"Restrain the Israelis?"; Pat Leahy's View Endorsed; FNC's Idea that War is Good vs. Evil Novel for NYT; Brit Hume in Playboy
1) Israel was the victim of an attack by a terrorist
group. But Peter Jennings wanted to know if the Bush administration wished
to "restrain the Israelis?" Jennings also referred to Hamas
simply as an "organization." CBS's Bryant Gumbel offered
Palestinians an excuse: "Is it realistic" for Palestinians to
"ever reach some kind of agreement with Ariel Sharon, a man who has
done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East?"
2) Rather didn't hesitate to apply accurate labels on
Monday night from Kabul: "The few, the proud, the Marines. Ready to
put their lives on the line now in the fight against terrorists who
murdered thousands of innocent Americans September 11th."
3) "I think Pat Leahy is right when he says we have
to be able to hold our head high when this war is over," Steve
Roberts opined in endorsing the liberal Senator's attacks. Roberts
castigated John Ashcroft: "We have to be able to show to the world
that...we've dealt fairly with the people we've captured, and I think that
Ashcroft has put that at risk."
4) Eleanor Clift attributed high public approval for
military tribunals to ignorance. "I don't think most people
understand what we are giving up," she contended as she suggested:
"We need to educate the public about what's going on."
5) White House reporter identified, the one who argued
providing information about terrorists bears "a passing similarity to
what totalitarian societies like East Germany and the Soviet Union used to
do...turn informant, and you'll get rewarded."
6) ABC's This Week roundtable panel voted on whether
Time should make Osama bin Laden its Person of the Year.
7) FNC's portrayal of the war is so novel to other media
that Monday's New York Times carried a story headlined: "Fox
Portrays a War of Good and Evil, and Many Applaud." ABC News
President David Westin insisted his journalists must "maintain their
neutrality in times of war." Fox Chairman Roger Ailes marveled:
"Suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair and balanced,' but
only when it's radical terrorism versus the United States."
8) FNC's Brit Hume is the interviewee in the latest
Playboy. In a posted portion, Hume criticized ABC for banning flag lapel
pins: "The idea that wearing a small symbol, not of a political
administration or a political cause but a flag of the country, means you
have stepped over journalistic lines is ridiculous and unfortunate."
>>> Bernard Goldberg video now up on
the MRC's home page. The MRC's Mez Djouadi has now posted a RealPlayer
clip from MSNBC last June of the former CBS News reporter discussing
liberal media bias with host Mike Barnicle. His appearance followed an
op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. As reported in the December 3
CyberAlert, Goldberg has penned a book, Bias: A CBS News Insider Exposes
How the Media Distort the News. It hasn't made book stores yet and its
publisher, Regnery, does not yet list it on its Web site, www.regnery.com.
But you can order it online from Amazon.com:
To view the RealPlayer video of Goldberg, go
Jennings, Palestinian sympathizer first, journalist second? Israel was the
victim of a murderous terrorist attack by a terrorist group, Hamas, which
claimed credit. But on Monday night Jennings wanted to know if the Bush
administration wished to "restrain the Israelis?" Jennings also
tried to absolve Yasser Arafat of responsibility as he referred to Hamas
simply as an "organization." He asserted: "There's some
question as to whether Mr. Arafat can really control organizations like
Imagine wondering on September 13 how to
"restrain" the Bush administration's reaction to an
"organization" which completed suicide bombings two days before.
Jennings' assessments came during a World
News Tonight q and a with White House reporter Terry Moran. Jennings'
first of two questions: "Terry, the Bush administration wish to
restrain the Israelis at this point?"
Moran replied: "Not really, Peter, and that
stands in sharp contrast to the way this administration has responded to
previous flare-ups of Middle Eastern violence when, yes, they've called
on Yasser Arafat to quell the violence, but they've also called on
Israel for restraint. Not this time. This time all the pressure is on
Yasser Arafat. Israel's right to self-defense is being explicitly
recognized, although that could change over the next couple of days if
Israel's response reaches an unbearable point."
Jennings followed up: "Now there's some
question as to whether Mr. Arafat can really control organizations like
Hamas, but does Mr. Bush intend to get any more personally involved?"
Moran: "Well at the moment, no. The pattern
in this administration so far has been to leave most of the heavy lifting
to Secretary of State Colin Powell, and now his envoy in the region,
General Zinni. There is no sign at this point of more direct involvement,
although the President did speak with Israeli Prime Minister Sharon
yesterday, but not in the minute-to-minute, hour-to hour crisis management
by President Bush."
On Monday morning, MRC analyst Brian Boyd
noticed, Bryant Gumbel also asked about restraining Israel, though he also
inquired about restraining Arafat. But less than 48 hours after Israel was
a victim of terrorism, Gumbel put the burden on Israel's Prime Minister
for having "done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle
During the December 3 Early Show interview
with former Senator George Mitchell, Gumbel inquired: "You saw the
tape, Secretary Powell chiding Yasser Arafat for not restraining those
terrorist forces that he says are under his command. Do you think it is
within his capability to restrain those forces, to restrain Hamas and
Gumbel followed up: "Should this
administration be taking the same efforts to restrain Sharon, should they
be acting much more even handed than they have been?"
Gumbel then proposed: "Is it realistic,
Senator, to think that the Palestinians, whoever is in charge, would ever
reach some kind of agreement with Ariel Sharon, a man who has done so much
to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East?"
Rather remains willing to apply accurate labeling. After a Monday night
story on some Marines in Afghanistan setting up a base of operations, from
Kabul Rather closed the December 2 CBS Evening News:
"The few, the proud, the Marines. Ready to
put their lives on the line now in the fight against terrorists who
murdered thousands of innocent Americans September 11th."
Roberts of U.S. News & World Report prefers Senator Patrick Leahy's
approach to the one being pursued by Attorney General John Ashcroft.
"I think Pat Leahy is right when he says we have to be able to hold
our head high when this war is over," the former New York Times
reporter declared on CNN's Late Edition. He castigated Ashcroft:
"We have to be able to show to the world that not only have we won,
we've won fairly, and we've dealt fairly with the people we've captured,
and I think that Ashcroft has put that at risk."
The comments from Roberts came during the
panel segment on the December 2 show, which host Wolf Blitzer set up:
"The other contentious issue that the debate in Washington, Steve,
over some of the extra-constitutional, if you will, measures that are
being taken -- military tribunals, detaining individuals. In the latest
Washington Post/ABC News poll, 'Is the U.S. justified in detaining 600
people in its September 11 investigation?' 86 percent say yeah,
justified; only 12 percent, not justified."
Blitzer observed: "On this specific
issue, the American public, all of the polls say, overwhelmingly supports
Attorney General John Ashcroft."
But Roberts was not persuaded the public is
correct: "Well, that's certainly true. And you would expect that. I
mean, there is a general sense of patriotism in the country. And, look,
civil liberties is never popular. And it's easy to stand up for individual
rights when it's a popular issue. It's hard when everybody else is against
"And I think that Pat Leahy is doing a good
job in saying, look, yes, we are at war, John Ashcroft says we're at war,
we are at war. But there are two wars, there's a military war, and there's
a war for propaganda, there's a war for values, and there's a war for
"And when I think Pat Leahy is right when he
says we have to be able to hold our head high when this war is over -- not
just win it, but win it in the right way. Because the military phase is
only the beginning. The whole Muslim world, in many ways, is in turmoil.
We have to be able to show to the world that not only have we won, we've
won fairly, and we've dealt fairly with the people we've captured, and I
think that Ashcroft has put that at risk."
reporter Eleanor Clift attributed high public approval for military
tribunals to ignorance. "I don''t think most people understand
what we are giving up," she contended on FNC last Thursday night as
she suggested: "We need to educate the public about what's going
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down her
comment uttered on the November 29 edition of FNC's 10pm EST War on
"Americans are frightened and they want to
believe that this President can get us through this period in our lives.
And I think right now the military is held in high regard, and if you ask
the person on the street whether they think a terrorist should be tried by
a military tribunal it sounds very good. Which is why we need a debate,
because I don't think most people understand what we are giving up when
we say that blanket, across the broad swath of people who are being picked
up, that they are subject to being essentially tried before a court where
the evidence is secret, where the Secretary of Defense makes the rules,
where a death penalty can be ordered without any grounds for appeal, and I
think, you know, we need to educate the public about what's going
Let's educate them to disbelieve whatever
reporter identified as, probably, Ken Fireman of Newsday.
The November 30 CyberAlert reported how a
bearded male reporter posed this question to Ari Fleischer during the
November 29 White House press briefing: "Back on the subject of the
'responsible cooperator' program that the Attorney General announced
today. Does it not make the administration uncomfortable to be
promulgating a program that bears at least passing similarity to what
totalitarian societies like East Germany and the Soviet Union used to do,
which is to say to people: Turn informant, and you'll get rewarded?"
I asked for help identifying the reporter and
got one suggestion: Tim Graham of World magazine thought it was Ken
Fireman of Newsday, the Tribune-owned daily on New York's Long Island.
What Fireman wrote in his November 30 Newsday story seems to confirm his
Fireman reported: "The program, however,
drew a sharply negative response from one of the nation's most prominent
Arab-American groups, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. For
one thing, said spokesman Hussein Ibish, the name of the program contains
a word -- 'cooperator' -- that has an extremely negative connotation
in Arabic and is likely to deter rather than encourage participation.
'What it implies is someone who sells himself,' said Ibish. 'It's a
poor choice of words.' He said the term recalled previous linguistic
gaffes by the government in its anti-terror campaign, including President
George W. Bush's description of it as a 'crusade' and the Pentagon's
quickly rescinded code name of 'Infinite Justice,' both of which
rankled Arabic sensibilities."
During Friday's briefing the same reporter
who posed the question on Thursday quoted above asked Fleischer about how
"cooperator" might offend Muslims and how it isn't the first
time the administration has poorly chosen its words.
To read Fireman's November 30 Newsday story,
For a picture of the reporter I now believe is
Fireman, go to:
panel on ABC's This Week on Sunday offered their opinions on whether
Time magazine should pick Osama bin Laden as its Person of the Year, the
person who "has had the most impact for better or worse."
ABC News reporter Claire Shipman:
Co-host Cokie Roberts: "Of course not."
Commentator George Will: "Yes."
Co-host Sam Donaldson: "I say Time should do
it, but I don't think Time will do it."
That's three-to-one in favor.
News Channel's portrayal of the war as a battle between "good and
evil" is such a novel concept to much of the media that the New York
Times on Monday devoted a whole story to the subject under the headline:
"Fox Portrays a War of Good and Evil, and Many Applaud."
Reporter Jim Rutenberg explained at the top of
his December 3 story: "Ever since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11,
the network has become a sort of headquarters for viewers who want their
news served up with extra patriotic fervor. In the process, Fox has pushed
television news where it has never gone before: to unabashed and vehement
support of a war effort, carried in tough-guy declarations often
expressing thirst for revenge."
Fox Chairman Roger Ailes told Rutenberg that
unlike the other networks, "we just do not assume that America's
ABC News President David Westin, naturally,
"said it was important for his journalists to maintain their
neutrality in times of war. 'The American people right now need at least
some sources for their news where they believe we're trying to get it
right, plain and simply,' he said, 'rather than because it fits with
any advocacy we have.'"
The great come back from Ailes, playing on
FNC's slogan: "Suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair and
balanced,' but only when it's radical terrorism versus the United
An excerpt from the December 3 New York Times
story by Jim Rutenberg:
Osama bin Laden, according to Fox News Channel anchors, analysts and
correspondents, is "a dirtbag," "a monster" overseeing
a "web of hate." His followers in Al Qaeda are "terror
goons." Taliban fighters are "diabolical" and
The usual anchor role of delivering the news free of personal opinion
has been altered to include occasional asides. On a recent edition of the
network's 5 p.m. program, "The Big Story," the anchor, John
Gibson, said that military tribunals were needed to send the following
message to terrorists: "There won't be any dream team for you. There
won't be any Mr. Johnnie hand-picking jurors and insisting that the
headgear don't fit, you must acquit. Uh-uh. Not this time, pal."...
So far, the journalistic legacy of this war would seem to be a debate
over what role journalism should play at a time of war. The Fox News
Channel is the incarnation of a school of thought that the morally neutral
practice of journalism is now inappropriate.
It has thrown away many of the conventions that have guided television
journalism for half a century, and its viewers clearly approve. The
network's average audience of 744,000 viewers at any given moment is 43
percent larger than it was at this time last year -- helped along by a
sizable increase in distribution.
On some days, Fox draws an audience even larger than the audience of
CNN, part of AOL Time Warner; CNN is available in nine million more homes.
In prime time, Fox draws a larger average audience than CNN even more
often, a challenge to CNN that could become stronger as Fox's distribution
Like the rest of the country, television journalism has engaged in a
good bit of soul-searching since Sept. 11. Faced with covering a direct,
large-scale attack on American soil, people at the other television
networks have debated the merits of wearing American flag lapel pins in
front of cameras and the danger of letting emotions get in the way of
objective reporting. Others, like executives at the Reuters news agency,
have cautioned writers and editors about using the word
Such hand-wringing has become fodder for conservative press critics.
But Fox has not been saddled with such problems.
The network's motto is "fair and balanced," a catch phrase
drafted to imply that it is objective while its competitors carry a
liberal bias. But in this conflict, Fox executives say, to be
unequivocally fair and balanced is to participate in the worst kind of
cultural relativism. Giving both sides equal credence is to lose touch
with right and wrong, they contend.
Fox denies that its reports are tinged with ideology. They simply
reflect the new realities facing the nation, the network says.
"What we say is terrorists, terrorism, is evil, and America
doesn't engage in it, and these guys do," said Roger Ailes, the Fox
News chairman. "Yet, suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair
and balanced,' but only when it's radical terrorism versus the United
Fox does not suffer from the same affliction as competitors who are
"uncomfortable embracing a good-versus-evil canvas," argued John
Moody, the Fox senior vice president in charge of news. That, he said, is
a relic of the Vietnam War and Watergate, watershed eras that infused
journalism with an outmoded, knee-jerk suspicion of government.
The Fox News mantra of "be accurate, be fair, be American,"
Mr. Moody said, is appropriate for the times.
Brit Hume, the anchor of "Special Report," Fox's 6 p.m. news
program, said he had avoided giving too much weight to reports about
civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
"O.K., war is hell, people die," he said. "We know we're
at war. The fact that some people are dying, is that really news? And is
it news to be treated in a semi-straight-faced way? I think not."...
"We are not anti-the United States," Mr. Ailes said. "We
just do not assume that America's wrong first."
It may be a good time to have that position. A survey released on
Wednesday by the Pew Research Center of 1,500 adult Americans found that
30 percent wanted their newscasters to take a pro-American stance during
Alex S. Jones, the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the
Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, said that by
reporting the news with such an American perspective, Fox News was failing
to explain the evolution of the other side's motivation against the United
"I think people need to understand what's going on on the other
side of the equation, how the U.S. is viewed by its critics," he
Mr. Ailes said the Fox network did as much of that as was necessary.
"Look, we understand the enemy -- they've made themselves clear:
they want to murder us," he said. "We don't sit around and get
all gooey and wonder if these people have been misunderstood in their
childhood. If they're going to try to kill us, that's bad."...
END of Excerpt
To read the entire story, if registered with
New York Times online:
Hume is the January 2002 Playboy "Interview" subject. Playboy
has only posted the introduction to the interview and one question and
answer, but in that answer Hume lectured his former employer, ABC News,
about their policy banning the wearing of flag lapel pins.
Playboy's question: "Will journalism
change in the wake of September 11?"
Hume's answer: "It already has. The lines
have been drawn. One way has been the issue of the type of attitude
journalists are supposed to have. Are they allowed to display their
patriotism or is that a sin? The debate has exposed a fault line in
American journalism that is not attractive. At its most basic level, is it
all right for a journalist to wear a flag pin in his or her lapel? Several
news organizations, including, I'm sorry to say, ABC News, have adopted
policies that one may not. There's a sense that journalists must hold
themselves above and apart from the people they serve. I disagree. The
idea that wearing a small symbol, not of a political administration or a
political cause but a flag of the country, means you have stepped over
journalistic lines is ridiculous and unfortunate. At Fox, no one is
required to wear -- and no one is prohibited from wearing -- a flag. But
every journalism professor who has written on the subject opposes it. One
of them wrote that he doesn't like to mix his patriotism with his
professionalism, as if the two were somehow at war."
Online you can read Playboy's lengthy
introduction which outlines the growth of the Fox News Channel and reviews
Hume's journalistic career, including how Ralph Nader gave him the
opportunity for a journalistic investigation that led to a book which
brought Hume to national prominence. Go to: http://www.playboy.com/magazine/current/interview01.html
To read the interview itself, you'll have to
buy the magazine or sign up for Playboy.com's paid access service.
But that way you'll get the pictures too.
I'm looking forward to being able to combine learning Brit Hume's view
of the media and how FNC sees its role while simultaneously seeing photos
of beautiful women. Thanks, Brit, for a work-related rationale to buy
-- Brent Baker
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