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The 1,253rd CyberAlert. Tracking Liberal Media Bias Since 1996
| Tuesday April 2, 2002 (Vol. Seven; No. 52) |
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ABC Scolded Pro-Israel Policy; Terrorists as "Freedom Fighters"; Today Promoted Slavery Reparations; MSNBC Pursuing Phil Donahue?

1) From Friday through Monday ABC railed against Bushís Middle East policy. On Friday night Peter Jennings warned that the French were upset that the Bush administration did not do enough to restrain Israel. On Sunday Terry Moran worried that by leaning in favor of Israel Bush had put in jeopardy the "honest broker" role for the U.S. which reached its "apex" under Bill Clinton and on Monday morning Charles Gibson casually relayed how a Palestinian he talked to labeled Bushís policy "criminal."

2) MSNBC and CNN on Friday night were willing to pass along how terrorists consider themselves to be "freedom fighters." An MSNBC promo equated Arafat and Sharon: "To their people, theyíre freedom fighters." CNNís Connie Chung set up an interview with a Hamas representative by saying itís "an organization seen by most as a terrorist group," but that her guest "would probably prefer the term freedom fighter."

3) NBCís Today gave a promotional forum on Monday morning to three people pushing a slavery reparations lawsuit against three corporations. Lauer posed eight softball questions to the plaintiff and her lawyers before posing just one mildly challenging question while an opponent only got time for one comment. At one point, Lauer helpfully chimed in with the widespread benefits of reparations: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."

4) Demagogic attacks on Republicans for somehow endangering Social Security, scare tactics liberals have trotted out for decades, are just fine with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos who disagreed with Cokie Robertsí characterization of the strategy as "pathetic."

5) MSNBC sees ratings salvation in going left. The New York Daily News reported that MSNBC is pursuing Phil Donahue for a prime time slot opposite FNCís Bill OíReilly. Reporter Stephen Battaglio also disclosed that MSNBC is interested in Bill Maher, Sam Donaldson and Dennis Miller.

6) Lettermanís "Top Ten April Fool's Pranks in Afghanistan."


1

Day by day from Friday through Monday ABC railed against President Bushís policy which showed sympathy for the victims of terrorism over its perpetrators.

     On Friday night, Peter Jennings assumed the Israeli attack on Arafatís headquarters was worthy of condemnation as he asserted that "almost everywhere you turn this weekend...you hear people criticizing the Bush administration for not doing more to end the violence," specifically quoting the French foreign ministry, as he asked Terry Moran: "Did the White House know about" the Israeli attack "and try to stop it?"

     Sunday morning on This Week, Moran worried that by leaning in favor of Israel Bush had put in jeopardy the "honest broker" role for the U.S. which reached its "apex" under Bill Clinton: "Bushís positive comments about the Israeli President's personal endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's tough tactics raises a question if the United States can continue to play its traditional role of honest broker in this conflict, a role that reached its apex under President Clinton."

     The next morning, on Mondayís Good Morning America, Charles Gibson relayed from Israel how a Palestinian told him "that they felt it was Ďcriminalí -- criminal was the word used -- that the White House and President Bush have not involved themselves more to try to defuse what is such a high-tension situation here."

     Now, fuller quotations of those three stories:

     -- On Fridayís World News Tonight, Peter Jennings announced: "Almost everywhere you turn this weekend, inside the Middle East and out, you hear people criticizing the Bush administration for not doing more to end the violence. In the Middle East, the Egyptians, many Israelis, the Arab League. Outside, the European Union, the French, to cite some. The French foreign ministry spokesman said today, 'We continue to plead for the Americans to commit themselves further.' ABC's Terry Moran is at the White House tonight. Terry, on the attack on Arafat's headquarters today, did the White House know about it and try to stop it or could not stop it?"

     -- ABCís This Week on Sunday, March 31. In an up front piece reviewing the situation in the Middle East, Moran accurately reviewed how the Bush administration had put out contradictory statements, but then he went further in claiming Bush had damaged the U.S. role as an independent broker, as if that were more important than consistently battling terrorists:
     "President Bush is spending his Easter Sunday morning at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. His administration's response to this latest upsurge in violence has been hesitant, confused and contradictory. Mr. Bush himself this week has remained mostly aloof from day-to-day management of the crisis, unwilling to risk his personal political capital in such an uncertain endeavor, but yesterday he did step up his public and private efforts. He called the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the European Union and the United Nations, and in what were mostly short, perfunctory phone calls, assured them that the United States's efforts to achieve a ceasefire in the region would continue through its envoy General Anthony Zinni. But then, in unscheduled and unexpected remarks to reporters, the President may have undermined General Zinni's mission by coming down four-square on the side of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, essentially endorsing his tough tactics, saying he understands Israel's need to defend herself in this manner and he spoke of Yasser Arafat, the besieged Palestinian leader, with scorn, essentially saying that he is to blame for the violence and calling on him once again to do more to stop it.
     "Mr. Bush's comments took some of his foreign policy advisors by surprise, they dismayed Arab leaders and they, in many ways, directly contradicted a vote the United States had cast in the U.N. Security Council in the wee hours of Saturday morning in favor of a resolution that was seen as very tough on Israel, calling on Israel to withdraw its troops. The administration is now engaged in feverish diplomacy to get a hold of this situation, but its mixed messages and the President's personal endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's tough tactics raises a question if the United States can continue to play its traditional role of honest broker in this conflict, a role that reached its apex under President Clinton and that observers say there is no one else in the world who can assume it."

     -- ABCís Good Morning America on Monday, April 1. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that during the 8am half hour Moran delivered basically the same spin as he had the day before, but afterward anchor Charles Gibson, from Israel, added his own shot at Bush policy by giving credibility to the claim that the policy is "criminal." Moran reported:
     "At the White House, there is mounting pressure from officials at home, and especially leaders overseas, on President Bush to get more personally involved in trying to halt the violence. So far, he has chosen to remain mostly aloof. He made a few phone calls into the region last week -- they were mostly short and perfunctory. He made a couple of comments, but he has chosen instead to leave the heavy lifting to diplomats on the ground and to Secretary of State Powell, and the question in the minds of many around the world is why, why is President Bush choosing this course of action? The answer, according to some officials here, is a kind of diplomatic fear. They are afraid that if President Bush commits himself personally in a high-profile way to try to make peace and fails, he will have staked his personal political prestige on something and won't be able to get it back, and then there will be a dead end. Others say that that is one of the risks of statesmanship, but Charlie, there is no evidence that President Bush is willing, at this point, to run it."
     Gibson added: "And Terry Moran at the White House there. And indeed Terry's, what Terry talked about is echoed here in the Middle East, one Palestinian telling me this morning that they felt it was criminal -- criminal was the word used -- that the White House and President Bush have not involved themselves more to try to defuse what is such a high-tension situation here."

2

If itís good enough for terrorists itís good enough for us. MSNBC and CNN on Friday night were willing to pass along how terrorists consider themselves to be "freedom fighters" even if most everyone else considers them to be terrorists.

     -- An MSNBC promo which ran on Friday conveyed a certain moral equivalence between Yasser Arafat and the elected leader of a democracy:
     "Tonight at 9 on MSNBC: To their people, theyíre freedom fighters. To their enemies, terrorists. Yasser Arafat, Ariel Sharon. Two leaders. Opposing dreams. See what shaped their lives and what brought them to the center of an ancient conflict thatís changing our world. MSNBC Investigates: Holy War, Holy Land. Tonight at 9 on MSNBC."

     -- On CNNís NewsNight at 10pm EST Friday night, fill-in anchor Connie Chung, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, set up an interview with a representative from Hamas by noting that the guest "would probably prefer the term freedom fighter." Chung asserted on the March 29 show:
     "It's really quite unusual to speak to our next guest. His organization, Hamas, takes credit for the killing in Netanya. He told CNN shortly after the attack just that, and even defended it promising more to come. He's the spokesperson for an organization seen by most as a terrorist group, even though he would probably prefer the term freedom fighter. We're joined by Hamas spokesman Usama Hamdan. Thank you so much for being with us, sir."

     At least she pointed out that most consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.

3

NBCís Today gave a promotional forum on Monday morning to three people pushing a slavery reparations lawsuit against three corporations. NBC hardly made any effort at balance, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, as interviewer Matt Lauer posed eight softball questions to the plaintiff and her lawyers before posing just one mildly challenging question. Lauer began the segment by asking the plaintiff to outline how she became involved. Noting that the suit says "these companies are still profiting from the slave trade of 150 years ago," Lauer prompted the lawyers to "explain" the "basic economic model" on which the suit is based. When the lawyers explained how a commission would decide how much is owed, Lauer helpfully chimed in with the widespread benefits: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."

     Today did bring aboard a lawyer who thought the lawsuit is legally unsound, but Lauer gave him time for just one comment during the segment.

     Last Tuesday, March 26, the CBS Evening News promoted the legitimacy of the suit demanding reparations for slavery. Substitute anchor Ed Bradley imparted great meaning to the effort pushed by radical race-mongers, calling it "landmark" and stressing how it supposedly has "major legal and financial implications today and for the future." For details:
http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020327.asp#2

     Lauer set up the 7:30am half hour segment on the April 1 broadcast of Today:
     "Almost 140 years after slavery was abolished an historic showdown is shaping up in federal court. Three class action lawsuits were filed last week on behalf of 35 million American descendants of African slaves. And more will be filed this week. In one of the cases, the first of its kind against private corporations, recent law school graduate Deadria Farmer-Paellmann whose great, great grandparents were slaves is suing Aetna Insurance Company, Fleet Boston Financial and railroad giant CSX Transportation. Private corporations that she says profited from slavery. Deadria Farmer Paellmann is here along with two lead attorneys on the case, Ed Fagan and Roger Wareham. Good morning to all of you, nice to see you."

     Lauerís questions:

     -- "Ms. Farmer-Paellmann how did you get involved in filing this lawsuit?"

     -- "When you say the government case, what you mean is filing suit against the federal government had shown to be a dead end in the past."

     -- "When we talk about the corporations that are targeted at this point, Aetna Insurance, CSX Transportation, Fleet Boston are you alleging that these companies are still profiting from the slave trade of 150 years ago?" [Paellmann: "Absolutely they are."]

     -- Lauer: "It is unusual, not unheard of Mr. Fagan to target private corporations in a suit. Against slavery, no, but in other situations you have experience. You say it's based on a basic economic model. Explain that."

     -- After Fagan likened it to the Holocaust cases tried at Nuremberg, Lauer jumped in: "Let me stop you for a second. Profit off illegal activities. Were any of the actions these companies took 140 years ago illegal or were they immoral?" [Fagan: immoral]

     -- "Mr. Wareham, what kind of money are we talking about? If we start to file suits against all the companies that were in existence and may have participated, even in a fringe way in the slave trade 140 years ago, what kind of money are we talking about?"

     -- After Wareham maintained they do not have a total dollar amount, Lauer helpfully explained the widespread anticipated benefits: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."

     -- Lauer finally got to the other side: "Let me, let me read a couple of quick statements from two of these corporations. CSX Transportation: Quote, 'Slavery was a tragic chapter in our nation's history. Itís a history shared by every American and its impacts cannot be attributed to any single company or industry.' Aetna Insurance: Quote, 'We do not believe that a court would permit a lawsuit over events, which however regrettable, occurred hundreds of years ago. These issues in no way reflect Aetna today. Let me bring in another guest who is joining us this morning. This is Owen Pell. And Mr. Pell I know you've been involved in lawsuits and negotiations over settlements like this in the past. Why do you not think that the courtroom is the proper place to handle this?"

     Pell, identified on screen as an "attorney who is critical of lawsuit," got time for one answer. He outlined how the lawsuits have two problems: First, no plaintiff has any connection to the defendants and second, they call for retroactive law when at Nuremberg the allies showed the actions were illegal when they were committed.

     -- Lauer then cued up a retort: "Deadria, you're the one filing the lawsuit. Why don't you respond to that."

     -- Lauer then finally offered a mild challenge: "You, you are going to, if, if the money that we're talking about in the trillions, billions can irreparably damage certain companies that would have to pay this money. Many of these companies employ thousands of African-Americans today. In some ways are you worried you may hurt the people you are trying to help?" [Paellmann maintained they are not trying to damage the companies, just "share some of the wealth they acquired through stealing people, through raping, torturing, stealing labor."]

     Lauer then wrapped up: "We're gonna be hearing a lot more about this issue over the months to come."

     If so, maybe Today could get around some morning to giving equal time to the other side.

4

Demagogic attacks on Republicans for somehow endangering Social Security, scare tactics liberals have trotted out for decades, are just fine with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos who disagreed with Cokie Robertsí characterization of the strategy as "pathetic."

     During the second roundtable segment on Sundayís This Week, viewers witnessed this exchange:

     Stephanopoulos: "One of the things that Democrats take comfort in is is that the President's popularity in the war doesn't bleed over into other issues. The problem for them is they can't figure out what issues to use. There's not going to be a recession right now. They had a big strategy meeting two weeks ago where they said Social Security is going to be the issue."
     Roberts: "Which is pretty pathetic, when you think about it. I mean, this is-"
     Stephanopoulos, cutting her off in order the back the tacticís potential: "Oh, I don't know. It's worked before."
     Roberts: "Well, that's the whole point. That's all that they've got is this tired old Social Security issue."

     Not "tired" to liberal demagogues, a group which apparently still counts Stephanopoulos among its membership.

     Of course, itís also worked thanks to acquiescence from journalists. Maybe Stephanopoulos has reason to believe theyíll go along again.

5

MSNBC sees ratings salvation in going left. The New York Daily News on Monday reported that the cable network is pursuing Phil Donahue for a prime time slot opposite FNCís Bill OíReilly. Reporter Stephen Battaglio also disclosed that MSNBC is interested in Bill Maher, Sam Donaldson and Dennis Miller. Miller has some contrarian views which stray from the liberal line, but the other three range from far-left to standard liberalism.

     Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) highlighted the April 1 New York Daily News story. An excerpt:

MSNBC is close to signing a big name for its struggling prime-time lineup, with the white-haired godfather of daytime talk, Phil Donahue, topping the list.

Donahue, whose last regular television job was co-host of a nightly talk program on CNBC, is the most likely prospect being considered to take over an hour of MSNBC's prime-time schedule, which could be getting a makeover as soon as this week.

Others under consideration include Bill Maher, host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect," ABC News' "This Week" co-anchor Sam Donaldson and topical comic Dennis Miller, who recently lost his spot in the "Monday Night Football" booth....

MSNBC and NBC News executives have remained behind closed doors in recent days, looking to come up with a bold move to lift the cable news channel's sagging ratings. MSNBC has fallen into a distant third in audience behind Fox News Channel and CNN despite having the editorial resources and promotional clout of NBC News behind it.

The channel plans to move "The News With Brian Williams" from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. to make way for a new talk program in prime time....

Donahue also spent several years during the 1990s as co-host of a nightly CNBC talk program with Russian television commentator Vladimir Posner.

If Donahue joins the cable news fray, he would be one of the few unabashed liberal voices with their own nightly platform. During the last presidential election campaign, Donahue appeared on numerous talk shows to support Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.

     END of Excerpt

     "One the few unabashed liberal voices" other than most of the prominent faces on ABC, CBS and NBC news programs.

     For the Daily News story in full:
http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-04-01/New_York_Now/Television/a-146148.asp

     In prime time television the networks imitate successful program concepts, so you would think that if FNC has become successful by appealing to conservatives who feel slighted by the liberal tilt of the other networks, that MSNBC would try to copy FNC, not do the opposite.

     Maybe they feel they already tried that with Alan Keyes who, the Washington Postís Lisa de Moraes noted in an April 2 report, is pulling in a paltry 241,000 viewers since his late January debut compared to 887,000 for FNCís On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and 825,000 for CNNís NewsNight with Aaron Brown.

     Then again, MSNBCís liberals donít do very well either. At 8pm EST, The News with Brian Williams attracted only 375,000 viewers during the first quarter this year, de Moraes reported, compared to 2 million for FNCís The OíReilly Factor and even 700,000 for CNNís never-consistent variety programming of Live from someplace and The Point with somebody different every day.

     Iíd advise MSNBC that theyíll have better luck if they try to find a conservative more compelling than Keyes than by trotting out a stale old liberal who will annoy the kind of people who go to cable news for an alternative to broadcast network news.

6

From the April 1 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten April Fool's Pranks in Afghanistan."

10. Short-sheeted burqas
9. A fake beard over your real beard
8. Saying you're wife #4, when you're really wife #2
7. Offering someone a can of peanut brittle and a goat jumps out
6. Painting giant bull's-eye on roof of friend's cave
5. Rocket launchers that shoot out little flag that reads "Bang"
4. Replacing secret stockpiles of weaponized Anthrax with Folger's Crystals
3. Writing "Wash me" on Osama's camel
2. Saying you support the Hamid Karzai government, but secretly supporting a warlord who has secretly begun to support the Taliban again, but then betraying the warlord, but then betraying the Karzai government and really supporting the warlord again
1. Writing "Wash me" on Osama

     Not sure #2 is all that far from reality. -- Brent Baker


 

 


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