Jennings: Bush Out of Sync With UN, But PJ Out of Sync with CBS & NBC
Peter Jennings vs. Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. "The UN weapons inspectors in Iraq say things are going well, so why does President Bush disagree?", Jennings heralded on Monday's World News Tonight. CBS's Rather, however, noted the inspectors "were not satisfied with what they found." NBC's Brokaw referred to how "signals coming out of today's UN weapons inspection in Iraq were not encouraging."
WashPost Trumpets "Extraordinary Array" of Anti-War Groups
Stop the presses: Left wing groups promote a left wing cause. In a front page story on Monday, the Washington Post trumpeted "the extraordinary array of groups questioning the Bush administration's rationale for an invasion of Iraq." Always "growing" opposition to Bush's Iraq policy is the only subject reporter Evelyn Nieves has written about for the Post since leaving the New York Times just after one of her stories featured an inaccurate swipe at Dick Cheney's praise of the tax cut.
3. Newsweek Takes Note of
New York Times Crusading
New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines has gone so over the top in using the paper to advance his own political agenda that even this week's Newsweek took notice in a two-page piece by Seth Mnookin headlined, "A hard-charging editor's crusading style is coloring the Gray Lady's reputation." Newsweek picked up on a Raines quote highlighted repeatedly by the MRC: "He once said the Reagan years 'oppressed me because the callousness and the greed and the hardhearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society.'"
Couric Badgers Whitman For Caving to "Right-Wing Conservatives"
Katie Couric on Monday took advantage of EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman's appearance to talk about "Energy Star" compliant holiday gifts to lecture her about how out disappointing she has been to environmentalists for not blocking Bush policies.
Couric badgered her about how "every proposal that you've tried to put forward has gotten a kibosh by right-wing conservatives."
Jennings: Bush Out of Sync With UN,
But PJ Out of Sync with CBS & NBC
Peter Jennings versus Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw. "The UN weapons inspectors in Iraq say things are going well, so why does President Bush disagree?", Jennings heralded at the top of Monday's World News Tonight in suggesting Bush is out of step with reality. Moments later Jennings noted that the "President said he is not encouraged by the weapons inspections currently being done by the United Nations in Iraq even though," Jennings maintained. "the UN inspectors say that under the circumstances things are going quite well."
But maybe it was ABC News which was out of sync. Dan Rather announced on the December 2 CBS Evening News: "Inside Iraq today the weapons hunters made their rounds and...for the first time since inspections resumed last week they were not satisfied with what they found." NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw referred to how "signals coming out of today's UN weapons inspection in Iraq were not encouraging."
Like ABC, however, CBS did find a way to portray Bush as unreasonable as Bill Plante painted Saddam Hussein as a victim in an unwinnable situation: "The UN inspectors may be focused on disarming Iraq, but the Bush administration is still set on regime change. They've made it very clear that Saddam Hussein is damned if he does admit to having weapons of mass destruction and still damned if he doesn't."
-- ABC's World News Tonight, December 2. Anchoring from Los Angeles, Jennings asserted: "Now to President Bush's campaign against Iraq. At the Pentagon today, where he was paying a visit, the President said he is not encouraged by the weapons inspections currently being done by the United Nations in Iraq even though the UN inspectors say that under the circumstances things are going quite well."
Note how Jennings personalized the policy to one man, describing it is "President Bush's campaign against Iraq" instead of the "U.S. campaign against Iraq."
After a report from Terry Moran about Bush's remarks earlier in the day at the Pentagon, Jennings set up a piece from Iraq: "Today the inspectors visited some sites they last went to see four years ago, and some new ones as well, and they had questions when they were finished. It is clearly true they could do more if they had more resources."
From Iraq David Wright cited the incident which led CBS and NBC to emphasize the trouble encountered by the inspectors -- that at a factory for guidance systems for missiles monitoring equipment placed by previous UN inspectors in 1998 had been removed -- but he hardly treated it as a big deal: "The Iraqis have known for weeks that they might come calling again. Today the inspectors couldn't find some of the sensitive equipment they had tagged when they were last here in 1998. The Iraqis claimed it was either destroyed by bombs or transferred to other sites."
-- CBS Evening News. Dan Rather observed: "President Bush made a point of saying today he does not like the way UN weapons inspections are going and he made it clear the United States intends to enforce a deadline this coming Sunday for Saddam Hussein to deliver a complete list of his weaponry."
Bill Plante showed a clip of Bush and then, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, moved to the dilemma the inspections have caused: "Cheney warned last summer that inspections could provide false comfort that Saddam was, quote, 'back in his box.' And now that inspectors have returned and Iraq so far appears cooperative, Mideast expert Fouad Ajami says the case for war becomes more difficult."
Fouad Ajami, CBS News analyst: "Once you empower the United Nations and once you empower the inspections regime, you have to go the route and you have to stay with this process until the process is completely discredited."
Plante: "And though U.S. intelligence says there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, what happens if inspectors fail to find them?"
Ajami: "If it comes to that and we discover that he doesn't have much there, then the opportunity for regime change is forfeited."
Plante concluded by making Hussein out to be a victim: "The UN inspectors may be focused on disarming Iraq, but the Bush administration is still set on regime change. They've made it very clear that if Saddam Hussein is damned if he does admit to having weapons of mass destruction and still damned if he doesn't."
Next, Rather introduced a piece from Iraq: "Inside Iraq today the weapons hunters made their rounds and, as CBS's Mark Phillips reports from Baghdad, for the first time since inspections resumed last week they were not satisfied with what they found."
Phillips focused on the missing UN monitoring equipment at the missile plant and how Hussein had incriminating documents hidden in homes.
-- NBC Nightly News. Referring to the UN inspectors, from Los Angeles Tom Brokaw noted how "President Bush says their difficult mission is not going well" and that "signals coming out of today's UN weapons inspection in Iraq were not encouraging."
From Baghdad, Ron Allen looked at the missing equipment at the missile factory before stressing how Amnesty International was upset that Britain decided to highlight its report on human rights in Iraq:
"The President said Iraq remains defiant, continuing to fire at allied war planes in the no-fly zones, 150 incidents since the UN resolution sending the inspectors back to Iraq. Another confrontation today. The U.S. attacks Iraqi air defenses in the north while Iraq says it buries four civilians killed by U.S. bombs in southern Iraq. Also today, more pressure from America's strongest ally, Great Britain. A scathing 23-page report charging Saddam Hussein with conducting a 'deliberate policy of torture, rape and execution' to oppress his people. Human rights groups agree, but some accuse Britain of manipulating the issue now to help make its case for war."
Richard Bunting, Amnesty International: "We have to be wary when we see a government using another government's human rights record in this manner. We only hope it isn't being used for foreign and strategic considerations. And, of course, the fear is that it is."
WashPost Trumpets "Extraordinary Array"
of Anti-War Groups
[An item largely written by the MRC's
Rich Noyes.] Stop the presses: Left wing groups organize on behalf of a left wing cause. While that doesn't sound like news, it was to the Washington Post, which on Monday -- under the front page headline of "Antiwar Effort Gains Momentum" and the subhead of "Growing Peace Movement's Ranks Include Some Unlikely Allies" -- trumpeted "the extraordinary array of groups questioning the Bush administration's rationale for an invasion of Iraq."
And where did reporter Evelyn Nieves find her "extraordinary array" of groups? "Amherst, Mass." read the byline for her story. As the home of Hampshire College, Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts, the Western Massachusetts town is the Berkeley of the east. Nieves pegged her advocacy effort to the Amherst-founded Mothers Against War who she championed as being "buoyed to find themselves part of a fast-growing movement of people from every walk of life, from every political stripe."
How diverse? Besides "longtime radical groups such as the Workers World Party," Nieves celebrated how the anti-war movement also includes "groups not known for taking stands against the government. There is a labor movement against war, led by organizers of the largest unions in the country; a religious movement against the war, which includes leaders of virtually every mainstream denomination; a veterans movement against the war, led by those who fought Iraq in the Persian Gulf a decade ago; business leaders against the war, led by corporate leaders; an antiwar movement led by relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; and immigrant groups against the war."
But though the Post heralded the opposition of "business leaders...led by corporate leaders," Nieves cited only Ben Cohen, the left-wing activist who founded Ben & Jerry's ice cream, though she, of course, refrained from applying an ideological label.
Before recently jumping to the Post, the San Francisco-based Nieves, who has penned pieces for the left-wing Mother Jones magazine, was a New York Times correspondent. One of her last articles for the Times, published on August 8, betrayed her hostility toward conservative policies. The story, which she co-authored with Elisabeth Bumiller, included this sentence about remarks made by Vice President Cheney: "He credited the administration's tax cuts with helping the country to 'climb out of the recession and to weather the terrible financial effects of Sept. 11,' although the recession has not abated and the stock market today continued its decline."
A week later, the Times acknowledged in an embarrassing August 15 correction: "Economists agree that the recession has ended, not continued. The Dow Jones industrial average rose the day of the speeches, by 182 points; it did not decline." For more on that fiasco, see the August 20
Nieves' departure from the Times was reported in an August 28 San Francisco Chronicle story. According to the item in the Chronicle's MediaBytes column by Dan Frost: "She'll be a national political correspondent, roaming the country, and focusing on demographic angles -- how a certain segment of the population is faring economically, say, or what impact they might have on politics. 'They [Washington Post] were looking to start a new political beat,' Nieves said. 'It's a great job with a lot of
Nieves' byline has appeared on three stories since she started working at the Post, all of which have pushed the angle that the anti-war movement is gaining popularity and mainstream support. On October 14, in a front-page story headlined "Anti-War Protests Get Louder in Calif.," Nieves' lead asserted: "In all the years he has spent on street corners, talking himself hoarse trying to convince the world that war is hell, Jeff Grubler has never been so popular."
Four days later, Nieves touted a special interest political action committee: "Democrats battling for political survival in races that may decide the balance of power in Congress are getting a big boost from the anti-war effort. MoveOnPAC.org, an Internet site, has raised more than $1 million in 48 hours for what it calls four 'heroes' of Congress who opposed the Iraq resolution."
In her Monday, December 2 article, Nieves promoted the upcoming events of anti-war activists in a completely one-sided tribute to their sincerity and public spiritedness by focusing on a Massachusetts grandmother who founded "Mothers Against War," what Nieves termed "just a tiny part of a growing peace movement that has been gaining momentum and raises the possibility that there could be much more dissent if U.S. bombs begin falling on Baghdad." She insisted that it was a broad movement, not a tiny left-wing fringe. An excerpt:
....Most members of Mothers Against War are grandmothers in their seventies whose lives are already full. Yet they spend hours a day on the Internet, reading and spreading information on Iraq and the United States and planning for marches, e-mail campaigns and teach-ins. Having lived through the Vietnam antiwar movement, which took years to build, the Mothers Against War are buoyed to find themselves part of a fast-growing movement of people from every walk of life, from every political stripe.
The extraordinary array of groups questioning the Bush administration's rationale for an invasion of Iraq includes longtime radical groups such as the Workers World Party, but also groups not known for taking stands against the government. There is a labor movement against war, led by organizers of the largest
unions in the country; a religious movement against the war, which includes leaders of virtually every mainstream denomination; a veterans movement against the war, led by those who fought Iraq in the Persian Gulf a decade ago; business leaders against the war, led by corporate leaders; an antiwar movement led by relatives of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; and immigrant groups against the war.
There are also black and Latino organizations, hundreds of campus antiwar groups and scores of groups of ordinary citizens meeting in community centers and church basements from Baltimore to Seattle....
[A]ntiwar groups, which tend to rely on the Internet to receive and spread information, operate largely without the attention of the media or Capitol Hill. Yet many of those speaking out against an attack on Iraq represent large numbers of Americans, including John J. Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO (with 13 million members); the National Council of Churches (which represents 36 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, with 50 million members); and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (the leadership arm of 65 million Roman Catholics).
It's extremely disingenuous to cite the membership statistics of groups like the AFL-CIO or the churches as if the entire membership shared the leadership's positions on the Iraq issue. In fact, with polls showing broad public approval for the President's Iraq policies, it's certain that significant minorities or even
majorities of Catholics, Protestants and union workers disagree with their liberal leadership on this issue.
....The National Council of Churches, which includes Lutherans, Episcopalians and President Bush's denomination, Methodists, is facilitating antiwar events for traditionally liberal institutions and conservative churches, said the Rev. Robert Edgar, its general secretary.
"Average, ordinary people," Edgar said, "who come from evangelical Christian conservative roots are organizing against the war."...
Now, he said, the National Council of Churches -- fresh from its "What Would Jesus Drive?" television ad campaign to promote fuel efficiency -- is launching a "Seasons of Peacemaking" campaign, "moving beyond statements to actions. On December 8 through 15, there will be a series of actions across the country." The biggest day, he said, is Dec. 10, which is significant not only because it is Human Rights Day but also because it is the day that former President Jimmy Carter is to receive his Nobel Peace Prize. "Carter, as an evangelical Christian, represents a great number of people in the antiwar effort," Edgar said....
End of Excerpt
For the polemic, in the guise of a news story, in full:
Newsweek Takes Note of
New York Times Crusading
New York Times Executive Editor
Howell Raines has gone so over the top in using the paper to advance his own political agenda that even this week's Newsweek took notice in a two-page piece by Seth Mnookin headlined, "The Changing 'Times.'" The subhead: "A hard-charging editor's crusading style is coloring the Gray Lady's reputation."
It took Mnookin until the ninth paragraph to mention the word "liberal," and that came only after Mnookin noted how "Al Gore recently attacked Fox News and the Washington Times as being shills for the Republican Party," but his hook for the story sprung from how Raines has run 32 stories on whether the Augusta National Golf Club will admit women, a display of advocacy journalism so over the top that an unnamed Times staffer told Mnookin: "It makes it hard for us to have credibility on other issues."
Though Mnookin did not cite the MRC, he did pick up on a Raines quote highlighted repeatedly by the MRC: "He once said the Reagan years 'oppressed me because the callousness and the greed and the hardhearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society.'"
Indeed, as reported at the time in the MRC's MediaWatch newsletter, Raines uttered the insult during a November 17, 1993 appearance on Charlie Rose's PBS show. For more and a RealPlayer clip of his comments, refer to the May 22, 2001
For additional examples of Raines expressing liberal views, including the hailing of Bill Clinton for "holding onto the principles of social justice," see the August 8
Mnookin uncovered how after the Times in August "printed two consecutive front-page stories incorrectly including Henry Kissinger among the 'prominent Republicans' opposing war with Iraq (Kissinger had expressed realpolitik reservations but stopped far short of arguing against an attack)," the Times "assigned a media reporter a story on how the American press was increasingly seen as driving the debate on Iraq."
Mnookin humorously discovered that the story was killed because the reporter determined no other media outlet made itself into the opposition party: "According to a number of sources at the Times, the reporter, David Carr, went back to his editors and told them the media, per se, weren't driving anything: the only publication injecting itself into the policy debate was the Times itself....The story never ran. An editor's note, explaining the Times's mistakes, was printed instead."
Apparently Carr doesn't watch Peter Jennings.
Actually, the correction itself needed a correction, though none ran. As noted in the September 5 CyberAlert: Three weeks after their mis-reporting of Henry Kissinger as amongst Republicans opposed to going to war against Iraq, in an "Editor's Note" the New York Times still managed to distort Kissinger's position. See:
For more about the initial story misconstruing
Now, an excerpt from Mnookin's story on pages 46-47 in the December 9 Newsweek:
On Nov. 25, the New York Times ran a front-page story headlined CBS STAYING SILENT IN DEBATE ON WOMEN JOINING AUGUSTA. It was the 32d piece the Times had run in just under three months on the issue of whether the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters Tournament, would admit women as members.
The story spanked the TV network that has a contract to air the Masters for "resisting the argument that it can do something to alter the club's policy," although it was unclear who -- other than the Times -- was making the argument; as the piece eventually noted, "public pressure on CBS to take a stand has been glancing." "That was just shocking," one Times staffer said on the condition that his name not be used. "It makes it hard for us to have credibility on other issues. We don't run articles that just say so-and-so is staying silent. We run articles when something important actually happens."
A certain amount of griping is to be expected in any newsroom, but the chorus of complaints at the Times has been getting louder. The Masters coverage is so overheated, one staffer says, that executive editor Howell Raines is "in danger of losing the building."...
It's not just the newsroom that's concerned. From conservative activists to everyday readers, many people around the country are noticing a change in the way the Old Gray Lady covers any number of issues, from the looming war with Iraq to the sex-abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church to the New Jersey Senate race. Raines, the hard-charging executive editor, has an almost religious belief in "flooding the zone" -- using all the paper's formidable resources to pound away on a story. But increasingly, the Times is being criticized for ginning up controversies as much
as reporting them out. "This is certainly a shift from The New York Times as the 'paper of record'," says Alex Jones, a former Times media reporter and coauthor of "The Trust," a book about the paper. "It's a more activist agenda in terms of policy, especially compared to an administration that's much more conservative."...
[I]t's the Times that drives the nation's news agenda -- and therefore presents the biggest target. Every day, when its editors send out a list of the next day's front-page stories, papers around the country alter their lineups -- or just run the Times's stories in their entirety. "The Times has so much accumulated reputational capital that stories that are really ideological are presented as accurate news stories, and can mislead the public," says Dave Kopel, a conservative press critic with Denver's Rocky Mountain News.
Conservatives have long complained that the Times has been an organ of the liberal elite, and Raines, with his well-documented lefty politics, is a convenient right-wing bogeyman....
If Raines is working in any tradition, it's that of the crusading Southern populist. He began his career in Alabama, and cut his teeth at a time when the Southern papers were still charging the barricades of segregation. On the foreign-policy front, the Vietnam era helped cement his skepticism about government authority when lives are on the line. He once said the Reagan years "oppressed me because the callousness and the greed and the hardhearted attitude toward people who have very little in this society."
Whatever changes Raines is making, he's doing it with the blessing of the front office. His aggressiveness, as well as his news judgment, are seen as a reflection of the ambitions and philosophies of the Times's 51-year-old publisher, Arthur
Sulzberger Jr. Raines and Sulzberger have had a close relationship for years. While Sulzberger's day-to-day contact with Raines is limited, Sulzberger, who would not comment for this article, is clearly comfortable with Raines's activist ways....
END of Excerpt
To read the article in its entirety:
Last week Slate's press columnist, Jack Shafer, penned a piece on the Raines-led New York Times saturation coverage of the golf club. Citing the story about CBS "staying silent," Shafer described it as the "40th-plus news story, column, or editorial (since July!) about the Augusta National Golf Club's refusal to admit female members. Only a five-star general like Raines could have commanded such extravagant coverage as this." See:
Couric Badgers Whitman For Caving
to "Right-Wing Conservatives"
Today co-host Katie Couric on Monday took advantage of EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman's appearance to talk about "Energy Star" compliant holiday gifts to lecture her about how out disappointing she has been to environmentalists for not blocking Bush policies.
MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens caught how Couric badgered her on the December 2 NBC show about being beaten by "right-wing conservatives." Naturally, Couric never tagged any environmentalists as liberal, nor Senator Joe Lieberman or New Jersey Governor Jim McGrevey, whom she cited as experts on Whitman's misguided ways.
Couric set up the segment: "If you are truly interested in giving a gift that keeps on giving this holiday season EPA Administrator Christie Whitman has some suggestions about presents that can help make a difference not only for your wallet but for the environment as well. Christie Whitman, welcome back nice to see you. Before we talk about the Energy Star program I have to ask you about some recent developments. There have been a lot of critical pieces following the Bush administration's announcement of relaxed emissions standards at power plants and other industrial sources. As I understand it industrial sites are no longer obligated to install modern pollution controls whenever they make a major modification? And that's how it's been reported."
Couric lectured: "A lot of people though, have been highly critical of the Bush administration on the environment. They say that you came to the EPA with incredible strong environmentalist credentials. And yet, you know, every proposal that you've tried to put forward has gotten a kibosh by right-wing conservatives within the administration. That certainly is how it's been portrayed in the press. Some have even suggested that you might resign on principle. And that when this announcement was made it was, it was made the Friday before a holiday week by an assistant administrator. That you were AWOL and basically no where to be seen. What do you make of all this? And, and I guess the bottom line...[interrupted by Whitman]...the bottom line is do you, Christie Whitman, feel comfortable with the Bush administration's environmental policies? I guess is the bottom line."
Couric cited two unlabeled liberals as her authorities: "Well Joe Lieberman says, 'Time and time again her advice has been overruled by a White House determined to gut common sense environmental standards out of principle and protest she should step down.' Jim McGrevey, of course your successor in New Jersey, said that the EPA's action borders on irresponsible. And I
guess he's filing a lawsuit with eight other Northeastern states. So clearly not everybody agrees."
As for why Whitman may have been "AWOL" and the administration rationally tried to downplay their clean air decision, the networks, except FNC, presented a distorted presentation of the facts. See the November 25
CyberAlert: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021125.asp#1 -- 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