The 1,236th CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Thursday February 28, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 35) |
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"Bellicose Language" Blamed; Terror Suspect a Victim to ABC; NYT Euphemisms for Plagiarism; Bush’s "Brown-Shirted Thugs"; CNN v FNC

1) ABC News rationalized how few in Muslim nations think Arabs committed the 9-11 terrorist acts and don’t think the U.S. response is morally justified. Without retort, Terry Moran allowed a Muslim activist to denounce U.S. support for Israel and, after playing a clip of Bush referring to the "axis of evil," Moran stressed: "Other analysts say Mr. Bush’s bellicose language may be exacerbating the problem."

2) ABC also ran a story about how the FBI has mistreated a Pakistani couple who have been "deeply affected" by the effort to catch terrorist operatives. The husband, reporter Pierre Thomas noted, "had a license to haul hazardous materials." Oh, and by the way, "the couple was in the U.S. illegally."

3) More moral equivalence from ABC News. On Tuesday night, ABC’s reporter in Israel concluded a story by lamenting how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one which “neither side seems willing to end.”

4) FNC’s Brit Hume caught how a New York Times story on plagiarism by Doris Kearns Goodwin "never once used the word ‘plagiarism.’" Instead, it referred to "unacknowledged repetitions," "derivative passages" and "inappropriate borrowing." A letter writer to the paper suggested: "Rather than speeding, a motorist could be cited for ‘inappropriate acceleration.’"

5) "The real terrorist threats are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs," declared "actor, comedian, entertainer" Sandra Bernhard during a Washington Post online chat.

6) Is CNN getting "snippy" now that FNC has soared past it in the ratings? Aaron Brown and Jack Cafferty attributed a dip in the Dow to an "erroneous" report by FNC that U.S. operatives were inside Iraq. Cafferty quipped: "I understand they may change the slogan from ‘fair and balanced’ to ‘fair and balanced but not necessarily very accurate.’" Plus, more people watched curling on MSNBC than tune into MSNBC in prime time.


If a mere 18 percent of people in Muslim nations believe Arabs carried out the attacks on September 11th and three-fourths don’t see the U.S. response as morally justified, blame President Bush’s "bellicose language." At least ABC News gave that rationale credibility on Wednesday night by giving it air time without retort.

     Recounting the findings of a Gallup Organization survey conducted in nine Muslim nations, on World News Tonight Peter Jennings called it "a big setback for the Bush administration and a challenge. "Terry Moran highlighted how "many Arab-Americans say it’s not just perceptions at issue but U.S. policies, especially in the Middle East" as he allowed a representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations to denounce U.S. support for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East: "We have to have American values of justice and freedom applied across the board." 

     Moran quickly piled on, playing a clip of Bush referring to the "axis of evil," and then carping: "Other analysts say Mr. Bush’s bellicose language may be exacerbating the problem. "Putting on his air of superiority, Jennings concluded by remarking of the poll findings, "revealing to many" -- implying they came as no surprise to a world traveler like himself.

     Neither the CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News mentioned the poll on Wednesday night, though MSNBC’s The News with Brian Williams devoted two segments to it as other MSNBC and FNC shows also looked at it -- as I assume did some CNN programs, but I didn’t see it when I was watching.

     Jennings introduced the February 27 World News Tonight story: “There is a Gallup poll today which is making news because it is surprising to some and revealing to many. It finds that in several countries in the Muslim world the vast majority do not believe that Arabs were involved in the attacks on the U.S. in September. ABC’s Terry Moran is at the White House tonight. Terry, this is a big setback for the Bush administration and a challenge.”
     Moran agreed, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: “It sure is, Peter. Over the past five months, the Bush administration has launched several high-profile efforts to win hearts and minds in the Muslim world. Stark findings in the poll released today show just how far the U.S. still has to go in that endeavor. Nearly 10,000 people were polled in nine predominantly Muslim countries from Morocco to Indonesia. On average, only 24 percent of Muslims polled in each of the countries had a favorable opinion of the U.S. More disturbing, only an average of 23 percent in six of the countries believe news reports that Arabs carried out the September 11th attacks. As for the U.S. response to September 11th, 76 percent of those polled, on average, say the American mission in Afghanistan is not morally justified. President Bush acknowledged today that the U.S. faces a major long-term problem.”
     George W. Bush: “There is no question that we must do a better job of telling the compassionate side of the American story.”
     Moran looked to U.S. policy for the blame: “But many Arab- Americans say it’s not just perceptions at issue but U.S. policies, especially in the Middle East.”
     Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American-Islamic Relations: “We shouldn’t just deal with spin control. We have to have real changes to real foreign policies. We have to have American values of justice and freedom applied across the board.”
     Bush: “We stand strong in the face of the evil ones.”
     Moran: “Other analysts say Mr. Bush’s bellicose language may be exacerbating the problem.”
     Judith Kipper, ABC News Middle East consultant: “The ‘you’re either with us or against us’ rhetoric, the use of the word ‘crusade,’ ‘axis of evil,’ and this simply confirms suspicions that this is indeed an American war against Islam.”
     Moran concluded: “One finding that shows how deep the misunderstanding runs, a finding Americans might find particularly disheartening. In Kuwait where American troops fought and died liberating that country from Iraq just a decade ago, 36 percent of Kuwaitis, Peter, say they believe that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States were morally justifiable.”

     Jennings followed up: “As we said, Terry, many thanks. Revealing to many.” 

     To access the Gallup poll numbers at you must be a paid subscriber, but USA Today on Wednesday published the highlights. For their front page story, “In poll, Islamic world says Arabs not involved in 9/11,” go to:

     Reporter Andrea Stone explained the methodology: “Gallup conducted in-person interviews during December and January of 9,924 residents in nine Muslim countries: Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

     Stone relayed these “key findings”:
     -- “Although U.S. officials say all 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers were Arab men, only 18% of those polled in six Islamic countries say they believe Arabs carried out the attacks; 61% say Arabs were not responsible; and 21% say they don't know.”

     -- “Just 9% say they think U.S. military action in Afghanistan is morally justified. The least supportive: people in Morocco, Indonesia and Pakistan.”

     -- “Two-thirds say the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were morally unjustifiable, but significant minorities disagree. In Kuwait, which U.S. troops liberated from Iraq in 1991, 36% say the attacks were justifiable, the highest percentage of any country polled.”

     In a story inside the February 27 USA Today about Kuwait, Stone noted that only “18% say they like the current President Bush” and 89 percent do not think Arabs were behind the September 1th attacks. For more:

     For a nation-by-nation rundown of answers to four questions:

     Interestingly, Saudi Arabia and Jordan would not allow three of the four key questions to be posed: Whether U.S. military action is morally justifiable, if they believe Arabs carried out the attacks and if they like or dislike President Bush. Morocco disallowed the last two. So much for respect for their people or for freedom. Can you imagine the outcry if Israel blocked U.S. pollsters from asking a question?


Immediately after rationalizing why Muslims hate the U.S., ABC ran a story about how the FBI has mistreated a Pakistani couple in New Jersey who have been “deeply affected” by the effort to catch terrorist operatives. The husband, reporter Pierre Thomas noted, “had a license to haul hazardous materials” and “refused to carry two shipments on September 11th to Washington, D.C. But the family still has not been told if Mamud is charged with any crime.” Oh, and by the way, “the couple was in the U.S. illegally.”

     Anchor Peter Jennings introduced the sympathetic February 27 World News Tonight piece: “The Justice Department told us again today that since September 11th the U.S. has detained more than 700 non-U.S. citizens, and 327 of these people are still in custody without charges as far as we know, and the government will not reveal who they are or where they are. Tonight the story of one family that has been deeply affected.”

     Pierre Thomas checked in: “On the morning of October 3rd, Ouzman Nahid (sp?) was suddenly awakened by FBI agents in her bedroom.”
     Nahid: “I was scared and I got up and I say ‘What’s going on?’ And he was looking in my closet.”
     Thomas: “Nahid and her husband Ansa Mamud (sp?), who are from Pakistan, were questioned in their New Jersey home for five hours.”
     Nahid: “They told me, ‘You get ready, we want to arrest you.’ And I started crying and I said, ‘Why?’”
     Thomas: “The couple was in the U.S. illegally, and the FBI suspected Mamud had ties to the 9-11 hijackers. According to an FBI affidavit, Mamud, who had a license to haul hazardous materials, refused to carry two shipments on September 11th to Washington, D.C. But the family still has not been told if Mamud is charged with any crime.”
     Nahid: “If I told you that you are terrorist, would you accept it? You cannot say anybody terrorist unless you prove it.”
     Thomas: “Nahid said she did not hear one word about her husband for 23 days and had to hire an attorney to find him. With no source of income, she sold her furniture -- beds, tables, even her refrigerator. ABC News put in a request with the Justice Department to interview Ansa Mamud at the Brooklyn Detention Center. The answer was no.”
     Monami Maulik, Immigration Rights Activist: “The main issue is that any kind of idea of due process has pretty much been thrown out the door.”
     Thomas concluded his tale of woe: “The Justice Department says it can’t afford to take any chances. Ouzman Nahid has no idea what will happen to her husband. Today she and the children go back to Pakistan.”

     If they hadn’t come to the U.S. illegally the husband wouldn’t have ended up in a U.S. jail.


Going for an ABC News bias trifecta, some more moral equivalence from the network. On Tuesday night, ABC’s reporter in Israel concluded a story by lamenting how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one “neither side seems willing to end.”

     For the February 25 World News Tonight, Gillian Findlay reported on two pregnant women who gave birth hours after being shot: How Israeli soldiers fired on a car which did not stop at a checkpoint, killing the husband of a woman shot in shoulder and how Palestinians shot some settlers, killing two and wounding a pregnant Israeli. 

     Findlay concluded by noting how since her grandfather was killed, the Israeli baby “will grow up without a grandfather, he died in the shooting, just as Heeda [the Palestinian baby, sp?] will grow up without a father, the two newest victims of a conflict neither side seems willing to end.” 

     I think it’s a lot more reasonable to say that the Palestinian side is the one unwilling to end its multi-decades of terrorism.


When is plagiarism “unacknowledged repetition” and “inappropriate borrowing”? When the New York Times reports on a case involving a liberal media star, FNC’s Brit Hume pointed out Wednesday night. 

     After a Saturday New York Times story documented additional examples of plagiarism in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 1987 book, The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys, Hume noted that she has taken a leave of absence from the PBS NewsHour. (The Weekly Standard first reported in January examples of Goodwin’s plagiarism.) 

     Hume added: “The New York Times Saturday report never once used the word ‘plagiarism’ to describe Goodwin’s copying of the work of others. Instead it refers to quote, ‘passages copied,’ ‘unacknowledged repetitions,’ ‘derivative passages,’ ‘repeated sentences’ and ‘inappropriate borrowing.’”

     Hume proceeded to quote from a “sardonic” letter to the New York Times published on Wednesday in which B.C. Milligan of Cockeysville, Md, picking up on the "inappropriately copying" phrase used by the paper, suggested: “Perhaps we can even add this word to our penal code, to define actions that are somewhere between a felony and a misdemeanor. Thus, for example, rather than speeding, a motorist could be cited for ‘inappropriate acceleration.’ And instead of burglary, one might be arrested for ‘inappropriate possession of the property of others.’" 

     You can read the entire letter online:

     Indeed, check out this excerpt from the Feruary 23 New York Times story headlined, “Historian Says Borrowing Was Wider Than Known,” by David D. Kirkpatrick:

The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, under fire for inappropriately copying several passages in a book she wrote in 1987, yesterday disclosed that her borrowings were far more extensive. In all, she said that in the same book she failed to acknowledge scores of quotations or close paraphrases from other authors.

Ms. Goodwin, one of the nation's best-known historians and a frequent television commentator, admitted last month that she borrowed some passages in her book, "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys," from three previous works. She also said that in 1987 her publisher, Simon & Schuster, paid to settle a legal claim by one author under a confidentiality agreement. Yesterday Ms. Goodwin said that since those revelations, her research assistants had found passages copied from several other books as well....

Ms. Goodwin said that all of her unacknowledged repetitions were accidental....

No one has publicly accused Ms. Goodwin of copying passages in her other books, including "No Ordinary Time."...

Ms. McTaggart [Lynne McTaggart, author of "Kathleen Kennedy: Her Life and Times"] complained to Simon & Schuster about repetitions from her book in 1987. In an interview last month, Ms. McTaggart, who now lives in London, said she hired a copyright lawyer to press her claim but settled for a monetary payment, the addition of about 40 footnotes, and a flattering mention of her book "the definitive biography of Kathleen Kennedy" in Ms. Goodwin's acknowledgments. But she said she did not demand that repeated sentences appear in quotation marks....

Ms. Goodwin said that as soon as articles about the copied passages in "The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys" appeared last month, she began to fear the problems were more widespread....She said her researchers had turned up additional repetitions from several new books as well....

     END of Excerpt

     For the entire story, those registered with the New York Times can go to:

     For more about her departure from the NewsHour, see a February 27 story by the Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes:

     The liberal Goodwin has been a constant presence on NBC News and MSNBC. Will those networks follow PBS and have the integrity to cease featuring her pontificating?


“The real terrorist threats are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs,” declared “actor, comedian, entertainer” Sandra Bernhard during a February 25 Washington Post online chat brought to my attention by Tom Johnson of the Parents Television Council.

     Bernhard, whose name may not be familiar but who you would probably recognize from her supporting movie roles and appearances on many TV shows, and who, for a week last August, had a try-out for an 11pm EST talk show on the A&E cable channel, was promoting a her new one-woman stage show. The Post described it: “Bernhard's latest production, Hero Worship, revels in satire and the actress-comedian-singer’s famously caustic wit. The show uses spoken word and several musical genres -- backed by a five piece rock band -- to tackle classic Bernhard topics such as pop stars, popular culture and unpopular politics.”

     During the February 25 online session, a questioner identified as being from Brattleboro, Vt., inquired: “A couple of questions for you, m'lady:
     -- Without You I'm Nothing was a brilliant film. Is it coming to DVD?
     -- How are things going in the world, in your opinion? Who are the real terrorist threats?
     -- What is the secret of being in the ‘in crowd’. Do I just wear something different and spend more on dinner? Any advice is welcome. Thank you, and rock on, grrrl.”

     Bernhard replied: “We're working on having it released on DVD. I can't tell you when. The real terrorist threats are George W. Bush and his band of brown-shirted thugs. Just keep it real.”

     How deep.

To read the entire chat and to see a photo of Bernhard:

     For a complete listing of Bernhard’s TV and movie roles, and a photo of her, check out her data recited by the Internet Movie Database:,+Sandra

     Tonight Bernhard has a guest role on NBC’s Will & Grace.


Now that the Fox News Channel has soared ahead of CNN in the ratings, it seems that some CNN personnel are getting a little “snippy about it,” to borrow a phrase from election night 2000. CNN’s Aaron Brown on Tuesday night and Jack Cafferty on Wednesday morning attributed a dip in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to an “erroneous” report by FNC that U.S. operatives were inside Iraq. Cafferty snidely quipped: “I understand they may change the slogan from ‘fair and balanced’ to ‘fair and balanced but not necessarily very accurate.’”

     On the February 26 NewsNight, anchor Aaron Brown asserted: "On we go. The stock market did a morning plunge today, the Dow down 150 points when traders started selling after a report that American ground forces were in Iraq. The report, which was aired by Fox News, was quickly denied by the Pentagon, and the market began recovering. No explanation from Fox on where the report came from or why Fox ran the same report a week ago, which was also denied. Enough said." 

     As the MRC’s Rich Noyes, who caught Cafferty’s quip, observed, it’s probably the first time CNN has taken a Pentagon denial a face value. Of course, a consumer confidence survey, showing a surprising drop, came out at the exact same moment as FNC was reporting its story at 10am EST on Wednesday. 

     Specifically, at 10am Jon Scott set up an interview segment: “Fox News has learned that a small group of special operations troops are on the ground in Iraq keeping tabs on Saddam Hussein. Their mission: To develop better ties with local Kurds in Iraq, beef up intelligence and even incite unrest against the Iraqi regime. So does our presence there mean military action is imminent?” The guest, retired Marine Lt. Col Bill Cowan, answered no and explained it will take six to eight months to prepare for any military action, but the U.S. could have agents on the grounds making contact with opposition leaders.

     On Thursday’s American Morning with Paula Zahn, at 7:39am EST, viewers heard this exchange between tri-host Cafferty and a CNN financial reporter:

     Cafferty: “Sasha Salama is at the ‘NASDAQ Marketsite’ in Times Square. A quick look at how the markets may do today. Sasha, yesterday the markets held up reasonably well in the wake of some tough stuff: consumer confidence fell, the GAP had lousy numbers and bad forward guidance, some other disappointing earnings, and there was another erroneous report on television that affected the market early in the session, right?”
     Salama: “That’s right, Jack. There was a rumor that the U.S. was getting into Iraq militarily. This is the second such rumor in a about week and right around ten o’clock when those worse than expected confidence numbers came out both the Dow and the NASDAQ took a turn down-” 
     Cafferty: “It was more than a rumor. Wasn’t it reported on Fox News? Didn’t they run some sort of a crawl suggesting that American forces were on the ground in Iraq?”
     Salama: “They did and they kind of got the blame laid at their feet.”
     Cafferty: “Now today I understand they may change the slogan from ‘fair and balanced’ to ‘fair and balanced but not necessarily very accurate.’”
     Salama, distancing herself from the attack, drew out the word okay: “Ohkaaay?”
     Cafferty: “It’s a thought.”
     Salama: “Yeah, I’m not going to touch that one, but I’ll tell you that it shows how sensitive the markets are these days to every little rumor. There’s a lot of anxiety out there.”

     Sounds like there’s some “anxiety” inside CNN about FNC’s surge in the ratings. I can’t recall a CNN anchor ever pouncing on a ABC, CBS or NBC story as “erroneous.” 

     As Matt Kempner reported in the February 27 Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
     “Fox News Channel tightened its grip as cable's top news network in February by doubling its viewership lead over CNN.
     “Although CNN continued to grow as well, Fox News averaged about 395,000 more viewers than CNN did in prime time. Last month, Fox News had a 170,000 lead in average viewership, taking CNN's title for the first time.
     “Overall, CNN averaged 815,000 prime-time viewers in February while Fox News averaged 1.21 million, according to data from Nielsen Media Research.”

     For the rest of the story:

     Cafferty’s show attracts fewer viewers than FNC in the morning. Relaying January numbers, in the January 31 Washington Post Lisa de Moraes noted: “In the mornings, FNC's Fox & Friends averaged 651,000 viewers; CNN's American Morning With Paula Zahn did 571,000.” (But Zahn is the one whose star has really fallen. She had at least five times as many viewers when she co-hosted CBS This Morning.)

     (And don’t try to find the Cafferty comment online. It’s not in the transcripts posted by CNN or on Nexis. I had to take it down myself from our videotape.)

     FNC, by the way, stands by its report from Carl Cameron, who never appeared on air to tell it, according to a Baltimore Sun story highlighted on Jim Romenesko’s MediaNews page ( Brit Hume summarized Cameron’s report Tuesday night and then Scott cited it Wednesday morning. For more, see the Baltimore Sun story:

     In Wednesday’s Washington Post, de Moraes pointed out that when MSNBC on February 21 skipped the Pearl death to stick with women’s Olympic curling, it “nabbed an impressive 1.1 million viewers from 4:30 to 6 p.m. CNN and FNC trailed with 980,000 and 900,000 viewers, respectively.” She wondered how MSNBC General Manager Erik Sorenson is “going to explain to the bright bulbs at GE that daytime curling coverage nabbed bigger audiences than February averages of prime time stars Chris Matthews (507,000 viewers), Brian Williams (389,000), Ashleigh Banfield (353,000) and Alan Keyes (226,000)?”

     Here’s an idea: Maybe CNN could improve its morning ratings by showing curling. Instead of American Morning with Paula Zahn, how about American Curling with Paula Zahn? -- Brent Baker



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