Hamas Not Terrorist to Jennings; "Israelis Have Been on the Attack Again"; Thanks for the Bombing; Military Won’t Help Geraldo Rivera
1) In reporting on President Bush’s decision Tuesday to
freeze the assets of a Texas group, charging that it funnels money to
Hamas, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC directly or indirectly described Hamas as a
"terrorist" operation. But not ABC’s Peter Jennings.
2) For the second night after terrorist attacks which
killed Israelis, ABC’s Peter Jennings painted Israel as the violent
aggressors. He saw "an explosion of violence in the Middle East"
with "Palestinians dead and wounded" because "Israelis have
been on the attack again." But CBS’s Dan Rather cited
"Israel’s latest answer to a wave of Palestinian terror
3) One man’s terrorist is NBC’s "freedom
fighter" as NBC News reporter Keith Miller applied that tag to Yasser
4) Back in May, following animation of missile defense in
action, Peter Jennings snidely added: "One other note. Critics often
object to the animation in news reports because the animation usually has
the systems working." But Jennings did not utter a word Tuesday night
about a successful test.
5) In one town decimated by U.S. bombing, the owner of a
house destroyed thanked America: "The Taliban were brutal here. For
this reason we are happy, for this reason we make thanks to America."
6) Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show,
challenged the ACLU’s Nadine Strossen from the right about her cherished
assumptions about the supremacy of civil rights even during a war.
7) Bernard Goldberg has begun his book tour with stops on
FNC and CNN and an interview with Rush Limbaugh. Below, what started it
all: A transcript of the 1996 CBS Evening News story that prompted
Goldberg to pen an op-ed piece outlining its liberal bias, a piece which
led to his being ostracized by CBS News staffers.
8) Payback time for Geraldo Rivera: "The military
remembers his support of Bill Clinton,’ says one insider. ‘They won't
let him get near stories he wants -- particularly if it involves
interviewing U.S. personnel.’"
a "terrorist" group to everyone but Peter Jennings. In reporting
on President Bush’s decision Tuesday to freeze the assets of a Texas
group, charging that it funnels money to Hamas, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC
directly or indirectly described Hamas as a terrorist operation. But not
ABC’s Peter Jennings.
Jennings announced on the December 4 World
News Tonight: "Today the Bush administration froze the financial
assets and closed the offices of a major Muslim charity. The Texas-based
Holy Land Foundation is accused of financing the militant Islamic group
Hamas which claimed responsibility for last week’s suicide attacks
against Israelis. Federal agents raided several Holy Land offices around
the country today."
On the CBS Evening News Dan Rather at least
added the word "murder" before "suicide attacks" as he
cast doubt upon the Texas group’s legitimacy as a "charity."
From Kabul, he intoned: "The group Hamas has claimed responsibility
for the latest murder/suicide attack inside Israel and today President
Bush cracked down on a U.S., quote, ‘charity,’ that has helped finance
Hamas. CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson has more about a money trail between the
Middle East and the American Southwest."
Attkisson conveyed the Bush administration
view that the Texas group promoted "terror" through Hamas:
"Based in Texas, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development
masqueraded as a charity according to the Bush administration, but existed
to promote terror. Founder Mussa Abdul Marzuk (sp?) is the political
leader of Hamas, which provides relief for Palestinian refugees, but also
has a violent, militant arm dedicated to destroying Israel..."
In relaying the Texas organization’s denial,
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw squeezed in the "terrorist"
term: "The United States is cracking down on Hamas, that’s the
militant group that claims responsibility for those suicide bombings in
Israel. On the President’s orders today federal agents raided the U.S.
offices of the Islamic charity group, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief
and Development. It’s accused of financing Hamas. It’s one of three
groups whose assets are being frozen. Tonight the foundation denies that
it is supporting terrorists."
On the cable networks, CNN’s Tim O’Brien,
formerly of ABC News, directly tagged Hamas as "terrorist" when
he provided this headline of the day to NewsNight anchor Aaron Brown:
"The Bush administration accuses a Texas charity of funneling
millions of dollars to Hamas terrorists and moves to freeze its
Over on FNC earlier in the evening, Brit Hume
led his Special Report with Brit Hume by noting how Bush had expanded his
list of who he categorizes as a "terrorist enemy." Hume
asserted: "Ever since President Bush first defined his war on
terrorism as being aimed at terror groups of quote, ‘global reach,’ it
was thought he used that phrase to avoid including local Palestinian
groups carrying out attacks on Israel. But today, the President
specifically named as a terrorist enemy the radical Palestinian group that
claimed responsibility for the atrocities in Israel over the
second straight night following the terrorist attacks which killed 26
Israelis, ABC’s Peter Jennings portrayed Israel as the violent
aggressor. On Monday night he wanted to know if the Bush administration
wished to "restrain the Israelis?" He also referred to Hamas
simply as an "organization." (For details, refer back to the
December 4 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011204.asp#1)
On Tuesday evening Jennings saw "an
explosion of violence in the Middle East" with "Palestinians
dead and wounded after Israel attacks." He soon suggested Israel is a
repeat offender as he lamented how "Israelis have been on the attack
He teased at the top of his December 4 show:
"On World News Tonight, an explosion of violence in the Middle East.
Palestinians dead and wounded after Israel attacks very close to the
Jennings then started the newscast: "Good
evening everyone. We’re going to begin in the Middle East tonight where
the U.S. has so much at stake. The Israelis have been on the attack again
against the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. The Israelis say they’re
trying to force Mr. Arafat to stop Palestinian terrorists who are killing
Israelis. The Palestinians say they’re making it impossible for him to
do anything while his government is being attacked."
From Israel, Gillian Findlay relayed
Palestinian claims about how two were killed, including a 15-year-old.
Contrast the Jennings theme of Israel as the
assailant with how Dan Rather approached the subject on the CBS Evening
News. His tease at the top of the show: "Israel’s latest answer to
a wave of Palestinian terror attacks: Air strikes hit just yards from
Yasser Arafat’s office."
Earlier in the day, however, CBS’s Bryant
Gumbel echoed Jennings’ theme. MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed that in
interviewing Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor at the University
of Maryland, Gumbel inquired: "Speaking of restraint, there is
considerable question about whether these Israeli, this Israeli response
is excessive. How do you interpret the Bush administration's apparent
unwillingness to restrain Sharon?"
man’s terrorist is NBC’s "freedom fighter" as NBC News
reporter Keith Miller applied that label to Yasser Arafat.
After recounting Israel’s missile strikes,
on the December 4 NBC Nightly News Keith Miller recalled from Tel Aviv:
"Today’s violence continues a battle between two men that goes back
more than thirty years: Arafat the freedom fighter intent on winning a
homeland for Palestinians and Sharon the tank commander defending the
State of Israel. Today both men are in their 70s, losing patience and
running out of time."
Jennings after a May 1 World News Tonight story on President Bush’s
decision to move forward on missile defense, a story which featured
animation of missile defense in action: "One other note. Critics
often object to the animation in news reports because the animation
usually has the systems working."
World News Tonight with Peter Jennings as
anchor on Tuesday, December 4, following a successful test shoot down of a
missile: Not a word about it. But Jennings had time for Enron as symbolic
of the insecurity of retirement funds invested in an employer’s stock
and the wonders of the new drug, Modafinal, which restores normal
alertness after sleep deprivation. (Good Morning America ran a brief item
Tuesday morning from news reader Antonio Mora.)
CBS Evening News viewers learned this from
John Roberts, who anchored from New York while Rather anchored from Kabul:
"NASA called off today’s planned launch of the space shuttle
Endeavour at the last minute because of bad weather, but the Pentagon’s
latest missile defense test succeeded. A Minuteman missile launched last
night from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California met an interceptor
rocket fired from the South Pacific, destroying the missile’s dummy
warhead one hundred miles out in space."
For more about ABC’s May 1 take on missile
defense, go to:
you America for bombing our village and destroying our homes. Traveling to
one town decimated by U.S. bombing, ABC’s Jim Wooten discovered not
anger at the U.S., as previous ABC stories had suggested, but appreciation
for getting rid of the Taliban.
After Peter Jennings noted on Tuesday’s
World News Tonight that "local officials" claim U.S. bombing
around Tora Bora has killed more than 50 civilians, he turned to Wooten
for a look at a town bombed earlier by the U.S.
In Qarah Bagh Wooten found that bombing had
destroyed a farmer’s house and the pharmacy, though the hospital was
spared. To Wooten’s amazement, the farmer "says he’s glad they
Farmer through translator: "Any country that
helps us, any country that bombs the Taliban, any country that kills the
Taliban, we are happy. We are happy with that."
Wooten: "The farmer’s son, Minhaj,
Wooten to boy: "Why are you happy, all the
destruction here. Why are you happy about that? ‘I’m happy the Taliban
have gone away,’ the boy says. And listen to Abdul Rachman’s (sp?)
assessment of the air strikes on the village where his family has lived
for 200 years."
Through translator: "Nobody is happy to see
the destruction of his own country, but the Taliban were brutal here. For
this reason we are happy, for this reason we make thanks to America."
Not quite the impression left by ABC’s
reporting in October as documented in the MRC’s November 5 Media Reality
Check study by Rich Noyes: "World News Tonight Showed Afghan Civilian
Deaths More Than CBS and NBC Combined."
Recall how on the October 23 World News
Tonight Dan Harris prompted some America-bashing: "This boy is one of
the injured. His uncle says he had heard American radio broadcasts
promising civilians wouldn’t be targeted, but he says his village was
nowhere near any Taliban positions. Abdul Jabar is the doctor in
Harris to Jabar: "How do you feel when you
see these kids?"
Jabar: "I feel very sad."
Jabar: "Yes. My sympathies are with the
Harris: "Angry at the United States?"
Harris concluded from Pakistan: "Everyone we
spoke with at this tiny hospital said the ongoing raids have made the
population here and across the border angry at the U.S. and supportive of
To read the study in full, go to the HTML
version which also features matching RealPlayer video clips: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2001/20011105.asp
balance from Comedy Central’s newscast than from ABC, CBS or NBC. As
documented in a Media Reality Check last week distributed as a CyberAlert
Special, in interviewing Attorney General John Ashcroft, all three morning
shows hit him only with questions from the left about his abridgement of
civil rights. (For quotes, access the November 29 Media Reality Check: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2001/20011129.asp)
On Monday night, however, MRC analyst Brian
Boyd observed that Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show,
managed to question the sanctity of putting civil rights ahead of all
Check out the line of questioning he delivered
to ACLU President Nadine Strossen after he let her outline her complaints:
Stewart: "See, here’s what I don’t
understand, doesn’t free speech come with some responsibility? Isn’t
there something that people have to be responsible for their own behavior.
If they are discussing terrorist acts what would be the problem with
surveying for that?"
Strossen: "Well, you have the right to talk
about terrorism, in fact, I hope all of us are. We’re talking
Stewart: "We’re talking about it in a
theoretical way how to counter it, not what our next target is."
Strossen: "And that’s why these
surveillance techniques are as ineffective as they are violative of
individual rights. If the program is searching out anytime the word
‘terrorist’ comes up, I think there are going to be a million innocent
conversations for everyone that might be suspicious and that’s why,
interestingly enough, law enforcement officials are saying these kind of
dragnet techniques that we’re using are really just a waste of
Stewart: "They talk about the 5,000 people
that are going to be questioned."
Strossen: "Exactly, that’s what I was
going to say."
Stewart: "Now that doesn’t sound like a
waste of time to me because it, it seems like, well, let’s take it in a
different direction. When they were trying to effectively curtail the
Mafia, chances are they used the RICO, I guess, Act, for racketeering
etc., but chances are they talked to mostly Italian-Americans. Now is that
racial profiling or is that perhaps an evening at the Olive Garden.
(Laughter) No, I don’t know what I’m talking about. Is that racial
Strossen: "In this context it really is,
because the only criterion, well wait, it’s not only racial, it’s also
age and gender. It’s 5,000, you said people, Jon, but 5, 000 men between
the ages of 18 and 33 who come from certain countries that are suspected
of having terrorist activities."
Stewart: "So it’s already winnowed down
quite a bit."
Strossen: "Not very much. And the government
says that these people, they have no basis for believing that any of them
have any knowledge of the terrorists, let alone any-"
Stewart: "Were they randomly picked out of a
Strossen: "No. They were picked only because
of the age, the gender and the countries they came from."
Stewart: "Are there only 5,000 people in
this country in between the ages of-"
Strossen: "That come from those countries,
that have entered, I’m sorry, in the last two years on non-immigrant
visas. But they entered lawfully."
Stewart: "Those were eight different
criterion you cited. The age, the sex, the country, when they came into
the country, on what type of visa they entered into the country, that’s,
I mean that to me sounds like more than just racial profiling."
The next time Strossen appears on a morning
show we can compare her treatment to how Stewart challenged her.
Goldberg began his book tour on Tuesday with appearances on Rush
Limbaugh’s radio show and on FNC’s Hannity & Colmes. He was
scheduled to appear Wednesday morning on CNN to discuss with Paula Zahn
his new book, Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.
The MRC obtained copies of the book on Tuesday
and from my initial skimming I can report it’s full of great inside
tales and many of the examples of bias cited by Goldberg will be familiar
to any loyal reader of MRC publications. He even has a whole chapter
devoted to quotes from the MRC’s Notable Quotables. Over the next few
days I intend to run some excerpts to give you a flavor of it, but today I
thought I’d start at the beginning, the very beginning, with a
transcript and video of Eric Engberg’s February 8, 1996 CBS Evening News
story which prompted Goldberg to pen a critical op-ed for the Wall Street
Journal about how Engberg’s story "set new standards for
bias." Goldberg’s piece led to his ostracization as he became
persona non grata at CBS News.
From the February 8 CBS Evening News, Dan
Rather set up the story by asking: "What are the economics of this
Forbes flat tax proposal? Tonight, a look beyond the promises, to the
substance of it, in a Reality Check by correspondent Eric Engberg."
Eric Engberg: "Steve Forbes pitches his flat
tax scheme as an economic elixir good for everything that ails us."
Steve Forbes in a speech: "We would see a
Renaissance, the likes of which that has never been seen before."
Engberg: "It's the kind of optimistic
message people want to believe. But experts have trouble with many of
Forbes' specific promises, like how the flat tax would boost economic
Forbes: "By removing obstacles, starting
with the tax code, we are capable of growing twice that rate."
Engberg: "Time out! Economists say nothing
like that has ever actually happened."
William Gale, Brookings Institution: "It
doesn't seem plausible to think that we're going to have a whole new
economy, or some economic Renaissance Age due to tax reform."
Engberg: "Forbes claims taxes can be lowered
without adding to the deficit."
Forbes: "A flat tax would enable this
economy to grow. That would mean more revenues for Washington."
Engberg over video of Reagan before Congress:
"That was called supply-side economics under President Reagan, less
taxes equal more revenue. It didn't work out that way."
Engberg to Gale: "Is it fair to say the last
time we tried something like this we ended up with these hideous
Gale: "It's perfectly fair to say that,
Engberg: "And that if we try it again, your
Gale: "That we end up with the same problem
Engberg: "Forbes claims the flat tax would
throw lobbyists, tax lawyers and accountants out of business. Oh, yeah?
Donald Alexander, former IRS Commissioner:
"If Mr. Forbes' proposal were enacted, it would be hog heaven for tax
lawyers, absolutely hog heaven. We would have a wonderful time gaming the
Engberg: "Example: The wealthy could hire
tax wizards to turn their regular income into investment income, exempt
from the tax."
Janice Johnson, tax partner, Coopers &
Lybrand: "I'm sure we'll dream up new loopholes under the flat tax.
We always do."
Engberg: "OK, how about Forbes' number one
wackiest flat tax promise?"
Forbes: "Parents would have more time to
spend with their children, and with each other."
Donald Alexander: "That's right. The sky
would be blue all the time."
Engberg concluded: "The fact is, the flat
tax is one giant untested theory. One economist suggested that before we
risk putting it in, we ought to try it out someplace, like maybe Albania.
Eric Engberg, CBS News, Washington."
END 1996 transcript reprint
As the March 1996 MediaWatch reported, in 1996
those inside CBS did not embrace Goldberg as a whistle blower:
What a difference the message makes. After 60 Minutes last fall spiked
part of an interview with Jeffrey Wigand, the ex-Brown & Williamson
cigarette company executive, CBS reporters were angry and embarrassed that
Wigand's confidentiality pledge prevented him from blowing the whistle on
his former employer. On February 4, CBS overcame the legal hurdle and
aired the spiked charges about manipulated nicotine levels. On PBS's
Charlie Rose February 6 Dan Rather said that story "was gutsy, great
Fast forward a week and CBS correspondent Bernard Goldberg blew the
whistle on CBS, detailing in a February 13 Wall Street Journal op-ed how
colleague Eric Engberg's story on the flat tax "set new standards for
bias." Goldberg explained that "The old argument that the
networks and other ‘media elites' have a liberal bias is so blatantly
true that it's hardly worth discussing anymore."
So did journalists trumpet this whistle-blower? Hardly. "It's such
a wacky charge....I don't know what Bernie was driving at. It just sounds
bizarre," Face the Nation’s Bob Schieffer told The Washington Post.
"To accuse Eric of liberal bias is absurd," sniffed CBS News
President Andrew Heyward. "The test is not the names people call you
or accusations by political activists inside or outside your own
organization," Rather told the New York Post in an insult to
Goldberg's professionalism, insisting "I am not going to be cowed by
anybody's special political agenda."
USA Today’s Peter Johnson reported March 11: "Some colleagues
supported him privately. But many others stopped talking to him,
dismissing him as dead wrong, an ingrate, a nut or all of the above.
Mostly, the big chill set in. Not-so-coincidentally, none of his
commentary segments on the News, ‘Bernard Goldberg's America,' has aired
since the day his piece came out."...
END Excerpt from MediaWatch
This week Engberg denounced Goldberg’s
criticism of his story as an "act of treason." For more negative
reaction from inside CBS as collected by the Washington Post’s Howard
For a summary of Goldberg’s 1996 Wall Street
Journal op-ed on the Engberg piece, go to:
I don’t think the book has made it into
bookstores yet, but it is available online:
Barnes & Noble is asking $26.55 for it
while Amazon is selling it for $19.56 and has updated its page to display
the actual dark blue cover design with the updated title.
getting what he deserves, a little payback from the U.S. military? Rivera
hasn’t gotten access to U.S. troops because "he's been getting
precious little cooperation from U.S. military officials who apparently
don't cotton to the left-leaning TV star" because of his support for
President Clinton, "Rush & Molloy" reported in Tuesday’s
New York Daily News.
An excerpt from the December 4 story,
highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/),
which was creatively headlined: "To Military, He's Geraldo non Grata."
....Bad enough that gun-toting Afghans have been blocking his way to
Kandahar. Worse still, sources claim, he's been getting precious little
cooperation from U.S. military officials who apparently don't cotton to
the left-leaning TV star.
"The military remembers his support of Bill Clinton," says
one insider. "They won't let him get near stories he wants --
particularly if it involves interviewing U.S. personnel."
Rivera has been trying to get into the gung-ho Fox spirit -- declaring
on air that he was packing a gun and might personally plug Osama Bin Laden
if he found him.
Last week, Fox News chief Roger Ailes is said to have enlisted help
from Marine officer-turned-pundit North, who just headed to Bahrain also
as a correspondent for Fox. Ailes, says the insider, asked North to put in
a good word for his colleague with the brass.
According to the source, North sent word back that his military
contacts had dryly responded: "Geraldo's paperwork is not in order,
and it won't be in order until the war is over."
Rivera couldn't be reached for comment. A Fox spokesman could confirm
only that locals have blocked Rivera's trip to the front lines....
END of Excerpt
For the story in full, go to:
I doubt CyberAlert readers have sympathy for
Rivera’s plight, nor should they.