Congressman James Traficant (?-OH); Saudi Aid to Suicide Bombers Skipped; Terrorist and Victim Equated; MSNBC Imitating
1) Following his conviction on multiple corruption counts,
anchors on ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN on Thursday night all identified
Congressman James Traficant as a Democrat. But not NBC's Tom Brokaw or
MSNBC's Brian Williams.
2) Saudi Arabia makes payments to the families of suicide
murderers, FNC's Brit Hume reported on Thursday in picking up on a UPI
story. But while highlighting a Saudi telethon "to raise money for
Palestinians in the occupied territories who the Saudis are referring to
as 'martyrs,'" ABC's Peter Jennings failed to make clear how
the money goes to the families of killers.
3) To ABC's Claire Shipman, a victim and a suicide
murderer were "both excellent students with a passion for writing and
pop music." Shipman saw equally valid "missions" for each:
"Both girls were intent on their missions: one, searching for spices
and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for an answer to her
rage." Shipman also blamed Ariel Sharon, claiming that "many
believe" he "sparked the current crisis with a controversial
visit to a disputed holy site," while she described Yasser Arafat as
"the charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland."
4) Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers and ABC's Terry
Moran tag teamed Ari Fleischer at Thursday afternoon's White House press
briefing, demanding to know how President Bush could possibly believe
Ariel Sharon is "a man of peace." FNC's Jim Angle noted how
Fleischer took on the media's slant as he "sought to broaden the
media's focus from what Israel is doing to the demands Mr. Bush made of
the Arabs and Palestinians as well."
5) MSNBC trying to glom onto FNC's patriotism? On
Thursday the least-watch cable news channel started calling itself
"America's NewsChannel" as the NBC peacock part of its logo
was changed to display a flag motif. And a promo conveyed a view
suspiciously similar to how Brit Hume ends his show.
6) Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons John Ashcroft Would
Not Sing on Our Show." And the lyrics to Ashcroft's "Let the
Representative James Traficant (?-OH). Following his conviction on
multiple corruption counts, anchors on ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN on Thursday
night all identified Traficant as a Democrat. But not NBC. Nor MSNBC,
which now calls itself "America's NewsChannel."
In his 17-second item, Tom Brokaw managed to
twice inform viewers that Traficant is from Ohio, but not his party
affiliation. Brokaw announced on the April 11 NBC Nightly News:
"Back here, in Ohio tonight, the verdict is
guilty on all counts for long-time Congressman James Traficant of Ohio. A
federal jury has convicted him of bribery and racketeering. Traficant
served as his own lawyer at trial and he could get up to 60 years in
prison when he's sentenced in June."
A bit later on "America's NewsChannel,"
MSNBC, Brian Williams also failed to identify Traficant's party.
Williams, however, found time to note Traficant's hair and clothing
style, relaying on The News with Brian Williams:
"You know him from his bird's nest
haircuts and leisure suits and brown shirts. James Traficant of Ohio, the
firebrand of the House. Thought he could defend himself at his own trial
even though he's not a lawyer. That was a mistake. He got nicked today,
convicted of racketeering, bribery and fraud. He's looking at a possible
63 years in a federal joint, probably will do less time as a matter of
addition to Iraq, Saudi Arabia makes payments to the families of suicide
murderers, FNC's Brit Hume reported on Thursday as he noted that the
Saudis held a television fundraiser for the cause. But while highlighting
the very same telethon ABC's Peter Jennings failed to acknowledge the
terrorist destination of some of the money.
Picking up on a UPI story, on FNC's April 11
Special Report with Brit Hume the anchor of the same name related:
"Speaking of the Saudis, they're now
joining Iraq in sending payments to the families of what they're calling
martyrs, those killed in the Palestinian uprising. UPI says that what's
called the 'Saudi Committee for the Support of the Al Aqsa Intifada'
is giving $5,333 to the families of the dead as well as $4,000 to each
Palestinian receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
"Saudi official television and radio
stations held an 11-hour telethon today with the royal family contributing
nearly $5 million. The Saudi embassy in Washington said that to that fund,
the term 'martyr' does not refer to suicide bombers but to quote,
'Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence.' But
Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American Islamic
Relations says the families of suicide bombers are getting money and that
they're just as needy as those killed by military attacks."
Stephen Schwartz had reported in an article in
the April 8 edition of The Weekly Standard: "The kingdom pledged $400
million last year for the support of 'martyrs' families,' according to
the Saudi Embassy's Web site. At $5,300 per 'martyr,' that works out
to about 75,000 martyrs, suggesting the Saudi princes anticipate a lot
more suicide bombings than Israel has yet suffered."
For Schwartz's piece in full:
On Wednesday, James Taranto's "Best of
the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com (www.opinionjournal.com/best),
caught the UPI story which Hume cited. An excerpt from the April 9 UPI
story, "Saudi Arabia sets aside $50M for 'martyrs'," by Pamela
The Saudi Arabian government has paid out at least $33 million to
families of Palestinians killed or injured in the 17-month-old intifada
and in December 2001 earmarked another $50 million for the payments,
according to Arabic news agencies and the Saudi Embassy's Web site.
Similar payments promised by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have drawn
sharp condemnation from U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada distributes
payments of $5,333 to the families of the dead and $4,000 to each
Palestinian receiving medical treatment in Saudi hospitals. The fund is
managed by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, according
to the embassy.
The sum is far less than the $10,000 Iraq offers to the families of
those killed and the $25,000 it gives to the kin of suicide bombers, but
is nonetheless significant to the average Palestinian whose annual income
END of Excerpt
For the entire UPI story:
Despite all of this, Peter Jennings skipped
over the troublesome details on Thursday night about how the money goes to
those killed and may very well go to the families of killers. Over video
of the telethon, on the April 11 World News Tonight he stated, as taken
down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Just one other note from the Middle East
this evening, you saw from Dean Reynolds' report how much damage there
is in the West Bank. In Saudi Arabia today there was a nationwide telethon
to raise money for Palestinians in the occupied territories who the Saudis
are referring to as 'martyrs.' The Saudi royal family has donated
several million dollars, and it is one of many fund-raising campaigns
currently under way in the Arab world."
murderer and her victim put on the same moral plane by ABC's Claire
Shipman. On Thursday's Good Morning America, Shipman treated as equally
valid the "missions" of a victim of a suicide murderer and the
perpetrator: "Both girls were intent on their missions: one,
searching for spices and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for
an answer to her rage." Shipman stressed their similarity: "The
girls were alike in many ways, both excellent students with a passion for
writing and pop music."
Oh, and one also had a passion to murder a lot
of other people.
On Thursday night Shipman, newly arrived in
Jerusalem, filed a story for World News Tonight which treated Ariel Sharon
and Yasser Arafat as two similar "warriors" even though only one
is acting in defense of a democratic government. She blamed Sharon, saying
that "many believe" he "sparked the current crisis with a
controversial visit to a disputed holy site," while as she described
Arafat as "the charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland."
Shipman began her April 11 World News Tonight
piece: "The 72-year-old revolutionary and the 73-year-old general.
Today in many ways they embody this conflict. The two men who have fought
each other for decades locked in a contest of wills. Ariel Sharon:"
Ariel Sharon: "We have to survive here. For
us, it's a war of survival."
Shipman: "The tough career military man
turned politician who has been defying the U.S. at every turn and who many
believe sparked the current crisis with a controversial visit to a
disputed holy site. Yasser Arafat, who says the Palestinian flag will be
raised over Jerusalem. The charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland
has rejected what many thought was the best peace deal he could get, and
he's failed to stop the terror..."
Walking by a holy site didn't kill anyone.
Arafat's suicide murderers did and continue to do so.
Earlier, Good Morning America co-host Robin
Roberts set up Shipman's April 11 dispatch: "If we were getting
numb to the violence in the Middle East, all it took was two young girls
-- so alike on the outside, but so different inside -- to bring home the
human cost of war."
Shipman checked in, as transcribed by MRC
analyst Jessica Anderson, with ellipses where matching soundbites
"This grainy image is the last her family
saw of Ayat, a terrorist's videotaped suicide note recorded just before
she set off for this Jerusalem grocery store. 'She left the house in the
morning to go to school,' remembers her mother. 'We had no idea.' Here she
would fatefully collide in the doorway with another 17-year-old,
Rachel....Both girls were intent on their missions: one, searching for
spices and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for an answer to
"When Ayat Al-Akhras pushed the button on
the explosives belt strapped to her waist, she stunned the world with the
depths of a teenage Palestinian girl's murderous despair....The mothers,
now forever linked by fate and grief and unanswered questions, live just
four miles apart....Of course, grief is complicated for the family of a
girl many here consider a martyr. [Clip of men cheering in the streets]
This was the neighborhood reaction when word got out, but Ayat's status as
a hero brings her mother little comfort....The girls were alike in many
ways, both excellent students with a passion for writing and pop music,
but Rachel tried to ignore the political conflict; Ayat, in this refugee
camp, lived in the middle of it. Angered when her brother was wounded by
Israeli soldiers a few years ago, friends say she was distraught when she
saw a neighbor shot to death by troops this March, and she complained
passionately about a lack of help from Arab nations. She was an obvious
recruit for a new terrorist group that encourages female bombers. Her
family, stunned, expected her to get married and go to college in the
fall. Instead, Ayat chose to become the third Palestinian woman ever to
turn herself into a deadly weapon.
"Ayat and Rachel have become twin symbols of
the brutal toll of this conflict and have transfixed young people here,
especially the women....[To Rachel's mother] Palestinians say it's hard
for other people to understand the humiliation and anger that they
Abigail Levy, Rachel's mother: "I used to
feel sorry for them. Believe me, I used to feel sorry for them."
Shipman: "Ayat's mother was indirect about
what she would say to Mrs. Levy. 'If I knew she was planning to do that,'
she says, 'I would have prevented her, but this tragic reality makes girls
here think that way. We are killed every day.'
Shipman to Rachel's mother: "What would you
say to the mother of Ayat?"
Levy: "That she has to take of her kids, you
know, watch them and watch what they're doing, and that we don't have any
hate for her. That she killed an innocent girl, and whatever they say,
it's not true, because most of us want to live in peace with them."
Shipman concluded: "What really struck us
about this story is the loss of hope. It's a quality normally so abundant
in the young, and of course it was an extreme loss of hope that drove Ayat,
but so many of the teenagers here are feeling a loss of optimism, and
especially a powerlessness. Robin."
Roberts: "Claire, I know that was a
difficult story, but thank you very much for bringing that to us. We
appreciate it, and you take care."
A lot more "difficult" for the
victims of Palestinian terrorism than the perpetrators whose
"rage" Shipman tried to rationalize.
Thomas of Hearst Newspapers and ABC's Terry Moran tag teamed Ari
Fleischer at Thursday afternoon's White House press briefing, demanding
to know how President Bush could possibly consider Ariel Sharon to be
"a man of peace," the MRC's Ken Shepherd observed.
Thomas seemed flummoxed by the concept: "Ari,
will you go on the public record and stand by a statement you made earlier
this morning which was that Sharon is a man of peace which some Israelis
might not even agree with. Do you stand by that, that he's a man of
peace considering his record?"
Moran soon asked: "To follow up on the
statement that the President believes Ariel Sharon is a peacemaker. Given
that Sharon has long been on record saying that he's against the Oslo
Accords, that as Minister of Housing in several governments he is on the
record saying that one of the purposes of building settlements in the West
Bank is to render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state
there, and given that he's twice in his career been reprimanded by
Israeli authorities for atrocities committed by forces under his de facto
control against Palestinians, on what evidence does the President believe
that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace?"
Well, as the Prime Minister of a democracy
he's acting in its self-defense. He's not sending suicide murderers to
kill Palestinian civilians and any Palestinians who were killed have only
their leadership to blame. Yasser Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize and yet
he's responsible for a lot more deaths than Sharon.
Thursday night on FNC's Special Report with
Brit Hume, reporter Jim Angle noted how Fleischer took on the media's
anti-Israel slant: "The White House also sought to broaden the
media's focus from what Israel is doing to the demands Mr. Bush made of
the Arabs and Palestinians as well."
Fleischer: "The Palestinian Authority has
responsibilities they have not yet taken. The Arab nations in the region
have responsibilities that the President has called for, which he is still
looking for results. And so again, I remind you, it is not only one
nation. It is all of them."
this under "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Or,
"imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
On Thursday, though it is the least-watched of
the three cable news channel, MSNBC seemed to try to match FNC's
patriotic flavor by starting to call itself "America's NewsChannel"
with the NBC peacock part of its logo now displaying a U.S. flag motif.
A promo I saw on Thursday night featured this
white lettering over a blurry flag in the background with the word
"fear" in red:
|"WE NEED NOT
FEAR THE EXPRESSION OF IDEAS --
|WE DO NEED TO FEAR
Harry S. Truman"
Sounds suspiciously like Brit Hume's closing
line every night: "Fair, balanced and unafraid."
And before anyone e-mails me, I realize there
should not be a period after the S in Harry S. Truman, but that is what
April 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Reasons John
Ashcroft Would Not Sing on Our Show." Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/
(Letterman had hoped Ashcroft would sing
"Let the Eagle Soar," a song he wrote. CNN last month showed
Ashcroft singing it, a clip of which Letterman has been regularly playing.
Instead, on the April 9 Late Show Ashcroft joined Paul Shafer and the
orchestra where Ashcroft played piano for a rendition of the Beatles song,
"Can't Buy Me Love." Brit Hume ended his FNC show Wednesday
night by playing a clip of that and I believe CNN's Inside Politics also
The "Top Ten Reasons John Ashcroft Would
Not Sing on Our Show."
10. Pre-show partying with Mayor Bloomberg left him in no condition to
9. He insisted on singing shirtless
8. Depressed there were only a dozen screaming teenage girls at the stage
7. Refused to do "Let The Eagle Soar" unless we paid for hair
and makeup for the eagle
6. Needs to rest voice for upcoming Ashcroftpalooza tour
5. Too busy tapping my phones
4. Been depressed ever since his eagle stopped soaring, if you know what I
3. For some reason he thought we'd make fun of him
2. The vibe wasn't right, man
1. Blah, blah, upholding the dignity of the office, blah, blah
On Tuesday, Michael Z. McIntee, author of the
daily Wahoo Gazette report on the Late Show Web site, posted the lyrics to
the song Ashcroft ended up not singing:
"Let the eagle soar,
Like she's never soared before.
From rocky coast to golden shore,
Let the mighty eagle soar.
Soar with healing in her wings,
As the land beneath her sings:
'Only god, no other kings.'
This country's far too young to die.
We've still got a lot of climbing to do,
And we can make it if we try.
Built by toils and struggles
God has led us through."
If he had sung it a lot of viewers probably
would have missed the religious message and considered it a tribute to
protecting the environment. --
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