Jennings Rues Bush "Powerful Enough to Have...Own Way"; ABC: "Skepticism" for Iraq War "Runs Deep"; Brokaw Cites "Cycle of Violence" in Israel; FNC's Asman Notes Iraqi "Lies"; Anti-Rumsfeld Protestors Elevated Visually; Lauer & Couric: Viewers Biased, Not Us; Al Hunt's Vegas Weekend with James Carville
1) To Peter Jennings, President Bush asking Congress to approve of using force against Iraq and saying, "very forcefully," that if the UN doesn't go along the U.S. will act on its own means, Jennings rued, that "what we appear to have here is an administration powerful enough to have its own way."
2) Congress will pass the Iraqi resolution, ABC and NBC predicted, but ABC's Linda Douglass focused on how "skepticism about a war in both parties runs deep." She focused on questions posed to Donald Rumsfeld by Ted Kennedy and two un-conservative Republicans. NBC's Lisa Myers showed both those concerned as well as how top Democrats Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were positive, though she found bi-partisan angst by showcasing a liberal Republican.
3) In reaction to two homicide bombing terrorist incidents in Israel, Israel decided to surround PLO leader Yasser Arafat's compound. That, to NBC's Tom Brokaw, represents "a cycle of violence that seems to be escalating all over again."
4) An example of why so many prefer FNC over CNN and MSNBC. After Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri finished his address to the UN on Thursday, which was riddled with rantings about U.S. support for the "Zionist entity," MSNBC and CNN simply re-capped what he said. FNC's David Asman, however, retorted: "Wow. Believe it or not that got a round of applause. That is a piece of work." Asman added that some of what he said "simply were out and out lies."
5) The two left-wing protestors, who caused a disruption during the House hearing on Wednesday with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, may not have been important enough for newspapers to examine their claims but, as FNC's Brit Hume pointed, three major newspapers plastered a photo of them on their front pages. And MSNBC put them on in prime time, though Ashleigh Banfield actually hit them with some tough questions.
6) Matt Lauer and Katie Couric aren't biased; You are, the NBC Today show duo contended Wednesday night on MSNBC's Donahue. Lauer argued that charges of bias represent "much less, I think, our point of view than it is the point of view of the person watching." Couric agreed: "People really see what...they want to see from their particular frame of mind" or "prism."
7) Phil Donahue conceded "I never understood the uproar in the nation over" Hillary Clinton's claim that she and her husband were the victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." On his show Wednesday night on MSNBC he asserted: "I thought she was right."
8) Far from being embarrassed, the Wall Street Journal's Al Hunt boasted, in a piece about his father-son weekend, about how liberal Democratic activist James Carville passed along tickets to a boxing match in Las Vegas. Hunt and son sat ringside with Carville and Paul Begala.
>>> Correction/Update: The September 19 CyberAlert quoted Laura Palmer, who covered the Vietnam War for NBC News, as recalling on Wednesday's Today show how in the months before becoming a reporter, "I protested the war. I went to every anti-war march in Washington. I chanted, 'Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, MLF is gonna win!'" She didn't say MLF but NLF, as in National Liberation Front, the communist forces in South Vietnam. Thanks to the many readers who corrected me.
Today aired a few seconds of Palmer reporting for NBC News from Vietnam 30 or so years ago and
a still shot of that has been added to the posted version of the September 19 CyberAlert. So, if you watched NBC News back in the late 1960s/early 1970s and want to see if Palmer looks familiar, go to:
Bush administration as a bully? To Peter Jennings, President Bush asking Congress to approve of using force against Iraq and saying, "very forcefully," that if the UN doesn't go along the U.S. will act on its own means, Jennings rued, that "what we appear to have here is an administration powerful enough to have its own way."
Jennings opened the September 19 World News Tonight on Thursday night: "Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with President Bush's campaign against Iraq. Today the President asked the Congress to authorize military action against Saddam Hussein. The President asked for all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force. And Mr. Bush said again very forcefully that if the United Nations doesn't hold Saddam Hussein accountable, the United States will. Terry Moran is at the White House tonight. Terry, what we appear to have here is an administration powerful enough to have its own way."
Stories Thursday night on both ABC and NBC conceded that Congress will probably pass President Bush's requested resolution authorizing military force against Iraq, but ABC dedicated its Capitol Hill story to detractors while NBC showed both those concerned as well as how top Democrats Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt were positive.
ABC's Linda Douglass announced: "Congress is expected to pass a resolution, but it was very clear today that skepticism about a war in both parties runs deep." She proceeded to focus on questions posed to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy and very un-conservative Republicans Susan Collins and John Warner.
NBC's Lisa Myers began her story by highlighting how "for the first time Congress's anti-war movement mobilized, launching an extraordinary broadside against the President." Myers, however, soon stressed how "reaction to the President's proposed resolution was generally positive. House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt called it an important first step." But like Douglass, Myers also used a liberal Republican to illustrate bi-partisan unease, Leading into a soundbite from liberal Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee, Myers warned: "Some Democrats and Republicans worry that authorizing force to quote, 'restore international peace and security in the region,' is too broad..."
Peter Jennings set up the Douglass piece on the September 19
World News Tonight: "Well, senior members of the Bush administration were on Capitol Hill today working to build support for this resolution the President wants from the Congress. The Secretary of Defense was in the Senate. And he did not have an easy time. ABC's Linda Douglass is on Capitol Hill. Linda?"
Douglass explained, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Peter, Congress is expected to pass a resolution, but it was very clear today that skepticism about a war in both parties runs deep. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld faced sharp questions from Senators in both parties."
Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA): "What is the basis of your judgement that there is a higher risk if we don't go to war than if we do."
Donald Rumsfeld clip #1: "And in one years, two years, three years, and he has even more powerful weapons and a nuclear weapon and longer range capabilities."
Rumsfeld clip #2: "It's kind of like feeding an alligator hoping it eats you last."
Kennedy: "What kind of situation do you see then in terms of Arab countries that may not have joined us in the war but are joining us now in the war on terrorism?"
Rumsfeld: "They know what Saddam Hussein is. There isn't one of his neighbors who doesn't want him gone."
Douglass: "Rumsfeld testified that Hussein's arsenal of conventional weapons has shrunk. One Republican asked that that does not make him even more dangerous if the U.S. attacks."
Senator John Warner (R-VA): "Is he more likely, then, to have to resort to the use of weapons of mass destruction should military action be taken?"
Rumsfeld: "He can't use weapons of mass destruction by himself. He would have to persuade other people."
Douglass: "Rumsfeld has said repeatedly that Saddam Hussein is in charge and makes all decisions. Has that view suddenly changed?"
Kennedy: "What makes you believe that he wouldn't use them if he knows that he's going down?"
Rumsfeld: "It would be a function of how successful we were in persuading the Iraqi people who I am persuaded large fractions want to be liberated."
Douglass: "Senators from both parties asked, 'Why attack now?'"
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME): "Shouldn't we at least pursue unfettered, rigorous inspections before resorting to military force?"
Rumsfeld: "Unless there's a government that is willing to allow unfettered inspections, then inspections make, are very difficult."
Senator Mark Dayton, (D-MN): "What is it that's compelling us now to take a precipitous, make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions."
Rumsfeld: "What's different? What's different is three thousand people were killed."
Douglass conclufed: "Now, the Senators asked about American casualties, and Rumsfeld told them this war cannot just be fought from the air. There will have to be ground troops. Congress is expected to vote in the next several days, Peter."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw announced: "On Capitol Hill, reaction to the proposed resolution was mostly positive with a sprinkling of loud protests that the administration is way off course."
Over an initial shot showing far more reporters than Congressman near a microphone, Lisa Myers began her report:
"Today for the first time Congress's anti-war movement mobilized, launching an extraordinary broadside against the President."
Jim McDermott, (D-Washington): "The President of the United States will lie to the American people in order to get us into this war."
Bernard Sanders, (I-Vermont): "Our moral authority will be shot. We are leading to international anarchy. Any country at any time for any reason can attack another country."
Myers then cautioned that those views are in the minority: "However, reaction to the President's proposed resolution was generally positive. House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt called it an important first step. Democrats were please that it does not include specific language calling for regime change in Iraq, though they know that's what's planned. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle promised cooperation."
Daschle: "We don't want to be a rubber stamp, but we want to be helpful and we want to be supportive."
Myers: "However, some Democrats and Republicans worry that authorizing force to quote, 'restore international peace and security in the region,' is too broad and could be seen as a green light to go after other beyond Iraq, such as Iran and Syria."
Senator Lincoln Chafee, (R-RI): "That does concern me and in the resolution as submitted the arena is much larger than Iraq. It is, as the resolution says, the region."
Myers: "And there is considerable concern about the consequences of military action. Senator Ted Kennedy pressed Defense Secretary Rumsfeld on whether a cornered Saddam would unleash the very weapons of mass destruction the U.S. fears."
NBC then played an exchange between Kennedy and Rumsfeld before Myers concluded that the resolution is expected to pass.
In reaction to two homicide bombing terrorist incidents in Israel, the second of which killed five on a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel decided to surround PLO leader Yasser Arafat's compound. Those developments, to NBC's Tom Brokaw, represent "a cycle of violence that seems to be escalating all over again," as if both sides are equally culpable.
On the September 19 NBC Nightly News, Brokaw introduced a story from Jim Maceda in Tel Aviv: "Now to the Middle East where there has been a second Palestinian suicide bomb in two days. And now Israel has moved in on Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah on the West Bank. It all sounds so familiar, a cycle of violence that seems to be escalating all over again."
An example of why so many prefer FNC over CNN and MSNBC. After Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri finished his address to the UN on Thursday, which was riddled with rantings about U.S. support for the "Zionist entity," known as Israel to all civilized people, MSNBC simply re-capped how he had accused the U.S. of fabricating charges against his nation while CNN noted how the White House would disagree with his assurances about open inspections.
On FNC, however, viewers were treated to a more visceral assessment which probably conveyed the disgust felt by viewers.
Just before 1pm EDT, as transcribed by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory, a revolted FNC anchor David Asman asserted:
"Wow. Believe it or not that got a round of applause. That is a piece of work. In one statement by the Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri there were a combination of things that he said, some of which simply were out and out lies, I think it's fair without much commentary putting in my summation of what he said to say that.
"One, he said that there was a blockade against Iraq. Now it's important to mention that word 'blockade' is actually used as an act of war. To blockade a country means nothing goes in, nothing comes out, and of course as we know a lot goes out of Iraq, some of which is under the auspices of the United Nations food for oil program, and then of course there's suspicions that a lot of other oil goes out of Iraq through some back channel means in order to get money for Saddam Hussein. Also saying that the U.S. in all of its, all of its machinations against Iraq, this according to the Iraqi foreign minister, is acting solely on behalf of Israel. This is an interesting analysis of the way things are working in the Middle East.
"And then finally saying that United States is responsible for killing 1,700,000 Iraqi citizens as a result of its sanctions. So at any rate a lot of interesting comments coming out. One can suspect that Ari Fleischer and perhaps even the President himself will have something to say about the comments that we just saw at the United Nations from the Iraqis."
For a bio of Asman with a picture of him:
At the same moment, MSNBC viewers heard this summation from anchor Chris Jansing: "Naji Sabri accusing the United States of fabrications in order to come up with a rationale to attack his country and control oil in the Middle East. Let me quote from what he just had to say before the UN General Assembly: 'The U.S. administration wants to destroy Iraq in order to control the Middle East oil and consequently control the politics as well as the oil and economic policies of the whole world.' He said that Iraq is clear of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and again said Iraq and Saddam Hussein are willing to accept UN weapons inspectors."
She went on to outline Bush's request for a congressional resolution.
Over on CNN, Kyra Phillips set up a report from the White House: "You've been listening to live remarks from Naji Sabri, Iraqi Foreign Minister, who was addressing the UN General Assembly. Our Kelly Wallace at White House also following the remarks. Kelly, of course making the point clear that Iraq is welcoming weapons inspectors back in, but then this entire speech -- I even looked at the hard copy here, nothing mentioned about unfettered access."
Wallace confirmed the White House's concern.
And you thought only TV news put a premium on visuals. The two left-wing protestors, who managed to sneak a banner into the House hearing on Wednesday with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and then cause a disruption, may not have been important enough for newspapers to examine their claims but, as FNC's Brit Hume pointed out on Thursday night, three major newspapers plastered a photo of them on their front pages.
And MSNBC featured them on On Location with Ashleigh Banfield, complete with hand-painted T-shirts.
During the "Grapevine" segment on the September 19 Special Report with Brit Hume, Hume reported: "That brief outburst during Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's testimony in the House yesterday may not have amounted to much. The New York Times story on the hearings summed up the incident in two sentences inside the paper. But on the front page, there the protestors were in living color. And the Washington Post did not mention them in its news story, but on that front page, a color picture as well. The Los Angeles Times even made the outburst the lead photograph in the paper. And MSNBC invited the women on as prime time guests."
Indeed, the two women were featured on MSNBC's 10pm EDT On Location with Ashleigh Banfield on which they wore T-shirts hand-painted with the words "No War On." At least that's all you could see above the table at which they were sitting. I'd assume the next word below was "Iraq."
At least on her September 18 show Banfield challenged the two women, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed. The two appeared from MSNBC's Washington studio with the Capitol in the background while Banfield anchored from New York.
After noting that "a lot of people consider" their methodology "to be pretty darn rude," Banfield suggested to them that they are out of touch: "Let me ask you about how many people you actually get a chance to talk to because, as you say, everybody you talk to is against this but, 70 percent of Americans say they believe that if we don't take military action against Saddam, we're going to end up just like those 3,000 people who I happened to witness a year ago down at Ground Zero. How do you feel about some of those victims' family members, because there's a statistic that suggests approximately ten million Americans know someone or are connected to someone who was killed in the 9/11 tragedy? How do you think they're going to hear your message and the way you gave that message today?"
One woman replied: "Well, I'm very connected to those families and very connected to people who died on September 11 and that's precisely why I want us to focus on finding the people who perpetrated that horrendous crime. I want to go after al Qaeda. I want to find Osama bin Laden. Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11. Is it because we can't find Osama bin Laden that we're suddenly focusing on Saddam Hussein? It doesn't make any sense. Let's go after the perpetrators of the crime."
To that, Banfield retorted: "I suppose we would have probably said the same thing about going after those 19 hijackers but since we didn't actually have the smoking gun beforehand we couldn't do so."
Now that's a point you'll never hear from Phil Donahue.
The liberal bias of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric: It's your fault. Or it's just the "prism" through which you the viewer perceive them, the NBC Today show duo contended Wednesday night on MSNBC's Donahue.
Lauer argued that charges of bias represent "much less, I think, our point of view than it is the point of view of the person watching the interview." Couric agreed: "That's true. I think really that it is sort of" a "Rorschach test" as "people really see what...they want to see from their particular frame of mind or the prism from which they're watching."
It's a classic cop-out excuse. Since both liberals and conservatives complain, instead of trying to determine who is correct, just say we must be doing our jobs perfectly.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught the exchange during the September 18 Donahue on which Couric and Lauer were the guests for the entire hour. Throughout the hour of the little-watched MSNBC program, MSNBC touted in an on-screen graphic: "#1 Morning Team" -- as if they were hoping some of the Today show's popularity might rub off on them.
Couric responded to the suggestion that there are conservative and liberal networks: "You know I think that, that certainly that accusation has been made a lot and all I can say is for, for us as journalists, you know, that we really do, I think strive to ask, as I said, a variety of people really challenging questions. You know I used to make President Clinton and Vice President Gore, sort of angry and more, you know, Bill Clinton would shake his finger at me quite a few times and you know I think our jobs are really to ask really tough questions of everyone and to play devil's advocate. And to be fair and be objective and sometimes take the opposing point of view. So that may mean a more conservative point of view if we are talking to a liberal guest and a more liberal point of view if we're talking to a conservative guest."
Phil Donahue: "My own view is that, that if they think you're liberal or if they think you're conservative nothing you say is going to disabuse them of that notion, or if the media is liberal. I get lucky because I get to, I don't have to hide it."
Donahue: "And in a way I think that's more honest they can watch me better."
Lauer suggested it's the viewers who are biased: "But you know what's interesting is you do an interview with a politician and you, you look at e-mails. E-mails are interesting these days. You look at your e-mails you will get a lot of e-mails that'll say, 'You were too light on that conservative. You'll go and file down your e-mails, you'll find people who say, 'You were too hard on that conservative.' It's all in your point of view. It's much less, I think our point of view than it is the point of view of the person watching the interview."
Couric agreed: "That's true. I think really that it is sort of a, is it the Rorschach test? I always pronounce that incorrectly. You know I think that people really see what they want to do from what they want to see from their particular frame of mind or the prism from which they're watching the program or the interview. And I think actually, that's an excellent point Matt."
Quite an insight.
How many in the media who see FNC as right wing would buy this line of reasoning from someone at FNC?
Space does not permit a rundown of even highlights of the liberal bias on the Today show as documented in recent CyberAlerts, but you can check past issues for plenty of examples of where the bias really exists and is not just a perception through our "prism."
Last year, on the occasion of Couric's 10th anniversary of co-hosting Today, the MRC compiled the best examples of her bias from her first ten years. Judge for yourself whether it is her or the viewer who is biased:
Phil Donahue conceded, "I never understood the uproar in the nation over" Hillary Clinton's claim that she and her husband were the victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." On his show Wednesday night on MSNBC he asserted: "I thought she was right."
Donahue's claim came during his hour-long September 18 session with Today co-hosts Matt Lauer and Katie
At one point, he played the famous clip of then-First Lady Hillary Clinton on Today just after the Lewinsky story broke in late January of 1998: "This is, the great story here for anybody willing to find it and write about it and explain it, is this vast right-wing conspiracy that has been conspiring against my husband since the day he announced for President."
Donahue then remarked: "I never understood the uproar in the nation over her point about vast right-wing conspiracy." He later added: "I thought she was right."
Liberal Democratic activist James Carville is such a buddy with Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt that he passed along tickets to a boxing match in Las Vegas for Hunt and his son. And Hunt certainly wasn't concerned that anyone would see anything wrong in his accepting such a gift from a political activist as he wrote about it in Thursday's Wall Street Journal.
Hunt and Carville were joined ringside by Paul Begala after Carville volunteered to be "the house" and do bets with Hunt's teenage son who is too young to place bets at the casino's sports desk.
His September 19 piece, on the front page of the "Personal Journal" section, was headlined "Tender Moments on Fight Night:
Father & Son Bond in Las Vegas." Jim Romenesko's MediaNews page
(http://www.poynter.org/medianews/ ) provided a direct link to the piece on the Journal's subscription site.
Hunt, who is married to CNN Inside Politics anchor Judy Woodruff, began his chronicle of his weekend in Vegas:
LAS VEGAS -- James Carville called excitedly to say he had ringside seats for me and my son to last weekend's Oscar de la Hoya-Fernando Vargas title fight in Las Vegas. Fantastic! Now to persuade my wife. Later that day, she did a TV interview with the Ragin' Cajun, who blurted off-camera: "Boxing, betting, booze and naked women! What more could a 15-year-old boy want?"
That was a setback. But after tag-team husband-and-son lobbying, she reluctantly let us go. Now here we are: a 24-hour caper of boxing and bonding....
My head knows that boxing is a corrupt, barbaric sport. Frank Deford argues it's "in contradiction to all that our Judeo-Christian ethic holds." I think a national commission should regulate it. But this weekend is about the heart, not the head....
We arrive Saturday morning joined by Mr. Carville, his Louisiana pal Jim Spurger and political sidekick Paul Begala. Benjamin and I are staying at the Mandalay Bay, site of the fight, and head to the sports parlor....
Benjamin can't legally bet, so Mr. Carville stands in for the house (without taking the standard 10% cut)....
Lunch is at the Paris Las Vegas hotel's Mon Ami Gabi, one of many first-class New York-style restaurants in America's fastest-growing metropolitan area. We're joined by Mayor Oscar Goodman, my prep schoolmate more than 40 years ago. He was elected in 1999 after three decades of representing organized-crime kingpins, including Meyer Lansky and Tony "The Ant"
END of Excerpt
For Hunt's entire piece:
I guess now that Carville and Begala are the rotating co-hosts of CNN's Crossfire and, therefore, are fellow members of the media, Hunt sees nothing wrong with such a personal relationship with the two political activists.
Nice of CNN to make add them to the journalism fraternity.
-- Brent Baker
Sign up for
Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive
CyberAlerts via e-mail.
questions and comments about
You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to:
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe