ABC’s Down Spin on War Poll; CNN Guest Called Story "Garbage"; MSNBC Chief: "Patriotism Police"; Clinton: U.S. Not Blameless
1) The new ABC News poll discovered an 89 percent approval
level for the President with 90 percent backing the military action in
Afghanistan. But introducing Bush before his Thursday night address,
ABC’s Peter Jennings emphasized how polls have suggested "some
declining confidence in the U.S. counter-terrorism efforts and on the war
2) "Garbage." That’s how retired Army Colonel
David Hackworth, during an appearance on CNN, described a story by CNN’s
own Bob Franken on how the Taliban are proving to be a tough foe two weeks
after a military leader said they had been "eviscerated."
3) MSNBC President Erik Sorenson doesn’t think much of
those who dare to criticize MSNBC’s war coverage. He whined that
"any misstep...can get into trouble with these guys and have the
Patriotism Police hunt you down." He arrogantly asked: "Was I
supposed to use the three-fingered salute today?"
4) Contrasting stories from Quetta, Pakistan. Agence
France-Presse: "The Taliban are slaughtering Afghans who try to flee
the country, gunning them down in cold blood." The Washington Post:
Afghan refugees "said sympathies toward the Taliban remain strong in
part because of perceptions among many Afghans that the U.S. bombing
campaign has hurt civilians."
5) "Those of us who come from various European
lineages are not blameless" for the terrorism, Bill Clinton asserted
in a Wednesday speech. Though his blame America too remarks were cited in
Thursday’s Washington Times, they have received little notice elsewhere,
other than the Fox News Channel. CNN.com and AP stories skipped over that
portion of his remarks as CNN highlighted how Clinton "received a
rock star's welcome."
6) Letterman’s "Top Ten Things That Will Get You
Thrown Out of the Taliban."
latest poll discovered that, two months after the terrorist attacks,
support for President Bush and the war effort remain extraordinarily high
with an 89 percent approval level for the President and 90 percent backing
military action in Afghanistan. But introducing President Bush before his
Thursday night address, ABC’s Peter Jennings chose to emphasize how
polls have suggested "some declining confidence in the U.S.
counter-terrorism efforts and on the war front."
At 8pm EST, Jennings announced on ABC just
before Bush’s address from Atlanta: "This is an interesting and
challenging moment for the President because in recent public opinion
polls it’s suggested that he’s having some difficulty managing public
expectation about the war against terrorism. At home, some declining
confidence in the U.S. counter-terrorism efforts and on the war front. In
the last couple of weeks the number of people who believe that the
government is doing everything it reasonable can to prevent terrorist
attacks, has gone down by about 12 points -- from 68 percent in
mid-October to 56 percent now."
ABC had stressed the same dour poll numbers
earlier in the day on Good Morning America, the MRC’s Jessica Anderson
noticed. During a discussion previewing Bush's then-upcoming speech ABC
showcased only two poll results: "Is the U.S. doing all it can to
deter terrorism?" (68% on October 15, 56% on November 7) and
"Confidence that terrorism can be prevented?" (66% on September
11, 52% on November 7).
George Stephanopoulos explained: "He's
going to talk about the war, but then hone in on homeland defense, and he
has to do this because he still has very strong support in the country and
there's a very strong support in the war effort, but our recent polls show
there's actually been a drop in the people's confidence in the
government's ability to handle these attacks and a drop of about 10 or 12
points in people's belief that the government is doing all it can to
protect the homeland, so he's going to focus on that tonight."
Those numbers are accurate, but ABC’s spin
contrasted with how the Washington Post played the same survey. "In
Poll, Most Americans Back Bush," announced the headline over the
November 8 story by Richard Morin and Claudia Deane. They led their piece:
majorities of Americans continue to back President Bush and the war in
Afghanistan. At the same time, doubts are growing about an expanded Afghan
conflict and the government's efforts to deal with terrorism at home,
according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
prepares to address the country tonight on homeland security, his overall
job approval rating stands at 89 percent, unchanged in the past month.
Nine out of 10 Americans support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan,
also unchanged in recent weeks."
To read the entire story, go to:
Some of the specific results of the Washington
Post/ABC News poll:
-- "Do you support or oppose the U.S.
military action in Afghanistan?" Support, 90 to 9 percent.
-- "Do you think the U.S. military action
in Afghanistan is going very well, fairly well, not too well or not well
at all?" Very well or fairly well, 85 to 12 percent over not too well
or not well at all.
-- "Are you satisfied or dissatisfied
with the job Bush and his administration are doing in terms of giving the
public reliable information on the military campaign in Afghanistan?"
Satisfied over dissatisfied, by 84 to 14
Now that’s a number ABC News definitely does
not want to publicize after all the media complaining about lack of
information from the Pentagon.
And it matches what Dennis Miller complained
about on Tuesday’s Tonight Show when he recalled how reporters
"always say that during this war it's the public's need to know about
our ground forces being in there." He rejected the notion: "I'm
sitting at home and I'm always exasperating. And you never have the chance
to say it, I don't think many of us have a chance to say it and I want to
say it to you tonight. We don't want to know! Okay? They're young boys,
it's scary enough leave 'em alone!" For more on Miller’s appearance
and for a RealPlayer clip, go to:
For the complete poll results, go to:
(While we’re on Bush’s Thursday night
address, my reaction tone how neither CBS and NBC carried it, as quoted in
an AP story by David Bauder: "We would applaud ABC for putting its
responsibility as a news network ahead of sweeps month shows, realizing at
a time of war that airing the comments of the President are more important
than whether prime-time begins at 8pm or 8:25," said Brent Baker,
Vice President of the conservative Media Research Center." Make that
8:38pm EST when ABC joined Whose Line Is It Anyway? in progress, a show
not nearly as popular as CBS’s Survivor or NBC’s Friends. As Lisa de
Moraes pointed out in Friday’s Washington Post, by putting on an ad-free
news special, ABC got their low-rated time period pulled from the
Army Colonel David Hackworth gave CNN a surprise on Wednesday night when
he lashed out at a story by CNN’s Bob Franken on how Pentagon video does
not show civilian casualties and how the Taliban are proving to be a tough
foe two weeks after a military leader insisted they had been
"eviscerated." Appearing just after Franken’s story aired,
Hackworth called it "garbage," MRC analyst Ken Shepherd
The criticism occurred on CNN’s new 10pm EST
show, repeated at 1am EST, NewsNight with Aaron Brown. From the Pentagon,
Bob Franken reported on November 7:
month into this new war in Afghanistan, it's almost exclusively a war
fought from above Afghanistan. This is how the Pentagon likes to tell the
bombing story: through the lens of the airplane nose cameras. But the nose
cameras do not show the other part of the bombing story: the misses, the
unintended civilian casualties that U.S. officials say are few and
regrettable. The Taliban have tried to exploit the casualties by
conducting media tours. Still, the barrage against Taliban troop positions
grows more intense daily, two weeks after these memorable words."
Gregory Newbold: "I really do. I think, as I say, the combat power of
the Taliban has been eviscerated."
"Pentagon officials wish the word ‘eviscerated’ had never escaped
that general's lips. Rather than being gutted, Taliban forces are still
holding their ground. Al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden are still
presumed to be hiding in the country's vast web of caves. So-called
'bunker buster' bombs have failed to make much of a dent. Air power has
Pace, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: "There are certain
formations on the ground that dropping bombs on them has some effect, but
not the final effect that you need."
"So far, as the Pentagon will say, the extent of the U.S. ground
operations has been one commando attack and several special operations
forces patrols, working with Northern Alliance troops, spotting targets
for the bombers. But there are enough forces in the area for a much larger
presence on the ground. One month in, there are few reported casualties.
But if there is an expanded ground assault, the risks would be much
higher. The test of resolve back home much tougher, in the months ahead.
Bob Franken, CNN, the Pentagon."
Anchor Aaron Brown then went to Hackworth for
comment on the status of the war effort, but Hackworth was more interested
in taking on CNN’s story, though he was a bit off on Franken’s name:
think before the American people -- in spite of guys like Mr. Franklin --
when you read that report and listen to it, it really is discouraging,
when the American people slice into their turkey on Turkey Day, we will
see the Taliban no longer in business. And that will not be the end of
round one. Then it will be, for the next six months or even year, mopping
up the Taliban. This is a 30-round fight. We haven't even got in the
middle of round one. It's not World War II. It's not Korea. It's not
Vietnam, Desert Storm or a General Clark Serbian war -- a little bit of
each. But it's an absolutely different kind of war. And that's what the
American people must understand. Not that garbage we heard from
File that under taking advantage of an
Sorenson, the President of MSNBC, doesn’t think much of conservatives
who dare to criticize MSNBC’s war coverage as he whined that "any
misstep...can get into trouble with these guys and have the Patriotism
Police hunt you down." He arrogantly insisted: "We don't want to
have to wonder if we are saluting properly. Was I supposed to use the
three-fingered salute today?"
Sorenson’s comment was quoted in the
Wednesday New York Times article that cited the MRC and which was
excerpted in the November 7 CyberAlert. I had noted that the link to the
full piece titled, "Network Coverage a Target of Fire From
Conservatives," required registration, but "it’s worth
accessing the story just to read the bizarre quote from Erik Sorenson, the
President of MSNBC, complaining about the ‘patriotism police.’"
Here’s the relevant paragraph in full:
"‘Any misstep and you can get into trouble with these guys and have
the Patriotism Police hunt you down,’ said Erik Sorenson, President of
MSNBC. ‘These are hard jobs. Just getting the facts straight is
monumentally difficult. We don't want to have to wonder if we are saluting
properly. Was I supposed to use the three-fingered salute today?’"
To read the whole New York Times article by
reporters Jim Rutenberg and Bill Carter, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/07/politics/07MEDI.html
For the excerpt in the November 7 CyberAlert,
go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011107.asp#6
Maybe we could form a "CyberAlert
Patriotism Police Corps" to really infuriate Sorenson.
Quetta: "The Taliban are slaughtering Afghans who try to flee the
country, gunning them down in cold blood." Dateline, Quetta: Afghan
refugees "said sympathies toward the Taliban remain strong in part
because of perceptions among many Afghans that the U.S. bombing campaign
has hurt civilians as well as military and terrorist targets."
FNC’s Brit Hume highlighted the contrast in
the two stories filed the same day from Quetta. The first came from an
Agence France-Presse report, noted by James Taranto in his "Best of
the Web" column on OpionionJournal.com, the second from the front
page of the Washington Post.
An excerpt from the November 7 French story,
QUETTA, Pakistan: The Taliban are slaughtering Afghans who try to flee
the country, gunning them down in cold blood, refugees who have made it to
On the outskirts of this south-western Pakistan town, near the Afghan
border, thousands of "invisible" refugees exist in abject
They have fled because of the bombing of Afghanistan and a severe
drought. But more than anything, they have fled to avoid persecution by
the ruling Islamic militia.
Of a dozen Afghans interviewed, all had tales of random killings, human
rights abuses and persecution.
Some told of mass murders.
Ovr Mohd, 65, fled to the hills from Bamiyan to avoid the rampaging
Taliban. When he returned he said he found his three sons shot dead.
Mohd said they were targeted because they were ethnic Hazaras, whose
sympathies lie with the opposition Northern Alliance.
"When we decided to leave Afghanistan we saw the Taliban attacking
people who were fleeing. People were gathering on the road to leave and
they were shot. We have seen this," he said.
"I saw 50 people in front of me who were killed. They were women,
children and men," Mohd added, claiming the killings happened a month
"I hate the Taliban for doing this."...
For the entire Agence France-Presse dispatch as
published in English in an Australian newspaper.
"Support Deepens For the Taliban,
Refugees Report" read the headline over the front page story in the
November 8 Washington Post. The subhead: "U.S. Errors Fuel
An excerpt from the top of the story by Post
reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran:
QUETTA, Pakistan, Nov. 7 -- Afghans who have entered Pakistan in recent
days say that a month of U.S. airstrikes has failed to diminish popular
support in central and southern Afghanistan for the ruling Taliban
militia, which they say continues to exert a firm grip over the civilian
population despite a heavy loss of military equipment.
The arriving Afghans, interviewed in Quetta, near the Afghan border,
said sympathies toward the Taliban remain strong in part because of
perceptions among many Afghans that the U.S. bombing campaign has hurt
civilians as well as military and terrorist targets. Those views appear to
have been stoked by U.S. bombing errors, compounded by an aggressive
Taliban propaganda campaign casting the conflict as an American attack on
"The Americans said they would only target Osama bin Laden's
bases," said Abdul Mohammed, a shop owner who lives in the southern
city of Kandahar, the Taliban's stronghold. "But now they are killing
ordinary Afghan people, so people think that the Afghan people are
America's enemy, not just the Taliban and bin Laden."...
For the Washington Post story in full, go to:
President Bill Clinton asserted in a speech delivered on Wednesday
afternoon that "those of us who come from various European lineages
are not blameless" for the anger which foments terrorism. But his
‘blame America too’ comments, though they were highlighted in
Thursday’s Washington Times, have received little notice elsewhere,
other than the Fox News Channel, while CNN.com and AP stories on the
speech skipped over his remarks critical of past Christian and U.S.
government policies. CNN asserted Clinton "received a rock star's
An excerpt from the beginning of Washington
Times reporter Joseph Curl’s November 8 story on Clinton’s address at
Bill Clinton, the former President, said yesterday that terror has
existed in America for hundreds of years and the nation is "paying a
price today" for its past of slavery and for looking "the other
way when a significant number of native Americans were
dispossessed and killed."
"Here in the United States, we were founded as a nation that
practiced slavery, and slaves quite frequently were killed even though
they were innocent," said Mr. Clinton in a speech to nearly 1,000
students at Georgetown University's ornate Gaston Hall.
"This country once looked the other way when a significant number
of native Americans were dispossessed and killed to get their land or
their mineral rights or because they were thought of as less than fully
human. "And we are still paying a price today," said Mr.
Clinton, who was invited to address the students by the university's
School of Foreign Service....
Mr. Clinton said the international terrorism that has only just reached
the United States dates back thousands of years. "In the first
Crusade, when the Christian soldiers took Jerusalem, they first burned a
synagogue with 300 Jews in it and proceeded to kill every woman and child
who was a Muslim on the Temple Mount. I can tell you that story is still
being told today in the Middle East and we are still paying for
END of Excerpt
For the entire Washington Times story, go to: http://www.washtimes.com/national/20011108-470100.htm
After hearing that, AP reporter Laurie Kellman
wrote a story headlined: "Clinton Encourages Islam Debate." To
read her report: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/ap/20011107/us/attacks_clinton_1.html
On CNN.com, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed,
Brad Wright wrote: "Former President Bill Clinton told foreign
service students at Georgetown University Wednesday the world is in a
‘struggle for the soul of the 21st century’ and called for a great
debate with the Muslim world over its values versus the values of the
former president returned to his alma mater in typical Clinton style. He
received a rock star's welcome from the crowd of about 400 even though his
arrival was more than a half-hour late..."
For the CNN.com story in full, go to:
Clinton spoke at about 2pm EST on Wednesday,
but neither CNN or FNC carried him live and C-SPAN has yet to show his
speech. CNN, FNC and MSNBC were all airing John Ashcroft and President
Bush making an announcement about money laundering, but MSNBC joined
Clinton in progress as soon as that event ended. At about 2:07pm EST they
showed Clinton live for about four minutes, but didn’t catch his blame
American heritage first portion.
The MRC analyst staff did not see any coverage
on cable or broadcast Wednesday night or Thursday morning and I didn’t
see anything on Thursday night anywhere except on FNC, which raised
Clinton’s comments at least during Special Report with Brit Hume and
Hannity & Colmes.
Hume showed clips of Clinton during his panel
segment on his November 8 show: "Former President Clinton was in town
yesterday and he made a speech at Georgetown University where he attended
college. And he talked about the roots and the history of terrorism, and
he made the point that terrorism had been around and had a long history,
and then he added this:"
at Georgetown University: "Those of us who come from various European
lineages are not blameless."
"Well, Fred, that would include me, that would include you, heaven
knows how many of the rest of us it would include. He then went on to cite
as examples of what the people of European lineage had done, the
atrocities, the original atrocities, the famous atrocities at the Temple
Mount that was during the Crusades. Then he went on and started talking
about America, and this is what he said:"
"Here in the United States, we were founded as a nation that
practiced slavery. And slaves quite frequently were killed even though
they were innocent. This country once looked the other way when
significant numbers of native Americans were dispossessed and killed to
get their land or their mineral rights or because they were thought of as
less than fully human, and we are still paying the price today."
Hume asked, as
taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Now, I think we’ve put
that in a reasonable context -- I mean, we’re not going to listen to the
whole speech -- but how do you take that? Fred?"
Fred Barnes of
the Weekly Standard humorously replied: "I think former President
Clinton must have an enormous struggle every day. I mean, there are things
he knows he shouldn’t say, but he loses the struggle, and then he says
them. You know, he tells Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, as he did the
other day that, you know, I’m better prepared than President Bush is to
handle this whole terrorist threat, suggesting that he’d be doing a
better job, a la Mark Green, you know, he said he’d do a better job than
Giuliani, and now this. I mean, this is, it’s either liberal guilt,
which I didn’t know he suffered from that much as President."
any guilt at all."
"Or any guilt at all, yeah, for that matter. I mean, I don’t know
what he’s up to. I mean, I don’t feel any guilt. I’m certainly from
a European background. My ancestors were abolitionists, for what it’s
worth, but even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t bear any guilt for that. I
mean, what in the world is he talking about? Why would he, I don’t
understand why he wants to join the ‘we don’t come to this with clean
hands’ school. I mean, that’s ridiculous."
that how you took it, Mara?"
of NPR cautioned: "You know, I would have like to have known where
was he going with that, and what does that have to do with terrorism? And
is he equating the two? Now, it’s certainly true that many atrocities
have been conducted in the name of religions all over the world, and
certainly Christianity is not immune from that, but I’m just wondering
if he’s trying to make some kind of moral equivalence-"
"That’s exactly what he was trying to do."
"What strikes me is he says, ‘Those of us who come from various
European lineages are not blameless.’ He’s not talking about our
ancestors. Ceci, do you think he may have mis-spoken there and he meant to
say, ‘Our forbears are not blameless.’"
Post reporter Ceci Connolly: ‘It’s hard to say. I mean, it appeared
from that clip that he had some point and some thought out sequence there,
but it’s not clear to me, sort of, what either the larger message was or
how he’s trying to apply it to this circumstance."
"I did see him give a speech at the Kennedy Center not long ago where
he did talk about terrorism and some of the, what we do about the breeding
grounds for terrorists, and he talked about how we need more education and
more democracy in the Middle East and even for our friends-"
talked about that. Yes, he talked about that. He said we got to pay to
educate people in those poor countries."
expressed some agreement with Clinton: "And also even for our friends
who this might make uncomfortable, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, it’s
something that we have to do. So I think that, you know, when he talks
about this, he does have a kind of global view, and some of the things he
says are right on point-"
in: "No, they aren’t. No, they aren’t. That stuff about poverty
and education over there. Look, the terrorists were educated people, they
were from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the people that flew those planes into
the World Trade Center. Clinton’s all wrong about that. He’s all wrong
about this. And I think he’s doing exactly-"
"Democracy in the Arab world would help."
"Well, democracy would help. But he’s doing exactly what you were
suggesting. I mean, you look at what he said, and he’s implying a moral
equivalence between us and Osama bin Laden and his terrorists, and
that’s, well, it’s incorrect, but it’s also a ridiculous thing for
him to say."
"Maybe he just wants back in the spotlight."
"He got it."
concluded: "He got a little bit of it anyway."
Yes, only a "little bit" so far
since most of the media are ignoring what many found so disturbing in
[Web update: To read a transcript of Bill
Clinton's November 7 remarks, or to view them via RealPlayer or Windows
Media Player, access this Georgetown University page:
November 7 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Things That
Will Get You Thrown Out of the Taliban." Copyright 2001 by Worldwide
10. Lighting up in a smoke-free cave
9. On enlightening journey to Mecca, suggesting you go see "K-Pax"
8. Questioning strategy of battling Stealth bombers with a stick
7. Overdrawing your checking account at Talibank
6. Nominating Al Gore for membership because he has a beard
5. After President Bush speech, remarking, "You know, the guy has
some valid points about us being completely insane"
4. Shaving your beard just to see if the Gillette Mach 3 with patented
comfort edges really does give you the cleanest, smoothest shave possible
3. Parking your camel in the Supreme Leader's space
2. Calling Osama Bin Laden by his real first name, "Earl"
1. Mailing Anthrax without proper postage
#8 has the benefit of being based on reality.