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HBO Can't Resist Hostile Guantanamo Cliches in Piece on Diving Rehab

HBO's Real Sports promised a look at an "inspirational therapeutic program" in which wounded warriors are able to go diving in the "pristine" coral reefs off of the Guantanamo Bay detention camps in Cuba, but Bryant Gumbel and correspondent Jon Frankel couldn't resist piling on left-wing cliches about "one of the most controversial places on Earth," "the most infamous military base in the world" where "the heat here, this month, will reach a hundred degrees, [and] the glare of world criticism is even hotter" since "Gitmo is notorious for the detention camps put here after 9/11."

Frankel, a veteran of CBS, ABC and NBC, wasn't done as he explained the detention camps were "put here by the Bush administration on the notion that this place is not America after all and thus not under the purview of U.S. law. The result: Hostile detainees on the inside and international anger from without."

In the June edition of the sports news magazine, which debuted Tuesday night, Frankel and HBO did manage to squeeze in a few minutes about the ostensible purpose of the story, a peek at how injured soldiers and Marines travel to Guantanamo to take part in a program which lets them dive down 50 feet to the untouched coral reefs.

Gumbel set up the June 23 piece:

We want to take you to one of the most controversial places on Earth and one of the last places you'd expect our show to visit. I'm talking about Guantanamo Bay, the symbolic epicenter of the Bush administration's war on terror. Everyone knows about the alleged torture of terrorists that took place at Guantanamo, but few people know there's a diver's paradise there as well as an inspiring program designed to help those U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.


Frankel began, over video of colorful coral reefs:

These waters guard a secret: some of the finest coral reefs on Earth. Pristine and undisturbed. The kind that all SCUBA divers covet, but almost never actually find. They are fiercely protected waters where no tourist has set foot in a hundred years, where no boats may enter, because these waters are home to something else unique: The most infamous military base in the world. These are the waters of Guantanamo Bay - or, as it's known to those who live and work here, Gitmo. Seven thousand troops are stationed here, a patch of American desert in the hills of Cuba claimed by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War of 1898 and, to the great anger of the Castro regime, occupied ever since. The heat here, this month, will reach a hundred degrees, the glare of world criticism is even hotter. Gitmo is notorious for the detention camps put here after 9/11. Built on these water-front cliffs, the camps are a modern day Alcatraz and no prisoner has ever escaped. But the troops who work here do their best to try. Every day they disappear off these beaches and into another world, beneath Guantanamo Bay...

In Gitmo's core are several hundred men accused of being some of the most violently anti-American on Earth, put here by the Bush administration on the notion that this place is not America after all and thus not under the purview of U.S. law. The result: Hostile detainees on the inside and international anger from without....

- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center