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ABC and NBC Paint Bush Concession as Undermining Case for War --7/9/2003


1. ABC and NBC Paint Bush Concession as Undermining Case for War
President Bush may have overreached when he cited how Iraq had received uranium from Niger, but in reporting Tuesday night on the White House's admission that the charge was based on forged documents, ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Tom Brokaw also overreached in delivering broad generalities about how the concession undermined a premise for the war. Jennings charged: "The Bush administration admits that a vital argument for going to war against Iraq was not true." Brokaw asserted: "There are new questions about his justification for war with Iraq." But as CBS's David Martin pointed out: "Both [Colin] Powell and the CIA believed then and believe now there is plenty of other evidence to show Saddam was still pursuing a nuclear weapon." Jennings also rued how Bush is too popular for the admission to hurt him.

2. Peter Jennings, "Raised with Anti-Americanism," Now U.S. Citizen
ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who on the Late Show last September admitted that his mother "was pretty anti-American" and that growing up in Canada he was "raised with anti-Americanism in my blood, or in my mother's milk at least," on May 30 was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, though he maintains dual citizenship with Canada.

3. ABC's Bury Scolds Bush's Remark, "Pretty Macho, Almost a Taunt"
Add a third ABC News program and anchor to the list of ABC reporters appalled by President Bush's "bring 'em on" comment from last week. On Monday's Nightline Chris Bury insisted it "sounds pretty macho, almost a taunt," after he prodded his guest to denounce it. Retired General William Nash decreed: "I'm not sure that that's a useful comment to make in the public."

4. Couric Prompts Mother of Killed Soldier Who Denounces Bush
NBC's Today on Tuesday provided a platform for the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq to denounce President Bush. Katie Couric prompted the woman: "You have said that you can't call President Bush, President anymore and that you are very angry at him. Why, why are you so angry and can you understand the need for a continued U.S. presence in Iraq?"

5. AP Tags Judicial Watch But Sierra Club Goes Unlabeled
In the lexicon of the Associated Press, you label conservative groups but not liberals ones. A Tuesday AP dispatch about the lawsuits demanding release of documents related to Vice President Cheney and energy policy applied an ideological tag to Judicial watch but not to the Sierra Club.

6. Watch Liberal Journalists Wishing Death for Conservatives
MSNBC canceling its little-watched late Saturday afternoon program hosted by ranter Michael Savage, for wishing a caller would get AIDS and die, reminded us of two examples of hate speech from liberals who wished death upon conservatives but who were not removed from their jobs by their employer.


ABC and NBC Paint Bush Concession as
Undermining Case for War

President Bush may have overreached when in his State of the Union address when he cited how Iraq had received uranium from Niger, but in reporting Tuesday night on the White House's admission that the charge was based on forged documents, ABC's Peter Jennings and NBC's Tom Brokaw also overreached in delivering broad generalities about how the concession undermined a premise for the war.

ABC's Peter Jennings "On World News Tonight," Jennings teased at the top of his broadcast, "the Bush administration admits that a vital argument for going to war against Iraq was not true." Brokaw announced: "Coming clean. The White House admits for the first time the President's State of the Union claim about Iraq's nuclear program might in fact be wrong." Brokaw added: "President Bush is in Africa tonight, but there are new questions about his justification for war with Iraq."

But as David Martin pointed out on the CBS Evening News, while the specific example cited may have been faulty, that did not make the threat go away: "Both [Colin] Powell and the CIA believed then and believe now there is plenty of other evidence to show Saddam was still pursuing a nuclear weapon."

New U.S. citizen Jennings was also disappointed in Democratic reticence to attack Bush and rued how Bush's popularity limited how much the concession can hurt him: "Under certain circumstances this admission by the administration might have serious political consequences, but his is a popular President."

After Linda Douglass confirmed that "most of the Democrats are still loath to criticize the President, Peter, because the war is still popular at home and so is the President," Jennings wanted to know: "And is it making a difference among the President's critics, or even his supporters, that Americans are being killed everyday in Iraq?"

On the July 8 World News Tonight, after Jennings' opening tease quoted above and a piece from Martha Raddatz on the false claim, Jennings lamented: "Under certain circumstances this admission by the administration might have serious political consequences, but his is a popular President. Let's go to Capitol Hill and Linda Douglass. Linda, the toughest statement of the day on this subject came from Senator Kennedy of Massachusetts."
Douglass confirmed: "Well he really did Peter, very strong words, he said 'we may now be learning that this war was based on deliberate deception or outright lies.' And another Democrat, Senator Rockefeller, said that this has clearly hurt the President's credibility. But they are in the minority. Most of the Democrats are still loath to criticize the President, Peter, because the war is still popular at home and so is the President."
Jennings: "And is it making a difference among the President's critics, or even his supporters, that Americans are being killed everyday in Iraq?"
Douglass confused critics with supporters: "Well, the supporters are saying that right now these revelations about the intelligence may not be hurting the President yet, but they say that by the end of this summer if the United States is still bogged down in Iraq, American soldiers are still being killed, there is still instability and it is worsening then, they say, even the supporters will start asking questions about how we got into the war in the first place."

Unlike ABC's Raddatz or NBC's Andrea Mitchell, CBS's David Martin noted how the false claim by Bush did not mean Iraq was not pursuing nuclear weapons. "In one of the most important speeches of his presidency George Bush used bum information," Martin toughly concluded, but earlier in his story he pointed out how "both Powell and the CIA believed then and believe now there is plenty of other evidence to show Saddam was still pursuing a nuclear weapon."

Martin reminded viewers: "An Iraqi scientist has led the CIA to his rose garden where twelve years ago he buried the plans and some of the parts needed to make bomb-grade uranium, convincing evidence Saddam intended to revive his nuclear weapons program."

[Web Update: CyberAlert was unwittingly swayed by skewed media coverage and mis-reported that in his State of the Union address President Bush had "cited how Iraq had received uranium from Niger." In fact, Bush only said that Saddam Hussein had "sought" uranium. The sentence in Bush's speech which is fueling the media eruption: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Technically, an accurate statement, conveying what a British report stated.]

Peter Jennings, "Raised with Anti-Americanism,"
Now U.S. Citizen

ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, who on the Late Show last September admitted that his mother "was pretty anti-American" and that growing up in Canada he was "raised with anti-Americanism in my blood, or in my mother's milk at least," on May 30 was sworn in as a U.S. citizen, though he maintains dual citizenship with Canada. Peter Jennings
Peter Jennings admitted his mother was "pretty anti-American."

Tuesday news reports on his revelation about his May 30 ceremony in New York City included his boast about how he scored 100 percent on the citizenship test.

An excerpt from a July 8 New York Times item:

"This brash and noble container of dreams, this muse to artists and inventors and entrepreneurs, this beacon of optimism, this dynamo of energy, this trumpet blare of liberty."

That was Peter Jennings describing America -- his America -- in a toast on Thursday for the new National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Mr. Jennings is Canadian born and first came to this "noble container" in 1964 to work for ABC News. There have been lots of big stories, but on the Fourth of July, he broke a big one of his own: He is now officially American.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr. Jennings said he broke the news on Friday at a party at the Bridgehampton home of the corporate consultant Clive Chajet, where the author E. L. Doctorow was a guest, and then on Saturday at Lally Weymouth's party in Southampton.

He said that he scored 100 percent on his citizenship test and in late May was sworn in as a citizen at a ceremony in Downtown Manhattan with 50 or 60 other new citizens....

Some of his conservative critics have used his Canadian citizenship against him and others have ribbed him, he said....

END of Excerpt

For that item in full: www.nytimes.com

An excerpt from a July 8 Canada.com story by CanWest News Service reporter Randy Boswell:

OTTAWA -- After pondering the idea seriously for a decade -- and weathering a recent controversy in which his Canadian roots were an issue -- ABC News anchor Peter Jennings has become an American citizen.

The Toronto-born journalist, who was raised in Ottawa, says the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. and recent travels throughout the country have made him feel "much more connected to the Founding Fathers' dreams and ideas for the future."...

"As a Canadian friend said to me today, I've always made clear my love for America. And it was a good time to formally declare that affection, along with a sense of debt and gratitude to the country that's made it possible for me to have a wonderful life both professionally and personally."

Jennings, who will retain his Canadian citizenship, quickly added: "That does not for a second, as any smart American will tell you, mean you have to renounce your roots."

The broadcaster's pledge of allegiance came during a regular citizenship ceremony at a government office in Lower Manhattan on May 30, but he initially kept it a secret.

"I went in the front door and came out the front door. They were regular people. They were very touching," Jennings said. "And I cried a little bit -- my kids didn't cry, but I cried a bit -- but I'm a fairly emotional character anyway.

"Among other things, you have to take a test. I'm very proud: I got 100. Good thing, too, as I'd just finished a book on America with a friend of mine."...

A year ago, Jennings was at the centre of an uproar over the scratching of a jingoistic country song from a live Independence Day telecast he was hosting. A decision by producers to drop Toby Keith's Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue -- which includes a line warning potential foes that the U.S. will "put a boot in your ass" -- made Jennings and his Canadian citizenship popular targets for attack on talk radio stations and Internet sites.

END of Excerpt

For the posting in its entirety: www.canada.com

Last fall, on the September 6 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, Jennings recounted the anti-Americanism in his background.

Recalling how Jennings left Canada for the U.S. as an adult, Letterman wondered: "When you're a kid, a Canadian kid, what is your view of the United States? Are you like peeking over the border or is it not a factor?"
Jennings replied by citing his mother's anti-Americanism: "I think it very much depends how you were brought up. My mother, well my father tried to come here in the depression. He was offered a job by NBC and they threw him off the train at the border. So by the time he got back to Toronto everybody was still pretty hung over from his going away party [laughter from the audience]. This is serious, they still were. And the guy said you're coming to America to take an American's job. Go back. And he went back and never came.
"My mother, who was an imperialist, and her father had served in the first world war with a Canadian regiment. She was pretty anti-American. And so I was, in some respects, raised with anti-Americanism in my blood or in my mother's milk at least."
Letterman asked: "When you're a kid growing up do you kind of ignore an envy the United States or is there no envy about the United States, is there a curiosity about the United States?"
Jennings answered: "I think there's tremendous confusion about the United States. The former, the late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said it was indeed like living and sleeping next to, being a mouse and sleeping next to an elephant. And when the elephant rolled over you sure notice. Because everything that was done by the United States, and this is true today as it was then, has an impact on Canada. So Canadians grow up with this ambiguous feeling: Loving the United States, admiring the United States, fearful of the United States, resentful of the United States. I came here so long ago, somebody asked me the other day about being Canadian-American, I said 'I sometimes forget I'm not American because I've got America in my soul now I think.'"

As I quipped at the time, politically liberal America, that is.

For a RealPlayer video clip of Jennings on Letterman talking about his mother's anti-Americanism: www.mediaresearch.org

ABC's Bury Scolds Bush's Remark, "Pretty
Macho, Almost a Taunt"

Add a third ABC News program and anchor to the list of ABC reporters appalled by President Bush's "bring 'em on" comment from last week. On Monday's Nightline Chris Bury insisted it "sounds pretty macho, almost a taunt," after he prompted his guest to denounce it. Retired General William Nash decreed: "I'm not sure that that's a useful comment to make in the public."

Bury concluded Nightline by again criticizing Bush's comment, noting how "such a taunt may offend the families of those American troops who've been killed and wounded in those attacks."

As recounted in the July 8 CyberAlert, President Bush's "bring 'em on" comment from last week continues to appall national news figures as they channel the spin of liberal Democrats. Peter Jennings on Monday night decided that Diane Sawyer asking General Tommy Franks about it was the only newsworthy part of her interview and so highlighted her asking him about it earlier in the day on Good Morning America. When he affirmed that he "absolutely" agreed with Bush's statement, a clearly astounded Sawyer retorted, "You do!?!?" See: www.mediaresearch.org

Making it ABC trifecta on Monday, the July 7 Nightline also focused on Bush's comment, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed.

During a discussion with retired General William Nash, who commanded U.S. troops in Bosnia, anchor Chris Bury asked: "When you hear the President, when he's asked about these attacks on Americans, when he says, 'bring it on, bring the attacks on because we've got the forces necessary,' what goes through your mind as a military man?"
Nash: "Well, I'm not sure that that's a useful comment to make in the public. That may be something a colonel talking to his troops may use from time to time."
Bury piped in: "Sounds pretty macho, almost a taunt."
Nash: "Well, almost as macho as landing on an aircraft carrier. So I would just say to you that, I think as we talk to the American people, we would be better served explaining the scope and the difficulty of the task we're facing, what it's going to cost, and the time it's going to take."

Bury closed the program with this commentary: "A few days ago, when asked about the continuing attacks on American soldiers in Iraq, President Bush said, quote, 'Bring 'em on. We've got the force necessary to deal with the security situation.' Certainly the President has a valid interest in sounding tough, even if such a taunt may offend the families of those American troops who've been killed and wounded in those attacks. Today, retiring General Tommy Franks agreed with Mr. Bush that more American troops are not the answer, but that is not to say the security situation is, by any stretch, stable or acceptable. In fact, the view from Iraq and the commander of allied ground forces there seems quite different. He says, on average, 13 attacks are launched against U.S. and British troops each day. In the words of Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, 'We're still at war.'"

At least ABC News is still at war with Bush's Iraq policy.

Couric Prompts Mother of Killed Soldier
Who Denounces Bush

NBC's Today on Tuesday provided a platform for the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq to denounce President Bush. Katie Couric prompted the woman: "You have said that you can't call President Bush, President anymore and that you are very angry at him. Why, why are you so angry and can you understand the need for a continued U.S. presence in Iraq?"

The exchange, the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens noticed, came during a segment with the mother and sister of a soldier recently killed in Iraq. Couric set up the July 8 interview:
"Among the 29 U.S. soldiers killed by hostile fire in Iraq since the end of major combat, Army Staff Sergeant Orenthio [sp?] Javon Smith, who died when his convoy was attacked near Baghdad last month. Iratean Smith is his mother, Talisha Smith is his sister. Good morning to both of you and our deepest condolences to your entire family. Mrs. Smith, let me, let me start with you. I know your son was just 21-years-old. Can you tell us a little bit about him."

Couric's questions leading up to the Bush topic:

-- "What prompted him to, to join the Army in the first place?"
-- "Talisha, I know that you all were just 10 months apart. You're his younger sister, but just by 10 months. What kinds of things did you all used to do together? You all must have been very close because of the age difference not being very great."
-- "I know Mrs. Smith, your son, I know you called him O.J., he arrived in Iraq on, on May 7th. He was a truck driver with the 123rd Main Support Battalion which was attacked two weeks ago. What has the Army told you about the circumstances surrounding your son's death?"
-- "Before he left Mrs. Smith I understand your son talked with you about what he was in for and, and he understood the dangers, didn't he? Can you tell us about conversations you had with him?"
-- "Talisha you talked with your brother a few times while he was in Iraq. What did he have to say?"

Couric then honed in on Smith's upset with Bush: "Mrs. Smith how do you feel about this happening? There's been a lot made about how many soldiers have died since the end of, of major conflict since President Bush talked about that in, in, on May 1st, so it's been more than two months. What are your thoughts about your son's death?"
Iratean Smith: "Well basically, I mean you know, I'm hurt and I'm angry because my son went over there when the war was supposed to be over with. But it seems like more people are getting killed now than ever before. So, I mean, really I just don't understand what it's all about."
Couric: "You have said that you can't call President Bush, President anymore and that you are very angry at him. Why, why are you so angry and can you understand the need for a continued U.S. presence in Iraq?"
Iratean Smith: "I mean, no I can't. That's, that's the thing. I mean you know, what's, what's the purpose of the children and the young people being over there?"

AP Tags Judicial Watch But Sierra Club
Goes Unlabeled

In the lexicon of the Associated Press, you label conservative groups but not liberals ones. A Tuesday AP dispatch about the lawsuits demanding release of documents related to Vice President Cheney and energy policy applied an ideological tag to Judicial Watch but not to the Sierra Club, the MRC's Tim Graham noticed.

"Court Allows Suit on Cheney Energy Panel," announced the headline over the story by Pete Yost of the AP's Washington bureau. His lead: "A federal appeals court dealt a setback to the Bush administration Tuesday, refusing to stop a lawsuit delving into Vice President Dick Cheney's contacts with the energy industry as his task force was drafting the White House's energy policy."

Yost's labeling disparity: "The groups that are suing -- Sierra Club and the conservative Judicial Watch -- allege that participants from industry effectively became members of the task force in assembling the White House's energy policy."

For the AP story in full as posted by Yahoo: story.news.yahoo.com

Watch Liberal Journalists Wishing Death
for Conservatives

MSNBC's commendable canceling of its little-watched late Saturday afternoon program hosted by ranter Michael Savage, for wishing a caller would get AIDS and die ("You should only get AIDS and die, you pig. How's that?"), reminded us of two examples of hate speech from liberals who wished death upon conservatives. But they were not removed from their jobs by their employer.

And thanks to the MRC's 1999 "DisHonors Awards" for the most outrageous quotes of the decade, you can watch both via RealPlayer as the two quotes were the top runner-up and winner of the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)."

The runner-up:

Inside Washington host Tina Gulland: "I don't think I have any Jesse Helms defenders here. Nina?"
Nina Totenberg: "Not me, I think he ought to be worried about what's going on in the Good Lord's mind, because if there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it." -- National Public Radio and then-ABC News reporter Nina Totenberg reacting to Senator Jesse Helms' claim that the government spends too much on AIDS research, July 8, 1995 Inside Washington.

The winner:

"The man is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that's how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person." -- Then-USA Today columnist and Pacifica Radio talk show host Julianne Malveaux on Justice Clarence Thomas, November 4, 1994 PBS To the Contrary.

To watch video clips of those quotes, as well as to watch video of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas accepting the award in jest on behalf of Malveaux, go to: www.mediaresearch.org

For MRC President Brent Bozell's July 8 column, "The Savage Cartoon Ends," see: www.mediaresearch.org

* Scheduled to appear tonight on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Brian Williams of, as Matt Drudge would list it, NBCCNBCMSNBC.

-- Brent Baker