CBS News glossed over Bolton criticism


CBS News coverage of President Bush's March 7 announcement that he plans to nominate Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton as the United States ambassador to the United Nations did not include information about the strong criticism directed at Bolton's nomination. While NBC reported on Bolton's public disdain for the U.N., and ABC reported on bipartisan concern over Bolton's nomination and his past alienation of foreign leaders, CBS anchor Dan Rather noted only that Bolton "has often criticized the U.N. and its policies."

From the March 7 edition of the CBS Evening News:

RATHER: President Bush today nominated veteran diplomat John Bolton as the next U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton, currently an undersecretary of state for arms control, has often criticized the U.N. and its policies. Today, however, Bolton said, and I quote, "Working closely with others is essential to ensure a safe world," unquote.

In contrast, on the March 7 edition of NBC's Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams noted that Bolton "has been a harsh critic of the United Nations" and "criticized the U.N. for not taking stronger stands against" Iran and North Korea; on March 8, NBC's Today highlighted criticism of Bolton by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and reported that "Bolton did once say if the U.N. building lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of a difference."

On the March 7 broadcast of ABC's World News Tonight, anchor Peter Jennings noted that Bolton has "long expressed public disdain for the U.N.," adding: "Some people at the U.N. today thought that President Bush was poking a stick in their eye." ABC's report also noted several of Bolton's past controversial comments and cited Democrats' -- and at least one Republican's -- concerns about his nomination:

JENNINGS: [Bolton] once said, "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, the United States."


JONATHAN KARL (ABC News senior foreign affairs correspondent): To say that John Bolton has been a critic of the United Nations is an understatement. In a speech he said the U.N. building "in New York has 38 stories. If it lost ten stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference."


KARL: For the past four years, he has staked out hard-line positions on Iran and North Korea, calling both countries evil and opposing direct talks with either of them. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il refused to let his negotiators talk to Bolton, saying, "Such human scum and bloodsucker is not entitled to take part in the talks." Harry Reid [D-NV], the Senate's top Democrat, predicted a confirmation battle. And John Kerry asked, why would President Bush "choose someone who has expressed such disdain for working with our allies?" Republican senator Chuck Hagel [R-NE] sounded a cautious note.

HAGEL: The United Nations is critical to that. At the same time, it needs reform. It needs reform badly. And to just -- to go up there and kick the United Nations around doesn't get the job done.

KARL: At the U.N. today, several top diplomats said they are concerned about Bolton, but hope that his views will change once he gets to the United Nations.

Rather's report was the only mention of Bolton's nomination on either CBS' Evening News or The Early Show.

Posted In
Government, Nominations & Appointments
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