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CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Wednesday December 26, 2001 (Vol. Six; No. 200) |
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Jennings Cited "Root Causes"; Brokaw Chided Ted Olson Over Wifeís Book; CNNís Pelton: "Respect the Cause" Espoused by John Walker?

1) ABCís Peter Jennings exhibited hints of leftist concerns on the Late Show as he twice fretted about the difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism," asserted that "campaigning against terrorism" means recognizing the "root causes for dissatisfaction around the world," maintained that global leadership is not just "selling American culture," and bemoaned how "Americans are pretty insular people for the most part."

2) Tom Brokaw demanded that Ted Olson defend his decision to proceed with the publication of his late wifeís anti-Clinton book. Brokaw claimed that "some people are also saying it just opens old wounds at a time when we're trying to have political unity in this country" and insisted that "people who are neutral in all of this are going to say, 'Look, this is just a continuation of a political vendetta against that couple.í"

3) Writer Robert Pelton, who gave CNN exclusive rights to his interview with John Walker, proclaimed, when Walker asked if he were a Muslim, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." On CNNís Reliable Sources, Pelton denied he was supporting the Talibanís terrorism, telling Howard Kurtz: "One of the pillars of Islam is jihad, or struggle, and like many religions, it is a foundation of their belief. So, I do respect that."

4) Last week when CNNís Aaron Brown set up an interview segment by tagging Shelby Steele as "a conservative," but simply described Richard Cohen as "a columnist," Steele called him on it, forcing Brown to concede that Cohen is a liberal.


  1

Friday night on CBSís Late Show with David Letterman, ABCís Peter Jennings exhibited hints of leftist concerns as he twice fretted about the difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism," pleading for people to "respect the differences that exist in the country...especially...on the issue of patriotism," asserted that "campaigning against terrorism around the world" is "just too simple" since "there are a lot of root causes for dissatisfaction around the world," maintained global leadership is "not just American business or selling American culture around the world," and bemoaned how "Americans are pretty insular people for the most part."

     Appearing on the December 21 show to promote the New Yearís Eve coverage planned by ABC News in prime time, Jennings recalled:
     "I spent a Saturday night in a high school in Boulder, Colorado filming, for a new series weíre doing on the country, a high school production of Hair. Very white, suburban neighborhood, mostly Republican kids, I thought. I was immensely struck about their attitudes toward patriotism and their attitudes about nationalism and they helped me listen and look for it in other places and you do find it. You know, there are many definitions of patriotism, thereís confusion between patriotism and nationalism. So yes, I think the country in the wake of September has looked very closely at itself, tried hard to understand ourselves. I think some of the public leaders have just been awesome. I know youíve heard this a hundred times on his program, I think the Mayor and the President just had the right tone for so long."

     Letterman soon wondered if itís important for leaders to ask for sacrifice in order to provide the "notion we are all in this together?" Jennings lectured Americans:
     "I also think itís very important for us to respect the differences that exist in the country. I think thatís especially true on the issue of patriotism. I think next yearís going to be very challenging. The Middle East is going to be a huge challenge. What happens in the Southern Philippines in terms of terrorism. Whatís going to happen between India and Pakistan. I mean, I sometimes think India and Pakistan can hardly wait to attack each other. They both have nuclear weapons. And it isnít just about campaigning against terrorism around the world. Thatís just too simple. There are a lot of root causes for dissatisfaction around the world and I think for the country to exercise real global leadership, when globalization in itself is kind of complicated, itís not just American business or selling American culture around the world. I think itís a very big challenge for a leader to get us all engaged in that because, you know, Americans are pretty insular people for the most part."

     But unlike Jennings, who is still a Canadian citizen, we are Americans.

2

Tom Brokaw concluded Fridayís NBC Nightly News with what promised to be a poignant pre-holiday weekend discussion with Solicitor General Ted Olson about his wife, Barbara, who was killed aboard the plane which hit the Pentagon on September 11. While Brokaw allowed Olson to fondly reminisce about her love for "opera, Shakespeare, country and western music, dogs and the countryside of Virginia," Brokaw chided Olson for his decision to proceed with the publication of her anti-Clinton book, The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House.

     Brokaw claimed that "some people are also saying it just opens old wounds at a time when we're trying to have political unity in this country" and insisted that "admirers of the Clintons or other people who are neutral in all of this are going to say, 'Look, this is just a continuation of a political vendetta against that couple.í"

     Brokaw set up the last story on the December 21 NBC Nightly News: "It's a bittersweet Christmas for the husband of another well-known television personality: Ted Olson, married to Barbara Olson, the commentator who was on board the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Her book on the final days of the Clinton presidency was published after her death, and it's a best-seller. Ted Olson, of course, represented George Bush during the Florida election controversy. He's now solicitor general."
     Olson: "The idea that her voice would be stilled by terrorists or that the book that she had worked so hard on all summer would be put in a box somewhere would just have been intolerable to Barbara."
     Brokaw to Olson as the two sat on a set with images of Barbara Olson and her bookís cover in the background: "But as you know, some people are also saying it just opens old wounds at a time when we're trying to have political unity in this country. Was that part of your consideration?"
     Olson: "Well, I thought about that a little bit. But Barbara believed in this country, the first amendment, comments on political figures, how political people who hold office conduct themselves in office."
     Barbara Olson in old footage: "It's not the way to do a presidential election."
     Ted Olson: "The idea that that goes away because of what terrorists tried to do to this country-"
     Brokaw again suggested her book was inappropriate: "You've lived in the political culture long enough to know that admirers of the Clintons or other people who are neutral in all of this are going to say, 'Look, this is just a continuation of a political vendetta against that couple.'
     Olson: "The book is full of facts. And we do, in this country, when you do take political office and you conduct yourself in the public limelight, when you accept the public trust, you accept the criticism when people feel that you may have abused that trust.
     Brokaw: "Would she be troubled by the bipartisan spirit that exists here now, saying, 'Wait a minute, we're going too far with this' as some people are, both on the left and the right?"
     Olson disagreed: "I don't think she was ever troubled by bipartisan spirit. But she never minded the disagreements that took place."
     Brokaw moved on to pleasant memories: "Everyone knew Barbara as a very outspoken advocate for what she believed in, in the public arena, on television. But you had a whole other life as well."
     Olson fondly recalled: "Opera, Shakespeare, country and western music, dogs, the countryside of Virginia, great restaurants, good wine, all of those things."
     Brokaw: "Do you go to the opera without her now?"
     Olson: "I haven't yet."
     Brokaw: "Too hard to do?"
     Olson: "I think I'll get there. I think it's important to do those things. I think it was important. Barbara loved Christmas, as she loved everything else. But she particularly loved Christmas. And I made sure that the people helping with these things went out the day after Thanksgiving and lit our house up like Barbara would have wanted it lit up."
      Brokaw wrapped up: "Ted Olson, Solicitor General of the United States."

     For more about Barbara Olsonís book, The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House, go to:
http://www.regnery.com/regnery/010817_finaldays.html

3

During a portion of his December 2 interview with the then-disheveled and just-captured John Walker shown for the first time late last week, CNN contributor Robert Pelton, when asked if he were a Muslim, told Walker, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." The New York Postís Adam Buckman caught the exchange and reported it in a Friday story.

     On Saturdayís Reliable Sources on CNN, Pelton denied he was expressing support for the Talibanís terrorism, telling Howard Kurtz: "One of the pillars of Islam is jihad, or struggle, and like many religions, it is a foundation of their belief. So, I do respect that."

     So, he does "respect" the anti-Western crusade, in which Walker enlisted, to kill all non-believers?

     An excerpt from Buckmanís December 21 story:

I couldnít believe my ears. 

I'm watching this CNN interview with the shaggy-haired traitor John Walker yesterday when suddenly I hear the interviewer -- identified as a CNN correspondent -- tell Walker how much he "respects" the cause to which Walker has pledged his allegiance.

I was so stunned that I went searching for the interview transcript on CNN's Web site to see if I'd heard it right and there it was for anyone to read: the correspondent -- author and self-styled adventurer Robert Young Pelton -- was expressing an unseemly and, to say the least, unjournalistic sympathy for a sworn enemy of the United States in wartime.

Doesn't anyone at CNN even listen to this stuff before putting it on TV?

"Yourself a Muslim?" asked Walker hopefully at one point in the interview, which was aired for the first time during Aaron Brown's show on Wednesday night and then aired throughout the day yesterday on CNN (though it was taped back on Dec. 2).

"No, unfortunately, I'm not," answered Pelton to the religion question. "But," he was quick to add, "I respect the cause and I respect the call."

Respect the cause? As I understand it, the "cause" for which the American-born Walker was willing to kill Americans is the fundamentalist Islamic philosophy of the repressive Taliban, which the United States has aided Afghan nationalists in driving from power.

So who is Robert Young Pelton? He is the author of a handful of free-wheeling and best-selling travel books, including "The World's Most Dangerous Places," "Come Back Alive" and "The Adventurist."

He's an unusual personality who, depending on which bio you're reading, has ventured through 60 or 80 countries in search of off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Delve further and you come across some wild statements uttered by Pelton, such as an on-line Q&A he conducted with the Terrorism Research Center in which he likened the New York City police to terrorists ("the New York City police seem to do just fine terrorizing immigrants with toilet plungers") and then later stated, "There is no such thing as terrorism."...

     END of Excerpt

     While CNNís transcripts do identify Pelton as a "CNN correspondent," the on-screen graphics during interviews with him aired around all of his reports listed him as a "CNN contributor."

     Clips from Peltonís December 2 interview with a very scruffy Walker, as he laid in a bed while doctors attended to him, began to air on NewsNight with Aaron Brown on Wednesday night and continued throughout Thursday on CNN. The portion Buckman caught, however, did not run on NewsNight and was not part of the repeating rotation and from what I could determine, by fast-forwarding through tapes, may have aired just once: During the 10am EST half hour on Thursday, December 20.

     During that 10am half hour CNN showed this exchange, which I am quoting in full context and for which I checked the CNN transcript against the actual CNN broadcast. "Inaudible" means someone elseís voice was drowning out Walker or Pelton:

     Pelton: "Is this what you thought it would be? Was this the right cause or the right place?"
     Walker: "It is exactly what I thought it would be."
     Pelton: "Have you thought of fighting Jihad in places like Chechnya or (inaudible)?"
     Walker: "Any Muslim that's concerned for the affairs of Muslims (inaudible) has considered this, I think."
     Pelton: But you chose Afghanistan, and one thing that I always wondered was, you have Muslims fighting Muslims here."
     Walker: "That's a question that's actually addressed in the Koran itself, that, if there is an Islamic state -- I mean there are certain situations in which Muslims, by necessity, are fought. For example, if a group of Muslims were renegades against the Islamic state, it calls for (inaudible) There are other situations also, in which a Muslim can be killed, for example, under the law inaudible) Islamic law (inaudible) something which the media twists."
     Pelton: "I'm an author of a book called, The World's Most Dangerous Places, and I traveled with you Jihad groups through various places, and-"
     Walker: "Yourself a Muslim?"
     Pelton: "No, unfortunately, I'm not. But I respect the cause and I respect the call, but I'm just interested to find an American, because when I met the other prisoners, who were in very bad shape, they seem to be from a number of very poor countries. You know, there were people from Yemen. There looked liked one -- have you met Chechnyans at all?
     Walker: "I've known a few Chechnyans."
     Pelton: "Are the Chechnyans from -- like Chechnya, or are they (inaudible)?"
     Walker: "I've known people from-"
     Pelton: "I've always wondered, because I've been searching Chechnyans. Iíve always wondered why a Chachnyan would fight here?"
     Walker: "Here, in Afghanistan, I haven't seen any Chechnyans. Only some -- I don't know, there are several small republics within..."

     For a full transcript of what CNN played during the 10am EST half hour:
http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0112/20/se.01.html

     CNN featured Pelton on the December 22 Reliable Sources. Host Howard Kurtz first asked about his journalistic status: "You were described in this interview, despite your relatively brief association with CNN, as a CNN contributor. Do you consider yourself a journalist?"
     Pelton denied heís any kind of journalist: "No, I'm an author. I've never had aspirations to be a journalist because it's a tough job, pays very little, and basically I travel around the world, meet interesting people, and try to find out more about what makes people tick."

     Kurtz then played a clip of Pelton telling Walker, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." Kurtz wanted to know: "What did you mean, Robert Pelton, when you said ĎI respect the causeí of Islamic jihad?"
     Pelton explained: "Well, I didn't say Islamic jihad. I said I respect the cause. One of the pillars of Islam is jihad, or struggle, and like many religions, it is a foundation of their belief. So, I do respect that. Secondly, the call, which is a newer form, which is sort of part of the caravan [may be wrong word, this is from the CNN transcript and not checked against he tape], which is people going to help other people in need."

     Kurtz soon pressed Pelton on what he did not ask about: "Why did you not ask John Walker what he thought of the September 11 attacks, or whether he felt that he'd betrayed his country?"
     Pelton: "Well, first of all, you don't get a lot of news coverage when you're out in the front lines in a place like Takhar province. Secondly, I wasn't there to politicize or ask his opinions about politics. I wanted to know, first of all, how he was doing physically, because he was in very bad shape when I first met him. And secondly, I was just asking him questions that I personally was interested in."
     Kurtz: "But you say you don't want to politicize the interview, but isn't that the question that every American would want to know the answer to: How does somebody who grew up in Marin County, California end up fighting for the Taliban and whether he feels like some kind of traitor to America? It's not a political question, it's a factual question."
     Pelton: "No, I think the conversation we had is pretty straightforward. Here's a man in the hospital receiving medical care while I'm talking to him. Toward the end of the interview, obviously, he was under the influence of morphine. But the bottom-line is, I had a conservation with him. I wasn't trying to muck-rake or set him up in any way."

     Kurtz raised another discovery made by the New York Postís Buckman: "The New York Post reported the other day that during an online discussion recently, you said that you didn't think there was any such thing as terrorism. Can you explain a little bit about your views on that?"
     Pelton: "Well, terrorism is a label used by a variety of groups, whether they be American or Palestinian or Chechnyan or whatever, to simply demonize the actions of other people. I think you have to look past that statement and you have to look at the acts as being either criminal, political, religious, or otherwise."
     Kurtz wondered: "So, flying planes into the World Trade Center is not terrorism in your view? Terrorism is not an appropriate label for killing thousands of innocent civilians?"
     Pelton: "Well, I think you're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say that. I think flying airplanes into the World Trade Center is the ultimate act of criminality and that strikes terror into the hearts of many people."

     The next time CNN gets hot video from someone who isnít a journalist maybe they should consider muting the sound whenever he or she speaks.

     To learn about Peltonís latest book, go to:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062737384/qid=1009066816/
sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_11_1/104-5136415-9698328

4

Confronting liberal bias as it occurs. Last week when CNNís Aaron Brown set up an interview segment by tagging Shelby Steele as "a conservative," but simply describing Richard Cohen as "a columnist," Steele called him on it, forcing Brown to concede that Cohen is a liberal.

     MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the incident which occurred on the December 18 NewsNight. Brown set up the segment on the 10pm EST show: "There was that remarkable meeting a few weeks back in the prison in Mazar-e Sharif of two young men -- and to some, two different cultures. Two different American cultures. CIA officer Mike Spann, a former Marine, a child of small-town Alabama, whose family said he always wanted to serve his country. And in that prison, before he was killed, he met John Walker, a 20-year-old from Marin County, California, fighting with the Taliban, whose parents sent him to an alternative school, supported his conversion to Islam, and allowed him to travel across the world to pursue his new religion. Some conservatives jumped on Walker, saying he is a product of cultural liberalism -- the California kind -- helping to turn an impressionable kid against his own country.
     "Joining us from Salinas, California, one of those conservatives, Shelby Steele of the Hoover Institution. Mr. Steele wrote a provocative article the other day in the Wall Street Journal -- a column in the Journal. And here in New York, a columnist who thinks Mr. Steele is making an awfully broad generalization: Richard Cohen of the Washington Post. It's nice to have both of you here. Mr. Steele."
     Steele protested: "First of all, let me interrupt you just a minute."
     Brown: "Okay."
     Steele queried: "Is Richard Cohen a liberal?"
     Brown: "Yeah, Richard Cohen's a liberal. I think he would say that, wouldn't he?"
     Steele: "Just wanted to make sure we were both-"
     Cohen reluctantly admitted: "On this issue."
     Brown: "On this issue. Okay. Everyone is now branded, I guess."
     Steele reasonably suggested: "Okay, great. If I'm going to be, everybody's going to be."
     Brown proceeded to recall an earlier assessment by a conservative which many reporters did not appreciate: "Let me try and get, let me try and get a little control back. A few years back, Newt Gingrich blamed liberalism for Susan Smith's decision to kill her own children in South Carolina. And I think when some people hear the argument you're making they're thinking about that and that seemed a bit of a stretch then. Are they, are these different issues or is this the same thing?"

     Steele has provided an excellent model for the new year for how conservative guests on TV shows can correct liberal bias on the fly. --  trapped with unlabeled liberals in Taxachusetts. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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