Jennings Scolds Ashcroft; CFR "Finally" Passed; Bush Team Too Secretive; Global Warming To Blame Again; Aaron "Skippy" Brown
1) ABC’s Peter Jennings fretted about how
"many" of the Arab males in the U.S. who have been "already
questioned say it was terrifying that they were, in their words,
‘victims of ethnic profiling.’" But Dan Rather led the CBS
Evening News by warning: "The Justice Department admitted today that
more than 1,000 foreigners, believed to be or have been in this country
and wanted for questioning, have not been found."
2) "The shame of Enron finally got Congress to pass a
campaign finance reform bill today," Dan Rather approvingly noted
Wednesday evening while NBC’s Tom Brokaw launched the campaign for even
tougher rules as he wondered if "loopholes" in the bill could
"turn this major overhaul into business as usual?"
3) ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday examined the
Bush administration’s supposed excessive secrecy. Diane Sawyer raised
what she described as a "brewing political controversy," asking:
"Is the Bush administration using public support for the war to shut
out others from the decision-making process, whether it's fighting in Iraq
or protecting the home front?"
4) The New York Times attributed the break-up of an
Antarctic ice shelf to "greenhouse" gasses which are causing
global warming, but the Washington Post noted that "researchers and
scientists... cautioned that there was little evidence to directly link
the ice shelf collapse to the effects of global warming."
5) Wacky question of the day. Thousands have probably been
killed while in a car on the way to an NHL game, but on Wednesday
afternoon CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked a guest if, in the wake of the
tragedy in which a teenage girl was killed by a puck, "kids have to
go to hockey games now wearing helmets?"
6) On Fox & Friends Steve Doocy informed viewers that
inside CNN Aaron Brown’s nickname is "Skippy." FNC’s E.D.
Donahey dubbed CNN’s American Morning "American Boring" as she
and her two morning colleagues marveled at how they get better ratings
with "three people sitting in velvet chairs" than does CNN which
pays Paula Zahn $2 million a year to host its morning show.
Peter Jennings was disturbed by the violation of civil rights associated
with John Ashcroft’s announcement that the Justice Department plans to
interview 3,000 foreign national males, who arrived in the U.S. since
October 1 from nations with al-Qaeda operations. But from the same
Ashcroft announcement CBS’s Dan Rather found most newsworthy the
"stunning" revelation that the FBI and INS have been unable to
locate 1,000 Arab or Muslim males in the U.S. sought for questioning.
On Wednesday’s World News Tonight, Jennings
fretted about how "many of those already questioned say it was
terrifying that they were, in their words, ‘victims of ethnic
profiling.’" Dan Rather led the CBS Evening News, however, by
warning: "The Justice Department admitted today that more than 1,000
foreigners, believed to be or have been in this country and wanted for
questioning, have not been found."
Only as an afterthought did ABC’s Pierre
Thomas mention how the 1,000 foreign men cannot be located.
Jennings set up the March 20 story, as
transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Attorney General John
Ashcroft today talked about the foreign nationals who have been questioned
by law enforcement in many parts of the country since November. The
Justice Department planned to interview 5,000 foreigners, most of them
Arabs or Arab-Americans. Now Mr. Ashcroft says he wants another 3,000
interviews. Many of those already questioned say it was terrifying that
they were, in their words, ‘victims of ethnic profiling.’ ABC’s
Pierre Thomas reports from Washington."
with Ashcroft’s view: "The Attorney General says the interviews
actually eased concerns in the Arab community."
"The process of reaching out to foreign nationals and their
communities fostered new trust between law enforcement and these
countered: "That, some Arab-American leaders say, could not be
further from the truth."
Arab American Institute President: "Not only did the investigations
that were conducted waste police man hours. They were ineffective and
inefficient use of law enforcement time. But they also created fear in the
Thomas found a
victim: "This college student who asked not to be identified says a
recent meeting with police left him feeling like a criminal."
student in shadow: "I was just very scared, anxious, nervous, and I
just wanted to get it over with."
"He was one of several thousand men of mostly Arab descent who were
"We believe that these individuals might, either wittingly, or
unwittingly, be in the same circles, communities, or social groups as
those engaged in terrorist activities."
"The government claims the first campaign produced tips about the
hijackers, intelligence about their associates, and may have scared
"Such a climate could cause would-be terrorists to scale back, to
delay, or to abandon their plans altogether."
"Justice officials say the interviews are voluntary. Critics say the
interviews are voluntary in name only."
student: "My conclusion was pretty much that I don’t really even
have a choice because if I didn’t go through with it for whatever
reason, then I would be even more suspect."
concluded: "Roughly twenty of those interviewed were arrested."
Jennings then asked: "Pierre, I know the
department wanted to talk to several thousand people, how many did they
actually manage to talk to?"
Thomas got to
what CBS considered its lead: "They managed to talk to several
thousand, but Peter, roughly 1,000 of the people they were looking for
they could not find. That’s roughly 20 percent."
Rather led the CBS Evening News: "Good
evening. The Justice Department admitted today that more than 1,000
foreigners, believed to be or have been in this country and wanted for
questioning, have not been found. So far, they simply cannot be located.
While maximum blame is placed on the already embarrassed INS, the
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Justice Department itself, the
FBI and other elements of the government’s anti-terrorism task forces
are involved in one way or another. White House correspondent John Roberts
has more about today’s surprising, some would say stunning,
After reviewing problems at the INS, Roberts
concluded the subsequent report: "Ashcroft today stressed the urgency
of tracking down foreign visitors in the United States. He pointed to a
Justice Department report released today that found interviews with people
who have been located have yielded significant leads in the war against
Indeed, on FNC’s Special Report with Brit
Hume, Catherine Herridge delivered a balanced summary of the pros and cons
on the interviewing policy, including how James Zogby claimed the first
round yielded no useful information, before concluding: "While Zogby
says the interviews weren’t useful, a Justice Department report says
they generated new leads. Among them, one individual recalled seeing a
9-11 hijacker and two others identified acquaintances who’d taken flight
shame of Enron finally got Congress to pass a campaign finance reform bill
today," Dan Rather approvingly noted Wednesday evening while NBC’s
Tom Brokaw launched the campaign for even tougher rules as he wondered if
"loopholes" in the bill could "turn this major overhaul
into business as usual?"
Passage of campaign finance "reform"
had "finally" occurred, Dan Rather proclaimed on the March 20
CBS Evening News: "On Capitol Hill, it took seven years, but the
shame of Enron finally got Congress to pass a campaign finance reform bill
today. The legislation bans soft money, the unregulated special interest
donations to national political parties. But it doubles the allowable hard
money with donations to individual candidates now to be capped at $2,000.
Let’s get the real deal on what this means from CBS’s Bob Schieffer.
Bob, is the fight finally really over?"
Schieffer had to warn Rather that "no
it’s not" since after President Bush signs it Senator Mitch
McConnell will file a lawsuit to invalidate portions of the law.
Tom Brokaw worried the new regulatory scheme
might not be strict enough. He teased at the top of Wednesday’s NBC
Nightly News: "The money game. Campaign finance reform headed to the
President. But will loopholes turn this major overhaul into business as
Brokaw led his show by observing how
"tonight, the first significant reform since Watergate, is headed for
the President’s desk after it sailed through the Senate helped by the
strong winds of embarrassment brought on by Enron."
Lisa Myers did use the occasion to recall how
the now-barred soft money was the kind raised by the "infamous
coffees" held by President Clinton. Getting to Brokaw’s
"loopholes," she noted how special interests will figure out a
way around the rules and, to illustrate another unregulated area, she used
a liberal as an example: "Also under the new rules, a wealthy person
can still do what Jane Fonda did: She poured more than $12 million into
abortion rights groups in the last election to finance attack ads like
Clip of a TV
ad featuring George W. Bush’s picture as an announcer warned: "Bush
actually opposed laws to protect women from violence at health
by complaints from Capitol Hill over how Homeland Security adviser Tom
Ridge will not testify, ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday devoted
a whole segment to the administration’s supposed excessive secrecy.
Diane Sawyer raised what she described as a "brewing political
controversy," asking: "Is the Bush administration using public
support for the war to shut out others from the decision-making process,
whether it's fighting in Iraq or protecting the home front?"
But while there have been questions raised by
both Republicans and Democrats about how the administration is sometimes
too tight with information, neither ABC’s Claire Shipman in her set up
piece relaying Democratic Senator Byrd’s complaints about Ridge, or
Diane Sawyer in quizzing White House chief-of-staff Andy Card, bothered to
let viewers in on the possibility that Byrd just wants to have a hearing
so he can harangue Ridge in order to get him to direct homeland security
spending to the Appropriations Committee Chairman’s home state of West
Shipman also resurrected a discredited
complaint: "It’s not the first time the White House has been
accused of being arrogant with information. Key members of Congress say
they were not briefed about the existence of a shadow government that's
been set up in the event of emergency." In fact, top congressional
leaders were provided or offered briefings about what was reported by U.S.
News and the Cleveland Plain Dealer last October, so hardly secret.
Sawyer introduced the March 20 segment, as
taken down by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson: "We turn now to another
story, which is the big political question of the day: Is the Bush
administration using public support for the war to shut out others from
the decision-making process, whether it's fighting in Iraq or protecting
the home front? Critics have begun to say the President is so secretive
that if he has a strategic plan, no one knows what it is. Joining us with
this brewing political controversy, our Senior National Correspondent
Claire Shipman at the White House."
Shipman outlined the supposed problem:
"Well, from the beginning this has been a White House that has prided
itself on its ability to control the flow of information, but now the
critics -- both Democrats and Republicans -- are saying that's turning
into an unhealthy penchant for secrecy."
"Information continues to flow and flow freely."
"It's become the question of the week at White House briefings: Why
won't this man, Tom Ridge, Homeland Security boss, testify before
"This is no ordinary advisor."
"Senator Robert Byrd says in the 50 years he's served, he's never
seen a White House so secretive."
"After all, the American people are entitled to know what Mr. Ridge
is doing, why he is doing it, why he needs $38 billion."
"The White House argues since Ridge is not actually a Cabinet
official, he doesn't have to testify and that it would set a bad
After clips of President Bush and White House
congressional liaison Nick Calio, Shipman recalled: "It's not the
first time the White House has been accused of being arrogant with
information. Key members of Congress say they were not briefed about the
existence of a shadow government that's been set up in the event of
emergency, nor, they say, have they been kept in the loop about any
administration plans for action against Iraq. Vice President Cheney has
refused to release the names of the people he met with in crafting his
energy plan, and the Vice President even tried, unsuccessfully, to keep
all reporters off his high-profile and high-stakes trip to the Middle
Shipman finally got to a personnel move which
did trouble some Republicans: "For the President, the very definition
of loyalty has been keeping quiet about what goes on inside these offices,
staying on message or else. Bush's head of the Army Corps of Engineers,
Mike Parker, learned that lesson recently when he was fired for publicly
complaining about the President's budget. But in wartime, with record
approval ratings, advisors say Bush feels little pressure to change
Michael Beschloss, historian: "It would have been tougher for the
administration to have this approach if there were not a war. During a
war, Congress and the American people are willing to give Presidents an
awful lot of leeway."
concluded with a warning: "Members of both parties on Capitol Hill
are especially frustrated about Ridge -- Senate Majority Leader Tom
Daschle hasn't ruled out a subpoena. The real danger for this President,
who came to Washington promising to get things done, is a permanently
scarred relationship with Congress."
Next, Diane Sawyer grilled Andy Card over
Ridge not testifying.
Sawyer: "So, examining the Ridge issue
alone, we know that technically he's not a Cabinet member, but nonetheless
he controls spending at about 80 different agencies."
"Actually, he does not control spending. His job is similar to Condy
Rice's job. Dr. Rice is the National Security Advisor to the President,
and she works with people who do have operational responsibility: the
Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, the CIA director, the
Attorney General. Tom Ridge is the Homeland Security Advisor, and he does
not have operational responsibility, he does not have a large budget that
"But nonetheless, he has a very-"
"And he, in fact, coordinates activities with the Attorney General,
with the Secretary of Defense, the director of the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, so his job is very similar and parallel to that of Dr.
wouldn’t relent: "But he has a highly important job at a highly
important time, and the question really becomes, whatever the technicality
is, do you want to go to war with Congress over this issue?"
Sawyer soon noted how "members of your
own party have gone public" complaining about the administration
withholding information. Sawyer explained: "Well, this is Congressman
Ernest Istook and he says -- from Oklahoma, he's a Republican -- 'This is
not minor. It involves millions of millions of lives.' And Representative
Dan Burton says, 'This is not a monarchy,' warning there could be a war
over this issue. Do you think they're just whiners and complainers? Why do
you think they're doing this?"
Amazing. Congressman Dan Burton now considered
a respected authority worthy of citing. (Burton’s "monarchy"
comment was referring to the administration’s refusal to turn over FBI
files from the Clinton era and involving how the FBI knew one of its
informants had committed a murder in the 1960s for which another man spent
decades in prison.)
Shelf Breaks Up in a Fast-Warming Antarctic Region" read the New York
Times caption beneath four time-lapse photos on the top of its front page
on Wednesday. Inside, reporter Andrew Revkin maintained only global
warming could explain the break-up: "While it is too soon to say
whether the changes there are related to a buildup of the ‘greenhouse’
gas emissions that scientists believe are warming the planet, many experts
said it was getting harder to find any other explanation."
In the March 20 Washington Post, however,
reporter Eric Pianin drew the opposite inference from the lack of
evidence: "Researchers and scientists who study the Antarctic
Peninsula cautioned that there was little evidence to directly link the
ice shelf collapse to the effects of global warming."
Good Morning America news reader Don Dahler
mimicked the New York Times, asserting Wednesday morning: "The rapid
collapse of a massive Antarctic ice shelf has scientists wondering if
global warming is to blame. The Rhode Island-sized chunk of ice
disintegrated in little more than a month during what's been one of the
warmest Antarctic summers on record. Experts say the shelf had been there
since the last ice age 12,000 years ago."
The MRC’s Tim Jones noticed the contrasting
spin in the two daily newspapers.
"Large Ice Shelf in Antarctica
Disintegrates at Great Speed," read the headline over Andrew
Revkin’s story. An excerpt:
A Rhode Island-size piece of the floating ice fringe along a
fast-warming region of Antarctica has disintegrated with extraordinary
rapidity, scientists said yesterday....
While it is too soon to say whether the changes there are related to a
buildup of the "greenhouse" gas emissions that scientists
believe are warming the planet, many experts said it was getting harder to
find any other explanation.
"With the disappearance of ice shelves that have existed for
thousands of years, you rather rapidly run out of other
explanations," said Dr. Theodore A. Scambos, a glaciologist at the
National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, which has
been monitoring the loss of ice in the Antarctic along with the British
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/20/science/physical/20ICE.html
"Antarctic Ice Shelf Collapses Into
Sea," announced the Washington Post headline. But the subhead
cautioned: "Scientists Split on Global Warming Role." An excerpt
from the piece by reporter Eric Pianin:
....Researchers and scientists who study the Antarctic Peninsula
cautioned that there was little evidence to directly link the ice shelf
collapse to the effects of global warming, which is induced by carbon
dioxide and other man-made "greenhouse" gases. Rather, they are
blaming a localized warming period that allowed melt water to seep into
cracks and trigger massive fracturing of the ice when temperatures
"What we see is climate warming regionally," said Ted Scambos,
a researcher with the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University
of Colorado in Boulder. "Ice shelves that have been there for
centuries, maybe thousands of years, are responding to climate they
haven't seen in the past. Very quickly they shatter."
But some scientists, including Princeton University geoscience
professor Michael Oppenheimer, believe that more sophisticated and
localized global warming models eventually will show a direct relationship
between Earth's rising temperatures and the vanishing ice shelves....
END of Excerpt
For the entire story:
question of the day. Providing a classic illustration of how journalists
often use an aberrant event to distort what is really most risky in life,
on Wednesday afternoon CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked a guest if "kids
have to go to hockey games now wearing helmets?"
Of the millions upon millions of fans who have
attended NHL hockey games during the league’s 84 seasons, not one was
killed by play in an arena until a 13-year-old girl, Brittanie Cecil,
tragically died on Tuesday after being hit in the head by a puck at a
Columbus Blue Jackets game.
Probably hundreds, if not thousands, have been
killed over the years while walking or in a car on the way to NHL games,
but this was the concern Blitzer expressed to CNN medical correspondent
Dr. Sanjay Gupta on Blitzer’s 5pm EST show:
this is a nightmare for every parent, of course, who wants to take their
kids to a hockey game. How worried should they be about this? What can we
learn from this tragic incident? For example, do kids have to go to hockey
games now wearing helmets?"
A less draconian measure for those worried
would be to simply not buy seats behind the goal nets above where the
plexiglass would stop a puck.
"Skippy" Brown? On Wednesday’s Fox & Friends Steve Doocy
informed viewers on the FNC morning show that inside CNN Aaron Brown’s
nickname is "Skippy." FNC’s E.D. Donahey dubbed CNN’s
American Morning "American Boring" as she and her two morning
colleagues, Doocy and Brian Kilmeade, marveled at how they get better
ratings with "three people sitting in velvet chairs" than does
CNN which pays Paula Zahn $2 million a year to host its morning show.
Maybe the FNC morning crew’s mocking of CNN
is a little payback for how CNN tried to discredit FNC back in late
February when 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.’" For more on both comments, as well as a RealPlayer
video clip of Cafferty’s remarks on American Morning:
For pictures of the Fox & Friends hosts:
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down some of
the humorous hits on CNN during the 7:30am EST FNC segment on March 20
which was brought to my attention by the MRC’s Rich Noyes:
-- E.D. Donahey: "Aaron Brown I heard,
has a nickname. A new nickname. You said he was your dentist."
"He is my den-, doesn't he look like a dentist? Hell-o"
"I've always admired your teeth, very clean."
"Thank you very much. He is always telling me to floss. Turns out, we
understand that he has a nickname that he does not know, and the nickname
have no idea. Melissa from our staff thinks that there could be the Skippy
thing because of a connection to Family Ties. Remember Skippy from Family
"Possibly. All I could tell you is-"
think it's peanut butter related."
When Mez Djouadi posts this CyberAlert he’ll
include a shot of FNC’s graphic with "Skippy" beneath
-- Referring to a story on how Fox &
Friends beats American Morning, Donahey stated: "The New York Daily
News, 'Anchor's Not Outfoxing Foe. CNN Seeking Help for Paula.' Paula Zahn
of course was over here at Fox News Channel, and was paid two million, two
million dollars to leave, to go over to CNN, because they thought 'we'll
get her from Fox, Fox has all the good people, we'll take her...and things
are gonna be great.' So they spent all this money, and then they got
really upset because you all keep watching our program....and even though
they pay her all that money and they're building her a new studio. You all
aren't watching, and they're kind of upset."
Donahey added: "This is the interesting
thing. CNN counters it by their spokesperson saying 'American Morning,'
which is nicknamed American Boring, 'isn't in the same category as Fox and
Friends.’ No, we're just morning news programs and we're on the same
time on cable. But we're not competition at all."
Doocy, referring to American Morning tri-host
Anderson Cooper, who had hosted ABC’s prime time reality show, The Mole:
"It’s got to be driving them crazy because our little rag tag,
let's face it, they've got all that stuff, they've got Jack Cafferty over
there, they've got the gerbil, I mean the mole, over there, they've got
all that, they've got millions behind this. Let's face it, our show is
three people sitting in velvet chairs. Face it, that's our show, three
guys in chairs!" [I guess E.D. is one of the "guys"]
Donahey suggested: "But they could have a
great program because they've got Paula doing the morning news program.
She's a great, it's oboe, or cello? Cellist. She is a great cellist, she
is a great golfer. She could do a music and a sports program on golfing,
and that would be terrific. No one else is doing that."
-- In the midst of all this, Kilmeade quoted
from how a CNN spokesman asserted in the newspaper article: "'We're
providing news and substantive exclusives.' You know, Fox isn’t? What
are we doing? I mean, do you think we could possibly be on in the middle
of a war if we were just playing zoo, you know walking around with
leopards...snapping towels at each other?"
Amount of time Fox & Friends spent making
fun of CNN and insisting it provides substantive reporting: A little over