Appearance Alert!
Brent Bozell talks about MRC's "Worst of the Worst 2014" on FNC's Hannity, 10:30pm ET/PT

ABC's Barbara Walters Comes Out Against Executing Saddam Hussein --12/17/2003


1. ABC's Barbara Walters Comes Out Against Executing Saddam Hussein
ABC's Barbara Walters has come out against executing Saddam Hussein, arguing on the ABC daytime show The View on Tuesday that "we condemn the suicide bombers, we condemn those who have no regard for life, and Lord knows this man deserves, you know, the greatest punishment, but I just sort of feel this would be a chance for us to show the regard for life that this man didn't have." Another host, former ABC and CBS reporter Meredith Vieira, agreed with Walters.

2. CBS: "Hussein Gave Iraqis Dignity and Pride," But Also "Tyranny"
All the networks on Tuesday night ran stories on how some pro-Saddam Iraqis rioted in protest of his capture, with CBS's Kimberly Dozier reporting that "even many who suffered under Saddam have mixed feelings. His fall has brought American occupation and an uncertain future." She contended that "Saddam Hussein also gave Iraqis dignity and pride. He became a symbol of defiance across the Arab world." CBS, however, followed up with a piece from Thalia Assuras about a man thrilled with Hussein's capture who had, on the day U.S. forces took control of Baghdad, shouted "this is freedom!" as "he beat a poster of Saddam Hussein with the sole of his sandal." Assuras noted that if he can come to the U.S., "he'll bring along his sandal, a symbol of a man and a people liberated from the tyranny of Saddam."

3. ABC Still Won't Report Hike in Bush Approval Level, But CBS Does
ABC's World News Tonight still hasn't reported how, in the wake of the capture of Saddam Hussein, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that President Bush's approval level overall rose four points with a ten point jump in approval for how he's handling the situation in Iraq, but on Tuesday night Dan Rather found a few seconds to relay how a new CBS News/New York Times poll discovered a six point hike in Bush's approval level.

4. Bernard Goldberg Highlights Jennings' "Oppressive Pessimism"
You read it here first. A Peter Jennings quote cited in Monday's CyberAlert is getting around, with Brit Hume Monday night on FNC and Bernard Goldberg, during a Tuesday night appearance on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, highlighting how on Sunday night, less than 12 hours after the announcement that Saddam Hussein had been captured, Jennings asserted in a prime time special: "There's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment. Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power. Is that a factor today?"

5. "Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam Hussein's Papers"
Letterman's "Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam Hussein's Papers."


ABC's Barbara Walters Comes Out Against
Executing Saddam Hussein

ABC's Barbara Walters has come out against executing Saddam Hussein, arguing on the ABC daytime show The View on Tuesday that "we condemn the suicide bombers, we condemn those who have no regard for life, and Lord knows this man deserves, you know, the greatest punishment, but I just sort of feel this would be a chance for us to show the regard for life that this man didn't have." Another host, former ABC and CBS reporter Meredith Vieira, agreed with Walters.

The MRC's Jessica Anderson transcribed the discussion which took place during the "Hot Topics" segment on the December 16 edition of the show.

Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the new 20-something quad-host of the show: "I really believe that, you know, Saddam should be tried in a close, close room with those that he affected all of these years, and if their system, with the Baghdad-based trial that's going to occur, if that will enable him to be executed for what he's done, I think that's justice, I think justice is done. There will be other nations represented there on that panel and if that's what they decide, he should be executed."
Joy Behar: "If you keep him alive, you find out stuff. You find out why did he name those kids Uday and Qusay, for example. No, seriously, you find things out. You know, Barbara, what was funny about those holes? He went to different ones -- I was reading this yesterday -- in a taxi. Hello? A taxi!"
Barbara Walters: "Well, that's one of the ways they found him. Can I weigh in on that? Because I don't usually, when I'm on other programs, but first of all, the European Union and Great Britain does not allow for the death penalty, if they are-"
Hasselbeck: "They don't."
Meredith Vieira: "Neither does Iraq right now."
Hasselbeck: "Only because they're being occupied."
Vieira: "Right."
Walters: "But I think we condemn the suicide bombers, we condemn those who have no regard for life, and Lord knows this man deserves, you know, the greatest punishment, but I just sort of feel this would be a chance for us to show the regard for life that this man didn't have."
Vieira: "But we don't have it in this country. How can you say that? We have the death penalty here."
Star Jones: "Why is it our business? It's so interesting because this is a man who did everything in his power to say that he wanted Iraq to do its thing, to be independent, and if the Iraqis want to execute him, shouldn't he be executed?"
Behar: "But she's asking our opinion, what do we think."
Hasselbeck: "And I firmly believe that our role in this will determine our relationship with all of the countries in the Middle East and Europe from here on out, so we need to, I think that the U.S. needs to take a very strong stance."
Walters: "That's why I'm saying if we talk about the disregard for life that the suicide bombers and others have, then it should be something within our consideration."
Jones: "I'm not an advocate for running out and stabbing people in the heart, but I don't think I'll lose one night's sleep if they execute Saddam Hussein, right?"
Behar, while audience applauds and cheers: "Well, no one's gonna care!"
Vieira, as audience continues to applaud and cheer: "I do, I don't believe in it, I don't believe in it."

ABC's page for The View, with pictures and bios of all the hosts: abc.go.com

CBS: "Hussein Gave Iraqis Dignity and
Pride," But Also "Tyranny"

All the networks on Tuesday night ran stories on how some pro-Saddam Iraqis rioted in protest of his capture, with CBS's Kimberly Dozier reporting that "even many who suffered under Saddam have mixed feelings. His fall has brought American occupation and an uncertain future. And also, a measure of shame. Few can fathom that the man who terrified them for so long now seems so small." She contended that "Saddam Hussein also gave Iraqis dignity and pride. He became a symbol of defiance across the Arab world."

The CBS Evening News, however, followed up with a piece from Thalia Assuras about a man thrilled with Hussein's capture who had, on the day U.S. forces took control of Baghdad, shouted "this is freedom!" as "he beat a poster of Saddam Hussein with the sole of his sandal." Assuras noted that some Iraqi-Americans are hoping to bring him to the U.S. and "if he comes, he'll bring along his sandal, a symbol of a man and a people liberated from the tyranny of Saddam."

Dan Rather introduced the first of the back-to-back stories on the December 16 CBS Evening News, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Even though Saddam Hussein was found cowering in a hole in the ground with weapons, even though he gave up without a fight, the former dictator still has many supporters, especially among Iraq's Sunni Islamic Arabs. And today, throughout Saddam's home region, CBS's Kimberly Dozier reports there were angry, often violent, protests."

Dozier began: "The tyrant has fallen. But for some, he's a fallen hero. His followers cannot accept their leader is gone and their supremacy in Iraq truly ended. They vented their anger on U.S. troops and other symbols of the coalition. Overnight in Ramadi, the Americans opened fire on this crowd. Several protesters were killed. But the protests have been confined to the Sunni triangle, towns like Fallujah, Bacuba and Tikrit, where allegiance to clan bound the people to Saddam and won them his favor. In the rest of the country, there is mostly a sigh of relief.
"But even many who suffered under Saddam have mixed feelings. His fall has brought American occupation and an uncertain future. And also, a measure of shame. Few can fathom that the man who terrified them for so long now seems so small. And none can quite grasp that he went without a fight. 'He should have killed himself and at least one American soldier,' this man says. Iraqis are much like abused children: scarred by the man who was both father figure and enforcer. His rules were simple. Obey, and he would provide jobs, food rations, electricity and security. Rebel, and punishment was merciless. [video of men being kicked]
"But Saddam Hussein also gave Iraqis dignity and pride. He became a symbol of defiance across the Arab world, never backing down from a fight. He spent half his time in power at war with neighboring countries, even taking on the United States not once, but twice. Those who loved him and those who hated him still can't separate the man from the country in their minds. For many, his humiliation is their own. Kimberly Dozier, CBS News, Baghdad."

Rather set up the second story, with a more inspiring look at an Iraqi with great hope for the future now that Saddam Hussein is definitely out of power: "Of course, many Iraqis in many parts of the country rejoiced at Saddam's capture. CBS's Thalia Assuras found one such Iraqi in Baghdad, a man with the courage to make his feelings clear in dramatic fashion months ago when the Iraqi capital fell."

Assuras explained: "Zhwad Gaddim has been seen all over the world, but not like this. Like this: On April 9th when coalition forces took Baghdad. Shouting, 'This is freedom!' he beat a poster of Saddam Hussein with the sole of his sandal. There is no greater insult in the Arab world. This is the first time Zhwad Gaddim has returned to the spot since that day. Why? Why did you do that? 'Because he destroyed us and destroyed our people, destroyed everything,' he says. 'When I hit Saddam's picture, it was as if I was hitting Saddam himself.' He claims he's been offered thousands of dollars for the sandal, which his wife keeps hidden for safekeeping. But he says it belongs to the Iraqi people and should perhaps be kept in a museum.
"Saddam loyalists threatened his family over this spontaneous act nine months ago, but he is optimistic now that Saddam is in U.S. custody. 'The time of terror is gone,' he says. 'The future will be good,' he says, 'Iraq will no longer have mass graves. There will be no torture.' Zhwad Gaddim is a street vendor. He's been earning only enough to keep food on the table and is forced to live with his wife and eight children in this squalid two-room hut by the side of a busy highway.
"But his delirious act of defiance has not been forgotten. A group of Iraqi-Americans has invited him to visit the United States. If he comes, he'll bring along his sandal, a symbol of a man and a people liberated from the tyranny of Saddam. Thalia Assuras, CBS News, Baghdad."

ABC Still Won't Report Hike in Bush Approval
Level, But CBS Does

ABC's World News Tonight still hasn't reported how, in the wake of the capture of Saddam Hussein, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that President Bush's approval level overall rose four points with a ten point jump in approval for how he's handling the situation in Iraq, but on Tuesday night Dan Rather found a few seconds to relay how a new CBS News/New York Times poll discovered a six point hike in Bush's approval level.

Rather reported, over matching graphics listing the numbers: "The capture of Saddam has also changed U.S. public opinion about Iraq and President Bush. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, 65 percent of Americans say U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going well -- 47 percent thought so before Saddam's capture. You may want to note, though, that only one in four Americans believes there will be fewer attacks on U.S. troops now. As for President Bush, his job approval rating has gone up six points since the capture of Saddam. It now stands at 58 percent in our poll."

For CBS's rundown of the poll results: www.cbsnews.com

As the December 16 CyberAlert noted, NBC showcased on Monday's NBC Nightly News its survey finding that after Hussein's capture Bush's approval rating jumped by six points while his margin over Howard Dean expanded from 12 to 21 points.

But though Monday's Washington Post featured the results of the ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted on Sunday afternoon and evening, Peter Jennings didn't utter a word about it on Monday night and he didn't catch up on Tuesday.

The only hint as to the good news for Bush in the ABC poll came in a small graphic on screen for a few seconds on Monday's Good Morning America as Claire Shipman tried to diminish the impact of catching Hussein. She highlighted how "ABC News has a new poll out today that shows most Americans don't believe Saddam's capture means the job is done there" as she warned that if "if the situation isn't stabilized," the capture of Hussein "is not going to seem decisive for this administration."

As she was saying that, GMA put up a picture of a bearded Hussein which filled three-fourths the screen with the left-hand fourth showing a graphic citing a single poll number from an "ABC News/Washington Post poll" on "President Bush's Approval Rating," listing it at 58 percent after Saddam's capture compared with 48 percent in mid-November. In fact, the numbers were for approval of how Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.

The December 16 CyberAlert also noted that "as of late Monday night, I could not find any story on the ABC News Web site" about the poll. At some point on Tuesday, the Web site corrected that with a piece by Gary Langer, "A Sober Response: After Saddam's Capture, Most Say Difficult Challenges Remain," which carries a December 15 date.

Langer, the in-house polling expert for ABC News, wasn't too impressed with the bump up for Bush, which may explain why the result never made it onto the air:
"Bush's approval rating on handling Iraq remains below its levels last spring and early summer. And his overall job approval rating didn't show a significant gain -- it's 57 percent in this poll, compared with 53 percent in an ABC/Post poll Dec. 7."

But Langer acknowledged: "Still, the number who 'strongly' approve of Bush's work, 37 percent, is now its highest since August, up seven points from its post-Sept. 11, 2001, low in late October."

For Langer's analysis: abcnews.go.com

For the December 16 CyberAlert item with a summary of NBC's poll results: www.mediaresearch.org

[Web Update, December 23: The following week, on Monday night December 22, with Peter Jennings on vacation, World News Tonight acknowledged a new ABC News/Washington Post survey which found a rise in Bush's approval rating.

Substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced on the December 22 World News Tonight: "A new ABC News/Washington Post poll today has some very positive news for President Bush. His overall approval rating is 59 percent, the highest it's been since the summer."

From the White House, Terry Moran reported: "Some good news for the President in our poll. For first time since April, our poll finds more Americans approve than disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy, by a margin of 51 to 44 percent." But, Moran added, Bush got a "poor grade" on the deficit with a 52 percent disapproval to 44 percent approval rating on that topic.

Vargas then noted how "63 percent of those polled said it doesn't matter if the U.S. ever finds weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That's good news for the President since the search there continues to come up empty." Moran proceeded to run through how 59 percent expressed the view the war in Iraq was worth fighting, up 7 percent from November, and 62 percent believe the war has contributed to U.S. long-term security. Moran wrapped up by pointing out that though Democratic presidential candidates are feeding off anger at Bush, only 12 percent in the poll said they are "angry" at Bush.

For the ABCNews.com summary of the poll conducted Dec. 18-21: abcnews.go.com

For the Tuesday Washington Post story: www.washingtonpost.com]

Bernard Goldberg Highlights Jennings'
"Oppressive Pessimism"

You read it here first. A Peter Jennings quote cited in Monday's CyberAlert is getting around, with Brit Hume Monday night on FNC and Bernard Goldberg, during a Tuesday night appearance on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, highlighting how on Sunday night, less than 12 hours after the announcement that Saddam Hussein had been captured, Jennings asserted in a prime time special: "There's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment. Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power. Is that a factor today?"

Jennings made his comment to reporter Martin Seemungal in Baghdad as Jennings suggested a reason for the muted celebrations observed by Seemungal.

For the December 15 CyberAlert item with the full exchange: www.mediaresearch.org

For Hume's pick up of the Jennings quote, along with a matching theme conveyed in a Reuters story: www.mediaresearch.org

Tuesday night, December 16, on MSNBC's Scarborough Country host Joe Scarborough asked former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg: "You know, Bernie, in your book you wrote a chapter about the pessimism that's rampant in the mainstream press. How's the coverage been so far of the Saddam arrests? Have we seen some of that pessimism?"
Goldberg replied, as transcribed by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Yeah, you know, I write about what I call this 'oppressive pessimism.' Look, we don't want our reporters to be cheerleaders. I don't think anybody wants Peter Jennings, for instance, to put on a short skirt and start waving pom poms around, you know. Maybe somebody does, but basically we don't want that. But I don't think we need them to be just oppressively pessimistic, either. And Peter said something the other day that I find just amazing....
"He says, Peter says, 'People have suggested to us today,' meaning Iraqi people, 'that there's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment.' Now, Saddam Hussein has just been captured, and he's saying that people are saying there's not too much to be happy about. All right, 'Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us, life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power.'"

Goldberg pointed out how Hitler offered stability in Germany, but that was nothing to admire.

Goldberg's new book on the news media is titled, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite. In it, you'll find a lot of familiar evidence culled from the pages of CyberAlerts and Goldberg effuses about the Media Research Center: "With apologies to Harry Truman: The MRC folks don't give the media hell; they just tell the truth and the media think it's hell."

For the Warner Books page on the book: www.twbookmark.com

For Amazon's page: www.amazon.com

For the Barnes & Noble page for it: search.barnesandnoble.com

"Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam
Hussein's Papers"

From the December 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam Hussein's Papers." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com

10. "Saddam" is Kurdish for "Duane"

9. Had just acquired a New York City cabdriver's license

8. Surprisingly, dots his "I"s with hearts

7. You won't find a bigger Clay Aiken fan

6. Four of clubs? Gay

5. His "divine plan for world domination" was written on back of Blimpie's coupon

4. Continued to name himself "Iraqi of the Month" right through November

3. Was working on a book of "You Might Be a Dictator If..." jokes

2. Funneled money to ABC to throw Trista and Ryan a fabulous wedding

1. He wrote letters to "Penthouse" under name "Sexy in Spider Hole"

# Now up on the MRC home page: "The Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Much more on this in the next CyberAlert, but to see it now: www.mediaresearch.org

# In this gift-giving season, please consider a year-end, tax deductible gift to the MRC. It is only through the support of conservatives concerned about liberal media bias that we are able to document the bias, provide the ammunition to conservative opinion leaders to fight back and, of course, publish CyberAlert.

So, please be our Santa and follow the instructions below to make a donation via our safe and secure PayPal page.

-- Brent Baker