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www.TimesWatch.org


 

The 2,236th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
9:50a
m EDT, Monday July 25, 2006 (Vol. Eleven; No. 122)
 
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1. ABC's Gibson Reminds Viewers: Iraq Still an Ongoing Disaster
On Monday's World News, ABC anchor Charles Gibson segued from coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah battle to remind viewers of how badly things are going in Iraq. Over an on-screen graphic of the numbers of civilians and military members killed in Iraq compared to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Gibson announced: "Well the focus of the world, in recent days, has been on Israel and Lebanon. And attention has been diverted from Iraq. But it should be noted that in the thirteen days since the Israeli/Lebanese crisis began, more Iraqi civilians have died [540] than Lebanese [392]. And more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks [24] than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict [22]."

2. CNN's Robertson Admits: Hezbollah 'Had Control' of His Piece
Better late than never? On CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson added all of the caveats and disclaimers that he should have included in his story last week that amounted to his giving an uncritical forum for the terrorist group Hezbollah to spout unverifiable anti-Israeli propaganda. In his original story, Robertson had no complaints about the journalistic limitations of a story put together under such tight controls, and Robertson himself at one point seemed to agree with the Hezbollah propaganda claim that Israeli jets had targeted a civilian area: "As we run past the rubble, we see much that points to civilian life, no evidence apparent of military equipment." Challenged by Howard Kurtz on Sunday, Robertson suggested Hezbollah has "very, very sophisticated and slick media operations," that the terrorist group "had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath." AUDIO&VIDEO

3. Bush With Snowflake Babies Makes Time's Klein 'Want to Throw Up'
Apparently the sight of George W. Bush surrounded by cute babies is enough to make Time's Joe Klein "want to throw up." On this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the panel discussion turned to Bush's veto of expanded stem cell research and his appearance with "snowflake babies." For Klein it was too much to take: "That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up. It is so transparently political and cynical."

4. Schieffer Finds Fun & Inspiration in Obituary for Hooters Founder
In a week of bad news, CBS's Bob Schieffer found good news and uplifted his spirits by reading obituaries. In his commentary at the end of Sunday's Face the Nation, the CBS Evening News anchor contended that "the awful news of last week reminded me just how much we need newspapers" since "the joy of reading a newspaper...comes from finding information we were not looking for." He related how "the main news was so grim I found myself turning to the newspapers for a little relief. Deep in the Times one day last week, surrounded by all of that war news, I found an obituary of Robert Brooks, who founded the Hooters restaurant chain. The writer said that Hooters was known for spicy chicken wings and even spicier waitresses. Now who could read that and not at least smile?" How about his widow? And: "I found another story about the death of Arthur Haggerty. I learned he was credited with making dog training into a respectable profession and was known to legions of dogs as 'he who must be obeyed.' Hadn't known of him myself, but I won't forget him after reading that."


 

ABC's Gibson Reminds Viewers: Iraq Still
an Ongoing Disaster

     On Monday's World News, ABC anchor Charles Gibson segued from coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah battle to remind viewers of how badly things are going in Iraq. Over an on-screen graphic of the numbers of civilians and military members killed in Iraq compared to the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, Gibson announced: "Well the focus of the world, in recent days, has been on Israel and Lebanon. And attention has been diverted from Iraq. But it should be noted that in the thirteen days since the Israeli/Lebanese crisis began, more Iraqi civilians have died [540] than Lebanese [392]. And more U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq these past two weeks [24] than Israeli soldiers have died in their conflict [22]. Also somewhat overlooked is the fact that Saddam Hussein has been on a two-week hunger strike. ABC's Terry McCarthy is in Baghdad tonight...."

     [This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Of course, it was an editorial decision by ABC News to "divert" its focus from Iraq and if the number of deaths in Iraq should be newsworthy, ABC at anytime can decide to give Iraq more time and a higher priority than the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

 

CNN's Robertson Admits: Hezbollah 'Had
Control' of His Piece

     Better late than never? On CNN's Reliable Sources on Sunday, CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson added all of the caveats and disclaimers that he should have included in his story last week that amounted to his giving an uncritical forum for the terrorist group Hezbollah to spout unverifiable anti-Israeli propaganda. Back on July 18, Hezbollah took Robertson and his crew on a tour of a heavily damaged south Beirut neighborhood. The Hezbollah "press officer" even instructed the CNN camera: "Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?"
     In his original story, Robertson had no complaints about the journalistic limitations of a story put together under such tight controls, and Robertson himself at one point seemed to agree with the Hezbollah propaganda claim that Israeli jets had targeted a civilian area: "As we run past the rubble, we see much that points to civilian life, no evidence apparent of military equipment."

     [This item, by Rich Noyes, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Challenged by Reliable Sources host (and Washington Post media writer) Howard Kurtz on Sunday, Robertson suggested Hezbollah has "very, very sophisticated and slick media operations," that the terrorist group "had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath," and he even contradicted Hezbollah's self-serving spin: "There's no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities."

     But the closest Robertson came to making any of these points in the taped package that aired last week was admitting that "we [he and his CNN crew] didn't go burrowing into all the houses," after pointing out (for the second time) that "we didn't see any military type of equipment" in the area Hezbollah chose to let them tour.

     Five days later, Robertson argued that "journalistic integrity" required skepticism: "When you hear their [Hezbollah's] claims, they have to come with more than a grain of salt, that you have to put in some journalistic integrity. That you have to point out to the audience and let them know that this was a guided tour by Hezbollah press officials along with their security, that it was a very rushed affair."

     While some viewers undoubtedly deduced out that it was "a guided tour" from the numerous soundbites from the Hezbollah press officer, it's not as if Robertson ever complained about his limitations or explicitly warned viewers that there was no way he could confirm any of the claims.

     The July 20 CyberAlert recounted: Tuesday night (July 18) on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, senior international correspondent Nic Robertson touted his "exclusive" exchange with a Hezbollah propagandist who led Robertson on a tour of a bombed-out block of southern Beirut. Hezbollah claimed to show that Israeli bombs had struck civilian areas of the city, not the terrorist group's headquarters. The Hezbollah "press officer," Hussein Nabulsi, even directed


| |
More See & Hear the Bias

CNN's camera: "Just look. Shoot. Look at this building. Is it a military base? Is it a military base, or just civilians living in this building?" A few moments later, Nabulsi instructed CNN to videotape him as he ran up to a pile of rubble: "Shoot me. Shoot. This is here where they said Sheikh Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, is living. This is wrong!"

     For more, including an audio/video clip of Robertson's piece which will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

     Nic Robertson, of course, isn't the only correspondent going on these Hezbollah-arranged tours, as CNN's Reliable Sources noted. In a set-up to his interview with Robertson, Kurtz played clips of NBC's Richard Engel and CBS's Elizabeth Palmer relating their trips into the damaged areas, with Palmer providing the sort of disclaimer that Robertson failed to include last week: "This morning, Hezbollah showed journalists around the ruins of its former stronghold, but Hezbollah is also determined that outsiders will only see what it wants them to see."

     Now, more of Robertson's live interview from Lebanon (10:15am EDT) on the July 23 Reliable Sources (transcript corrected against the actual broadcast):

     Howard Kurtz: "I want to go now to CNN's Nic Robertson, who joins us live from Beirut. Nic Robertson, we were speaking a moment ago about the way journalists cover Hezbollah and some of these tours that Hezbollah officials have arranged of the bomb damage in the areas of Southern Lebanon. You, I believe, got one of those tours. Isn't it difficult for you as a journalist to independently verify any claims made by Hezbollah, because you're not able to go into the buildings and see whether or not there is any military activity or any weapons being hidden there?"
     Nic Robertson: "Well, Howard, there's no doubt about it: Hezbollah has a very, very sophisticated and slick media operations. In fact, beyond that, it has very, very good control over its areas in the south of Beirut. They deny journalists access into those areas. They can turn on and off access to hospitals in those areas. They have a lot of power and influence. You don't get in there without their permission. And when I went in, we were given about 10 or 15 minutes, quite literally running through a number of neighborhoods that they directed and they took us to."
     "What I would say at that time was, it was very clear to me that the Hezbollah press official who took us on that guided tour -- and there were Hezbollah security officials around us at the time with walkie-talkie radios -- that he felt a great deal of anxiety about the situation....But there's no doubt about it. They had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath."
     "So what we did see today in a similar excursion, and Hezbollah is now running a number of these every day, taking journalists into this area. They realize that this is a good way for them to get their message out, taking journalists on a regular basis. This particular press officer came across his press office today, what was left of it in the rubble. He pointed out business cards that he said were from his office that was a Hezbollah press office in that area."
     "So there's no doubt that the bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities. But from what we can see, there appear to be a lot of civilian damage, a lot of civilian properties. But again, as you say, we didn't have enough time to go in, root through those houses, see if perhaps there was somebody there who was, you know, a taxi driver by day, and a Hezbollah fighter by night...."
     Kurtz: "To what extent do you feel like you're being used to put up the pictures that they want -- obviously, it's terrible that so many civilians have been killed -- without any ability, as you just outlined, to verify, because -- to verify Hezbollah's role, because this is a fighting force that is known to blend in among the civilian population and keep some of its weapons there?"
     Robertson: "Absolutely. And I think as we try and do our job, which is go out and see what's happened to the best of our ability, clearly, in that environment, in the southern suburbs of Beirut that Hezbollah controls, the only way we can get into those areas is with a Hezbollah escort. And absolutely, when you hear their claims they have to come with more than a grain of salt, that you have to put in some journalistic integrity. That you have to point out to the audience and let them know that this was a guided tour by Hezbollah press officials along with their security, that it was a very rushed affair, that there wasn't time to go and look through those buildings."
     "The audience has to know the conditions of that tour. But again, if we didn't get all -- or we could not get access to those areas without Hezbollah compliance, they control those areas."


     # Check this NewsBusters node for audio and video of MRC President Brent Bozell's appearance on Monday's O'Reilly Factor on FNC to discuss coverage of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict, with Nic Robertson's story as the prime report in focus: newsbusters.org

 

Bush With Snowflake Babies Makes Time's
Klein 'Want to Throw Up'

     Apparently the sight of George W. Bush surrounded by cute babies is enough to make Time's Joe Klein "want to throw up." On this weekend's syndicated Chris Matthews Show, the panel discussion turned to Bush's veto of expanded stem cell research and his appearance with "snowflake babies." For Klein it was too much to take: "That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up. It is so transparently political and cynical."

     [This item, by Geoff Dickens, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Substituting for Chris Matthews, NBC's David Gregory teased the segment at the top of the show: "Most voters favor full-speed ahead on stem cells but the President hit the brakes. Could this be political disaster in November?" Gregory opened the panel discussion with a soundbite from Nancy Pelosi declaring: "In vetoing the legislation, the President will be saying no to 75 percent of the American people." NBC's Andrea Mitchell then noted that while the veto will energize some in Bush's base it also: "Doesn't track at all politically with people in his own party, with, you know, the soccer moms, with other constituencies that Republicans have been trying to court. It flies in the face of that." Gregory then threw it to Klein:
     "Joe, is he trying to thread a needle here? I mean, this is for the base that's angry with him on immigration, over the war. But there's a lot of moderates in suburban districts, Republicans who say, 'Hey, wait a minute, you're on the wrong side of this.'"
     Klein: "And there's another aspect to this as well. That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up. It is so transparently political and cynical. I mean, you know, I think that the real thing that the Republican campaign Karl Rove is flying into is whether the level of his cynicism about all of these issues, and these sorts of photo-ops is gonna become an issue in this campaign itself. Are people gonna say, 'How dumb do they think we are?'"

     The following is a full transcript of the exchange:

     Gregory: "Welcome back. Political science. Even though huge bipartisan majorities of the House and Senate approved federal money for expanded stem cell research, George Bush vetoed it. Democrats think they see a winner for November. Here's Nancy Pelosi."
     Nancy Pelosi: "In vetoing the legislation, the President will be saying no to 75 percent of the American people."
     Gregory: "Andrea, Nancy Pelosi is right. The public is for expanded federal money for this kind of research. Politically, though, does this have an impact in the fall?"
     Mitchell: "It has an impact, I think, because this is a way to energize George Bush's base. And that's the only conceivable reason to do this, is to get people excited, the people who come out and vote about his position on this, which doesn't track at all politically with people in his own party, with, you know, the soccer moms, with other constituencies that Republicans have been trying to court. It flies in the face of that, and there are also other critics who would say, 'This is your first veto? After all that pork?' So you've got conservative Republicans screaming about the fiscal irresponsibility of this Congress who are stunned that this would be where he would choose to make his stand."
     Gregory: "Joe, is he trying to thread a needle here? I mean, this is for the base that's angry with him on immigration, over the war. But there's a lot of moderates in suburban districts, Republicans who say, 'Hey, wait a minute, you're on the wrong side of this.'"
     Klein: "And there's another aspect to this as well. That photo-op, this week with all of those babies made me want to throw up. It is so transparently political and cynical. I mean, you know, I think that the real thing that the Republican campaign Karl Rove is flying into is whether the level of his cynicism about all of these issues, and these sorts of photo-ops is gonna become an issue in this campaign itself. Are people gonna say, €˜How dumb do they think we are?'"
     Gregory: "David, the bottom line is that those so-called snowflake babies, where the embryos and cells are donated to people who can't have children on their own, if it's not used for research, most of them are destroyed, not actually donated to other people. David Ignatius, in a race like Missouri, where this is an issue, where Jim Talent is being challenged by McCaskill there over this issue that's on the ballot in the fall, does it resonate?"
     David Ignatius, Washington Post: "Well, it seems to. McCaskill seems to be making a lot, a lot of progress. My sense is that this is like the Terri Schiavo issue that we, that we saw earlier, where the, the average voter looks at this question of stem cell research and thinks, 'This is about my health, this is about my parents, this is about, you know, diseases I might get and ways that they might be cured.' And I, and I think that that's the danger for the president. In animating his base, he animates everybody else on an issue that, that really hurts him."
     Mitchell: "And there's another Republican constituency, which is the business community, business and research communities that are stunned that all of this research is moving overseas and has been for a couple of years now."
     Gregory: "Chrystia, do you want to add something?"
     Chrystia Freeland, Financial Times: "Well, I think it really highlights the danger for, as viewed by the majority of this really black and white moralizing on issues. And so there can be something sort of philosophically beautiful about a moral consistency that says 'a fetus is human, so even if it's one, a one-day-old embryo, that's human.' But when people start thinking, 'This is blocking research that could save my mother who has Parkinson's,' I don't think they're gonna bluff that."

 

Schieffer Finds Fun & Inspiration in
Obituary for Hooters Founder

     In a week of bad news, CBS's Bob Schieffer found good news and uplifted his spirits by reading obituaries. In his commentary at the end of Sunday's Face the Nation, the CBS Evening News anchor contended that "the awful news of last week reminded me just how much we need newspapers" since "the joy of reading a newspaper...comes from finding information we were not looking for." He related how "the main news was so grim I found myself turning to the newspapers for a little relief. Deep in the Times one day last week, surrounded by all of that war news, I found an obituary of Robert Brooks, who founded the Hooter's restaurant chain. The writer said that Hooters was known for spicy chicken wings and even spicier waitresses. Now who could read that and not at least smile?" How about his widow? And: "I found another story about the death of Arthur Haggerty. I learned he was credited with making dog training into a respectable profession and was known to legions of dogs as 'he who must be obeyed.' Hadn't known of him myself, but I won't forget him after reading that."

     Schieffer's July 23 commentary:
     "Finally today, with iPods and blogs and the Internet, there is a lot of serious talk these days, even among journalists, about whether newspapers are going to survive. But the awful news of last week reminded me just how much we need newspapers and not always for the obvious reasons. Jill Abramson, who is the Managing Editor of the New York Times, says we use the Internet to search for specific information. But the joy of reading a newspaper, she says, comes from finding information we were not looking for.
     "Last week reminded me of just that. The main news was so grim I found myself turning to the newspapers for a little relief. Deep in the Times one day last week, surrounded by all of that war news, I found an obituary of Robert Brooks, who founded the Hooter's restaurant chain. The writer said that Hooters was known for spicy chicken wings and even spicier waitresses. Now who could read that and not at least smile?
     "I found another story about the death of Arthur Haggerty. I learned he was credited with making dog training into a respectable profession and was known to legions of dogs as 'he who must be obeyed.' Hadn't known of him myself, but I won't forget him after reading that.
     "And then there was the story I found on the business page that began: 'Robie Livingstone has all but given up on having a positive underwear buying experience.' Now how can you NOT read on when a story starts that way?
     "Maybe it's just me, but I was in a better humor after reading those stories. Of course it didn't last long as the day wore on and the rest of the news rolled in."



     # MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is scheduled to make two late night appearances this week. Tonight (Tuesday) on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and then on Friday on CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

-- Brent Baker

 


 


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