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CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday October 31, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 170) |
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ABC’s PR "Boon" for the Taliban; Geraldo Scolded the Media; NBC’s Today: Gore Really Won Election; Tell Taliban Where We Will Bomb

1) ABC’s Dan Harris conceded on Tuesday’s World News Tonight that the Taliban invited him into their territory because of the "rising civilian casualties" which they see as "an enormous public relations boon to them."

2) Geraldo Rivera, yes Geraldo, scolded the media for "losing its nerve." He mocked his colleagues: "You’ve all seen the melancholy reports over the last few days. ‘Our bombing’s not working, we’re slaughtering innocent civilians, our allies, the so-called Northern Alliance are all bluster, no belly, the Taliban’s winning, Ramadan is coming, winter is coming, woe is us!’"

3) What better time than three weeks into the war to question the legitimacy of the Bush presidency. Tuesday’s Today brought aboard Jeffrey Toobin, who declared: "I do conclude that, based on what I saw in a year of investigation, that Al Gore won this election." Katie Couric quoted from his book: "‘The bell of this election can never be un-rung and the sound will haunt us for some time.’"

4) During Tuesday’s Pentagon briefing a reporter actually suggested to Donald Rumsfeld that, in order to minimize civilian casualties, the U.S. drop "leaflets days in advance of an air strike to get residents out and saying, ‘This could become a military target.’" A dumbfounded Rumsfeld stared speechless for several seconds as he formulated a reply.


     >>> New NQ now online, thanks to the MRC’s Mez Djouadi and Kristina Sewell: The October 29 edition of Notable Quotables, the MRC’s bi-weekly compilation of the latest outrageous, sometimes humorous, quotes in the liberal media. To access the issue, go to:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2001/nq20011029.asp
     For the Adobe Acrobat PDF version, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/notablequotables/2001/pdf/oct292001nq.pdf <<<

     1

ABC’s Dan Harris conceded on Tuesday’s World News Tonight that the Taliban invited him into their territory because of the "rising civilian casualties" which they see as "an enormous public relations boon to them."

     Harris, who has spent the last two weeks in Pakistan narrating Al-Jazeera video of supposed U.S. atrocities when he was not showing ones he found through victims who crossed the border into Pakistan, was amongst the Western reporters the Taliban brought to the Kandahar area. Shortly after his arrival, he checked in with Peter Jennings via videophone.

     Jennings inquired: "Why do you think they want you there?" Harris replied: "I would say it’s because of the rising civilian casualties, what they claim is a rising number of civilian casualties. I think they see that this is an enormous public relations boon to them."

     Nice catch there by Harris, saying it’s "what they claim" after he stated it as a fact himself.

     The Taliban couldn’t have picked a network more eager to showcase supposed victims of U.S. bombing and willing to relay Taliban propaganda. From the table of contents of recent CyberAlerts, the output of Harris and his colleague David Wright:

     -- Terrorists killed 16 Christian worshipers at a church in Pakistan on Sunday, but instead of mentioning that ABC focused on highlighting two civilians killed by U.S. bombing. "An old woman cried out to God in pain," David Wright relayed before stressing: "The victims included children as young as four." For more, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011030.asp#3

     -- ABC’s Jim Wooten looked at how the U.S. is losing the public relations battle in Pakistan because the local press compliantly relays the Taliban’s uncorroborated claims about U.S. atrocities. But that’s just what ABC News itself has been doing for the past few weeks. Wooten dismissed a Taliban claim of 200 killed in a village, an allegation ABC had relayed, complete with video of a bloody pillow, body parts and dead goats. For details: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011026.asp#1

     -- ABC and NBC gave life to Taliban propaganda by airing video of injured civilians. ABC’s Dan Harris declared: "U.S. attacks on a village near Kandahar killed 93 civilians on Tuesday, including 18 members of one family." Harris prompted a doctor: "How do you feel when you see these kids?" Harris directed him: "Angry at the United States?" For more, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011024.asp#1

     -- "So far this is a war without any clear-cut victories or defeats," a befuddled David Wright reported from Afghanistan on ABC’s World News Tonight. Wright relayed how Taliban troops say they "are still alive and well-armed and that the bombing isn’t fazing them. ‘We just laugh at these bombs,’ one of the Taliban escorts said." For details, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011016.asp#1

     -- CBS and ABC aired conflicting reports about civilian deaths caused by U.S. bombing. "In Kabul, they say, only military targets have been hit," CBS’s Jim Axelrod summarized in relaying the view of refugees, one of whom suggested "they say that civilians are killed to stop America’s attacks." ABC’s David Wright, however, highlighted how "the Taliban claim that some 200 civilians lost their lives in the attack on Jalalabad alone." For full quotes: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011013.asp#2

     -- ABC devoted a story Thursday night to supposed atrocities committed by the U.S. against civilians as ABC’s Bob Woodruff highlighted the claims of two men who had just fled Afghanistan. He reported that "the Taliban believes more than a hundred civilians have died in the bombings." They "believe"? For more: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011012.asp#2

     -- A night after ABC dedicated a whole story to how U.S. food drops are just "propaganda," World News Tonight acknowledged that the Taliban are confiscating food trucks. But David Wright put the U.S. and Taliban in the same category as he relayed claims the U.S. bombs are killing "innocents" while "UN officials today accused the Taliban of attacking innocents as well." For more: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011011.asp#2

     -- The U.S. just can’t win. "Are the U.S. food drops on Afghanistan making matters worse? Some relief agencies say yes." So declared Peter Jennings on Tuesday night. ABC and NBC stressed the futility of the effort, how the U.S. bombing, by inhibiting ground transportation, has made matters worse -- and ABC just dismissed the food drop operation as U.S. "propaganda." Go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011010.asp#1

     -- ABC’s Peter Jennings chose on Monday night to highlight how the food and medicine drops into Afghanistan are "not popular with everyone" as one group "described it today as military propaganda designed to justify the bombing." For more, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011009.asp#1

2

The media’s bias in questioning the war effort is so great it’s even too much for Geraldo Rivera, yes, Geraldo. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed that on his CNBC show on Monday night Rivera delivered this scolding: "The media is, I’m afraid to say, losing its nerve. And that malignant insecurity is already questioning a war effort that is scarcely three-weeks old."

     On the October 29 Rivera Live, he mocked his colleagues: "You’ve all seen the melancholy reports over the last few days. ‘Our bombing’s not working, we’re slaughtering innocent civilians, our allies, the so-called Northern Alliance are all bluster, no belly, the Taliban’s winning, Ramadan is coming, winter is coming, woe is us!’"

     He also criticized reporters for not realizing the Taliban were using, as a "tactical weapon," a Red Cross warehouse which the U.S. bombed and he castigated reporters for rationalizing the murder of 16 Christians in Pakistan as coming in response to the U.S. bombing.

     Rivera declared on Monday night: "To me this latest warning feeds into a disturbing trend that I’ve seen in the press, at least since last Thursday or Friday. Regardless of the courage and the commitment of the American public and the American military helped along by officials who say things that are either incomplete or incorrect the media is, I’m afraid to say, losing its nerve. And that malignant insecurity is already questioning a war effort that is scarcely three-weeks old. You’ve all seen the melancholy reports over the last few days. ‘Our bombing’s not working, we’re slaughtering innocent civilians, our allies, the so-called Northern Alliance are all bluster, no belly, the Taliban’s winning, Ramadan is coming, winter is coming, woe is us!’ I think it’s time for the nay-sayers to heed the famous philosopher who said, ‘get over it!’ As Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said today, ‘This is a marathon, not a sprint.’ And the only war we’re losing so far is the battle not to lose our nerve."

     Later, talking to Washington Post military columnist Bill Arkin, Rivera wondered: "How in the world can you judge a tactical approach to a war or even a strategic view of a war in three weeks? You know to point out civilian casualties without at the same time pointing out the fact that these guys are stuffing their stuff in mosques and schools and maybe we, we bombed that Red Cross warehouse because the Taliban was using that, what that warehouse contained as a, as a tactical weapon to either keep people on their side or to, to take their power and project their power even further. Maybe it was a target after all. I’m just saying how can we not give the benefit of the doubt after they kill thousands of Americans. This isn’t Vietnam. Vietnamese never took out the Golden Gate Bridge, they never hit a shopping mall, they never hit an office tower, they were living over there and maybe they want to be communists and you know whatever they wanted to be."

     On the killings in Pakistan, Rivera complained: "But this is what I mean about the media play, Bill Arkin, NBC military analyst/Washington Post military columnist. When the 16 Christians, these 16 Christians were gunned down by three masked gunmen over the weekend the stories that I read seem to blame the United States for the fact that these scumbags took machine guns to men, women and children inside a church. And it was almost as if they were saying, ‘this is in retaliation for American bombing, therefore Americans are at least indirectly responsible.’ I just, you know why isn’t it that these, these slaughterers of innocents have done it again? These 16 people, just like the World Trade Center people?"

     Indeed, recall from the October 30 CyberAlert how Dan Rather, on Monday’s CBS Evening News, characterized the terrorist attack in Pakistan: "In Pakistan, religious tensions are running higher after the U.S.-led terror war in Afghanistan touched off such events as a funeral today for Pakistani Christians gunned down during church services yesterday. Three masked gunmen fired on the Protestant congregation, meeting in a Catholic church, with automatic weapons, killing at least 16 people. No one has claimed direct responsibility."

3

Three weeks into a war, NBC’s Today show decided, what better time to bring on a guest to declare: "I do conclude that, based on what I saw in a year of investigation, that Al Gore won this election."

     Today led its 8:30am half hour on Tuesday morning with an interview with Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst for a competing network, ABC News, about his new book, Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election. Co-host Katie Couric quoted from the book: "‘The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation's history. The bell of this election can never be un-rung and the sound will haunt us for some time.’"

     Apparently, it’s still haunting NBC News.

     On Today, Toobin charged: "Katherine Harris' office was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican campaign and they decided that they did not want all the votes to be recounted because of the potential peril to the Republican's chances. He also lamented how "Republicans and their supporters were tougher, they were smarter, they were more ruthless. And the Democrats, whether it's Al Gore or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, were a little gun-shy and I think they paid the price."

     Couric prompted Toobin: "Also the Republicans were fueled by their, their hatred of Bill Clinton which you talk about in the book as well." She ended by wondering: "If in fact this election was such a mess, and if as you assert the wrong person is now in the White House, did the media do its job?"

     Couric set up the October 30 segment, as taken down by the MRC’s Geoffrey Dickens: "The 2000 election had the nation waiting 36 tumultuous days to find out who would be the 43rd President of the United States. During those chad-filled days we watched as then Vice President Al Gore addressed the nation and ask that every ballot be counted while Texas governor George W. Bush countered by making the point that, every vote had in fact been counted. Now in his latest book called 'Too Close To Call,' best-selling author Jeffrey Toobin gives us a behind the scenes account of the strangest election in U.S. history. Hey Jeffrey, good morning. Welcome back to Today. Nice to see you again. A lot of people probably feel as if this election seems as if this election seems like it was a lifetime ago. And you admitted to me during the commercial the timing could not have been worse for you given what has transpired in the last, you know, several months."
     Jeffrey Toobin: "I live in the real world and I even live in New York. And I know that 9-11 really dominates all our thoughts right now. But you know 11-7 as some of us refer to it is a very important event in our history. And I think, you know as we gain some distance from it and as we see what the stakes really were in that election it may turn out to be all the more important to find out, you know what really happened."
     Couric: "Do you feel though that people might want to put that behind them as they focus on the present and the future?"
     Toobin: "It's a fair point and one, one thing that I'm clear about is that you know George Bush is the winner. He's the Commander-in-Chief, he's the President. No dispute from me."
     Couric: "Super popular."
     Toobin: "At the moment, yes. But I do conclude that, based on what I saw in a year of investigation that Al Gore won this election."
     Couric: "In fact you write Jeffrey, quote, 'The wrong man was inaugurated on January 20th 2001 and this is no small thing in our nation's history. The bell of this election can never be unrung and the sound will haunt us for some time.'"
     Toobin: "This was a bad process in Florida. This was a process that I don't think lead to the Democratic will of the electorate being, being vindicated. You know that is a historian's view, that's a journalist's view. I'm not trying to get the results overturned but I do think it's our job as citizens to look hard at how our institutions function and I don't think they function very well."
     Couric: "But even looking at the reports, Jeffrey, following the election that were commissioned by say the Miami Herald or various news organizations. I remember looking at them and thinking, I am so confused. I don't even understand, first the process, you know to some degree, and then what exactly went wrong."
     Toobin: "Well there are so many things that went wrong. And what's so interesting about spending a year on this project is that you see that a lot of what we thought we knew was wrong. For example we always heard, you even mentioned it at the top, you said, 'Well George Bush said the votes had been counted and recounted.'"
     Couric: "James Baker, of course, that was his mantra."
     Toobin: "Over and over again. Did not happen. What happened. Remember because the election was within a half of a percent there was supposed to be an automatic recount in the first two days after the election. And the results came out and that's what prompted the Republicans to say the votes had been counted and recounted. One quarter of the votes in Florida, 1.25 million votes were never recounted. Have never been recounted to this day."
     Couric: "Because of one woman."
     Toobin: "Because of Katherine Harris. Katherine Harris' office was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican campaign and they decided that they did not want all the votes to be recounted because of the potential peril to the Republican's chances. So what happened was all the optical-scanned ballots, almost all of the optical-scanned ballots, those are the one's with like the SAT tests-"
     Couric: "Right."
     Tobin: "They were not recounted and have never been recounted to this day."
     Couric: "Had they been would the results be different?"
     Toobin: "Don't know, don't know. That's not what I base my conclusion on. What I base my conclusion on is things like 3700, 3400 votes for Pat Buchanan in Palm Beach, County. Thousands of black voters not, disenfranchised in Jacksonville."
     Couric: "In fact Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you write, wrote an opinion and then took it out about the race issue in Florida. Tell me about that. She and Scalia were butting heads. Justice Scalia I should call him."
     Toobin: "See this, this, again is why it's fun to write a book about this. That's right, Justice Scalia, just a little respect Katie."
     Couric: "Okay, sorry."
     Toobin: "There was a behind the scenes struggle in the Supreme Court. Justice Ginsburg who was one of the dissenters said, remember the majority said that George Bush's equal protection rights were violated. And Justice Ginsburg said, 'I don't think so. In fact the only equal protection potentially I see is that of black voters.' So Justice Scalia wrote her a memo that said, 'you know you are using Al Sharpton tactics in the Supreme Court.' And Justice Ginsburg, stung by that criticism, withdrew that part of her opinion."
     Couric: "Why didn't she stick to her guns?"
     Toobin: "Well I can't really answer that question. But I think it illustrates a larger theme of my book which is that the Republicans and their supporters were tougher, they were smarter, they were more ruthless. And the Democrats, whether it's Al Gore or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, were a little gun-shy and I think they paid the price."
     Couric: "In fact you talk about stylistically the impact that say an Al Gore had making his case vs. George Bush making his case. But George W. Bush, President Bush now, seemed to be so much more laid back. You mention that he was in his pajamas at 9 o'clock night, right when the Supreme Court decision came down."
     Toobin: "When we were all struggling to make sense of it on the front steps of the Supreme Court. Remember it was about 10:30 in the east, 9:30 in the Midwest where then Governor Bush was and he was on the phone with Karl Rove trying to figure out what it meant. And he mentioned that he happened to be in his pj's at 9:30, which is, you know that's the way George-"
     Couric: "Well why was that so much more effective stylistically than say Al Gore who was much more academic in his sort of pursuit?"
     Toobin: "Because George W. Bush said to his people, principally, James Baker, 'get it done, period. I don't want to know the details. Get it done.' And so that's why the Republicans had protestors in the streets, the Democrats didn't. That's why the Republicans had governors and senators down in Florida, the Democrats didn't. That's why the Republicans, you know-"
     Couric: "Also the Republicans were fueled by their, their hatred of Bill Clinton which you talk about in the book as well."
     Toobin: "Bill Clinton is the great specter behind the scenes on both sides here. You know the impeachment struggle, which I wrote my last book about, I really didn't realize how closely tied these stories were. The Republicans transferred all that energy, all that passion to getting this election won and it really worked."
     Couric: "In closing, if in fact this election was such a mess and if as you assert the wrong person is now in the White House did the media do its job?"
     Toobin: "Well this was a hard thing to cover. I mean we were all struggling to figure out what Florida election law was. You know I think the value of looking back at a subject like this is you see a lot of what you didn't see for the first time. I think the media did okay. I think we stumbled along the way we usually do. And we did a better job than we might have. But this is a big story in our history and I think it will only seem bigger as the time passes."
     Couric: "Well I think it's great that you've been able to shed some light on the whole process even though what your shedding light on isn't very pretty. The book is called 'Too Close to Call.' Jeffrey Toobin good to see you again. Don't be a stranger. Come back. I know you're on the other show occasionally, whatever. Anyway thanks Jeffrey. If you would like to read an excerpt from 'Too Close To Call,' you can log onto our website at today.msnbc.com."

     The direct address for the excerpt: http://www.msnbc.com/news/649298.asp

     This isn’t Toobin’s first book to review events from a left-wing perspective. A couple of years ago he penned Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal that Nearly Brought Down a President. It was about the right-wing effort to use the Lewinsky incident to bring down President Clinton. A January 13, 2000 CyberAlert item reported: Good Morning America featured ABC News legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin as Charlie Gibson noted how in his book he wrote that "Clinton was, by comparison, the good guy in this struggle" while conservatives "were willing to trample...the Constitution in their effort to drive him from office."

     For details, and a photo of Toobin, go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000113.asp#3

4

Leave the military work to the military, please. During the Pentagon briefing on Tuesday afternoon, a reporter suggested to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that, in order to minimize civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the U.S. drop "leaflets days in advance of an air strike to get residents out and saying, ‘This could become a military target.’" A stunned Rumsfeld stared forward for several seconds speechless as he formulated a reply.

     The question during the October 30 briefing came from a male reporter whose voice I could not identify, so not anyone such as CNN’s Jamie McIntyre, CBS’s David Martin, ABC’s John McWethy or NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski.

     Whoever he was, he inquired: "You said that the air strikes are deliberately designed not to hit residential centers, but you also say that the Taliban is hiding weapons, stockpiling weapons in residential areas. Have you ruled out the possibility of dropping leaflets days in advance of an air strike to get residents out and saying, ‘This could become a military target’? Is that something, without discussing future operations, could you see that possibly coming to fruition?"

     Rumsfeld was dumbfounded. After a few seconds of silence, he repeated the recommendation: "We drop leaflets?" He then explained what’s wrong with the idea: "The likelihood, of dropping those kinds of leaflets, of course, would tell the innocent people that they should stay out of mosques, but it would also tell the other people they should stay out of mosques. It is not quite clear to me how we would advantage ourselves."

     As Fred Barnes suggested on Tuesday’s Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, that was a query straight out of a Saturday Night Live parody of stupid and naive questions posed by reporters during the Gulf War. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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