ABC: Celebrating Iraqis a Ruse, Donvan Find Anti-U.S. Anger -- 03/23/2003 CyberAlert
2. Jennings Highlights WMD as "a Big Lie" to Justify Invasion
3. ABC's "Baby Milk Factory": U.S. Bombs Hit a "Community Center"
4. ABC's Cuomo: Government Should Heed "Prescient" Protesters
5. CNN's Hinojosa Hypes "Very Diverse" March of Over a
6. Jennings, But Not Brokaw, Leads with Dissent and Problems
7. Moore's Anti-U.S. Rant Up for Oscar, "Resonated" with Oprah
>>> "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 decides celebrating Iraqis were a ruse. Iraqis "tore down a picture of Saddam Hussein and jumped in the streets" when coalition forces arrived in Safwan -- "at least for the cameras," Peter Jennings snidely added before turning to ABC's John Donvan who maintained that when he went to Safwan "I didn't see anything like that." In a piece for Saturday's World News Tonight, Donvan claimed that he found "hostility towards the coalition forces, towards the United States, towards George Bush" as the residents wanted to know: "Are you here to steal our oil?" and "When are you going to get out?"
Maybe they just don't like reporters.
Donvan proceeded to whine about how the coalition forces had not made the area safe for wandering journalists. He recounted how the British military told some journalists that a road "was clear," but then "they drove 20 minutes and there were land mines on the highway. Elsewhere journalists were running into gun fire."
Then stop annoying soldiers and go back to Kuwait.
Jennings set up the March 22 story: "Yesterday we saw images of a jubilant reception in the Southern Iraqi town of Safwan where soldiers stood by as people tore down a picture of Saddam Hussein and jumped in the streets, at least for the cameras. ABC's John Donvan today went unescorted to Safwan and got a far different welcome."
Staged "for the camera"? Not something Jennings considers when it comes to anti-war demonstrations.
To illustrate the "jubilant" Iraqis, ABC played the video, with which you are probably familiar, of an Iraqi tearing down a huge Hussein poster and of a group of Iraqis jumping up and down in happiness. For a still shot of the Hussein poster being torn down:
For a photo of the same group of celebrating men ABC showed:
Safely back in Kuwait, Donvan recounted his trip: "Well this whole thing about Iraqis dancing in the streets as the coalition forces moved through, in the town of Safwan I just did not see that, I didn't see anything like that. What I saw was a lot of hostility towards the coalition forces, towards the United States, towards George Bush and wasn't particularly friendly towards us journalists. It's the first time I've heard somebody refer to me to as a Satan and I think we know what that might mean. We started conversations with people on the street there that were relatively calm but the more they talked the more angry they got [video of a group of Iraqi men around Donvan] and they began to ask questions like, 'Why are you here in this country?', 'Are you trying to take over our country?', 'Are you going to take our country forever?', 'Are the Israelis coming next?', 'Are you here to steal our oil?', 'When are you going to get out?'
Donvan proceeded to whine about how coalition forces had not yet made southern Iraq safe for wandering journalists:
Most aggravating, if Donvan or other journalists get into any trouble they'll expect coalition soldiers to rescue them.
For a picture of Donvan, who is a Nightline regular:
Of all the questions posed to Operation Iraqi Freedom commander Tommy Franks at his Saturday briefing, ABC anchor Peter Jennings decided to highlight just one on World News Tonight: How he "was asked a very challenging question" about how weapons of mass destruction was "a big lie" to "justify your invasion of Iraq."
Jennings intoned on the March 22 World News Tonight: "In his first war briefing from the U.S. central command site at Doha in Qatar, U.S. commander Tommy Franks faced reporters from all over the world who were there and at one point he was asked a very challenging question about weapons of mass destruction."
Maybe Jennings could give the good guys a few days to find what Hussein had years to hide, or at least wait until coalition forces arrive in areas of Iraq which Hussein most strongly controls and probably has hidden his weapons.
The "baby milk factory" of 2003. In 1991 Peter Arnett, then with CNN, gullibly passed along Iraqi claims that U.S. bombing had destroyed a "baby milk factory." On ABC on Saturday, ABC's freelancer, Richard Engel, obligingly highlighted video, from an official tour of supposed bomb damage, of "a community center that had been hit by five separate rockets." To add a bit of emotion, his video included a shot of empty children's swings swinging nearby.
Several networks briefly played clips of injured Iraqis in the hospital, but at least on CBS and NBC to illustrate what Iraq is doing to enrage Middle Easterners, and ABC ran the video as Engel recounted what he saw during his official tour conducted by the Iraqi regime.
Engel asserted on the March 22 World News Tonight: "Iraqi officials say that about 215 people were injured and that three people were killed. Among the injured were several children. The sites we were taken to see that were destroyed were mainly non-military targets. Now that doesn't mean that military targets weren't destroyed, they were in fact. The Republican palace was destroyed, or badly damaged, the secret police center, the special security force headquarters. But Iraqi officials took me to see a facility that had been used, it was a community center that had been hit by five separate rockets."
As he mentioned the "community center" viewers saw video of a barren room, with pieces of metal scattered about, and then video of a swing set outside with both swings swinging but nobody nearby.
Celebrating how the "right to assemble against the government is one of the signature freedoms that makes America America," ABC News reporter Chris Cuomo late Saturday morning offered a very generously benign description of goals of the anti-war protesters: "They want government accountability, they want environmental justice and, most of all, they're calling for peace." Cuomo conceded that the protesters are in "a statistical minority," but he trumpeted how in "American history protests like this have been prescient indicators of the national mood" so, he advised, "the government may do well to listen to what's said today."
At about 10:50am EST during Saturday's five-hour Good Morning America, co-host Elizabeth Vargas set up a protest preview: "Chris Cuomo is live now in New York City's Times Square where there is an enormous anti-war demonstration that is expected to take place later on today."
And, he didn't say, they want "no blood for oil" and the impeachment of President Bush.
After acknowledging that polls show the protesters outnumbered three-to-one by supports of military action, Cuomo nonetheless used ABC's airwaves to convey his opinion that the message of the protesters should be heeded:
For a picture and bio Cuomo, who is the son of Mario Cuomo and who got his start in television news with Fox, see:
While MSNBC had Ashleigh Banfield all day Saturday at a support the troops rally in Tennessee outside of Fort Campbell, CNN had Maria Hinojosa in New York City championing the diversity and size on an anti-war, anti-Bush march. Hinojosa saw "a very diverse group of people" with "a lot of family members," "a children's contingent" and a "religious contingent." Though the number of protesters was much smaller, Hinojosa passed along protest hype as she relayed how "I have heard a lot of people coming up and saying that they have heard a million" attended.
At about 5:25pm EST on Saturday, Hinojosa checked in from Manhattan: "This started as a demonstration, really a march that began in mid-town Manhattan that was very calm, very peaceful. Of course, organizers and police are having different opinions on the numbers of people out here. The organizers, some are saying well over 250,000, I have heard a lot of people coming up and saying that they have heard a million. But the police are saying that they will concede that it is well over 100,000."
Hinojosa soon added: "Now it was a very calm and peaceful march, a lot of family members, the march was really led off by a group called September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows. These are all people who lost their families on September 11th. They were heading off the march and behind them the children's contingent and behind them the religious contingent. A very diverse group of people."
Jennings versus Brokaw. A comparison of how ABC's Peter Jennings led Saturday's World News Tonight with how Tom Brokaw began the NBC Nightly News the same night shows how Jennings stresses dissent and the problems while Brokaw is satisfied to simply convey the status of the war.
-- Jennings teased the March 22 World News Tonight/Saturday:
-- Tom Brokaw began Saturday's NBC Nightly News: "It is now early Sunday morning in Baghdad and it's been another long night of punishing air strikes against that city and against other targets in Iraq. At the same time, there are said to be a wide-variety of discussions under way with Iraqi civilian and military leaders on the prospects of surrender before American forces moving on Baghdad arrive in the Iraqi capital city."
Tonight, Michael Moore's left-wing rant, Bowling for Columbine, is up for an Academy Award for best "documentary feature." In a piece for OpinionJournal.com, John Fund documented how the film, "a merry dissection of America's 'culture of fear' and love of guns, is filled with so many inaccuracies and distortions that it ought to be classed as a work of fiction."
Plus, last Tuesday Oprah played an excerpt from the portion of Moore's film which lists all the awful things the U.S. has supposedly inflicted on the world. Items included, "1981: Reagan administration trains and funds 'contras.' 30,000 Nicaraguans die," "1989: CIA agent Manuel Noriega (also serving as President of Panama) disobeys orders from Washington. U.S. invades Panama and removes Noriega. 6,000 Panamanian civilian casualties," "1991 to present: American planes bomb Iraq on a weekly basis. U.N. estimates 500,000 Iraqi children die from bombing and sanctions" and "2000-01: U.S. gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in 'aid.' Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to murder 3,000 people."
Oprah declared that the presentation "resonated with a lot of people, me included."
An excerpt from the March 21 edition of "John Fund's Political Diary" on OpinionJournal.com:
Unmoored From Reality
With Hollywood in a fever pitch against the war in Iraq, Michael Moore is likely to win the Oscar for Best Documentary at Sunday's Academy Awards. "Bowling for Columbine," Mr. Moore's work of anti-American propaganda, has grossed over $15 million, an amazing sum for a film billed as a documentary. But the film, a merry dissection of America's "culture of fear" and love of guns, is filled with so many inaccuracies and distortions that it ought to be classed as a work of fiction....
Mr. Moore plays into all of the worst stereotypes and distortions about America. "Bowling for Columbine" attempts to explain interventions by the U.S. military as rooted in an inherently violent domestic culture. "I agree with the National Rifle Association when they say, 'Guns don't kill people, people kill people,'" he told NBC's Today show. "Except I would alter that to say, 'Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people.' We're the only country that does this, and we do it on an personal level in our neighborhoods and within our families and our schools, and we do it on a global level. The American attitude is that we believe we have a right to just go in and bomb another country. This is where Bush is going right now, right?"
To make this strained connection, Mr. Moore tries to make us believe that the two mentally disturbed high school students who massacred their fellow students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., grew up in a community that has a sinister connection to the military-industrial complex. A Lockheed Martin factory in Littleton manufactures "weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Moore claims. The factory actually makes rockets that carry TV satellites into space. And the very title of Mr. Moore's film is based on a deception. It refers to the bowling class that the Columbine killers supposedly took the morning they committed their murders. The only problem is that they actually cut the class.
Forbes reports that an early scene in "Bowling" in which Mr. Moore tries to demonstrate how easy it is to obtain guns in America was staged. He goes to a small bank in Traverse City, Mich., that offers various inducements to open an account and claims "I put $1,000 in a long-term account, they did the background check, and, within an hour, I walked out with my new Weatherby," a rifle.
But Jan Jacobson, the bank employee who worked with Mr. Moore on his account, says that only happened because Mr. Moore's film company had worked for a month to stage the scene. "What happened at the bank was a prearranged thing," she says. The gun was brought from a gun dealer in another city, where it would normally have to be picked up. "Typically, you're looking at a week to 10 days waiting period," she says....
Mr. Moore makes the preposterous claim that a Michigan program by which welfare recipients were required to work was responsible for an incident in which a six-year-old Flint boy shot a girl to death at school. Mr. Moore doesn't mention that the boy's mother had sent him to live in a crack house where her brother and a friend kept both drugs and guns -- a frequently lethal combination....
Mr. Moore repeats the canard that the United States gave the Taliban $245 million in aid in 2000 and 2001, somehow implying we were in cahoots with them. But that money actually went to U.N.-affiliated humanitarian organizations that were completely independent of the Taliban.
David Hardy, a former Interior Department lawyer who delights in debunking government officials and pompous celebrities, has uncovered even more evidence of Mr. Moore's distortions. The film depicts NRA president Charlton Heston giving a speech near Columbine; he actually gave it a year later and 900 miles away....
Ben Fritz of Spinsanity.org also notes that Mr. Moore has "apparently altered footage of an ad run by the Bush/Quayle campaign in 1988" to buttress his claim that racial symbolism is frequently misused in American politics. His leading example is the case of Willie Horton, a murderer who became a major issue in the 1988 presidential campaign. Mr. Moore shows the Bush ad that generically attacked a prison furlough program in Michael Dukakis's Massachusetts. Superimposed over the footage of prisoners entering and exiting a prison are the words "Willie Horton released. Then kills again." While the caption appears to be part of the original ad, Mr. Moore actually inserted it; the ad made no mention of Horton. (Another ad, sponsored by the National Security Political Action Committee, a conservative group independent of the Bush campaign, did mention Horton; it aired only briefly in a few cable markets.) The phony Moore caption also is inaccurate; Horton brutalized a Maryland couple and raped the wife, but didn't kill anybody while on furlough....
Mr. Moore would deserve an Academy Award if there were an Oscar for Best Cinematic Con Job. If "Bowling for Columbine" is a comedy, most of its fans don't know it. They actually believe they're watching something that is in rough accord with reality.
END of Excerpt
For Fund's piece in full: http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110003233
Last Tuesday, Oprah Winfrey turned over a segment of her nationally syndicated television show to Moore's work. In a taped piece, Moore asserted that the U.S. has "been responsible for a lot of tragedy around the world."
Winfrey endorsed Moore's America-hating premise as she set up "a scene in his latest movie documentary, Bowling for Columbine, that resonated with a lot of people, me included, because it shows a perspective on American foreign policy that few of us take time to consider. You may not agree with Michael's interpretation, but he raises some very compelling points."
The segment of the film featured, over audio of the song "What a Wonderful World," on screen subtitles on top of matching historic video or pictures of U.S. atrocities. MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down the on-screen words:
"1953: U.S. overthrows Prime Minister Mossadeq of Iran."
"U.S. installs Shah as dictator."
"1954: U.S. overthrows democratically-elected President Arbenz of Guatemala."
"200,000 civilians killed."
"1963: U.S. backs assassination of South Vietnamese President Diem."
"1963-1975: American military kills 4 million people in Southeast Asia."
"September 11, 1973: U.S. stages coup in Chile."
"Democratically-elected President Salvador Allende assassinated."
"Dictator Augusto Pinochet installed."
"5,000 Chileans murdered."
"1977: U.S. backs military rulers of El Salvador."
"70,000 Salvadorans and four American nuns killed."
"1980's: U.S. trains Osama bin Laden and fellow terrorists to kill Soviets."
"CIA gives them $3 billion."
"1981: Reagan administration trains and funds 'contras.' 30,000 Nicaraguans die."
"1982: U.S. provides billions in aid to Saddam Hussein for weapons to kill Iranians."
"1983: White House secretly gives Iran weapons to kill Iraqis."
"1989: CIA agent Manuel Noriega (also serving as President of Panama) disobeys orders from Washington."
"U.S. invades Panama and removes Noriega."
"6,000 Panamanian civilian casualties."
"1990: Iraq invades Kuwait with weapons from U.S."
"1991: U.S. enters Iraq."
"Bush reinstates dictator of Kuwait."
"1998: Clinton bombs 'weapons factory' in Sudan."
"Factory turns out to be making aspirin."
"1991 to present: American planes bomb Iraq on a weekly basis."
"U.N. estimates 500,000 Iraqi children die from bombing and sanctions."
"2000-01: U.S. gives Taliban-ruled Afghanistan $245 million in 'aid.'"
"Sept. 11, 2001: Osama bin Laden uses his expert CIA training to murder 3,000 people." [over video of plane flying into World Trade Center tower]
Moore followed up: "The sad thing about post-September 11th is that we haven't taken that introspection that we had right after it and done something positive with it. We've just slipped back into the same old way of doing things..."
Here was Moore's "introspection" just after September 11th, as posted on his Web site on September 14, 2001:
For the Oscar Awards page on Moore's movie, Bowling for Columbine: http://www.oscar.com/nominees/nom_32105.html
The Academy Awards will air tonight, Sunday, live on ABC in all times zones, at 8:30pm EST/5:30pm PST.
> If you want to avoid dispiriting coverage which emphasizes failure and dissent, my advice: Change the channel when Peter Jennings comes on. -- Brent Baker