Israel “Knew,” But It Didn’t Help; CNN Distanced Itself from Ted Turner; Stephanopoulos: “Analytical,” Not “Ideological”;
Today Covered Just One Side of Nick Controversy; NY Times vs.
1) A month ago Dan Rather regretted how President Bush and the intelligence agencies failed to share what they “knew” about terrorist threats and thus “possibly prevent the attack,” but on Tuesday night he acknowledged that forewarning did Israel little good to prevent the homicide bomber who murdered 19 Israelis: “Israeli authorities knew this one was coming, but the knowledge did not help.”
2) To CNN founder Ted Turner both victim and perpetrator are equally guilty. The Guardian quoted him as saying of Israel and the Palestinians: “I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism." But to CNN, it’s “Ted Who?” After the network rushed to relay his statement clarifying his comments, it filled the screen with the text of CNN’s statement separating itself from him: “Ted Turner's views are his own and they do not in any way reflect the views of CNN."
3) In September, George Stephanopoulos will become the sole host of This Week. In his 1999 memoir, All Too Human, he boasted of his role in thwarting an attempt to better monitor immigrants in the U.S. illegally. This week he granted an interview to the far-left TomPaine.com Web site and in it he maintained that “in my work, in the interviews, I've always worked hard to be fair, to ask challenging questions of both sides, to make sure that I was being analytical without being ideological.”
4) As NBC’s Matt Lauer acknowledged, the Nick News Special Edition about kids with gay or lesbian parents certainly has “been a topic of controversy for weeks.” But that apparently doesn’t mean to NBC News that it has any obligation to give any air time to those upset with it. Indeed, Tuesday’s Today featured a softball interview with Nickelodeon show host Linda Ellerbee and a teen girl with her lesbian parents, but not a word from anyone who had criticized the half-hour special titled, “My Family is Different.”
5) Alaska is melting, but stay clear of the killer glaciers. A headline in Sunday’s New York Times: “Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn and Sag.” But a headline over a Monday New York Times story warned: “Advancing Glacier Threatens an Alaskan Fishing Village.”
>>> Update on an item in the June 17 CyberAlert about Kenneth Walker, who in a 1986 appearance on the McLaughlin Group while he was with ABC News, denounced Reagan’s bombing of Libya and suggested that by Reagan’s rationale the Sandinistas would be “justified in attacking the CIA in Virginia.” Details:
CyberAlert reader Ron Rounds of San Francisco informed me that Walker is now National Public Radio’s Africa Bureau Chief. His bio on the NPR site:
The bio, however, is inaccurate, listing incorrect years for when Walker covered the White House for ABC News, appeared on USA Today’s TV show and worked for Jesse Jackson’s TV show. <<<
A month ago Dan Rather regretted how President Bush and the intelligence agencies failed to share what they “knew” about terrorist threats and thus “possibly prevent the attack,” but on Tuesday night he acknowledged that forewarning did Israel little good to prevent the homicide bomber who murdered 19 Israelis.
At the top of the June 18 CBS Evening News, Rather summarized the terrorist attack and then related: “The attack also illustrates how difficult it is to stop suicidal terrorists. As CBS’s David Hawkins reports, Israeli authorities knew this one was coming, but the knowledge did not help.”
Hawkins explained how Israel knew a Palestinian killer was in Jerusalem planning an attack.
Back on the May 16 CBS Evening News Rather suggested sharing threat information could have prevented the September 11th attacks in the United States: “The Bush administration spent this day trying to explain what President Bush knew about terror threats before the September 11th attack on America, why the President never shared what he knew with the public, and why the President and U.S. intelligence could not, did not, in the phrase of the day, connect the dots and possibly prevent the attack...”
Ted Who? In an interview published on Tuesday in London’s left-wing Guardian newspaper, AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman and its largest shareholder, Ted Turner, characterized Israel as terrorist, saying of Israel and the Palestinians: “I would make a case that both sides are involved in terrorism." So, both victim and perpetrator are equally guilty in Turner’s mind.
Without ever challenging the accuracy of the quotes, the founder of CNN on Tuesday, in a statement rushed onto CNN and read more than once on the air during the day, tried to back down from what he said. During Inside Politics, Judy Woodruff followed Turner’s effort to “clarify” his comments with a statement from CNN. As viewers saw the text filling the screen, Woodruff relayed it: “Ted Turner's views are his own and they do not in any way reflect the views of CNN."
Turner may no longer have any day-to-day control over CNN, but he certainly has some influence and when he got into trouble for his labeling of Israel as terrorist he was able to use CNN as a platform from which to “clarify” what he told the British reporter.
“CNN chief accuses Israel of terror,” blared the headline over a story in the June 18 Guardian. An excerpt from the story by
Oliver Burkeman in New York and Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem:
Ted Turner, the billionaire founder of CNN, accuses Israel today of engaging in "terrorism" against the Palestinians, in comments that threaten to lead to a further decline in the news network's already poor relations with the Jewish state.
"Aren't the Israelis and the Palestinians both terrorising each other?" says Turner, who is vice-chairman of AOL Time Warner,
which owns CNN, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian.
"The Palestinians are fighting with human suicide bombers,
that's all they have. The Israelis...they've got one of the most powerful military machines in the world. The Palestinians have nothing. So who are the terrorists? I would make a case that
both sides are involved in terrorism."...
In his first British interview since the September 11 attacks, Mr Turner -- who broke philanthropic records in 1997 when he donated $1bn to the UN -- argues that poverty and desperation are the root cause of Palestinian suicide bombings.
But Daniel Seaman, a spokesman for the Israeli government,
said: "My only advice to Ted Turner is if people assume you are stupid, it is just best to keep your mouth shut rather than open
your mouth and confirm everyone in that view."....
Mr. Turner is moved to tears at one point in the interview by the "depressing" combination of conflicts like that in the Middle East and the state of the environment, which he says demands
massive global attention -- "or, you know...it's goodbye."...
END of Excerpt
For the Guardian story in full:
On Tuesday’s Inside Politics Judy Woodruff read aloud a statement from Turner CNN anchors had been reading since early afternoon:
"I regret any implication that I believe the actions taken by Israel to protect its people are equal to terrorism. My comments were part of a long and extensive interview that I gave two months ago when I was condemning the loss of human life. The violence in the Middle East has reached an intolerable level. And, in that interview, I condemned that violence on whatever side it may come.
"But I want to make it absolutely clear that my view was and is that there is a fundamental distinction between the acts of the Israeli government and the Palestinians. I believe the Israeli government has used excessive force to defend itself, but that is not the same as intentionally targeting and killing civilians with suicide bombers. I truly hope there will be a peaceful and prompt resolution to the conflict in the Middle East. And I am pained by the loss of life on both sides."
With the screen filled with the matching words, Woodruff then read CNN’s statement distancing itself from Turner: “Ted Turner's views are his own and they do not in any way reflect the views of CNN."
Sounds like they’re a bit embarrassed.
The Guardian story also passed along a new excuse from Turner as to why earlier this year he had described the 9-11 terrorists as “brave.” The Guardian relayed: “Mr Turner also admits that he was wrong to call the September 11 hijackers 'brave’ in a speech in Rhode Island that sparked outrage. 'I made an unfortunate choice of words,’ he says, adding that his ownership of the Atlanta Braves baseball team meant the word was never far from his mind. 'Look, I'm a very good thinker, but I sometimes grab the wrong word...I mean, I don't type my speeches, then sit up there and read them off the teleprompter, you know. I wing it.’"
On February 12 CyberAlert recounted what Turner told some Brown University students:
The Providence Journal reported that in a talk at Brown University Turner called the terrorists who attacked on September 11 "brave," claimed, despite the fact that the terrorists were well-off, "the reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life," and lamented that with "a few more votes in Florida....we could have had the best environmental President we ever had." Instead, he regretted, President Bush "is another Julius Caesar. Just what we need."
Turner denounced Ronald Reagan’s "evil empire" labeling of the Soviet Union as he equated it with Bush’s "axis of evil" concept. "Calling other countries 'dirty names,’ the Brown Daily Herald quoted Turner as saying, "is ‘a great plan if you want to start a war with somebody.’"
For more, as well as how Turner claimed his comments “were reported out of context,” see the February 12 CyberAlert Extra:
As noted in a CyberAlert Special sent Tuesday afternoon, ABC News has made it official: In September, George Stephanopoulos will become the sole host of the ABC Sunday interview show, This Week.
Two fresh bits of information not previously reported in CyberAlert: First, as the MRC’s Liz Swasey noted last week, “in his 1999 memoir, All Too Human, Stephanopoulos boasted of his role in thwarting an attempt to better monitor immigrants illegally in the U.S.” Second, Stephanopoulos granted an interview to the far- left TomPaine.com Web site and in it he maintained that “in my work, in the interviews, I've always worked hard to be fair, to ask challenging questions of both sides, to make sure that I was being analytical without being ideological.”
(In making the announcement on Tuesday, ABC News President David Westin praised Stephanopoulos: "As the torch at 'This Week' is passed to George Stephanopoulos, I could not have more confidence in his abilities to lead the program forward. In his more than five years at ABC News covering national and international stories, George has demonstrated a keen understanding of the issues and superb ability to communicate to
Jim Romenesko's MediaNews has posted Westin’s announcement:
-- An excerpt from the “Media Bias Alert” sent last week by MRC Communications Director Liz
Can ABC’s Heir Apparent for This Week Cover the War On Terrorism Objectively?
George Stephanopoulos, liberal advisor to Dukakis, Gephardt and finally Clinton, who is poised for promotion from contributor to sole anchor of ABC News’ second-place Sunday offering, This Week, was professionally involved in White House decision-making on the war on terrorism before it had a name. In his 1999 memoir, All Too Human, Stephanopoulos boasted of his role in thwarting an attempt to better monitor immigrants illegally in the U.S.:
"[Dick Morris’s] big idea that week was a ‘national crusade’ against domestic terrorism.... Basically, he wanted to create a background check system that would turn your average traffic cop into a member of the U.S. border patrol. If, say, a police officer spotted a suspiciously brown-skinned person driving a car with a busted taillight, Dick’s scheme would give him the ability to dial into a computer and order immediate deportation if the driver’s papers weren’t in order. Though he brushed off my fears of potential abuse and political harm to our Hispanic base, I persuaded him to hold off on the practical grounds of prohibitive cost." (pages 340-341)
In a February 5, 2002 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Dick Morris confirmed:
"When Mr. Clinton was advised to pass a law requiring that driver’s licenses for aliens expire when their visas do (so that a routine traffic stop could trigger the deportation process), Deputy Chief of Staff Harold Ickes and White House advisor George Stephanopoulos worked hard to kill the idea. They derided the proposal, which called for the interface of the FBI and Immigration and Naturalization Service data about illegal aliens, visa expirations and terrorist watch lists with state motor vehicle records, as racial profiling and warned that it might alienate Mr. Clinton’s political base. Had the idea been adopted, suicide bomber Mohamed Atta would have been subject to deportation when he was stopped for driving without a license, three months before Sept. 11, 2001." -- Dick Morris, "While Clinton Fiddled."
END of Excerpt
For more from Stephanopoulos’ book, see the June 12 Media Reality Check, “Devoted to Bringing About Liberal Change: Anticipated Host of ABC’s Sunday Show Left Bill Clinton Behind But Never Set Aside Liberal Desires.” The MRC’s Rich Noyes and Liz Swasey perused Stephanopoulos’s 1999 book, All Too Human, and took down quotes of how he:
-- Supposedly became a Democrat because he thought Reagan’s tax cut was not “fair.”
-- Complained about how Bill Clinton was “more conservative” than him.
-- Saw a “conspiracy” between The Star and Fox because both were “owned by ultraconservative Rupert Murdoch.”
-- Effused that Mario Cuomo was his “hero.”
-- Wrote that he wanted Clinton to win re-election in 1996 because “Clinton would use his veto to prevent the Gingrich Congress from doing too much harm.”
-- Mocked the phrase “The era of big government is over” by sarcastically asking: “How would they like it if we said, 'The era of Medicare is over' -- or Social Security? How would they like it if the 'era of disaster assistance' was over the next time they faced an earthquake or flood?”
-- And “Uncurious George.” When the Lewinsky story broke, instead of using his connections to dig out information, he protected his old buddies inside the White House: “From the start, I cautioned Rahm [Emanuel] not to tell me anything that he didn't want me to report, and our phone conversations had a new code: 'Just friends' meant 'off the record.'”
For the June 12 Media Reality Check:
To access the Adobe Acrobat PDF version:
-- In an interview this week with John Moyers, the son of Bill, who is the editor and publisher of the far-left TomPaine.com Web site, Stephanopoulos insisted that at ABC News he has been “analytical without being ideological.”
The relevant exchange:
“TomPaine.com: Were you surprised by all the hubbub around the news, or the leaking of the news, that you were in line to be the host of This Week?
“George Stephanopoulos: Not really. I mean, this is really my third round for that kind of questioning. It was first raised when I left the White House at the end of 1996 and was coming on ABC just to be a commentator. And then the questions were raised again in 1999 when I decided to become a full-time reporter at ABC.
“I expect as I take this next step that the questions will be asked. As I've always said, I think the questions are fair and appropriate. I also believe, though, that in my work, in the interviews, I've always worked hard to be fair, to ask challenging questions of both sides, to make sure that I was being analytical without being ideological.”
For the entire interview:
Judge for yourself whether Stephanopoulos has been “analytical without being ideological.”
The MRC’s Tim Jones put together a Web section with links to all of Stephanopoulos’s most egregious liberal advocacy and bashing of conservatives and conservative policies during his five years at ABC News as culled from the MRC archives:
It includes sub-sections on “Jesse Helms a ‘terrorist,’” “Stop the tax cuts,” “Not lying ‘for the most part,’” “Defends Clinton apology” and “Go Gore!” -- a section dedicated to Stephanopoulos's biased coverage of the 2000 election.
The Nick News Special Edition aired Tuesday night about kids with gay or lesbian parents certainly has, as NBC’s Matt Lauer Couric noted Tuesday morning, “been a topic of controversy for weeks.” But that apparently doesn’t mean to NBC News that it has any obligation to give any air time to those upset with it.
Indeed, Tuesday’s Today featured a softball interview by Katie Couric with Nickelodeon show host Linda Ellerbee and a teen girl with her lesbian parents as well as clips from the then-upcoming show, but not a word from anyone who had criticized the half-hour special titled, “My Family is Different.”
But not really any different if you believed the point of the June 18 show aired at 9pm EDT.
Near the beginning of the program the daughter of two lesbians, not the same family showcased on Today, explained in a taped set-up piece: “My name is Sara and I am 12-years-old. My family’s just like anyone else’s, but I have two moms.”
So the same, except for two moms, which means it isn’t “just like anyone else’s.” Sara soon added: “It’s kind of funny though, I’ll be calling down the hall, ‘Mom,’ Mom.’ And I’ll hear from both ends of the hall, ‘What did you say honey?’ ‘What’d you say Sara?’ It’s really funning because it gets confused.”
A concern Today refused to allow any guest to address.
At the 9am hour on June 18, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, Today played a clip from the Nickelodeon special and then Lauer plugged an upcoming segment: "That is 15 year-old Marina Gatto from tonight's Nickelodeon special on gay families. It's hosted and produced by Linda Ellerbee. And the show's been a topic of controversy for weeks before it’s even aired. We are gonna hear more from Linda and meet Marina and her moms in just a little while."
Katie Couric set up the subsequent segment: "Tonight the children's television network, Nickelodeon, is airing a controversial Nick News Special Edition entitled: My Family is Different. The special focuses on families with at least one homosexual parent. And features children discussing their day-to-day lives with parents who are gay. It also features people who disapprove of same-sex parenting. Before it even airs the special has provoked much criticism with Nickelodeon receiving more than 100,000 e-mails and phone calls protesting the decision to air the special. Linda Ellerbee is the program's producer and host. Linda, good morning, nice to see you. Well tell me first of all, I'm just curious. Were you surprised at the outcry that this special has, has caused?"
Ellerbee explained: "Yes, very much. I don't see it as controversial at all. And the, the, the phone calls and the emails have all been organized. It's been an organized response. I, I can't see why anyone would object to talking to kids about respect and tolerance for people who are different."
Couric: "Well some people just have issues with the gay lifestyle or homosexuality. They don't feel comfortable. Some people for religious reasons object to it, so-"
Ellerbee jumped in: "I understand that. I understand that. But this isn't a show that promotes homosexuality. It simply does, we-"
Couric: "Really explains it."
Ellerbee: "No, we're not even doing that. We don't, you know. We're not concerned with what you think. The concern is how are we gonna behave to one another. And when you've got millions of kids in our school system that have one or more gay parents and the most common hate-word on our playgrounds in middle and elementary school is, 'fag,' then it's time to talk about respect and tolerance and hate."
Couric prompted Ellerbee: "Is that what prompted you to take this on Linda?"
Ellerbee: "Exactly, exactly."
Couric: "You just realized that this is a big segment of the population-"
Ellerbee: "And it hurts, it hurts, children are being hurt. I was with a family in Chicago this weekend. And he has a 12 year-old son and I was talking to him about the show and he said, 'Oh fag. I'm sure children today don't use that word on the playground.' And his twelve-year old son says, 'Dad, I hear that word at my school twelve times a day at least.'"
Couric: "Tell me what else is in this special. I know you spent a lot of time talking to kids themselves, which you always do, which is so terrific."
Ellerbee: "Yeah and even more time listening."
Couric: "Right, right, exactly. Well tell me, tell me what else is in this documentary."
Ellerbee: "Well we have kids of differing opinions. You know who have different feelings about this and they talk about their feelings. And we have a New York City fireman, one of the heroes of 9/11, who is a gay father of three. And he makes the case that, 'haven't we seen the effects of hate enough? Taken to its logical conclusion.'"
Couric: "We have a clip Linda, and in it one young person talks about what it's like to have two fathers."
Ellerbee: "And it's not easy."
Couric: "Let's listen."
After the clip, Couric introduced three other guests who appeared via satellite: "One of the teenagers also, Linda, featured, is in tonight's special is Marina Gatto [sp?] She and her two mothers Ramona Gatto and Arzu Arkas [sp?] are at home in San Carlos, California this morning. Good morning to all of you. Marina tell me why you thought it was so, so important to participate in this special?"
Marina Gatto talked about how people have to be “taught about tolerance” before Couric wondered: "Well have you ever, have you ever personally, Marina, faced discrimination or, or taunting or teasing because of your situation?"
Couric next wanted to know if all had seen the light: "You know during the panel discussion, I know, that there were kids with all different kinds of opinions. Some did not agree with homosexuality or had issues with it. After all was said and done, Marina, did you feel that, that the kids who participated had come to a greater understanding about this?"
Couric turned to one of the parents: "Ramona, what are you hoping that, that children and adults will get from this special?"
Couric turned back to Ellerbee: "Linda, I know you also included people like Reverend Jerry Falwell in your special. So it's, you know, you do have a lot of different points of view."
Ellerbee confirmed: "Yes. Well it's a news special and we try to be balanced. And the Reverend Falwell says on the show can't we agree to disagree, agreeably? And I think that's a very good point. And I mean the way I put it is if we can't be friends, can't we at least be better strangers to one another?"
In fact, from my cursory viewing of the program it was anything but balanced with a couple of minutes of people tossed in as the anti-tolerance side.
Indeed, here’s how Ellerbee introduced comments from critics Jerry Falwell and Peter LaBarbera: “If we are saying that gay people deserve tolerance and respect, we’re also saying that people are entitled to their own opinions.”
Couric finally got to a semi-challenging question: "Some parents might worry or some adults, that, that children of, of gay couples grow up confused about their own sexuality."
Ellerbee shot her down: "Actually that's not true. The American Pediatric Association recently came out with a study that said children of, whose parents, one or more is homosexual, fair just about the same and as well as children with heterosexual parents. And I know a lot of children of same-sex parents are teased at school, 'well if your parents are gay you must be gay.' There's no connection."
That was good enough for Couric, who then wrapped up the segment: "Well Linda Ellerbee, it's a Nick News Special Edition. My Family is Different. Thank you so much for coming by and telling us about it Linda. And Marina, Ramona and Arzu, thank you all for talking with us this morning. We really appreciate your time as well. And you can catch the Nick News Special Edition, My Family is Different tonight at nine, eight central time."
The New York Times on Sunday: Alaska is melting, run for your lives! The New York Times on Monday: A glacier will destroy an Alaskan town, run for your lives!
Monday’s “Best of the Web” column on OpinionJournal.com highlighted a bit of a headline contrast in which the New York Times seemed to be contradicting itself.
A headline on Sunday, June 16 proclaimed: “Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn and Sag.”
But a headline over a Monday, June 17 story warned: “Advancing Glacier Threatens an Alaskan Fishing Village.”
Those registered with the New York Times can read the first story at:
For the second: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/17/science/17GLAC.html
I guess “all the news that’s fit to print” covers “all the news,” even when contradictory.
-- Brent Baker
Sign up for
Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive
CyberAlerts via e-mail.
questions and comments about
You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC’s Web site by subscribing to the “MRC Web Site News” distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to:
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe