the apparent contradiction her colleague Malveaux had identified.
Several outlets reported that White House officials acknowledged that Rove, widely seen as the Bush administration's public relations and political guru, discussed Cheney's hunting accident with Armstrong the night before Armstrong told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times about it. For example, The New York Times reported on February 14 that Rove "called Ms. Armstrong to ask about the incident," while The Washington Post reported the same day that Rove was "told of the shooting Saturday night but deferred to Cheney on providing information to the public, White House aides said."
Another report, citing unnamed Republican officials, suggested that Rove was indeed involved in discussing how information about the accident would be released but ultimately deferred to Cheney. In a February 13 Web exclusive report for Time magazine, White House correspondent Mike Allen cited unnamed "Republican sources" to report that Cheney "overruled the advice of several members of the White House staff" -- including Rove -- by "insist[ing] on sticking to a plan for releasing information about his hunting accident that resulted in a 20-hour, overnight delay in public confirmation of the startling incident."
Other evidence suggests that Rove had an established personal relationship with the Armstrong family before his call to Katharine Armstrong over the hunting flap. According to an article in the May 12, 2003, edition of The New Yorker, Armstrong's father, Tobin Armstrong, was "an early financier" of Rove's first business venture:
Rove had the imprimatur of Texas's Republican aristocracy from the beginning, through his connection to the Bush family and to [Governor Bill] Clements. An early financier of Karl Rove + Company was Tobin Armstrong, the owner of a Texas ranch (it was on land leased from Armstrong Rove and Bill Frist were planning to go hunting) and the husband of Anne Armstrong, a former Republican Cabinet officer.
Despite the fact that Rove -- who serves as President Bush's primary political adviser -- spoke with Armstrong before she notified the media of the shooting, many in the media have simply accepted the White House's claim that Cheney's office was completely responsible for determining when and how the press would be notified. For example, on the February 13 broadcast of CBS Evening News, White House correspondent Jim Axelrod neglected to mention Rove's involvement in the story while reporting that "the decisions affecting who knew what when" were "being made on the ground in Texas by the vice president," and that "the decision to have the ranch owner [Armstrong] call her local paper to let the general public know of the shooting, that was Mr. Cheney's choice as well."
CNN's Morton: Bush "likes to hunt quail"; Cheney "loves to hunt" -- but Kerry "spent time posing with guns"
During a report on hunting and politics on the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, CNN national correspondent Bruce Morton commented that President Bush "likes to hunt quail with family and friends" and Vice President Dick Cheney -- who accidentally shot a member of his quail-hunting party on February 11 -- "loves to hunt," but Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) "spent time posing with guns" during the 2004 presidential campaign, and that "voters probably saw more of him pursuing exotic sports, windsurfing and so on." Morton's jab echoed language Cheney used during the 2004 campaign to attack Kerry as effete and elitist.
Kerry reportedly has been a hunter since the age of 12.
From the February 13 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:
MORTON: Do politicians love to hunt? Well, some. Theodore Roosevelt went after big game, went exploring -- a genuine enthusiast. Dick Cheney loves to hunt. There's been story after story about his hunting trips, though none, fair is fair, quite as dramatic as this last one. Harry Truman? He'd rather have played poker. Dwight Eisenhower organized a partridge hunt in North Africa during World War II and hunted as president. But when he had his druthers, you'd find him on a golf course. John Kennedy? A biographer recalls that Lyndon Johnson bullied him into shooting a deer once on the LBJ Ranch. But he didn't like it, and didn't fish much either. Though, of course, he loved to sail.
MORTON: This president likes to hunt quail with family and friends, especially on New Year's Day. John Kerry, the man he beat, spent time posing with guns. But voters probably saw more of him pursuing exotic sports, windsurfing and so on.
As Morton spoke, CNN aired a photograph of Kerry's October 21, 2004, goose-hunting trip in Ohio, and then switched to video footage of Kerry windsurfing. CNN, however, had reported on October 21, 2004, that Kerry is a longtime hunting enthusiast:
FRANK BUCKLEY (CNN national correspondent): Well, there are sportsmen in many of the battleground states -- in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Missouri, in Florida, in West Virginia -- a number of the battleground states, people hunt. It's a common pastime among the people in all these states, and the point here is to say, look, John Kerry is like you in many ways that you may not know that he was the -- that you may not know that he is like this. You may not know that he hunts, that he's been hunting since he was 12 and 13 years old. That was the point of today's exercise. You're right, Wolf. It wasn't just that he happened to decide to go goose-hunting today. He went goose-hunting today for a political purpose, but that purpose was to say you may not know some things about John Kerry, and one of them is that he likes to hunt.
Moreover, Morton's comments were reminiscent of Cheney's attacks on Kerry during the 2004 election, such as this comment the vice president made at an October 28, 2004, "Q&A" in Schofield, Wisconsin:
CHENEY: I think there's no question but what in my mind he is not a firm believer in the Second Amendment, that the Second Amendment is a lot more than just a photo-op and that you'll find the President and I have records that go back for many, many years that are consistent with a strong, principled belief in the Second Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms, and that we, two, aggressively support those measures that will enhance and encourage the capacity that so many of us enjoy in terms of hunting and fishing and taking advantage of the gifts that we're provided as Americans. We want to protect and preserve that. And frankly, I don't think John Kerry -- I think he's spent too much time windsurfing, instead of hunting and fishing.
Also, Cheney's "hunting" practices seem to differ from traditional hunting ethics and practices. University professor and hunter Scott Denham wrote in a February 14 Charlotte Observer column that Cheney's February 11 quail hunt "broke several basic rules" of hunting -- too many hunters, no dog, and hunting from a vehicle. Denham noted that Cheney himself "broke some of the most basic rules: shooting at a low bird and not being aware of the placement of his hunting party members." Also, as was widely reported in 2003, Cheney and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) took part in a controlled bird hunt on a Pennsylvania game reserve, in which farm-raised birds were released from nets right in front of the hunters. According to a December 28, 2003, Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article, Cheney alone shot at least 70 birds, and the entire 10-person hunting party shot 417 birds.
700 Club anchor touted global warming skeptics' petition reportedly signed by non-scientists, fictitious characters
On the February 9 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, anchor Lee Webb touted a petition he claimed was signed by "more than 17,000 scientists" that "says there is no scientific evidence that greenhouse gasses cause global warming." But the petition Webb cited is more than seven years old and was apparently signed by many people who lack credentials as climate scientists.
Webb promoted the petition during a report on a new initiative by 86 evangelical Christian leaders to fight global warming. The New York Times reported February 8 that the group -- including "the presidents of 39 evangelical colleges, leaders of aid groups and churches, like the Salvation Army, and pastors of megachurches, including Rick Warren, author of the best seller 'The Purpose-Driven Life' " -- signed a statement stating that "climate change is a real problem and that it ought to matter to us as Christians." According to the Times, the statement also calls for, in the newspaper's words, "federal legislation that would require reductions in carbon dioxide emissions through 'cost-effective, market-based mechanisms.' " The Times also noted that a second group of 22 evangelical leaders, including "Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries; James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention," signed a letter "addressed to the National Association of Evangelicals, an umbrella group of churches and ministries, which last year had started to move in the direction of taking a stand on global warming. The letter from the 22 leaders asked the National Association of Evangelicals not to issue any statement on global warming or to allow its officers or staff members to take a position." In his report, Webb stated that the second group of evangelical leaders "point[s] out that more than 17,000 scientists have signed a statement of their own. It says there is no scientific evidence that greenhouse gases cause global warming."
As Media Matters for America has noted, there is broad scientific consensus that the dramatic global warming observed in recent decades is largely attributable to human-released greenhouse gases and other human activities.
According to an April 30, 1998, Associated Press article, the petition "surfaced shortly before the April 22  Earth Day." The petition was a project of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), a group describing itself as "a small research institute" studying "biochemistry, diagnostic medicine, nutrition, preventive medicine, and aging." According to the website PR Watch, OISM "also markets a home-schooling kit for 'parents concerned about socialism in the public schools' and publishes books on how to survive nuclear war." PR Watch reports that although "[t]he OISM website says it has 'six faculty members, several volunteers who work actively on its projects, and a large number of volunteers who help occasionally,'" OISM's "only paid staff person ... is biochemist Arthur Robinson, the Institute's founder and president." OISM's 2003 IRS Form 990 lists Zachary and Noah Robinson -- according to PR Watch, Arthur Robinson's sons -- as unpaid staff spending one half-hour per week working for the institute.
The petition is accompanied by a letter signed by Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and by a paper authored by Arthur and Zachary Robinson and two others. The letter accompanying the petition argues that the Kyoto Protocol -- an international agreement to reduce or limit net emissions of certain greenhouse gases signed in November 1998 by President Clinton but rejected by President Bush shortly after he took office -- is "based upon flawed ideas" and argues that "there is good evidence that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide is environmentally helpful." The paper argues that "increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide ... have produced no deleterious effects upon global weather, climate, or temperature" and that "the effect on the environment [of increased CO2 levels] is likely to be benign" because "[g]reenhouse gases cause plant life, and the animal life that depends upon it, to thrive." PR Watch reports that the paper -- titled "Environmental Effects of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" -- "was printed in the same typeface and format as the official Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences," creating "the impression that Robinson's paper was an official publication of the academy's peer-reviewed journal."
But in an April 20, 1998, statement, NAS clarified that "this petition has nothing to do with the National Academy of Sciences and that the manuscript was not published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences or in any other peer-reviewed journal." The statement added that "[t]he petition does not reflect the conclusions of expert reports of the Academy."
The AP reported Robinson is "a physical chemist" who "acknowledges he has done no direct research into global warming," and PR Watch reported that "[n]one of the coauthors of "Environmental Effects of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide" had any more standing than Robinson himself as a climate change researcher." PR Watch also noted that "[Robinson's] paper had never been subjected to peer review by anyone with training in the field. In fact, the paper had never been accepted for publication anywhere. ... It was self-published by Robinson, who did the typesetting himself on his own computer."
PR Watch also noted that "[w]hen questioned in 1998, ... Robinson admitted that only 2,100 signers of the Oregon Petition had identified themselves as physicists, geophysicists, climatologists, or meteorologists, 'and of those the greatest number are physicists.' " The AP article reported the total number of signatures on the petition as of April, 1998 to be approximately 15,000. The AP reported that Robinson "acknowledged that little attempt was done to verify credentials of those who responded" to the petition, and though the names of the signatories are listed on the OISM website, many of the entries lack academic credentials, none lists a city of residence, and none lists an academic institution with which the signer is affiliated.
Moreover, the AP noted that although Robinson claimed the petition "includes thousands of people 'qualified to speak on this subject' including biochemists, geophysicists and climatologists," he also admitted that "questionable names were added to the petition by pranksters."
From the AP article:
Several environmental groups questioned dozens of the names: "Perry S. Mason" (the fictitious lawyer?), "Michael J. Fox" (the actor?), "Robert C. Byrd" (the senator?), "John C. Grisham" (the lawyer-author?). And then there's the Spice Girl, a.k.a. Geraldine Halliwell: The petition listed "Dr. Geri Halliwell" and "Dr. Halliwell."
Asked about the pop singer, Robinson said he was duped. The returned petition, one of thousands of mailings he sent out, identified her as having a degree in microbiology and living in Boston. "It's fake," he said.
"When we're getting thousands of signatures there's no way of filtering out a fake," Robinson, 56, said in a telephone interview from Oregon.
A May 1, 1998, AP article reported that the petition also bore the signatures of "Drs. '[Maj.] Frank Burns' '[Capt. B.J.] Honeycutt*' and '[Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye"]Pierce'" -- three characters from the hit sitcom M*A*S*H.
A Media Matters for America review of the signatures on the petition revealed that the signatures of these fictitious persons appear to have been removed.
From the February 9 edition of CBN's The 700 Club:
WEBB: The evangelical leaders who oppose the global warming letter point out that more than 17,000 scientists have signed a statement of their own. It says there is no convincing scientific evidence that greenhouse gases cause global warming. Pat, what do you make of this?
ROBERTSON: Well, I make of the fact that some of the evangelicals are being used by the radical left to further their agenda. And if you look further in the agenda of some of the radical environmentalists, they want to shut America down. They just want to shut our industries down and put people out of work. And if need be, we'll have a long, cold winter where we'll all be freezing. As somebody said, ask the folks in up the Ukraine and in Russia how warm it is this year. I mean, it depends on where you live. But, of course, as evangelicals, we should take care of the environment. Of course, we should look after the streams and forests and wildlife and all these other things. But we should not become captives of a radical environmental group that have [sic] an agenda that's far beyond just helping the environment.
* The Internet Movie Database and the website of actor Mike Farrell, who played this character, spell this name "Hunnicut" and "Hunnicutt," respectively. Based on the May 1, 1998, AP report, it is not clear which spelling of the name appeared on the petition.
On the February 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, former Rep. Joe Scarborough (R-FL) -- host of MSNBC's Scarborough Country -- asserted that "there is a shrillness in [Sen.] Hillary [Rodham Clinton (D-NY)] that comes out on TV whenever she gets excited about something." Referring to a speech given by Clinton "a year ago," Scarborough added: "[E]very time her voice goes up, she gets very shrill, very un-Clinton-like, if you're talking about Bill Clinton."
Scarborough's remarks echo those of Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who repeatedly described Clinton as "angry" on the February 5 broadcast of ABC's This Week:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (host): We're just about out of time, but before we go, I have to ask you a question about 2008 and the candidate that all the Democrats are talking about, Hillary Clinton. For the Republicans, is she the dream candidate or the Democrat you most dread?
MEHLMAN: George, one of the things I believe strongly in politics is when you run a derivative campaign, when you run a campaign saying it's not that person, you never win. We're going to focus on who our candidate's going to be, who's going to win. I'll say this, though. I don't think the American people if you look historically elect angry candidates. And whether it's the comments about the plantation or the worst administration in history, Hillary Clinton seems to have a lot of anger. And then when you look at the voting record, there's all this talk of a new Hillary Clinton. The fact is, 96 percent of the time she votes with the Democrats, voting on behalf of the Davos filibuster of [Supreme Court Justice] Sam Alito. I'm not sure that most Americans thought that made sense. Voting against [Chief Justice] John Roberts. I'm not sure most Americans thought that made sense. So there is a lot of talk about a new Hillary Clinton, but if you look at the record, it's a very left-wing record, it's a record where most Americans I don't think think reflects their values. And when you think of the level of anger, I'm not sure it's what Americans want.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've got your talking points ready.
Scarborough appeared as part of a "Hardball Hotshots" panel that also featured Rita Cosby, who hosts MSNBC's Rita Cosby Live & Direct, and Tucker Carlson, the conservative host of MSNBC's The Situation with Tucker Carlson. The panel featured no progressives, and none of the participants disputed Scarborough's claims about Clinton's supposed "shrillness."
Hardball host Chris Matthews, who moderated the panel, also has a history of personal attacks on Clinton. For example, on the July 11, 2005, edition of Hardball, Matthews suggested that Clinton looked "more witchy" because she criticized the Bush administration's homeland security spending priorities the day after the July 7, 2005, London bombings.
From the February 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:
SCARBOROUGH: You know, the thing is about Hillary Clinton, she is -- and just to follow up on what Rita said, she's a very interesting person. You know, conservatives love to hate her from a distance. I can tell you when I met her, she was a very charming person. Her husband, of course, extraordinarily charming, but there is a shrillness in Hillary that comes out on TV whenever she gets excited about something. We saw it this week when she was talking about the war on terror. We saw it, of course, when she was talking at the MLK rally at the church on Martin Luther King Day, and I remember that speech in Iowa she gave about a year ago at the Jackson-Jefferson dinner, where she was marching around, and every time her voice goes up, she gets very shrill, very un-Clinton-like, if you're talking about Bill Clinton, and she just doesn't translate the way her husband does. She doesn't compare favorably when she's standing next to him, and I think that will hurt her in the long run.
Milbank falsely suggested Barr was only attendee of conservative conference to criticize NSA spying program
In his February 11 Washington Post column, titled "Bob Barr, Bane of the Right?" Dana Milbank falsely suggested that former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA) was the lone conservative critic of the National Security Agency's (NSA) warrantless domestic surveillance program to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held February 9-11 in Washington, D.C. Focusing largely on the negative reaction of CPAC attendees to Barr's criticism of the warrantless spying program, Milbank called Barr "the skunk at CPAC's party this year," while omitting the fact that the chairman of CPAC's sponsoring organization and at least one other prominent conservative speaker at the CPAC event have also criticized the program.
Milbank compared the reception Barr received at the event with that of Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, and David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, which sponsored the CPAC event, writing that it was "no surprise" that at the event's silent auction, lunch with Barr reportedly netted only $75 because "fellow conservatives, for the most part, don't want to hear" Barr's position that the NSA spying program is illegal. But in reporting that, by comparison, dinner with Norquist netted $300, while a hunting trip with Keene brought in $1,000, Milbank left out a key fact, the inclusion of which would have undermined his thesis: Keene and Norquist both have joined Barr and the group Patriots to Restore Checks and Balances (PRCB), to urge "lawmakers to use NSA hearings to establish a solid foundation for restoring much needed constitutional checks and balances to intelligence law." According to PRCB's January 17 press release:
"Public hearings on this issue are essential to addressing the serious concerns raised by alarming revelations of NSA electronic eavesdropping." -- Grover Norquist, president, Americans for Tax Reform
"The need to reform surveillance laws and practices adopted since 9/11 is more apparent now than ever. No one would deny the government the power it needs to protect us all, but when that power poses a threat to the basic rights that make our nation unique, its exercise must be carefully monitored by Congress and the courts. This is not a partisan issue; it is an issue of safeguarding the fundamental freedoms of all Americans so that future administrations do not interpret our laws in ways that pose constitutional concerns." -- David Keene, chairman, American Conservative Union
From Milbank's Feb. 11 Washington Post column:
As of midday yesterday, a silent auction netted $300 for lunch with activist Grover Norquist, $275 for a meal with the Heritage Foundation president and $1,000 for a hunting trip with the American Conservative Union chairman. But lunch with former congressman Bob Barr (R-Ga.), with an "estimated value" of $500, had a top bid of only $75 -- even with a signed copy of Barr's book, "The Meaning of Is [Stroud & Hall, 2004]," thrown in.
No surprise there. The former Clinton impeachment manager is the skunk at CPAC's party this year. He says President Bush is breaking the law by eavesdropping on U.S. citizens without warrants. And fellow conservatives, for the most part, don't want to hear it.
As Media Matters for America has noted, numerous other prominent Republicans and conservatives have questioned the legality of the NSA program or otherwise raised concerns, including Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), John McCain (R-AZ), John Sununu (R-NH), and Sam Brownback (R-KS, who was scheduled to speak at the CPAC event but reportedly canceled), as well as Bruce Fein, former deputy attorney general under President Reagan, and Norman J. Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
You ask why our report did not discuss Clinton's first term, and you say that "perhaps it's because statistics from Clinton's first term do not support their ill-defined 'conclusion.' " Later, you call our study "intellectually dishonest." You seem to be suggesting that we analyzed the data from those years, decided it didn't fit the point we wanted to make, and thus excluded it from our public report. That would have been appallingly dishonest, and it is frankly offensive for you to suggest that we have done so. I have been asked in a number of interviews why there is an imbalance on the Sunday shows, and I am always careful to say that we ascribe no sinister intentions to the producers. It is unfortunate that you apparently couldn't bring yourself to extend us the same courtesy.
Let me be clear: We didn't examine the guests from those years, so we have no idea what doing so would have showed. We decided to go back only as far as the second Clinton term because there were gaps in the Lexis-Nexis data, and we had to stop somewhere. Gathering and analyzing the data for all the nine years was itself an enormous task. Since you seem to have a complete list of guests on Meet the Press available, if you send it to us, we would be happy to analyze the first Clinton term.
As for the numbers you provide, it is you who have mixed apples and oranges. You say that for the first Clinton term, the guest breakdown was 56 percent Democrats to 44 percent Republicans. Since you are speaking only of Democrats and Republicans, the relevant comparison in our data is not the overall guest list, which includes not only elected and administration officials but all guests, including journalists; the relevant comparison is the list of elected and administration officials. The numbers for Meet the Press during the years we covered are as follows (these can be found in the appendix of the report):
In addition, you write of your figure of 56 percent Democrats to 44 percent Republicans during Clinton's first term: "How different is that from the first term of President Bush? Well, it's basically the same -- according to Media Matters' own findings -- Republicans accounted for 58 percent of all guests on Sunday shows in President Bush's first term and Democrats accounted for 42% of appearances." But here you are comparing not just apples to oranges, but Granny Smiths to Clementines. Those figures -- 58 percent Republicans/conservatives to 42 percent Democrats/progressives during Bush's first term -- represent all guests on all shows, not simply Democrats and Republicans on Meet the Press. The figure for Republicans and Democrats on Meet the Press during Bush's first term, to repeat, was 62 percent Republicans to 38 percent Democrats, a difference of 24 percentage points, twice as large as the figure you offered for Meet the Press during Clinton's first term.
I would also like to point your attention to the question of journalist guests. Meet the Press regularly features roundtables made up of neutral reporters and conservative opinion writers without any progressives in sight. To take just one example, on October 30, 2005, your show featured a roundtable of David Broder, Judy Woodruff, William Safire, and David Brooks. I would be eager to learn just how you would consider such a panel "balanced." And this is an area in which Meet the Press actually did quite well during the second Clinton term. But as you can see from this table, progressive writers seem to have almost disappeared during the first Bush term:
In short, it appears as though including Clinton's first term would not have undermined our conclusions -- quite the contrary, in fact. I would once again urge you to consider whether Meet the Press is offering the kind of balanced debate that best serves the public interest.
On the February 10 edition of the Christian Broadcasting Network's (CBN) The 700 Club, Washington senior correspondent Paul Strand revived a dubious allegation advanced by conservatives -- that as a racial insult, Democrats threw Oreo cookies at then-candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor Michael Steele at a September 26, 2002, debate. Steele is now running for the U.S. Senate. But as Media Matters for America previously noted, this allegation remains unproven and is disputed by eyewitnesses to the debate at which the incident is alleged to have taken place. In initial news reports on the debate, eyewitnesses made no mention of Oreo cookies. In fact, the alleged story of the Oreo incident has evolved over time, originating well after the debate as a partisan talking point advanced by Steele's Republican allies and gradually gaining traction in the media. Moreover, in affirming the accounts of the alleged Oreo incident put forth by other conservatives, Steele himself has offered varying accounts of what occurred at the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial debate.
News accounts have referenced the alleged Oreo cookie incident as a racial slur of Steele, an African American conservative. In that context, Oreos represent, as the website of Washington, D.C., radio station WTOP noted, a "slur for being black on the outside and white on the inside." During a segment on four African American Republicans currently running for political office, Strand echoed reports of this alleged racial slur.
From the February 10 edition of the CBN's The 700 Club:
STRAND: Michael Steele is the only one of these four who's actually been hassled for being both African American and Republican. Some Maryland Democrats have thrown Oreo cookies at him, accusing him of being black on the outside but white on the inside. He says he's ignoring the noise to stay focused on his dream.
Steele himself has repeatedly referenced the alleged Oreo cookie incident in media interviews, affirming the allegations put forth by other conservatives. For instance, on the January 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, co-host Sean Hannity asked Steele to "tell the story of how you were attacked, and at different events, and who do you think was responsible? They were throwing Oreo cookies at you and the like." Steele replied, "Exactly," elaborating that "Oreo cookies went at our debate [sic] in 2002, with Governor [Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.], were tossed in our direction."
In fact, Steele has offered various accounts of what transpired at the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial debate. The Baltimore Sun reported November 13, 2005, that "Steele was quoted in two articles that appeared in the [September 27, 2002] newspaper talking about the pro-[Democrat Kathleen Kennedy] Townsend crowd [at the debate] and what he called race-baiting by her campaign, but he said nothing about cookies." Yet, according to a November 22, 2002, report by the Capital News Service, Steele later "said an Oreo cookie rolled to his feet during the debate [emphasis added]." The Associated Press reported on November 14, 2005, that according to Steele, "Oreo cookies were tossed in his general direction as he left the debate at Morgan State University [emphasis added]," including two that "rolled up" next to his shoe after "[t]hey fell on the floor." According to a November 15, 2005, article on WTOP's website, Steele claimed he had seen "one or two" Oreo cookies "at my feet" at the debate. But the same WTOP article quoted Steele saying that other accounts of the alleged incident -- such as The Washington Times' S.A. Miller's November 2, 2005, description of Democrats "pelting" Steele with cookies -- were exaggerated:
On Tuesday, Steele told WTOP that he was never hit with Oreos and said the incident has been exaggerated.
"I've never claimed that I was hit, no. The one or two that I saw at my feet were there. I just happened to look down and see them," Steele said.
During a November 16, 2005, appearance on Hannity & Colmes, Steele replied affirmatively when Hannity asserted that liberals had thrown Oreo cookies at him, although neither Steele nor Hannity specifically referenced the 2002 Maryland gubernatorial debate. Steele's January 18 description of Oreo cookies being "tossed in our direction" at the debate was similar to his November 16, 2005, account, but differed from descriptions he offered previously, which mentioned, alternately, no cookies at all, a single cookie rolling to his feet during the debate, multiple cookies tossed in his direction and rolling up next to his shoe as he left the debate, or "one or two" cookies appearing at his feet at the debate.
From the January 18 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:
HANNITY: Can you give us a status report on that and tell the story of how you were attacked, and at different events, and who do you think was responsible? They were throwing Oreo cookies at you and the like.
STEELE: Exactly. The long and short of it is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, is still looking into this matter, with respect to the theft of my Social Security number from court documents and, ultimately, the theft of my credit report by two individuals from the Democratic Senatorial Committee that's headed up by Senator [Chuck] Schumer [D-NY].
So, they're still looking into that. Those employees were fired some 30 or 45 days after the fact was leaked out that this had occurred. But my experience in Maryland running statewide, you know, there was -- there are any number of folks, Democrats and others, who felt that --
HANNITY: Let me --
STEELE: -- "Well, this guy is a threat." And, you know, Oreo cookies went at our debate [sic] in 2002, with Governor Ehrlich, were tossed in our direction.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this.
STEELE: Those types of things are just ignorant.
HANNITY: It is ignorant, and it's sad that, in this day and age, that that happened. There is a reverse racism out there, Michael, and you've suffered under this.
STEELE: Yep. Yep.
HANNITY: And I've had friends of mine that have suffered there. Their only fault is they are conservative and they happen to be an African American. It's disgraceful.
Betsy Fischer, executive producer of Meet the Press, responds to our report:
Media Matters has produced an incomplete and misleading "report" on Sunday morning television. They somehow seek to compare Sunday morning guest appearances for the Bush administration versus the Clinton administration - but for some strange reason they happen to completely omit the first term of President Clinton? Why would they do so - perhaps it's because the statistics from Clinton's first term do not support their ill-defined "conclusion?" (The guest listings for Sunday morning television going back decades are a matter of public record - and readily available in numerous libraries and databases and from the shows themselves.). In fact, we ran the Meet the Press numbers this morning in a matter of hours and found the following:
- During the first two years of the Clinton Administration - when Democrats controlled both the White House and Congress - the breakdown of ideological guests were as follows: 1993 (72 Democrats, 29 Republicans -or a ratio of (71% Dem to 29% GOP); in 1994 ( 71 Democrats and 47 Republicans - or a ratio of 60% Dem to 40% GOP). When both House of Congress shifted to Republican control in 1995 - the number Republican guest appearances also increased and resulted in almost an even number of Republican and Democratic appearances.
- In summary, for the first term of President Clinton (1993-1996), the ideological breakdown of guests on "Meet the Press" was as follows: 260 Democrats to 208 Republicans - for a ratio of 56% Dem to 44% GOP). How different is that from the first term of President Bush? Well, it's basically the same - according to Media Matters own findings - Republicans accounted for 58% of all guests on Sunday shows in President Bush's first term and Democrats accounted for 42% of appearances).
We'd respectfully request that if Media Matters wants to undertake an unbiased look at Sunday show appearances - they do just that - and include statistics from President Clinton's first term - and avoid comparing apples to oranges. Their study as presented is intellectually dishonest.
If It's Sunday, It's Conservative: An analysis of the Sunday talk show guests on ABC, CBS, and NBC, 1997 - 2005
The Sunday-morning talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC are where the prevailing opinions are aired and tested, policymakers state their cases, and the left and right in American politics debate the pressing issues of the day on equal ground. Both sides have their say and face probing questions. Or so you would think.
In fact, as this study reveals, conservative voices significantly outnumber progressive voices on the Sunday talk shows. Media Matters for America conducted a content analysis of ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, and NBC's Meet the Press, classifying each one of the nearly 7,000 guest appearances during President Bill Clinton's second term, President George W. Bush's first term, and the year 2005 as either Democrat, Republican, conservative, progressive, or neutral. The conclusion is clear: Republicans and conservatives have been offered more opportunities to appear on the Sunday shows - in some cases, dramatically so.
Among the study's key findings:
In short, the Sunday talk shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC are dominated by conservative voices, from newsmakers to commentators. The data from the Clinton years indicate that the disparity cannot be explained simply by the fact that Republicans currently control the government.
Help Needy Monterey Families and Children
Children's Services International is a unique and wonderful local non-profit that serves homeless and low-income families and children throughout Monterey County. csichildcare.org
Call to participate 3-6pm PT:
Center for American Progress
Prog. Dems of America
Democracy for America
Daily Kos Blog
The Nation Editors' Picks
The Nation's Weblogs
NY Times Political Reports
MSNBC Political Reports
Log in or create account
Click here: Log in or create account.