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 CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Tuesday September 18, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 149)

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Dan Rather's Patriotic Fervor; MRC Has Taped 1400 Hours of Network Coverage; Time's Case for Rage; Newsweek: "God Bless America"

1) Dan Rather praised President Bush as "Giuliani-esque" for saying, "Osama: Dead or alive." Later on Monday's Late Show he volunteered for the war effort: "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions and...wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where." An emotional Rather broke down twice as he recalled the heroic work of the firefighters and recited a stanza from "America the Beautiful."

2) Time magazine's Lance Morrow argued for rage: "For once, let's have no 'grief counselors' standing by with banal consolations, as if the purpose, in the midst of all this, were merely to make everyone feel better as quickly as possible. We shouldn't feel better."

3) Over the past week the MRC has filled 210 six and eight-hour videotapes with news coverage from nine networks. That's about 1,400 hours taped so far.

4) Updates on recent CyberAlerts: Louis Rukeyser confused Prime Ministers? Another Web site with more options to hear the famous "The Americans" radio commentary. And it's a new media world as the cover of Newsweek announces: "God Bless America."


Dan Rather has done plenty over his career to earn the suspicions of conservatives, but Monday night, on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, Rather displayed emotion and patriotic fervor which all Americans should respect. Rather twice broke down into tears, and had to stop speaking, in what certainly appeared to be genuine outpourings of emotion as he recalled the heroic work of the firefighters and later recited lines from "America the Beautiful."

     Rather wondered: "Who can sing now, with the same meaning we had before, one stanza of that that goes 'so beautiful for patriot's dream, that sees beyond the years, thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears.' We can never say that song again, that way..."

     Rather's appearance on the somber Late Show, the first produced since the terrorist attacks, came after Letterman opened the program with a very emotional chain of thoughts.

     It was quite a contrast to the standard liberal political carping which Bill Maher espoused at the top of ABC's Politically Incorrect as Maher pivoted off the attacks to rail against missile defense, religious believers of all faiths and drug laws.

     Rather generated applause for praising President Bush as "Giuliani-esque" for looking "the camera straight in the eye, unblinking" and saying: "Osama: Dead or alive." Rather later sounded ready to sign-up for the war effort as he declared: "George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions, and, you know, it's just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he'll make the call."

     MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth took down a few quotes from Rather's appearance. Letterman started by asking what had happened during the day. Rather replied:
     "Well, some very interesting things happened this afternoon. President Bush made what I think is his strongest statement yet when he went to the Pentagon this afternoon. He was 'Giuliani-esque.' I don't think he'd mind my saying that, no. No, he looked the camera straight in the eye, unblinking, and said, 'Osama: Dead or alive.' And he also underscored, David, which I think is very important to understand, two things, and the President made this extremely clear. One, this is for the long haul. Wars are won by -- in no particular order -- firepower, willpower, and staying power. And what President Bush was talking about today, I don't think he could have made it any clearer, that we have the firepower, we've mustered the willpower, and unlike the Gulf War, we will have the staying power. That's the message you got out of that."

     A couple of minutes later Rather promised: "But I couldn't feel stronger, David, that this is a time for us, and I'm not preaching about it, George Bush is the President. He makes the decisions, and, you know, it's just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he'll make the call."

     As for why the U.S. has not yet struck back, Rather wisely counseled: "There's a saying in the Far East. Revenge is best served cold. Which is to say, wait your time, take your time. It's also, Rudyard Kipling wrote, that the law of the jungle is, you never lose your temper. Well, we're past that. We've lost our temper. And I'm sorry I've shown [emotion] so clearly here tonight, but there's a rage within in all of us that has to be sort of tempered while we take care of business."

     ++ Rather video. Rather's noteworthy comments and breakdowns are spread apart over the lengthy two-segment appearance, so I'm not even quite sure yet what to highlight, but on Tuesday morning the MRC's Mez Djouadi will post a RealPlayer clip of a portion of Dan Rather's appearance on the Late Show. After 11am EDT, go to: http://www.mrc.org


An early morning e-mail from a CyberAlert reader just reminded me of another passionate entreaty from a member of the mainstream media worthy of admiration. "The Case for Rage and Retribution" blared the headline over the piece by Lance Morrow on the back page of last week's special mid-week Time magazine.

     An excerpt:

For once, let's have no "grief counselors" standing by with banal consolations, as if the purpose, in the midst of all this, were merely to make everyone feel better as quickly as possible. We shouldn't feel better.

For once, let's have no fatuous rhetoric about "healing." Healing is inappropriate now, and dangerous. There will be time later for the tears of sorrow.

A day cannot live in infamy without the nourishment of rage. Let's have rage.

What's needed is a unified, unifying, Pearl Harbor sort of purple American fury -- a ruthless indignation that doesn't leak away in a week or two, wandering off into Prozac-induced forgetfulness or into the next media sensation (O.J.... Elian... Chandra...) or into a corruptly thoughtful relativism (as has happened in the recent past, when, for example, you might hear someone say, "Terrible what he did, of course, but, you know, the Unabomber does have a point, doesn't he, about modern technology?").

Let America explore the rich reciprocal possibilities of the fatwa. A policy of focused brutality does not come easily to a self-conscious, self-indulgent, contradictory, diverse, humane nation with a short attention span. America needs to relearn a lost discipline, self-confident relentlessness -- and to relearn why human nature has equipped us all with a weapon (abhorred in decent peacetime societies) called hatred....

     END Excerpt

     To read Morrow's essay in full, go to: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101010914-174765,00.html


1,400 hours and growing. While the MRC decided to refrain for a reasonable time from documenting any liberal political bias in network coverage of the tragic terrorist acts, so that people can focus on what is really important, we've been keeping quite busy taping all of it for our uniquely thorough video archive. Witness that I'm still at the office at 2:30am typing this after setting tapes for the overnight and morning.

     In the week since the attacks the MRC has kept 16 VCRs going nearly around the clock to tape the three cable news networks 24 hours a day and the three broadcast networks nearly as much, with some double taping of key hours. Plus, approximately 16 hours a day of C-SPAN and CNBC, not to mention PBS at night.

     So far we've used 210 six and eight-hour VHS videotapes. That totals about 1,400 hours of broadcast and cable network news coverage.


Two updates on items in recent CyberAlerts:

     -- Several readers have suggested that PBS's Louis Rukeyser confused Stanley Baldwin with Neville Chamberlain. The September 15 CyberAlert had quoted Rukeyser, who expressed gratitude that no one is "throwing Israel to the wolves as we did Czechoslovakia, a country that, to paraphrase Britain's pre-war Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, seems far away and remote from our practical interests and understanding."

     -- The September 14 CyberAlert reprinted Canadian Gordon Sinclair's 1973 radio commentary, "The Americans." To read it: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010914.asp

     I've since learned that in addition to the Web page I cited, Sinclair's Toronto radio station has posted an article about it and the CFRB Radio Web page features both RealPlayer and mp3 clips of the original commentary as broadcast on June 5, 1973. Go to: http://www.cfrb.com/archives/american.html

     Final thought. It's a new media world. "God Bless America" proclaims the headline on the cover of Newsweek over the now famous photo, taken by Bergen Record photographer Thomas Franklin, of firemen raising a flag at the site of the World Trade Center rubble.

     Let's hope that kind of media attitude endures. --  Brent Baker

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