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The 1,440th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
Thursday February 20, 2003 (Vol. Eight; No. 33)

 
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1. PJ: Bush Admin. Imperiling Friends "To Get Its Way About Iraq"
ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday night again approached the Bush policy on Iraq from the assumption it is the administration and not a few of the allies which are not playing well with their friends. "It is quite clear in Washington tonight," Jennings intoned at the top of World News Tonight, "that the administration is prepared to jeopardize its relations with several of its oldest and best friends in order to get its way about Iraq." Terry Moran chided: "The White House today presented what amounted to an ultimatum to the fourteen other nations on the Security Council."

2. Terry Moran: Blame Rumsfeld and Powell for France's Ire
Matching the same attitude he and Peter Jennings expressed on Wednesday's World News Tonight, at the White House press briefing earlier in the day ABC's Terry Moran lectured Ari Fleischer about how the Bush team's rhetoric drove France against the U.S. Citing comments from Rumsfeld and Powell, Moran demanded: "Is that the rhetoric of a great power, and is that really the most effective way of building alliances?" He argued that the administration's rhetoric, "kind of dismissive superiority to some of the oldest American allies," is "contributing to the problems in forging a common front against Iraq."

3. Yet ABC Acknowledges Iraq's Lack of Cooperation with UN
A day after CBS reported that only three of the requested 30 Iraqi scientists have been willing to be interviewed by UN inspectors, ABC's World News Tonight caught up. Just a few minutes after Jennings scolded the Bush administration for jeopardizing relations with allies "in order to get its way about Iraq," Dan Harris in Baghdad extolled how "Saddam Hussein has met many of the weapons inspectors' key demands," but he acknowledged, "there is less to Iraq's cooperation than meets the eye."

4. Bush the "Worst President," But There's "Room for Redemption"
Asked by Phil Donahue on Wednesday night about her claim that George W. Bush "is the worst President in all of American history," Hearst Newspapers White House columnist Helen Thomas condescendingly suggested "there's always room for redemption" and "improvement."

5. Jamie Lee Curtis and The View Crew Rail Against Bush on Iraq
An anti-Bush outburst from a Hollywood celebrity on ABC's The View on Wednesday. When penta-host Meredith Vieira dared to pass along how President Bush said he will not be swayed by the anti-liberation of Iraq marches because he will not make policy based on a "focus group," guest host Jamie Lee Curtis flew into a rage: "So then what is he talking about that it's a focus group? That was millions of people!...That was millions of the people that he's supposed to serve." Joy Behar suggested Bush would understand a petition signed "in crayon" and Star Jones snidely lamented: "I guess the President says the majority of the people didn't elect him, he doesn't have to listen to 'em anyway." Curtis agreed.

6. FOB Rick Kaplan Returns to ABC News as a Top Executive
Rick Kaplan, the Friend of Bill of who ran CNN from 1997 to 2000, is returning to ABC News, where he was a top producer for many years, for at least a three month stint overseeing special events coverage. During his CNN tenure, Kaplan played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore. While at ABC in 1992 he advised Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation.


PJ: Bush Admin. Imperiling Friends "To Get Its
Way About Iraq"

     ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday night again approached the Bush policy on Iraq from the assumption it is the administration and not a few of the allies which are not playing well with their friends. "It is quite clear in Washington tonight," Jennings intoned at the top of World News Tonight, "that the administration is prepared to jeopardize its relations with several of its oldest and best friends in order to get its way about Iraq."

     Or, you could say that a few West European nations have jeopardized relations by their intransigence and hostility toward the U.S., to say nothing of putting a higher priority on trade revenue from Iraq. But if you thought that way, you wouldn't be Peter Jennings.

     CBS's Dan Rather and NBC's Tom Brokaw managed to lead their newscasts with one of the strategies which so enraged Jennings -- Bush deciding to press the UN Security Council for a resolution with a deadline -- but without such a heavy-handed rebuke of the administration's approach. Brokaw teased from Kuwait: "Countdown Iraq. The U.S. will bring a new war resolution to a vote at the UN, President Bush calls it 'the last chance.'"

     Also from Kuwait, Dan Rather announced at the top of the CBS Evening News: "Good evening from Camp Commando, headquarters of the U.S. Marine's First Expeditionary Force here in Kuwait. With the timetable for a possible new war with Iraq slipping, the United States is pushing for the United Nation's Security Council to give Saddam Hussein a flat deadline for disarming. The White House said it will offer a draft resolution this week or next."

ABC's Terry Moran     Compare that to how ABC White House reporter Terry Moran characterized the approach: "With nearly 200,000 U.S. troops now in the Persian Gulf, the White House today presented what amounted to an ultimatum to the fourteen other nations on the Security Council."

     Here's how Jennings set up that Moran story at the start of the February 19 World New Tonight:
     "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin this evening with the Bush administration and its allies. It is quite clear in Washington tonight that the administration is prepared to jeopardize its relations with several of its oldest and best friends in order to get its way about Iraq. Today, for example, the U.S. and Turkey, which is one of those allies still cannot make a deal by which U.S. forces would attack Iraq from Turkish territory. And at the White House, where Terry Moran is tonight, the President's principal visitor today was the secretary-general of the NATO alliance."

     CBS and NBC also looked at how Turkey now wants more money in exchange for using its land and facilities, but neither suggested anything like Jennings' claim that the problem demonstrated the Bush administration's willingness to "jeopardize" relations with Turkey.

 

Terry Moran: Blame Rumsfeld and Powell
for France's Ire

     Matching the same attitude he and Peter Jennings expressed on Wednesday's World News Tonight (see item #1 above), at the White House press briefing earlier in the day ABC's Terry Moran lectured Press Secretary Ari Fleischer about how the Bush team's rhetoric drove France against the U.S.

     Citing how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "has dismissively referred to France and Germany as 'old Europe,'" and how Secretary of State Colin Powell "warned France not be 'afraid' of its responsibilities," Moran demanded: "Is that the rhetoric of a great power, and is that really the most effective way of building alliances?" Moran followed up by arguing that the administration's rhetoric of "you're with us or you're against us," a "kind of dismissive superiority to some of the oldest American allies," is "contributing to the problems in forging a common front against Iraq."

     MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the exchange at just before 12:30pm EST during the briefing carried by the cable news networks.

     Moran began the interplay: "Ari, on the UN resolution, a second UN resolution, one of the forces that's at work, it seems, is increasing rancor and nastiness within the Western alliance. You've got newspapers here showing France and Germany as weasels at the Security Council, people calling France 'surrender monkeys.' Then you've got a lot of anti-Americanism on the streets over in France."
     Fleischer, White House Press Secretary: "Are you asking me if I can be responsible for the American press?"
     Moran: "No, but I am asking if you can be -- can speak for the responsibility of top officials of the Bush Administration -- Secretary Rumsfeld, who has dismissively referred to France and Germany as old Europe, and today, Secretary Powell, who warned France not be 'afraid' of its responsibilities. Is that the rhetoric of a great power, and is that really the most effective way of building alliances?" 
     Fleischer: "I think that there's no question that when you look at the decades-long alliance between the United States and Europe there are moments in that alliance that are the reflections of democratic disagreements between nations that virtually always see things the same way, but occasionally they don't. And during that time I think that it's part and parcel of democracies to speak frankly.
     "And that has happened in numerous cases; it's happened between France and other nations. And as the President has said, in the end, this is an alliance of shared values, and in the end, no matter what happens vis-a-vis Iraq, we will remain a close alliance." 
     Moran: "But is it possible that the attitude which emanates not from the press, but from the administration, of 'you're with us or you're against us,' kind of dismissive superiority to some of the oldest American allies, is contributing to the problems in forging a common front against Iraq?"
     Fleischer: "No, I think you have some stark differences and you're seeing the differences discussed openly, and what's wrong with that? That's one of the strengths of our alliance, one of the strengths of our democracies, that we can differ. And, again, when you take a look at this, the differences are really with Germany and France and Belgium -- and that has now been settled vis-a-vis NATO. And those are differences that are reflective of a minority of countries. There is agreement between the United States and most of the nations of Europe. The European governments stand very strong with the United States...."

     CNN's Aaron Brown conveyed the same blame the U.S. first theme on Monday's NewsNight. Interviewing New Republic Editor Peter Beinhart, Brown proposed on his February 17 show: 
     "Let me broach a side subject here a little bit. Is it possible that the administration in some respects has been its own worst enemy here in the way, and perhaps even the people who have been speaking the loudest? Because overseas we heard again and again tremendous dissatisfaction with the tone of particularly Secretary Rumsfeld."

 

Yet ABC Acknowledges Iraq's Lack of
Cooperation with UN

     A day after the CBS Evening News reported that only three of the requested 30 Iraqi scientists have been willing to be interviewed by UN inspectors, ABC's World News Tonight caught up. (For more on the February 18 story by CBS's Mark Phillips, see:
http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030219.asp#2)

     Just a few minutes after Jennings scolded the Bush administration because of how it "is prepared to jeopardize its relations with several of its oldest and best friends in order to get its way about Iraq" (see item #1 above), Dan Harris in Baghdad extolled how "Saddam Hussein has met many of the weapons inspectors' key demands," but he acknowledged, "there is less to Iraq's cooperation than meets the eye." Harris then recounted how Iraq has failed to comply with the requests of Hans Blix for a list of scientists and that only three of 30 scientists have agreed to interviews.

     Jennings set up the February 19 World News Tonight report, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Lest we forget that part of the Bush administration's latest disagreement with its allies is about whether to attack Iraq or let the United Nations weapons inspectors continue to work there. ABC's Dan Harris reports from Baghdad tonight that the inspectors are not getting as much help as they want."
     Harris: "In recent days, Saddam Hussein has met many of the weapons inspectors' key demands. A presidential decree outlawing weapons of mass destruction, U-2 surveillance flights, and private interviews with Iraqi scientists. On the surface, it looks like the relationship between the Iraqis and the inspectors is greatly improved. In fact, the chief inspectors have said they've seen the beginnings of a change of attitude. However, on closer inspection, there is less to Iraq's cooperation than meets the eye. In his report to the Security Council last Friday, chief inspector Hans Blix made a series of requests. He asked for the Iraqis to hand over a list of scientists who may have been involved in destroying Iraq's biological weapons. Five days later, no response from the Iraqis. He asked for more cooperation on private interviews with scientists. His inspectors have made 30 requests for interviews, but only three scientists have actually agreed."
     Hans Blix, Chief UN weapons inspector at the UN last week: "I hope this will change."
     Harris: "Five days later, no change. Most importantly, Dr. Blix said this entire crisis could be defused if Iraq would prove definitively that it has destroyed all banned weapons, such as Anthrax and VX nerve agent."
     Blix: "In the current situation, one would expect Iraq to be eager to comply."
     Harris: "Again, five days later, nothing. Tonight one top Iraqi official hinted at why the government may not be feeling much pressure to act. He said given the huge international peace protests and the growing anti-war sentiment at the UN, it is America that is in trouble. Dan Harris, ABC News, Baghdad."

     Yes, the very same "peace" marches which Jennings trumpeted on Tuesday night when he insisted that though "the enormous anti-war demonstrations" have not "changed" President Bush's "mind about Saddam Hussein," they "have certainly given Mr. Bush's opponents some sense that they have momentum." Details: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030219.asp#1

 

Bush the "Worst President," But There's
"Room for Redemption"

     Asked by Phil Donahue on Wednesday night about her claim that George W. Bush "is the worst President in all of American history," Hearst Newspapers White House columnist Helen Thomas patronizingly suggested "there's always room for redemption" and "improvement." She recommended that in Iraq Bush should "declare a victory and leave."

     As recounted in the January 29 CyberAlert, a story in the Daily Breeze in Torrance, California quoted how Thomas made the derogatory remark about Bush at a Society of Professional Journalists awards event. For details:
http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030129.asp#8

     When Donahue read the quote to Thomas during a live interview on the February 19 edition of his MSNBC show, Thomas contended: "What I should have said is there's always room for redemption." She added: "But I should have added there's always room for improvement. I don't mean to be condescending, but there is always, he's got two more years."

     Donahue prompted the long-time UPI White House reporter: "You want him to redeem himself by pulling back."
     Thomas confirmed: "That's right. He would be a hero. Declare a victory and leave."

     Bill Clinton, however, is her real hero. About him she gushed: "I think his heart was in the right place. He made mistakes obviously in his personal life, but he balanced the budget, he created the surplus, and I think he worked for peace in the Balkans, Ireland, Middle East."

     But he went into the Balkans without UN Security Council approval!

 

Jamie Lee Curtis and The View Crew Rail
Against Bush on Iraq

     An anti-Bush outburst from a Hollywood celebrity on ABC's The View on Wednesday. When penta-host Meredith Vieira dared to pass along how President Bush said he will not be swayed by the anti-liberation of Iraq marches because he will not make policy based on a "focus group" since "he believes that the role of a leader...is to decide policy based upon the security of the people," guest penta-host Jamie Lee Curtis flew into a rage: "So then what is he talking about that it's a focus group? That was millions of people!...That was millions of the people that he's supposed to serve."

     Later in the show, Curtis boasted of how she had attended a "peace" rally over the weekend.

     Penta-host Joy Behar offered this belittling quip about Bush: "What I think we should do is draw up a petition, everybody sign in crayon, and then he'll understand." Another of the five hosts, former NBC News reporter Star Jones, snidely lamented: "I guess the President says the majority of the people didn't elect him, he doesn't have to listen to 'em anyway."

     MRC analyst Jessica Anderson transcribed the war protest discussion on the February 19 The View, the daytime ABC program created and produced by Barbara Walters. This week the New York City-based show is being broadcast at 8am PST from Los Angeles with a different guest host each day joining the regular four.

     Former CBS News reporter Meredith Vieira segued from a discussion about the popularity in Britain of penis extension surgery, to the war protests: "[President Bush] will not be deterred from war against Iraq if he thinks that's what we need to do. He says that he's not going to decide policy based upon a focus group. He believes that the role of a leader -- and he has a point here -- the role of a leader is to decide policy based upon the security of the people."
     Actress Jamie Lee Curtis, raising her voice: "But he's the leader of the people!"
     Vieira: "Right."
     Curtis, very loudly: "So then what is he talking about that it's a focus group? That was millions of people! That is not a focus group. Fifteen people, you know, talking about a movie plot is a focus group. That was millions of the people that he's supposed to serve."
     [Left coast audience applauds]
     Barbara Walters: "Does anybody remember 'hell no we won't go'?"
     Curtis: "Yeah."
     Vieira: "Oh sure, Vietnam, absolutely."
     Walters: "The Vietnam War, in great part, ended -- and it caused Lyndon Johnson to resign -- it ended because of the people's will, the public protests."
     Joy Behar: "I think it cost a lot by then, too."
     Walters: "Well, you know, you can have arguments on both sides."
     Vieira: "Right, but for example he would point out that there were isolationists before World War II, and he does, and that if FDR had listened to them and we had not gone to war, would that have been the right thing?"
     Behar: "Well, you know, what I think we should do is draw up a petition, everybody sign in crayon, and then he'll understand."
     Vieira: "Okay."
     Star Jones: "Whoa!"
     Curtis: "She is feisty today."
     Jones: "Yes, she is!"
     Behar: "I'm a little under the, you know."
     Vieira: "You aren't feeling well, I know you're not feeling well."
     Jones: "Yeah, but we do need to at least listen to what the citizenry has to say."
     Curtis: "Oh, absolutely, absolutely."
     Jones: "That's the best part about being citizens of the United States."
     Walters: "On the other hand, people who said, you know, remember in the Gulf War they called his father by that terrible name, 'wimp,' remember that?
     Vieira, Jones, Behar and Curtis: "Yes."
     Walters: "This is a man who is showing strength and this is a man who is showing leadership."
     Jones: "Sometimes strength is best shown in restraint."
     [Audience applauds]
     Vieira: "But the rap against Clinton was that he always had his finger up testing the wind, that he basically governed by focus group. Is that any better?"
     Jones: "Well, I guess, you know, I guess the President says the majority of the people didn't elect him, he doesn't have to listen to 'em anyway."
     Curtis agreed: "They didn't elect him, actually, at all."
     Jones: "Gosh, that felt good!"
     Vieira: "But Presidents are not elected by the majority of the people, I mean, it doesn't have to be. It's not a popularity-"
     Jones: "I know. Well, that's his prerogative."

     For pictures and bios of The View crew:
http://abc.abcnews.go.com/theview/hosts/hosts.html

     For a photo of Jamie Lee Curtis and a listing of all her movie and TV roles, see her Internet Movie Database page:
http://us.imdb.com/Name?Curtis,+Jamie+Lee

 

FOB Rick Kaplan Returns to ABC News as a
Top Executive

     Rick Kaplan, the Friend of Bill of who ran CNN from 1997 to 2000 as President of CNN/USA, is returning to ABC News, where he was a top producer for many years, for at least a three month stint overseeing special events coverage.

     While serving as President of CNN, Kaplan played golf with President Clinton, stayed overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom and participated in a mock debate session with Al Gore. When he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992 he advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight he blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast.

     Below are summaries about all of that and links to fuller accounts, but first an excerpt from the AP story highlighted Wednesday afternoon by DrudgeReport.com:

With a potential war with Iraq looming, former CNN chief Rick Kaplan is rejoining ABC News for three months to oversee special events coverage, the network said Wednesday....

Kaplan has "proven his ability at producing and overseeing live television news coverage," said ABC News President David Westin. Westin's top deputy, Paul Friedman, announced last week that he was leaving management for a part-time role...

It's no fun to watch big stories breaking on television "and not have responsibility for any of them," Kaplan said....

     END of Excerpt

     Drudge linked to a Boston Globe-posted version:
http://boston.com/dailynews/050/economy/Former_CNN_chief_Rick_
Kaplan_j%3A.shtml

     I think the inside story here is that ABC News and Westin were embarrassed by their poor showing on the Saturday morning of the Columbia disaster, the one morning of the week when, because they have no newscast, they have had inadequate personnel in place to handle a breaking news event.

     For a photo of Kaplan:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/030214/168/39uee.html

     Now, as lifted from the November 19, 2002 CyberAlert, the rundown of Kaplan's liberal political activities over the years while serving as a network news executive:

     > Rick Kaplan's close ties to President Bill Clinton:

     # From the April 11, 2000 CyberAlert:

CNN President Rick Kaplan, who stayed overnight in Clinton's White House while at ABC News, spent another night there with his daughter last Thursday night after the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner, USA Today disclosed. But Kaplan doesn't see anything wrong with it.

In his "Inside TV" column for April 10, USA Today's Peter Johnson revealed:

CNN president Rick Kaplan, who took some heat when he worked at ABC News for staying overnight at the White House during President Clinton's first term, spent another night there Thursday -- after Clinton roasted ABC News over "Leogate."

"No, I do not feel embarrassed, ashamed or compromised in any way, shape or form," Kaplan said Friday, after sleeping in the Queen's Room while daughter Alexis, 21, slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.

Generally speaking, it's an ethical no-no for journalists to get too cozy with people they cover. But Kaplan, a former Nightline, PrimeTime Live and World News Tonight producer, said Clinton's gesture won't affect CNN's coverage of him.

"Everyone has relationships," Kaplan said. "We met each other before either of us knew we'd amount to anything. He doesn't expect anything from me, and I don't expect anything from him."

Kaplan, a Clinton friend for 30 years, said the president gave Alexis an "amazing" 2 -hour White House tour. "It was extremely nice of him to do it. In the waning months of his presidency, I felt, 'What the heck?'"

     END of Excerpt and of April 11, 2001 CyberAlert item

     (Back in 1994 Knight-Ridder's Marc Gunther noted in a profile story that ran in the February 8, 1994 Detroit News: "Kaplan and Clinton have known each other since the late 1970s, and last year the ABC producer played golf with the President and spent a night in the Lincoln Bedroom....")

     # From the December 5, 2000 CyberAlert, a couple of months after Kaplan left CNN:

Was former CNN President Rick Kaplan involved in advising the Gore campaign while he was still running the cable news network? Did he have special behind-the-scenes access because of his close personal connection to Bill Clinton? Those questions are raised by an intriguing sentence in the November 20 Newsweek.

In early September Kaplan was let go by CNN, but back in March he was still President of CNN/USA. Keep that in mind as you read this paragraph from Newsweek's massive "The Inside Story" treatise on the campaign. This appeared about 30 pages into the series of articles which listed Eleanor Clift as the reporter with Gore, on page 65 in "Spring Fever" section:
"Yet even after Gore had sewn up the nomination, he kept on robotically attacking Bradley in primaries that were, for all intents and purposes, meaningless. At a rehearsal for a California debate on March 1, former CNN President Rick Kaplan joked, 'Let's do the debate now.' Gore's sparring partner, Tom Downey, intoned, 'I'm going to kick you're a--.' Without missing a beat or cracking a smile, Gore mechanically launched into his standard rap, attacking Bradley's health care plan."

     END of December 5, 2000 CyberAlert item

     Were Kaplan and Clift advising or observing? We'll probably never know because journalists didn't and don't care about a journalist advising a liberal candidate or President.

     # See the June 14, 1999 CyberAlert for how, during a commencement address Kaplan delivered while President of CNN, he complained that Ken Starr is "putting obsession ahead of the best interests of the nation" while Bill Clinton has had "extraordinary" achievements. For a lengthy excerpt of his speech: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1999/cyb19990614.asp#4

     For a RealPlayer clip of it: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000831.asp#2

     # From the October 9, 1997 CyberAlert, how Kaplan's personal views directly impacted CNN content:

A two-hour CNN special on campaign finance was produced by CNN President Rick Kaplan, who U.S. News reported had demanded that CNN staffers "limit the use of the word 'scandal' in reporting on Clinton's campaign fundraising woes."

I wondered: "Can you do a two-hour show on Clinton's 1996 fundraising and not use the word 'scandal'?" A rhetoric question, or so I thought. But incredibly enough the answer is -- yes!

The October 7 show titled "Democracy for Sale" wandered well beyond Clinton to examine Republicans and to argue for campaign finance reform, but summarizing charges against Clinton took up a significant portion of the show. Nonetheless, the phrase "Clinton scandal" was never uttered.... Details: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1997/cyb19971009.asp#4

     > Kaplan's activities on behalf of Clinton while at ABC News:

     # For details on how in February 1992, while at ABC News, he advised Clinton on how to respond to the Gennifer Flowers story: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1997/cyb19970806.asp#1

     # For extensive and illuminating excerpts from a January 1998 Vanity Fair profile which detailed how Kaplan once hired Hillary Clinton; how he not only advised Clinton about how to counter Gennifer Flowers, but had earlier counseled Clinton on how to recover from his too-long 1988 convention speech; how he had been a political operative for a liberal presidential candidate before jumping to journalism; how he made calls to console Hillary Clinton after Vince Foster's death and to Web Hubbell after he resigned; how he killed a Whitewater piece from ABC's World News Tonight, discouraged reporters and producers from pursuing the topic and only ran an in-depth look one night in 1994 because Nightline was about to grab it; and how he slurred conservative media critics who see liberal bias, specifically Reed Irvine and MRC President Brent Bozell, as "liars." Go to: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/1998/cyb19980114.asp

     That's quite a piece about a political activist in the guise of a news man. -- Brent Baker

 


 


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