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MANAGERS OF THE YEAR! Limbaugh savaged “Tokyo Tom.” Brokaw and Kurtz left that out:


THAT FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF THE PRESS CORPS: There’s been good news and bad news in Week One of the Gore reemergence. Clearly, some news orgs are trying to be more fair. In his “News Analysis” in this morning’s Times, for example, Adam Nagourney shows signs of this impulse. But from March 99 right up to the present, the corps’ conduct toward Gore has been egregious, and they have no intention of telling you that. They simply can’t tell you What Scarborough Said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/20/02). For that reason, reporters have to fake and fib when they tell you about Gore’s situation. Nagourney does plenty of that today too. Remember—this press corps won’t tell you about its own conduct. Incomparably, we’ll deconstruct Nagourney’s piece in a very-special Saturday HOWLER.

THE HIT NBC SHOW, FRIENDS: All the news that fit preferred scripts—that’s what you got at NBC when Brokaw limned his new best friend. Here’s the full text of a segment from Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News:

BROKAW: And as the 107th Congress came to a close today, outgoing Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle had some comments on the tone of political discourse in this country, saying that threats have increased against him and his family. He blames talk show host Rush Limbaugh and, quote, “all the Rush Limbaugh wannabes for an increasingly negative tone in politics.” Daschle said some people don’t seem to know the difference between entertainment and politics, and if they are then, quote, “energized to go out and hurt somebody,” he went on to say, “that troubles me about where politics in this country is going.” Limbaugh countered by saying that Daschle’s comments are a Democratic Party strategy to undermine the power of his talk show.
What did Brokaw airbrush away? Brokaw failed to report what Limbaugh has said. For example, here are some Limbaugh limnings from last Friday’s program. We got them courtesy of Spinsanity’s Bryan Keefer. Unlike Brokaw, Keefer is someone who gives you the newsworthy facts. As usual, Limbaugh took the coward’s route, “talking to” someone who wasn’t there to respond:
LIMBAUGH: There’s a very high likelihood we’re going to even face additional terrorist attacks ... No country is safe from this threat, not even us, no country is going to be perfect in its efforts to fight it. And Senator Daschle, you know this. Just as you know that you are hoping to benefit politically when our economy stagnates and people lose jobs, you are hoping to politically benefit with the next terrorist attack. And that’s what this comment of yours was about yesterday, Senator, and that’s what make it so despicable. This is almost the Wellstone memorial all over again. You know another attack is going to happen and you’re setting it up so that you can say, “See I told you so and this President [did] nothing to stop it.” You are seeking political advantage in the war on terrorism just exactly as you sought political advantage after the war on terrorism started on September 11. Just as you sought political advantage with the economy plundering [sic], just as you sought political advantage with the stock market collapse, just as you sought political advantage with the corporate scandals.

You seek political advantage with the nation at war. There is no greater testament to the depths to which the Democratic Party and liberalism have fallen. You now position yourself, Senator Daschle, to exploit future terrorist attacks for political gain. You are worse, sir, than the ambulance-chasing tort lawyers that make up your chief contributors. You, sir, are a disgrace. You are a disgrace to patriotism, you are a disgrace to this country, you are a disgrace to the Senate, and you ought to be a disgrace to the Democratic Party but sadly you’re probably a hero among some of them today...

Way to demoralize the troops, Senator! What more do you want to do to destroy this country than what you’ve already tried? [pounding table] It is unconscionable what this man has done! This stuff gets broadcast around the world, Senator. What do you want your nickname to be? Hanoi Tom? Tokyo Tom? You name it, you can have it apparently. You sit there and pontificate on the fact that we’re not winning the war on terrorism when you and your party have done nothing but try to sabotage it, which you are continuing to do. This little speech of yours yesterday, and this appearance of yours on television last night, let’s call it what it is. It’s nothing more than an attempt to sabotage the war on terrorism for your own personal and your party’s political gain. This is cheap. And it’s beneath even you. And that’s pretty low.

Let’s see. According to Limbaugh’s fair-and-balanced comments, Daschle wants to sabotage the war on terror. He also wants to demoralize the troops and destroy the country. And he’s earned the nicknames Hanoi and Tokyo Tom. But viewers of NBC Nightly News won’t worry their heads with such newsworthy data. Indeed, all around the mainstream media, incompetent or dissembling “journalists” have airbrushed Limbaugh’s behavior away. Readers, you live in a time of managed news—and the problem goes well beyond Brokaw.

Limbaugh presents an intriguing case. For years, the mainstream press has made a point of refusing to cover his important program. In effect, Limbaugh broadcasts from our “tribal areas”—a lawless region where pundits don’t tread. Brokaw knew not to visit this region. But so did they all. Just read on.

POST-MAN’S SAMPLER: Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post’s “media reporter,” knows to keep far away from the tribal lands from which Rush Limbaugh broadcasts. Here’s the astounding way he began his Thursday on-line column:

KURTZ: Has Tom Daschle lost a couple of screws?

Did the normally mild-mannered senator accuse Rush Limbaugh of inciting violence?

He came pretty darn close. There were cameras there. You can watch the replay.

We can understand that Daschle is down, just having lost his majority leader’s job and absorbed plenty of blame for this month’s Democratic debacle.

What we can’t understand is how the South Dakotan can suggest that a mainstream conservative with a huge radio following is somehow whipping up wackos to threaten Daschle and his family.

Has the senator listened to Rush lately? Sure, he aggressively pokes fun at Democrats and lionizes Republicans, but mainly about policy. He’s so mainstream that those right-wingers Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert had him on their Election Night coverage.

Incredible, isn’t it? According to Kurtz, Rush “pokes fun at Dems.” Limbaugh is mainstream, he insists (indeed, the other friends prove it). But nowhere in the reporter’s piece does he mention what Rush really said. Instead, he peddles these “samples:”
KURTZ: Here’s a sample of some of Limbaugh’s “harsh” rhetoric:

“Guess who John F. Kerry is getting presidential candidacy advice from, ladies and gentlemen? None other than The Loser, Michael S. Dukakis. I don’t think God is generous enough to give us another liberal Massachusetts Democrat to run against.”

And: “Another interesting observation is a Sally Quinn piece from the Washington Post this past weekend titled, ‘All Dough And No Mo.’ She’s the only writer who called ‘Bubba vs. Dubya’ right. Before the election, the press billed it as a war between the two—but after the election, nobody reported how it went. Bubba just disappeared. Even though her column contains a whole lot of Barbra Streisand BS, she does mention that the ideas of Bush soundly defeated the non-ideas of Bill Clinton.”

Golly gee. We’ve heard worse on “Crossfire.”

Land o’ goshen! But where in the world did Kurtz get his “samples?” Apparently not in the wild tribal lands which good pundits know to ignore.

MANAGEMENT SKILLS: Increasingly, you live in a land of managed news, and no plays the fool any better than those self-described “all-stars” at Fox. On Wednesday evening’s Special Report, they spent a whole segment on Rush-and-Tom matter. None of them showed the slightest sign of knowing the sorts of things Rush has said. They did, of course, know just how to spin it. Fred seems to think just like Howie:

BARNES: I think these are really appalling charges. I mean, he’s blaming Rush Limbaugh for stirring up death threats on him and his family. Well, is there any empirical evidence for this?

I doubt if [Daschle has] listened a lot to Rush Limbaugh. Rush Limbaugh a pretty conventional conservative, you know. He talks up—he was a big supporter of Bush One and now he’s a supporter of George W. Bush as president and the Bush agenda. He’s not an extremist. He’s a conventional conservative, as are so many talk radio people…

For conservatives, [talk radio] is a very popular medium, where people get a lot of information. Now what information do they get from Rush Limbaugh? For heaven’s sakes, he does such radical things as read editorials from The Wall Street Journal. Boy, that will really drive people to an emotional frenzy!

Ludicrous, isn’t it? But then, all the “all-stars” were flummoxed by Daschle. And none of them—not Barnes, nor Mara Liasson, not Jeff Birnbaum, not Brit—mentioned what Rush had actually said. Of course, we shouldn’t assume that they had naughty motives. Total ignorance of simple facts is SOP on this sad program.

The pattern continued last night. On the O’Reilly Factor, O’Rerilly asked Steve Rendall for a quote from Rush. Rendall was unprepared. Crossfire did a segment on the matter. James Carville was unprepared. On CNN programs, Jonathan Karl kept taking Limbaugh’s side—but he didn’t mention what Limbaugh had said. On Hannity & Colmes, Nancy Skinner actually did have the quotes, but was ineffective in her presentation. Here’s what Sean said when she tried to read them. For once, this nasty man told the truth:

SKINNER: I will tell you, it wasn’t just—he wasn’t just accused of being an obstructionist. He was accused by Rush Limbaugh of being a disgrace to patriotism, a disgrace to his country. He called him—


SKINNER: No, let me finish, Sean. He said that Daschle was deliberately sabotaging the war on terrorism for his own personal gain—

HANNITY: And Nancy, I know you got your Daschle talking points. I don’t want to hear them. I don’t want to hear them. That’s not what I asked you.

Truer words were never spoken. Sean didn’t want her viewers to hear what Rush said. Neither did Alan Colmes, apparently. Colmes also made a point of saying how unfair the charges were. Skinner never got a chance to read the things Limbaugh had said.

But what was the saddest sight to see? Rush’s standard dissembling. In yesterday’s New York Times, David Firestone recorded part of his reaction:

FIRESTONE: On his show [Wednesday], Mr. Limbaugh said the accusation was part of a pattern by Democrats to blame him and talk radio for their Election Day losses, and said the Democrats were trying to counter his influence.

“It’s not just against me,” he said, “but it’s against you folks, the entire audience. You all now are being characterized as unsophisticated barbarians. You don’t know the difference between politics and entertainment.”

Whenever Rush gets into these scrapes, he hides behind the “entertainment” card. Will Kurtz—and Brokaw—let him stay there? We’re waiting to see if they dare to go to the tribal lands from which this man broadcasts.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: If it’s managed news you want, you know where to turn. Here is some typical work from today’s

GORE’S GREAT TIMING: Two headlines from the Washington Post today:

“Gore: Bush Loses Terror Focus
2000 Rival Says Focus on Iraq Aided GOP but Not Nation”

“U.S. Identifies Captured Al Qaeda Official
Suspected Head of USS Cole Bombing Caught Earlier This Month”

Still got that winning touch, hasn’t he?

Sully is spinning you blue on the “timing.” The al Qaeda official, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was captured several weeks ago. Quite probably, his name was finally released on Thursday because of Gore’s criticisms earlier in the week. Meanwhile, Sullivan simply spins you blue about the “timing” of those headlines. The Gore headline appeared in Thursday’s Post. The other headline only appeared on-line—later on in the day, after al-Nashiri’s name was released. The fact of al-Nashiri’s capture is the page-one lead in today’s Post.

None of this has a thing to do with the merits of Gore’s critique, of course. It has to do with managing news. But then, as the mainstream press falls in line with New Power, it sometimes seems that if it weren’t for managed news, we’d get no news at all.