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 CyberAlert Weekend Edition

The 1,244th CyberAlert. Tracking Media Bias Since 1996
Friday March 15, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 43)
Printer Friendly Version

Two Hours Pushing Rosie's Agenda; "Flag Waving" Has "Infected Journalism"; NBC on the Real Arafat; Fonda's Vietnam Revisionism

1) ABC devoted two hours of its prime time Thursday night to the personal and political agenda of liberal activist/actress/TV talk show host Rosie O'Donnell so she could press her cause to overturn a Florida law which bars gay and lesbian couples from adopting kids. Lest there be any doubt that ABC centered the show around O'Donnell's views, the network fawningly titled the program, "Rosie's Story: For the Sake of the Children."

2) The Boston Globe reported that CNN's Christiane Amanpour complained "that a flag-waving fervor seems to have infected journalism, pointing to 'a definite sense of patriotism in the American media since Sept. 11....I think people are afraid of challenging the administration.'"

3) Thursday's NBC Nightly News featured a refreshing piece by Andrea Mitchell who documented how Yasser Arafat regularly promises peace while at the very same time urging his followers to murder Israelis: "On January 27th Arafat tells Israeli television: 'My hand is outstretched in peace.' But earlier that same day, to a Palestinian women's march, he called for 'jihad' -- holy war. And within hours the first female suicide bomber blows herself up on a busy Jerusalem street."

4) The failure of Virginia's legislature to ask residents to enact a higher sales tax prompted the Washington Post to assume a tax hike is desirable as it examined "what went wrong."

5) Former NBC News reporter Star Jones was baffled on ABC's The View by disgust at Jane Fonda: "I've been floored by the number of e-mails this show received even now from Vietnam veterans." Fonda claimed she opposed the war in order to save U.S. soldiers: "I discovered that we had been lied to and that tens of thousands of American men had died because our leaders wouldn't admit that they'd made a mistake." She insisted veterans are mad at her only because they cannot "face" how the government lied to them.

6) Sam Donaldson for Senate? The New York Post speculated on Thursday that he may run for a New Mexico seat.


ABC's social attitude adjustment agenda, "for the children." In the worst kept secret in years, on Thursday night Rosie O'Donnell announced to an ABC audience that she's a lesbian. Her "revelation" occurred during a two-hour special edition of Prime Time Thursday, a "special event" in the words of host Diane Sawyer, devoted to promoting a pet cause of O'Donnell's, allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt kids and, specifically, her quest to overturn a Florida law which bars homosexual foster parents from adopting.

     Lest there be any doubt that O'Donnell's personal views set the agenda for the show which she appeared throughout to talk both about her sexuality and adoption, ABC fawningly titled the program, "Rosie's Story: For the Sake of the Children."

     ABC nearly turned over its entire broadcast schedule on Thursday to the liberal O'Donnell's cause, with Good Morning America featuring two lengthy excerpts from the Sawyer interview with her as well as a preview of what led the prime time show, the most sympathetic look possible at the subject: a profile of two gay men who have taken into their foster home several HIV-positive kids who no one else wanted, but now the kids face losing the only parents they've ever known since Florida law says they should be adopted by a heterosexual couple. After the second O'Donnell interview segment, actress Rene Russo announced that she was raised by lesbians.

     Thursday's World News Tonight also ran a clip from the segment with the poster gay parents.

     On GMA, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, O'Donnell proclaimed her new mission in life now that she's ending her day time TV show in May, a mission with a political edge which ABC News helped fulfill: "I'm leaving [The Rosie O'Donnell Show] because I feel as though I've done everything I wanted to do. I will continue to raise money and awareness about the rights of children in a country where they have no rights, and that's what my mission and my life is, that's what I've always felt would be my mission in life, would be to help raise awareness of the plight of children in this country."

     GMA also highlighted the portion of the interview in which O'Donnell declared President Bush "wrong" to say a family with a mom and a dad are better for kids and she invited George and Laura Bush to come stay with her and her partner, an ex-Nickelodeon cable TV channel executive, to prove their fitness.

     It's hard to provide a thorough rundown for a two-hour show, and I missed a half hour of it, but I think it's safe to say ABC had no intention of delivering a balanced look at the controversial subject. The show began, as noted above, with the most sympathetic case study one could imagine, two gay men in a long term relationship who were willing to take in HIV-positive kids. After lengthy interview segments with O'Donnell, about 45 minutes into the show Sawyer did allow some opponents of gay adoption to suggest why placing kids with heterosexual couples is preferable, but their arguments were immediately dismissed as either naive or just plain wrong by "experts" Sawyer highlighted.

     The last 20 minutes of the program was dedicated to having kids, from what appeared to be barely six-years-old to their early teens, declaring that they love their gay or lesbian foster parents and that they are just as caring, stable and nurturing as heterosexual parents. As if the kids have any basis of comparison.

     O'Donnell has an ally at another network for her agenda. On Thursday's Entertainment Tonight, NBC's Matt Lauer asserted: "She's a good friend and I support her 100 percent." A few weeks ago on The View, Barbara Walters and the rest of the show's gang made it clear they don't understand how anyone could oppose letting gay couples adopt.

     One subject not raised by Sawyer with O'Donnell: Why O'Donnell, a New York City native who tapes her show at Rockefeller Center, lives in Florida, a state without an income tax. Could it be that the liberal O'Donnell who advocates higher government spending is trying to avoid the state income taxes she'd have to pay if she officially resided in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut?


CNN's Christiane Amanpour complained that the Bush team "is getting a lot of cover" from journalists because patriotism in the media means reporters "are afraid of challenging the administration."

     Amanpour made the comments, which FNC's Brit Hume highlighted Thursday night, at a March 13 forum held a day after Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy gave her an award for lifetime excellence in investigative reporting.

     In the March 14 Boston Globe, Mark Jurkowitz quoted Amanpour's remarks (ellipses as they appeared in the Globe story):
     "Amanpour said that a flag-waving fervor seems to have infected journalism, pointing to 'a definite sense of patriotism in the American media since Sept. 11....I think people are afraid of challenging the administration....I think the Bush administration is getting a lot of cover from us willing to censor ourselves.'"

     For the entire Globe story: http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/073/living/Post_


In the midst of the usual media focus on the "cycle of violence" in Israel and the supposed over-reaction of Israel to terrorist attacks, Thursday's NBC Nightly News featured a refreshing piece of journalism by Andrea Mitchell. She documented how Yasser Arafat regularly promises peace in English while at the very same time urging his followers to murder Israelis. One example, earlier this year he announced: "Into Jerusalem we shall go as millions of martyrs as need be."

     Thursday's World News Tonight on ABC illustrated the prevalent media attitude in which Palestinian polemic points are given full legitimacy. Peter Jennings talked with Barbara Walters in Saudi Arabia after she had interviewed the Crown Prince. One of Jennings' questions: "What did the Crown Prince say about the difficult issues of Palestinian rights to return to live in what is Israel today and what did he say about Jerusalem?"

     NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up the March 14 story: "These days you hear the question openly: Can there ever really be a peace deal with the current leaders in charge on both sides? Yasser Arafat, especially, has unique problems, which sometimes tried to solve by saying different things, depending on who is listening."

     Reporter Andrea Mitchell explained Arafat's contradictions: "He's been the de facto leader of the Palestinians for decades, once calling for total war. Now claiming he wants peace. But which Yasser Arafat are we to believe? Critics say it's hard to tell, because what he says often depends on whom he's talking to. There are plenty of examples.
     "On January 27th Arafat tells Israeli television: 'My hand is outstretched in peace.' But earlier that same day, to a Palestinian women's march, he called for 'jihad' -- holy war. And within hours the first female suicide bomber blows herself up on a busy Jerusalem street. A week later the same doubletalk. In the Sunday New York Times, Arafat writes, 'I condemn the attacks carried out by terrorist groups against Israeli civilians.' But, to his own people in Ramallah, it's a call to arms. Here he says, quote, 'Into Jerusalem we shall go as millions of martyrs as need be.' And that night a terrorist murdered three Jewish settlers, including a mother and child. Palestinian radio, which Arafat controls, calls the terrorist a hero, and Arafat tells his followers, 'We will make the lives of the infidels hell.'
     "The most flagrant example: Bush officials say last January Arafat meets with United States peace negotiator Anthony Zinni to discuss a cease fire. But on that same day Israel captures this Iranian ship loaded with weapons for the Palestinians. Arafat tells President Bush he knows nothing about it -- a blatant lie, according to U.S. intelligence."
     Bush: "Ordering up weapons that were intercepted on a boat headed for that part of the world is not part of fighting terror. That's enhancing terror."
     Mitchell: "So which Arafat are we to believe? Perhaps neither."
     Martin Indyk, former U.S. ambassador to Israel: "He tells us he's going to do one thing and he signals to his people another thing."
     Shibley Telami, University of Maryland: "He has left a lot of things vague enough to be interpreted by the international community and those who know him as not to be truthful."
     Mitchell concluded: "But as frustrating as Arafat can be for the U.S., officials say they have to deal with him until the Palestinians elect someone else."


The failure to enact some kind of a tax hike or a mechanism to allow one is a failure to the Washington Post, one requiring an examination of "what went wrong."

     CyberAlert does not usually deal with local news stories, even in major national newspapers, but this one seems so endemic to the newspaper's ethos, that I thought I'd devote a few lines to it.

     Last week, the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates in Virginia managed to get the session adjourned before liberal Democrats and liberal Republicans could push through a bill which would have placed on the ballot in Northern Virginia a referendum on imposing a regional sales tax hike to ostensibly pay for more transportation and education spending. This, after state spending has soared 44 percent over the past four years.

     With that as the background, check out how the Washington Post, in all of its weekly "Extra" sections dedicated to news about Northern Virginia localities, approached the situation -- not as a victory which saved residents from a tax hike, but as a failure. "For N.Va. Area, a High-Stakes No-Hitter: Despite Differences, Hopes for Salvaging Sales Tax Measure," read the March 14 headline over the unbylined story, which began:
     "Northern Virginia has struck out -- for now -- on additional money for transportation and education, although Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) has said he would press for a transportation-only sales tax referendum when lawmakers come back to Richmond next month.
     "When the General Assembly adjourned Saturday, Fairfax Extra asked five top political, business and education leaders to look at what went wrong and whether some type of tax proposal could still win approval this year...."

     For the entire story:


Jane Fonda's revisionist history enabled by clueless panelists on ABC's The View. Interviewing Fonda on the March 14 edition of the ABC day time program created by Barbara Walters, former NBC News reporter Star Jones was baffled by why Vietnam veterans are still disgusted at Fonda: "I've been floored by the number of e-mails this show received even now from Vietnam veterans, from their families..."

     Meredith Viera, a former 60 Minutes correspondent, also sat around the couch with Fonda. Walters, who earlier called in from Saudi Arabia, did not participate in the Fonda segment.

     Fonda, who in 1972 traveled to North Vietnam where she posed atop an anti-aircraft gun used to shoot-down U.S. planes and did a radio broadcast praising the wonderful achievements of the enemy communist regime over "U.S. imperialists," and who said Americans should "not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and liars" who were never tortured, claimed on The View that all the actions she took during the Vietnam War were in order to save U.S. soldiers from dying:
     "I believed that our country was on the side of the angels and that we stood for integrity and peace and human rights, and when I discovered that we had been lied to and that tens of thousands of American men had died because our leaders wouldn't admit that they'd made a mistake even though they knew it privately..."

     She added that she was concerned about how the war "put our men in danger" and that veterans are mad at her only because they cannot "face" how their government lied to them.

     In a widely cited comment from 1970, Fonda had extolled: "It's my fondest wish that some day every American will get down on their knees and pray to God that some day they will have the opportunity to live in a communist society."

     Many millions died at the hands of communists in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam after the U.S. pulled out to leave Fonda's friends in charge.

     Fonda came aboard the March 14 The View to promote an anti-war play she is producing in New York City, Necessary Targets, about a New York City psychologist confronting the horrors of war in Bosnia.

     Fonda ruminated, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "And then the Vietnam War, like a lot of people, I couldn't avoid dealing with the Vietnam War, and I realized that our government was lying to us. And I grew up believing, my father fought in the Pacific and I believed that our country was on the side of the angels and that we stood for integrity and peace and human rights, and when I discovered that we had been lied to and that tens of thousands of American men had died because our leaders wouldn't admit that they'd made a mistake even though they knew it privately, and now that's all come out. And I realized that if citizens don't become active and involved, they're going to get away with it, and so I've never looked back."

     That led Star Jones to wonder why people would still hold a grudge against her: "I've been floored by the number of e-mails this show received even now from Vietnam veterans, from their families, that say ask her about this, ask her about that. I know that you've moved past it and our country has moved past it, but how do you-"
     Fonda cut her off: "I will never move past it, we should not move past it. We need to learn the lessons, we should learn the lessons, we're going to stay there until we learn the lessons."
     Jones: "But I know so many veterans say 'I disagree with her.'"
     Fonda elaborated on her earlier rationale: "Yeah, it's because it's much easier for people to buy into the revisionist history that has been created for us about what that war was about. It's much harder to realize that people that we elected to office lied to us, put our men in danger [applause], and killed them in order to save their own egos, and because God forbid we should lose face. And it's too hard to have to face that, especially if you've had friends that have died there or if you have families that have died there, but if we don't understand what that was really -- I'm writing about it right now and so I'm real passionate about it.
     "And, you know, the thing that's important about Necessary Targets also relates to the Vietnam issue in the sense that this is a small little blue planet and if we don't learn to love others, that's what Necessary Targets is about, this woman, this psychiatrist from New York is put into a situation with people that she doesn't care anything about, she doesn't know anything about, it's not her struggle, and learns to open her heart and learns that we're all in this together, whether they're Afghanistan, Bosnian, Vietnamese, American, Philippine, it doesn't matter. Either we hang together with love and learn to look out for each other and learn to make sure that the people we elect to office move from a place of empathy and compassion and love rather than, 'I'm going to prove I'm a man and, you know, God forbid I should lose face, you know, I'm going to put the coon skin on the wall.' We are not learning our lessons. That's why this play is important."

     I guess Jane Fonda never joined Ted Turner on any hunting trips.

     Via a Google.com search, I located a lot of pages with material about Fonda's actions and statements during the Vietnam era, but I cannot vouch for their accuracy, though I have no reason to believe anything below is inaccurate and I've stuck to what sounds familiar.

     Several sites feature the photo of Fonda atop the anti-aircraft gun, including:

     Henry Mark Holzer and Erika Holzer, authors of the book, Aid and Comfort: Jane Fonda in North Vietnam, show the picture on the book's cover: http://www.hanoijane.net/

     Another site features the following recounting of Fonda's comments about American POWs:

When American POWs finally began to return home (some of them having been held captive for up to nine years) and describe the tortures they had endured at the hands of the North Vietnamese, Jane Fonda quickly told the country that they should "not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and liars." Fonda said the idea that the POWs she had met in Vietnam had been tortured was "laughable," claiming: "These were not men who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved. These were not men who had been brainwashed." The POWs who said they had been tortured were "exaggerating, probably for their own self-interest," she asserted. She told audiences that "Never in the history of the United States have POWs come home looking like football players. These football players are no more heroes than Custer was. They're military careerist and professional killers" who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they are war criminals according to law."

     END Reprint of Web item

     That's from: http://www.geocities.com/fateymike/jane.html

     This Web page has the most stuff about Fonda, but be warned (or encouraged) that it also features a graphic of a man urinating on Fonda and a picture what purports to be a topless Fonda.

     A man named Grover Furr, who teaches a course about the Vietnam War at Montclair State College in New Jersey, has posted the text of Fonda's 1972 Hanoi radio broadcast. Furr's page for it: http://www.chss.montclair.edu/english/furr/fonda.html

     The text as Furr has it posted:

Jane Fonda Broadcast from Hanoi, August 22, 1972

(The following public domain information is a transcript from the US Congress House Committee on Internal Security, Travel to Hostile Areas, HR 16742, 19-25 September, 1972, page 7671. From the CompuServe Military Veteran's Forum.)

[Radio Hanoi attributes talk on DRV visit to Jane Fonda; from Hanoi in English to American servicemen involved in the Indochina War, 1 PM GMT, 22 August 1972. Text: Here's Jane Fonda telling her impressions at the end of her visit to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; (follows recorded female voice with American accent);]

This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life-workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women's union, writers.

I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural coop, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well.

In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me-the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country.

I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam -- these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters.

I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets -- schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system.

As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble-strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister (words indistinct) of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly -- and I pressed my cheek against hers -- I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America's.

One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist.

I've spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives.

But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created-being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools-the children learning, literacy- illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives.

And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders-and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism -- I don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.

[recording ends]

     END Reprint of Fonda's radio broadcast

     The audience of ABC's The View heard nothing about what Fonda really said 30 years ago.


Sam Donaldson for Senate? The New York Post's "Page Six" gossip column on Thursday included this intriguing item, to which the MRC's Rich Noyes alerted me:

     "Senator Sam? Sam Donaldson may not be getting any love from his bosses at ABC, but this afternoon he's joining Senate Democrats in a private luncheon in the U.S. Capitol. The bombastic newsman, who is rumored to be on his way out of ABC's weak Sunday political chat show, might be eyeing a run for the Senate in New Mexico, where he raises mohair-producing sheep on his federally subsidized ranch."

     Maybe George Stephanopoulos can be his campaign manager. -- Brent Baker


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