ABC Finds Exiled Iraqi General Who Opposes Bush Too
Leave it to ABC and Peter Jennings to find and highlight an exiled Iraqi Army General who doesn’t like Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush. “The Iraqi General who wants to overthrow Saddam Hussein but does not want the U.S. to attack,” Jennings teased at the top of Wednesday’s World News Tonight. Reporter Mark Lee asserted that the General “worries that President Bush is turning ordinary Iraqis into opponents because they fear the U.S. intends to take over their country and steal their oil.”
Networks Focus on Trent Lott for Second Day
The networks focused on the Trent Lott story for a second straight day on Wednesday night and continued to treat as wise sages conservatives who criticized Lott. While ABC’s Peter Jennings cited only how Ted Kennedy called his remarks “an irresponsible salute to bigotry,” CBS’s Bob Schieffer managed to use the term “conservative” three times in his story without once uttering the word liberal even as he cited Kennedy and John Kerry. CNN earned kudos as Aaron Brown balanced his interview with a Lott critic with a segment featuring a Lott defender and Jonathan Karl recalled Robert Byrd’s remarks from last year.
3. CNN on Carter: “The Most Respected American on the Planet Today”
Just a few hours after Jimmy Carter accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, CNN’s Jonathan Mann genuflected to him: “Mr. President, you are arguably the most respected American on the planet today.” In the live session in front of an audience on CNN International, which aired on tape at 4am EST on CNN, Mann gushed: “Evangelist for a better world, mediating to end war, mobilizing to fight disease, traveling the planet to promote democracy. Jimmy Carter, laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize...”
Washington Post Reporter Denies Liberals Dominate Newsroom
Add WashingtonPost.com Chief Political Correspondent Terry Neal to the list of media pundits who deny there’s any liberal bias. “I don't believe liberals dominate the newsrooms of most of the mainstream media,” Neal insisted during a December 10 online chat.
Correction: The December 11 CyberAlert quoted an article on National Review Online by “Marc Levin.” Levin’s first name is spelled “Mark.” Also, an item about Today show hosts gushing over Jimmy Carter referred to their comments as coming before and after he gave a speech in Norway. In fact, the comments occurred around the award ceremony. Carter’s speech happened at 10:30am EST, after Today had ended.
ABC Finds Exiled Iraqi General Who
Opposes Bush Too
Leave it to ABC and Peter Jennings to find and highlight an exiled Iraqi Army General who doesn’t like Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush. “The Iraqi General who wants to overthrow Saddam Hussein but does not want the U.S. to attack,” Jennings teased at the top of Wednesday’s World News Tonight.
Jennings subsequently introduced the December 11 report: “Our next story comes from Denmark and it’s about Iraq where a former Iraqi General is living in exile. He fell out of favor with Saddam Hussein when he criticized the invasion of Kuwait ten years ago. Like a lot of Iraqis he’d like to get rid of Saddam Hussein and he gave his first television interview to ABC’s Mark Lee.”
Lee explained: “His name is Nizar Al Khazraji. He once commanded the Iraqi army. He is one of Saddam Hussein’s most powerful enemies, but he opposes a U.S. war to overthrow the Iraqi leader.”
Lee outlined Al Khazraji’s background and how though he wants to return to Iraq to lead a fight against Hussein he cannot because he faces trial in Denmark for war crimes against the Kurds.
Lee concluded: “He watches the crisis on television and worries that President Bush is turning ordinary Iraqis into opponents because they fear the U.S. intends to take over their country and steal their oil.”
I didn’t realize you could get MSNBC’s Donahue in Denmark.
Networks Focus on Trent Lott for Second Day
The networks focused on the Trent Lott story for a second straight day on Wednesday night and continued to consider conservative leaders who have taken on Lott, whom they usually ignore, wise sages. While ABC’s Peter Jennings cited only how Ted Kennedy called his remarks “an irresponsible salute to bigotry,” CBS’s Bob Schieffer highlighted chiding from conservatives, whom he labeled as such, as well as liberals in Congress whom he failed to tag as liberal. Schieffer managed to use the term “conservative” three times in his story without once uttering the word liberal.
CNN earned kudos for balance and raising Robert Byrd’s remarks from last year. CNN’s Aaron Brown, who featured on Tuesday’s NewsNight Lott critic Robert George of the New York Post, on Wednesday night brought aboard Lott defender Bob Novak for an interview segment in which Novak disputed the notion that Lott is a racist and suggested Lott opponents in the conservative movement are taking advantage of the situation in order to try to oust him.
Jonathan Karl, in his taped piece on the matter which aired on Wednesday’s Connie Chung Tonight, but not in the live version run on Inside Politics or Wolf Blitzer Reports, recalled Jesse Jackson’s “Hymietown” remark and how “just last year it was Democrat Robert Byrd, himself a one-time member of the KKK, who apologized for racially insensitive remarks.”
For those just returning from Mars, at a 100th birthday party for Strom Thurmond last week, Lott told the audience in reference to his home state of Mississippi: “When Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
For a full rundown of Tuesday night coverage, as well as links to conservatives scolding Lott, see the December 11
Another item in that edition links to a National Review Online piece outlining media hypocrisy on the issue, especially in the case of Bill Clinton’s praise for former Senator
Fulbright. Check: http://archive.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021211.asp#3
On Wednesday evening, December 11, World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings read this fairly short item: “The Republican Senator Trent Lott has apologized again for saying that the country would have been better off if Senator Strom Thurmond had been elected President in 1948. Senator Thurmond ran as a segregationist. Mr. Lott said today the comment was typical of his 'friendly relationship with Strom Thurmond,’ but the remarks were 'a mistake of the head not of the heart.’ He’s had a huge amount of flack about this today. Senator Ted Kennedy said the comments were 'an irresponsible salute to bigotry.’”
On the NBC Nightly News, David Gregory highlighted how Lott had made “his first appearance with conservative talk show host Sean Hannity.” Moments later, Gregory noted without applying a label: “Even after today’s apology, prominent African-American members of Congress joined some Republican critics who are calling for Lott to step down as Republican leader.”
Dan Rather set up the CBS Evening News take: "Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott stepped up his efforts at political damage control today over recent comments about race and segregation that have prompted calls for him to resign his leadership post. CBS's Bob Schieffer reports that so far Lott's attempts have only intensified the calls for him to go. Bob, what's happening with this?"
Schieffer began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Dan, the problems for the Senate Republican Leader just piled up higher today. It was last week, of course, that he enraged black Democrats when he said this at one-time segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party:"
Trent Lott, Senate Republican Leader: "When Strom Thurmond ran for President, we voted for him. We're proud of him. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."
Schieffer continued, with the three conservative labels IN ALL CAPS so they stand out: "Now, it's gotten worse because reports have surfaced he said virtually the same thing about Thurmond 22 years ago. On November 3, 1980, the Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger reported that after Thurmond spoke at a political rally during the 1980 campaign, Lott said, 'If we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today.' Appearing on CONSERVATIVE Sean Hannity's radio show, Lott said he was praising the man, not Thurmond's policies of long ago."
Lott: "It was certainly not intended to endorse his segregationist policies that he might have been advocating or was advocating 54 years ago. The words were terrible, and I regret that. My comments conveyed things that I did not intend, and I regret it. I apologize for it. And I would hope that we could move on from that."
Schieffer couldn’t see liberal anywhere: "Democrats were slow to criticize Lott until African-American members of Congress expressed outrage, but today Senate Democratic Leader Daschle, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, and Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, all criticized Lott and said President Bush must speak out on the issue. Likely Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry took it a step further and called on Lott to resign as majority leader. But it is not just Democrats now. CONSERVATIVES are worried that Lott has created political problems for the Republicans just when the party is trying to reach out to African-Americans. In a conversation with me tonight, Bill Kristol, a leading Republican voice and the editor of the CONSERVATIVE Weekly Standard, underscored that when he all but called on Lott to step down from his Senate leadership post. Kristol's words: 'Senate Republicans can just do better than Trent Lott.’ Dan?"
Amazing how when conservatives agree with the views of the Washington Press Corps their thoughts become newsworthy.
CNN on Carter: “The Most Respected
American on the Planet Today”
A CNN lovefest for Jimmy Carter, but in North America if you don’t get CNN International you had to be awake at 4am EST on Wednesday morning to see it. Just a few hours after Jimmy Carter accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, CNN’s Jonathan Mann genuflected to him: “Mr. President, you are arguably the most respected American on the planet today.”
Mann’s gushing came during an hour-long session with Carter in front of an audience in an Oslo hall just after Carter finished delivering a speech. Check out how Mann set up the session:
“Evangelist for a better world, mediating to end war, mobilizing to fight disease, traveling the planet to promote democracy. Jimmy Carter, laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize....Hello and welcome. Remarkable people are honored on this stage every year for achievement that is always historic, sometimes even astonishing. But this year’s laureate has several of them to his credit. Two decades of peace between Egypt and Israel, thousands of political prisoners freed because of his personal intervention, millions of people delivered from disease. And that’s just the short list.”
We only know about it because Rich Noyes, the MRC’s Director of Media Analysis, happened to be awake at 4am EST on Wednesday morning and caught a replay of the hour which CNN aired instead of the usual re-run of Connie Chung Tonight. (Rich says he couldn’t sleep and thought CNN was his best bet to put him back to sleep but, between you and me, I think he was just getting home after a very late night out. Just kidding. I think.)
From what I can piece together, at 11am EST on Tuesday December 10, which would have been late afternoon in Oslo, CNN International aired “The Prize for Peace,” a live broadcast which consisted of a series of produced pieces interspersed with anchor Jonathan Mann’s mostly fawning questions to Carter in front of a very pro-Carter audience. It did not air live on CNN in the U.S. which followed live coverage of Carter’s speech with an interview about it with a professor and then moved on to other news.
Since the MRC does not normally tape CNN at 4am EST, we don’t have this on tape (which we normally check transcripts against) and are basing these quotes solely on the transcript posted at the bottom of the CNN transcript page for December 10, though the replay aired at 4am EST early in the morning of Wednesday December 11/Tuesday night. The December 10 transcripts page:
The transcript for the hour is at:
Space does not permit an adequate rundown of all the effusive praise for Carter uttered by Mann or how he failed to follow up on some historic revisionism about his presidency and other matters conveyed by Carter, but here are some highlights, notes in (parentheses) in original transcript, notes in [brackets] added by us:
-- Mann: “Maybe he deserved the prize most for that day at the White House [presumably video of Begin and Sadat signing treaty in March 1979]. Maybe for the days he spends building other houses, ex- president lending a hand to shelter the poor. There was his decision during his term to end US control of the Panama Canal, his decision, when his term was over, to forego retirement and redouble his efforts instead. Jimmy Carter could have won the Nobel Prize several ways, fitting for a man who’s had several lives.”
-- Mann: “It has been a very full life, but let me ask you about the first, and to my mind, the most dramatic transformation. You were in early adulthood a career military officer. You were a professional warrior, involved in the development of the first generation of nuclear submarines, and yet today you are something very close to a pacifist. What happened?”
-- Mann: “The Camp David Accords, of course, 1978. You get your prize in 2002 because -- and we should let people know this -- you know this by now -- the nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize close in February of any given calendar year, and the Camp David meetings weren’t held until the fall of that year. Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin had been nominated earlier; you were not.
“You have taken it in good stead. You’ve been very gracious about going 20 years without this prize. But in private, did you ever curse your fate, or stay up a night or two late, wondering how different life would have been, or just grousing about the injustice of it all?”
-- Mann: “Mr. President, you are arguably the most respected American on the planet today, and- (APPLAUSE) This is a scientific sampling of world opinion, obviously.”
Carter: “No -- and I can’t wait for the rest of it.”
Mann: “But here’s the flip side of the coin. It is for reasons that are only distantly related to your years in the White House, and you know full well those were very difficult years for many Americans. We’re going to talk about that in a moment, but Bruce Morton looks back.
-- Mann: “Here are the basic facts: an unpredictable dictator, the technology of mass destruction, the United States on the brink of preemptive war. The country, though, was North Korea in the mid-90's. Jimmy Carter went there. CNN’s Mike Chinoy went along.”
-- Mann, after Chinoy’s story: “The people who know the subject and know the region say that if you hadn’t succeeded in North Korea, there would have been a war, and we have learned recently that the Pentagon, planning for that war, had contemplated up to 1 million deaths. Did you know what was at stake then? And was that pressure crushing as you tried to do that work?”
-- Mann: “Welcome back to Oslo. A lot of people look forward to retirement as a time when they can do less, or maybe even do nothing. Jimmy Carter’s been doing everything.”
“Think of the leaders who’ve made history in our time. A few remain influential, but most make their mark and then see their moment pass. Jimmy Carter is a special case. No leader in our era has been so active or so effective since leaving office.”
-- Mann: “Not just an idealistic peacemaker, but an extraordinary fighter against disease. Small pox is the only infectious disease in human history that humans have eradicated. It was a global effort, a lot of people deserve credit for that. You work with some of them. Guinea worm may soon be number two, and the experts I talked to say Jimmy Carter deserves the credit for that. It’s an extraordinary thing.”
Carter: “Well, I don’t really deserve the credit...”
-- Mann: “You do such good work, and you do it with such loathsome people, and I choose that word very carefully, because you consort with dictators. You have broken bread and generously praised and gently cajoled men who are accused of murder, some of the world’s most ruthless tyrants.
“And let me ask you a question. When you, for example, invite Gen. Raoul Cedras, the exiled Panamanian -- I’m sorry, the exiled Haitian strongman, forgive me -- he’s exiled in Panama. But when you invite a man like that to come teach your church Sunday school, do you do something that brings dishonor on you and on your presidency and on the good people of your church?”
Carter: “No, I don’t think so...”
-- Mann’s final question of the show: “Let me ask you then a personal question about you. You are 78 years young. You are incredibly energetic and vibrant and by all appearances in extraordinary health, but you are a man of advancing age. What are your thoughts? Do you ever think about slowing down, scaling back, or stepping back entirely and letting someone else take on the work that you’ve done?”
You may recognize Mann from his weekend anchoring on CNN ten-plus years ago before he jumped to CNN International as an Atlanta-based anchor, though he pops up occasionally on the regular CNN. For a bio and picture of the Canadian native:
Washington Post Reporter Denies
Liberals Dominate Newsroom
Add WashingtonPost.com Chief Political Correspondent Terry Neal to the list of media pundits who deny there’s any liberal bias. “I don't believe liberals dominate the newsrooms of most of the mainstream media,” Neal insisted during a December 10 online chat session reviewed by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd.
Later Neal, who covered the Bush campaign in 2000 for the regular hard copy Post, maintained: “I think most reporters would identify themselves as moderate. And while there may be more left leaning people in the media, I think most -- but not all, certainly -- make an effort to keep their bias out of their reporting.”
Of course, to the Washington Post, liberals are “moderates” or “centrists.”
For instance, the November 19 CyberAlert highlighted how the Washington Post can’t seem to recognize a liberal. In the Post’s world, a liberal is a “centrist” but a conservative is a conservative. New House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer earned a 95 percent rating last year from the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) and the Post tagged him as a “centrist.” But New Majority Whip Roy Blunt earned a polar opposite 5 percent and yet the Post described him, accurately, as a “conservative.” See:
When confronted with the fact that a poll discovered how 89 percent of the Washington press corps voted for Bill Clinton in 1992, Neal suggested journalists may have changed significantly just eight years later: “But even if that was true, I would say this: I wonder what percentage of reporters voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000?”
Common sense and the record of the past 40 years suggests a very low percentage.
See the December 11 CyberAlert for brief quotes from Time’s Jack White and Post columnist E.J. Dionne maintaining that conservatives dominate the media, with links to their original comment or column, and an excerpt of a retort from columnist Michael Kelly:
The relevant excerpts from the December 10 session with Neal, whom Inside Washington watchers will recognize from his occasional fill-in appearances this year:
-- “Detroit, Mich.: Everybody has a bias. The best indicator is the voting record. Most radio talk show hosts vote conservative. Most TV and print reporters vote liberal. Bias is natural. It seems that the liberal and conservative bias are now in balance. Is this good for civil debate?”
“Terry Neal: With all due respect, I don't buy this at all. Yes, conservatives do dominate talk radio. But I don't believe liberals dominate the newsrooms of most of the mainstream media. Certainly there are many liberals in the media and there should be -- there are a lot of liberals in America. But there are a good number of conservatives and lots of moderates. And yes, bias is natural. In fact, they don't teach you in journalism school that you can't have opinions. They teach you to try to keep them out of your reporting. Reporters being human beings are not always successful at that and sometimes bias does leech in. But I believe most reporters -- I said most, not all -- do a good job of keeping their biases to themselves.”
-- “Alexandria, Va.: In a 1995 survey, The Freedom Forum found that 89 percent of D.C. journalists voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Your thoughts?”
“Terry Neal: I've heard that before, but never knew where it came from. I'm not doubting it, ok, but I would like to see exactly who was asked this question and the way it was asked. But even if that was true, I would say this: I wonder what percentage of reporters voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000. I don't know the answer to that question, but I do know that at least one nonpartisan organization has declared that Bush received far more favorable coverage than Gore in 2000. As the Post's beat reporter covering the Bush campaign in 2000, I don't know that I necessarily agree with that, but that is the impression that a some media watchdogs have.”
Who exactly and what kind of “favorable” coverage?
-- “Washington, D.C.: OK, here's another poll for you, this one being the Kaiser/Public Perspective survey in 2001: Only a tiny fraction of the media identify themselves as either Republican (4 percent), or conservative (6 percent). Even Howard Kurtz, the Post's media affairs reporter, admits that reporters are usually more left-wing than the general public.”
“Terry Neal: I did not suggest that the mainstream media is dominated by conservatives nor would I. But I don't believe it is dominated by liberals either. I think most reporters would identify themselves as moderate. And while there may be more left leaning people in the media, I think most -- but not all, certainly -- make an effort to keep their bias out of their reporting. I think many conservatives point to people like Dan Rather and Bryant Gumbel to prove the point that the media is biased. But proving the existence of liberals in the media doesn't mean the media is biased toward liberals. I respect the opinion of everyone who disagrees, but I don't buy it.”
The entire session is online at:
A December 5 online story by Neal looked at the arguments of liberals and conservatives over which way the bias leans. For the story which cited the
As for the polls of journalists two of the questioners cited, both are featured on the MRC’s “Media Bias Basics” page created by the MRC’s Liz
-- In April 1996, the Freedom Forum published a book by Chicago Tribune writer Elaine Povich titled, "Partners and Adversaries: The Contentious Connection Between Congress and the Media." Buried in Appendix D was the real news for those concerned about media bias: Based on the 139 Washington bureau chiefs and congressional correspondents who returned the Freedom Forum questionnaire, the Washington-based reporters -- by an incredible margin of nine-to-one -- overwhelmingly cast their presidential ballots in 1992 for Democrat Bill Clinton over Republican incumbent George Bush.
* 89 percent of Washington-based reporters said they voted for Bill Clinton in 1992. Only seven percent voted for George Bush, with two percent choosing Ross Perot.
* Asked "How would you characterize your political orientation?" 61 percent said "liberal" or "liberal to moderate." Only nine percent labeled themselves "conservative" or "moderate to conservative."
That’s online at:
-- The “National Survey of the Role of Polls in Policymaking," completed by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Kaiser Family Foundation in collaboration with Public Perspective, a magazine published by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, was released in late June 2001.
The poll questioned 1,206 members of the public, 300 "policymakers" and 301 "media professionals, including reporters and editors from top newspapers, TV and radio networks, news services and news magazines."
The survey found that 59 percent of those in the media considered themselves to be “moderate,” 25 percent self-identified as “liberal” and only a piddling 6 percent said they were “conservative.”
That’s online at:
> Al Gore will be hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live this weekend.
-- Brent Baker
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