11 of 13 Questions on Nightline Express Anti-War Agenda -- 03/05/2003 CyberAlert
2. Despite Allies, CNN's Brown Cites How U.S. May "Go It Alone"
3. "The Iraqis Continue to Comply With the UN Weapons Inspectors"
4. Jennings Worries If U.S. Torturing Captured al-Qaeda Operative
5. Jennings & Brokaw Rue Lack of Congressional Dissent on War
6. Democrats "Pulling Together" or "Divided on Agenda"?
7. Jay Leno Mocks Need for Liberal Talk Radio Network
8. Dan Rather is No Jennings: "Lest We Forget, the Price Paid"
>>> "2003 Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters." CyberAlert subscribers can get tickets for $150, $25 off the regular price, for the Thursday, March 27 event in Washington, DC. For all the info and how to buy tickets:
ABC's Nightline Town Meeting on Tuesday night put the burden on those in favor of a war on Iraq, a tilt evident in the title of the 90-minute special, "War in Iraq: Why Now?" While Ted Koppel presented a balanced panel of three experts for and three against a war, an amazing 11 of 13 questions posed from the audience, at St. Johns Episcopal Church within sight of the White House, expressed hostility for President Bush's policy or outright disdain for the U.S.
Two Members of Congress got to make mini-speeches in the form of questions -- both liberal Democrats from Illinois.
On the enjoyable front, prompted by the French Ambassador to the U.S. pleading to know "why is it when France takes sides on one side there is so much French-bashing in the United States?", both Senator John McCain and former CIA Director James Woolsey lectured the ambassador about France's irresponsible stand.
Koppel set the tone for the evening by opening the March 4 broadcast (EST/CST feed) with this supposed joke which undermined the moral superiority of the U.S. position: "There's a sardonic two-liner making the rounds in Washington these days: 'How do we know that Saddam Hussein has biological and chemical weapons? We have the receipts.' Nasty, but there's an element of truth to it."
Back when Hussein was using chemical weapons on his own people, Koppel added, "there wasn't a great deal of outrage from the Reagan-Bush White House."
Over three-fourths the way through the program, Koppel contended that those in favor of war, even after the onslaught of hostile questions, though Koppel didn't point that out, still hadn't satisfied Koppel on his "why now" question. Koppel suggested that if we waited six months the inspectors could find more evidence and then allies like Germany and French would come aboard our war effort and so "wouldn't we be that much better off with that kind of support?" To the consternation of the French ambassador who shook his head in disgust, McCain replied: "I have no confidence that will ever happen with the French."
Woolsey then argued: "If Saddam uses biological weapons that have been genetically modified in order to be resistant to vaccines for anthrax or to antibiotics or to smallpox, and you find out because you've waited, at some point, that it was this six month period in which he was able to do that, who that is arguing for the delay will stand up and take responsibility and say, 'gee, you know I'm really sorry'?"
But the really biased element to the show was all the hostile questions from the left. The audience for these Nightline Town Meetings is carefully selected by ABC producers who then decide who can pose a question, so the questioners normally are pretty balanced. But not on Tuesday night, a slant which really makes ABC look pretty irresponsible given the very small audience they were able to fit into the church.
Here's a flavor of the 11 out of 13 questions which had an anti-war and/or anti-U.S. agenda:
-- "I've noticed that our country has lied and deceived its people a number of different times, starting back with the Boston Tea Party....Why should we believe anything from the United States government about what Saddam has or might possibly do considering the history of lies and deceptions we've had from our government?"
-- "...Millions of people in cities all across the United States are protesting war. 124 cities in the United States have passed anti-war resolutions and the latest polls show that Americans overwhelmingly do not support a unilateral war. So right now if the President is to go to war and lead us to war right now he's in a breach of democratic process because he's not representing the will of the American people."
-- "...Wouldn't it make more sense that America would be safer and more secure if we were pursuing policies that made us loved and admired and not just feared and resented?"
-- Hussein is "militarily contained, detained and restrained. So why is it necessary now to launch a war be it unilaterally, bi-laterally, tri-laterally or multi-laterally under the pseudo pretext of liberation?"
-- "Some of us think that the rush to war now is a screen to cover some of the other geopolitical and economic interests of the United States, including oil."
The three panelists against any war: Democratic Senator Carl Levin, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Joseph Wilson, United Church of Christ minister Susan Thistletwaite who is also President of the Chicago Theological Seminary. The three pro-Bush policy panelists: Senator John McCain, former CIA Director James Woolsey and Richard Land, a Baptist minister and President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Below is a complete rundown of all 13 questions posed by the audience during the March 4 program, intermixed with a flavor of the McCain/Woolsey mocking of the French position:
-- #1, pro-war, a woman: "I would like to ask those that are opposed to immediate and quick action against Iraq which Americans cities, citizens, do you feel are expendable before you realize that quick and immediate reaction against Saddam Hussein is imperative?"
-- #2, anti-war, a woman and future journalist: "I'm a senior journalism major from Howard University. My question has to do with why attack Iraq and not North Korea. In the 2002 State of the Union address President Bush addressed North Korea, Iran and Iraq as a part of the 'axis of evil.' So if we're going to attack Iraq based on the criterium that they're evil then why not North Korea?"
-- #3, anti-war, woman wearing a "No War" button: "My name is Jan Shakowsky (sp?). I'm a Congresswoman from the 9th District in Illinois. The button I'm wearing reflects the sentiments of most of the people in my district. It seems to me that the arguments underpinning this rush to war right now are three and I think they are myths. One is that Saddam Hussein has threatened us. He has not threatened the United States in my view. I'd like a response to that. Also, this connection between Saddam and Osama bin Laden and September 11th. If you put them in the same sentence often enough you probably can convince the American people, but is it really true? And finally this notion that it's either war or appeasement, one or the other. And I think that's really a myth..."
-- #4, pro-war, a man: "I'm the Chairman of the Iraqi-American Council....How many holocausts does the human race have to endure before we understand, like the one Saddam continuing holocaust on the Iraq people for the past 34 years that which, as I said, claimed my cousin life, 1.5 millions of my people. How many victims that we have to go through to understand that the real subject is not weapons of mass destructions, that Saddam is the weapon of mass destruction?"
-- #5, anti-war and anti-American, a man: "As a bit of a student of history, I've noticed that our country has lied and deceived its people a number of different times, starting back with the Boston Tea Party as if the Indians did it, Texas as if the Mexicans attacked. They said the Spanish sank the Maine, was a lie. They said the Lusitania was attacked, it had arms on it, it was sunk. The Tonkin Bay resolution, which, Mr. McCain, I'm quite sure you remember that, that turned out to be a big fat total lie. We've had the incubator incident with the Kuwaitis which turned out to be a fabrication, Mr. CIA. Why should we believe anything from the United States government about what Saddam has or might possibly do considering the history of lies and deceptions we've had from our government?"
The "Indians" did the Boston Tea Party?
That question caused Woolsey to start laughing, but McCain immediately retorted: "I'm proud of the record of the United States and our advocacy for freedom. As Colin Powell said so movingly, we've sent thousands of our young people to fight and die all over the world and all we've asked is for the ground to bury them in..."
-- #6, anti-war, a woman: "I would like to pose my question to the two Senators. Back in October the Congress voted to turn over the authority to wage war to the President. Now the President can wage war unilaterally or with the support of the UN and he does not have to go back to the Congress to do it. Since October there's been a massive outpouring of anti-war sentiment, there's been huge protests, millions of people in cities all across the United States are protesting war. 124 cities in the United States have passed anti-war resolutions and the latest polls show that Americans overwhelmingly do not support a unilateral war. So right now if the President is to go to war and lead us to war right now he's in a breach of democratic process because he's not representing the will of the American people. And my question to the two Senators is, as elected representatives that are accountable back to the people and back to your constituents, what do you plan to do to ensure that our democratic process is held intact and what do you plan to do to make sure the voices of the American people are heard and represented?"
Just about everything she claimed in factually inaccurate since polls show that most support Bush's Iraq policy and no protest anywhere in the U.S. has drawn "millions."
-- #7, anti-war, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.: "In October of 2002 the administration sold Congress on the Iraq resolution as a means to show the United Nations that we were unified and that the United Nations needed a tough inspections resolution to get Saddam Hussein to allow the inspectors back in. It now appears that the administration is using the unity resolution as the legal foundation for war in Iraq. Under Article One, Section 8, the 'why now' question of this show should be debated on the floor of the Congress of the United States and Congress and Congress alone, under Article One, Section 8, has the power to declare war. Not the President when he wants to. Mr. McCain, Senator Levin, I'd like your response for why Congress is not considering a war declaration since 200,000 U.S. troops are presently positioned in the Middle East on their way to war."
-- #8, anti-war, a woman: "My name's Abigail. I'm a student at American University. My question is actually addressed to the French and German ambassadors. If we do do this war unilaterally, what changes can we expect when we win with re-alliances of French and German relations with America and Great Britain?"
French Ambassador Jean-David Levitte, who was in the audience, whined: "Why is it when France takes sides on one side there is so much French-bashing in the United States?"
McCain told Levitte: "I hope that in return for a better dialogue, that Mr. Chirac will allow a better dialogue between those countries that don't agree with him in Europe that he said he wished had remained silent..."
Woolsey contended that the policy stands being followed now by France and Germany "are very much on a par with the policies of Britain and France in the mid-1930s when they turned away from blocking Italy in moving into Abyssinia, when they turned away from Hitler's violations in 1935 and 1936 of the Versailles Treaty. And they said exactly what some are saying here tonight: Let's kick the ball down the road, let it go, see if it might get better, it didn't."
-- #9, anti-war, a man: "I'm very concerned as an American that nothing has done more to stoke the flames of anti-Americanism than this relentless drive for war. All over the war, not only among our traditional enemies, but we see anti-Americanism on the rise in Canada, in Britain, in Germany, in France and everywhere. And it seems to me that wouldn't it make more sense that America would be safer and more secure if we were pursuing policies that made us loved and admired and not just feared and resented?"
-- #10, anti-war, a man: "My name is Melvin G. Brown. I'm the pastor of the Greater Hope Baptist Church downtown Washington, DC. In light of all of the attention, the focus and the pressure internationally by the media, by the American administration and by the UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and Iraq are diplomatically, politically and militarily contained, detained and restrained. So why is it necessary now to launch a war be it unilaterally, bi-laterally, tri-laterally or multi-laterally under the pseudo pretext of liberation?"
-- #11, anti-war and anti-U.S. integrity, a woman: "I work in the health care field. Some of us think that the rush to war now is a screen to cover some of the other geopolitical and economic interests of the United States, including oil. What I'd like to know is how you can help the American people understand what some of those other interests might be?"
-- #12, anti-war, a woman: "I have two sons, one of whom is being deployed any day now and one who is volunteering for Iraq. If we go with the policy of pre-emptive strike because we feel threatened, could not North Korea feel threatened by us and therefore feel they have the right to strike? Do we think that if we do this we will be the only nation that feels it has that right?"
-- #13, anti-war, a woman: "My question is why now, with this rise of anti-American sentiment, not just in the Middle East but the whole world, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East and Philippines and Indonesia, why are we going to go into Iraq, topple Saddam Hussein, install a democracy that could possibly lead to a democratic Iraq votes an Islamic fundamentalism party into power that could possibly lead the way to a Taliban-like state?..."
Finally, in what could be considered a 14th question from the audience, and the 12th out of 14 against a war, a women stood and held up photos of disfigured children who were the victims of bombing. ABC's camera's caught two of the pictures long enough to make out what they showed.
Speaking of mischaracterizations of the U.S. taking "unilateral" action when dozens of countries support the U.S. approach to Iraq, including the majority in Europe (see item #1 above), Saturday night on CNN Aaron Brown referred to how the U.S. may have to "go it alone" on Iraq.
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught the characterization issued by Brown at the end of the March 1 CNN Presents:
That may have been a replay of the CNN Presents first aired the previous Sunday.
A quiz. As Iraq brought to a mere ten the number of missiles it would dismantle out of over 100, who said the following on Tuesday, the Iraq regime's Tariq Aziz or ABC's Peter Jennings? "The Iraqis continue to comply with the UN weapons inspectors."
Too easy, I know. Jennings set up a March 4 World News Tonight story from Dan Harris in Baghdad: "In Iraq today, while the Iraqis continue to comply with the UN weapons inspectors, the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, was attacking the United States in a public letter to Iraqis."
Three days after the capture of top al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the murder of thousands of Americans, what was the chief concern of Peter Jennings? Have we tortured him. Check out how he teased his Tuesday newscast: "On World News Tonight, the suspected mastermind of 9/11 is reported to be talking. What methods of persuasion did they use? What does the law allow?"
Immediately after a piece by Brian Ross on the interrogation of the operative, Jennings insisted: "There are questions about what methods the Americans may be using to get the prisoner to talk. Later in the broadcast, we'll take a closer look at the shifting definitions of torture in the world."
Jennings introduced the subsequent story: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at torture, or persuasion. The interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed has raised an important question: How far will the United States go to extract information from a man who may have serious information? Now, the human rights group, Amnesty International, which monitors torture, says that in the last three years, it has received reports of torture in more than 150 countries with widespread reports of it in 70 of them. So where does the United States stand today? Here's ABC's Jackie Judd."
Judd's story was fairly innocuous as it didn't deal with the Khalid Sheik Mohammed case specifically, only what general rules apply to using torture.
NBC Nightly News also ran a piece, by Brian Williams, on the use of torture and what rules apply, but neither Williams or Tom Brokaw worried about what methods are now being used on Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Not enough dissent on the war to satisfy ABC or NBC. Trumpeting an anti-war speech by Senator Ted Kennedy, Peter Jennings on Tuesday night rued how "there has been very little opposition in the U.S. Congress to war with Iraq." Over on NBC, anchor Tom Brokaw dedicated a story to how "Congress has practically gone mute on the war plans after authorizing the President to proceed in House and Senate resolutions last year. The debate on Capitol Hill has been spotty and, with just a few exceptions, it has been timid."
NBC reporter Norah O'Donnell asserted there has been little debate in Congress before treating Senator Robert Byrd as the expert: "Democrat Robert Byrd, who has served in Congress for half a century through the Korean and Vietnam Wars, says he's stunned."
O'Donnell also relayed how anti-war Republican Senator Chuck Hagel "says some are reluctant to speak out for fear of retribution within their own party."
Jennings announced on the March 4 World News Tonight: "There has been very little opposition in the U.S. Congress to war with Iraq, certainly not among Republicans. Democrats are divided. But today Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the few prominent Democrats to openly oppose an invasion, said war would make the world even more dangerous for Americans."
ABC held itself to that fairly short item, but NBC Nightly News ran a full story on the lack of congressional dissent.
Brokaw asserted, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Congress has practically gone mute on the war plans after authorizing the President to proceed in House and Senate resolutions last year. The debate on Capitol Hill has been spotty and, with just a few exceptions, it has been timid. NBC's Norah O'Donnell has more tonight."
O'Donnell began: "Across the country, the debate over war has been thunderous. But in the halls of Congress:"
O'Donnell failed to consider the view that Senator Clinton's kind of sniping against every element of Bush's Iraq policy is simply a way for Democrats to say they were for the war if it is successful while preserving the ability to say they "raised questions" about it if anything goes wrong.
Have Democrats pulled together to present a "united front" against Republicans or are congressional Democrats "divided" and thus have weakened their attack on President Bush? It depends on whether you believe the New York Times or Washington Post.
The MRC's Tim Graham alerted me to the story contrast highlighted by Mickey Kaus in his "kausfiles" blog for Slate, online at: http://slate.msn.com/id/2079605/
"Democrats Pulling Together United Front Against G.O.P.," declared the headline over a story inside the Monday, March 3 New York Times. But the next day, a Washington Post front page headline read: "Congressional Democrats Divided on Agenda." The subhead: "Divisions Weaken Attacks on Bush."
Reporter David Firestone opened the February 28-datelined story which ran in the March 3 New York Times:
For the story in full:
Reporter Jim VandeHei led the March 4 Washington Post take:
For the entirety of the story:
Jay Leno joked about the preposterousness of liberals thinking they need their own liberal talk radio network when they dominate just about every other media vehicle.
Brit Hume ended his FNC show on Tuesday night with this clip from a recent monologue from Leno on NBC's Tonight Show:
The fact that Leno knew such sarcasm would draw laughter from a general audience shows it is not just conservatives who realize liberals dominate virtually every medium.
Dan Rather is no Peter Jennings. After a CBS Evening News story on Tuesday night about a Marine based at Twentynine Palms in California who, though told he could stay behind, shipped off with his unit to Kuwait while his four-month-old is waiting for a heart transplant, a somber Rather intoned: "Lest we forget, the price paid."
That's something you'll never hear from Jennings. No matter how biased Rather ever is, frustrations fueled most recently by his soft approach to Saddam Hussein, lest we forget he's no Peter Jennings. -- Brent Baker