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"Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," CBSNews.com Distorts Story --7/11/2003


1. "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," CBSNews.com Distorts Story
Exaggerating its own story. "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," declared the headline over a posting on the CBSNews.com Web site and John Roberts opened Thursday's CBS Evening News by announcing: "President Bush's false claim about Iraqi weapons. He made it despite a CIA warning the intelligence was bad." In fact, in the actual story CBS's David Martin reported something far short of the "Bush knew" summary or that the CIA said "the intelligence was bad."

2. After Two Days in Baghdad, NBC's Aspell Sees "Easy" Solution
NBC's instant expert. Appearing by phone from Baghdad on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning on Thursday, NBC News reporter Tom Aspell complained about the lack of electricity. Noting how hot it is, Aspell suggested the solution is easy: "It's really quite unbearable and so easy to fix if they'd just rolled in and brought a lot of power lines and really did make a concentrated effort." So how much time has Aspell spent in Baghdad to gain such expertise on how the solution is so easy? Imus: "How long have you been there?" Aspell: "Two days."

3. CNN Offers No Correction for Brown's Faked "Bush Knew" Citation
Update. No correction from CNN or anchor Aaron Brown. NewsNight on Thursday night was anchored by Daryn Kagen and during the hour she made no mention of Brown's Wednesday night highlighting of a one-source, already-discredited Web story about how a CIA consultant had claimed he was with President Bush when Bush was told in advance that the report of Iraq requesting uranium from Niger was false. David Ensor, the reporter Brown put in an awkward spot by asking him to comment on the allegation, also did not appear on Thursday's NewsNight.

4. CBS Finds More "Hunger in the Heartland" -- Once Again in Ohio
A CBS promo promised a look on Thursday night at "hunger in the heartland," but it seems that to CBS America's "heartland" encompasses just two communities in Ohio barely 50 miles apart. Just seven months after 60 Minutes II discovered hunger in Marietta, Ohio, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News delivered a peek at supposed hunger on Logan, Ohio. CBS's Cynthia Bowers reported: "Twice a month in this small town on the edge of Appalachia, groceries are given away. You could call it a 'line of the times,' because in a growing number of American communities making ends meet means waiting for a handout." Bowers conveyed an exaggerated claim as fact: "Each year an estimated 30 million Americans go hungry."

5. Vieira Says Hillary Clinton Should Thank Walters for Book Sales
So much for any notion that the Barbara Walters interview with Hillary Clinton was a news-based interview. Meredith Vieira, a veteran of 60 Minutes, saw it as simply a publicity stunt and she credited Walters for Clinton's good book sales. On The View, Vieira proposed: "She should thank you Barbara because after you did the interview...with Hillary, first time she was she was speaking out about the book, talking about it, the next day 300,000 copies flew off the shelves of that book. So Barbara, she owes you a big thank you."

6. NY Times Reveals that Pluto is Suffering from Global
Warming

Global warming on Pluto? How can it be given they don't yet have any SUVs burning fossil fuel or coal-fired power plants? Yet Thursday's New York Times featured a story headlined: "Pluto Defies Expectations and Physics, Warming Up."


"Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," CBSNews.com
Distorts Story

CBS's John Roberts Exaggerating its own story. "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," declared the headline over a posting on the CBSNews.com Web site and John Roberts opened Thursday's CBS Evening News by announcing: "President Bush's false claim about Iraqi weapons. He made it despite a CIA warning the intelligence was bad." In fact, in the actual story CBS's David Martin reported something far short of the "Bush knew" claim or that the CIA said "the intelligence was bad."

Martin reported a more cautious assessment: "CIA officials warned members of the President's national security staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa," and when the White House argued the British were reporting the request to Niger, "the CIA officials dropped their objections."


Martin delivered his "exclusive" on the July 10 CBS Evening News: "Senior administration officials tell CBS News the President's false claim that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa was included in his State of the Union address despite objections raised by the CIA. Before the speech was delivered, the portions dealing with Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were checked with the CIA for accuracy. CIA officials warned members of the President's national security staff the intelligence was not good enough to make the flat statement Iraq tried to buy uranium from Africa. The White House officials responded that a paper issued by the British government contained the unequivocal assertion: 'Iraq has...sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.' As long as the statement was attributed to British Intelligence, the White House officials argued, it would be factually accurate. The CIA officials dropped their objections and that's how it was delivered."
Bush: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Martin: "The statement was technically correct, since it accurately reflected the British paper. But the bottom line is the White House knowingly included in a presidential address information its own CIA had warned might not be true."

For the CBSNews.com's version with the story carrying the exaggerated headline, "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False," check: www.cbsnews.com

[Web Update: CBS News.com on Friday changed the headline over their July 10 story from "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was False" to: "Bush Knew Iraq Info Was Dubious."]

After Two Days in Baghdad, NBC's Aspell
Sees "Easy" Solution

NBC's instant expert. Appearing by phone from Baghdad on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning on Thursday, NBC News reporter Tom Aspell complained about the lack of electricity and suggested U.S. officials aren't being forthcoming about why there isn't guaranteed electricity as he asserted that "we're being led to believe that the blame is entirely at the feet of saboteurs." Noting how hot it is, Aspell suggested the solution is easy: "It's really quite unbearable and so easy to fix if they'd just rolled in and brought a lot of power lines and really did make a concentrated effort, I'm sure things would calm down a lot sooner."

So how much time has Aspell spent in Baghdad to gain such expertise on how the solution is so easy? Imus: "How long have you been there?" Aspell: "Two days."

MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught this exchange on the July 10 Imus in the Morning:
Don Imus: "Is the water and power on there all the time, or what's the deal with that?"
Aspell: "Depends on the areas of Baghdad. You know, I'm not so sure about the country areas. I think the administration or the governing coalition body here would like us to believe that Iraqis are getting up to 10 hours a day in power supplies, but I think that's really optimistic -- I'd say it's closer to one or two hours for every area of Baghdad. The problem is that there's no rolling system of blackouts. You can't be sure that your area's going to have it one night and the next it'll pass you by and come back the next night, there's no organized system, and we're being led to believe that the blame is entirely at the feet of saboteurs who either have blown up small transmission points or indeed thieves who have just taken away power lines to melt them down for the copper. So again, they keep throwing it back as a security problem that will soon be resolved....You know, it's more than 110 degrees here every day now in Baghdad. You see these people cooking a meal outside in the hot sun over an open fire -- it's really quite unbearable and so easy to fix if they'd just rolled in and brought a lot of power lines and really did make a concentrated effort, I'm sure things would calm down a lot sooner."
Imus: "How long have you been there?"
Aspell: "Two days, but it feels like about two years. I haven't been in Baghdad since 1998, so it's a surprise to me. I've been touring around. Every time I go a different block in town, you see the extent of the damage. A lot of stuff still hasn't been cleaned up since the war, but the thing that struck me, I think, is that the Iraqis have been remarkably patient and it could have been a lot worse. We were led to believe that the reconstruction effort would begin almost immediately. There's no evidence of it at all and I think the Iraqis have, the one thing that strikes you is that that they are rather patient.
"Now, I wasn't here for the looting and the lawlessness that followed the war -- I can well imagine just seeing the damage that's still around here of what went on -- but all things considered, I think they're remarkably calm and patient right now."

CNN Offers No Correction for Brown's
Faked "Bush Knew" Citation

Update. No correction from CNN or anchor Aaron Brown. NewsNight on Thursday night was anchored by Daryn Kagen, who ended the show by saying she'd be anchoring again on Friday night, and during the hour she made no mention of Brown's Wednesday night highlighting of a one-source, already-discredited Web story about how a CIA consultant had claimed he was with President Bush when Bush was told in advance that the report of Iraq requesting uranium from Niger was false.

David Ensor, the reporter Brown put in an awkward spot by asking him to comment on the allegation, also did not appear on Thursday's NewsNight.

The July 10 CyberAlert revealed: CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown led Wednesday night with attacks on the administration's credibility, but Brown stretched his own credibility by picking up on a rumor, "a story that's been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus." Brown's raising of such an uncorroborated story befuddled CNN reporter David Ensor, who speaking slowly as he fumbled for words, told Brown: "I have no way to confirm that story and it is somewhat suspect, I would say..."

As recounted in the July 10 CyberAlert Extra, it turns out that Brown's source was a CapitolHillBlue.com story, but the site had retracted its one-source story at about 6pm EDT, four hours before Brown went on the air. CapitolHillBlue.com Publisher Doug Thompson discovered that his source, one "Terrance Wilkinson," who identified himself as a consultant to the CIA and FBI, was a fraud.

For the complete rundown of the July 9 Brown/Ensor exchange, see the July 10 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

For an excerpt from Thompson's retraction of his site's story, see the July 10 CyberAlert Extra: www.mediaresearch.org

Both feature a RealPlayer clip of the Brown/Ensor exchange.

CNN's Web page for NewsNight does not feature any correction of clarification: www.cnn.com

And no note has been added to the unaltered transcript of the July 9 show: www.cnn.com

I asked in the CyberAlert Extra whether Brown would "have the same integrity" as CapitolHillBlue.com's Thompson and "inform his viewers of how he misled them?"

So far, no, and CNN isn't doing their integrity, nor claims they are the "most trusted" network, any favor by ignoring how an unsubstantiated, false rumor got play on their prime time news show. But assuming Brown returns on Monday, there's still a chance he'll step up to the plate then. But I'm not counting on it. Either way, I'll let you know.

CBS Finds More "Hunger in the Heartland"
-- Once Again in Ohio

A CBS promo on Wednesday night promised a look on Thursday night at "hunger in the heartland," but it seems that to CBS America's "heartland" encompasses just two communities in Ohio barely 50 miles apart. Just seven months after 60 Minutes II discovered hunger in Marietta, Ohio, on Thursday night the CBS Evening News delivered a peek at supposed hunger on Logan, Ohio, another community in the Buckeye state's southeastern region.

CBS's Cynthia Bowers reported: "Twice a month in this small town on the edge of Appalachia, groceries are given away. You could call it a 'line of the times,' because in a growing number of American communities making ends meet means waiting for a handout."

Bowers conveyed an exaggerated claim as fact: "Each year an estimated 30 million Americans go hungry." In fact, that's not true. As even the America's Second Harvest Web site notes, "in 2001, the USDA reported that the number of Americans who were food insecure, or hungry or at risk of hunger, was 33.6 million." Not that they "go hungry," but that, as I recall from memory in looking into this in the past, in answering a survey they say that sometime in the past month they were not sure about where to find their next meal or were concerned about not having enough money to buy enough food.

Bowers also portrayed a stark choice between picking of food and the alternative: "So the free food they get free means more money for kids clothing or maybe life saving medicine."

Bowers' one and only information source was a representative of America's Second Harvest, an advocacy group which pushes for greater federal spending on every federal aid program. The Second Harvest representative delivered this dramatic-sounding soundbite: "Last year's food bank donors are now this year's food bank clients."

There may well be a few people in America who go hungry some nights despite massive federal spending on food stamps and other aid programs, and outfits like Second Harvest surely do help out some people in need and should be commended for those effort, but Bowers exaggerated the situation and mis-portrayed those who take advantage of a food giveaway program as necessarily people who would otherwise lack for food. Bowers' 'long line,' after all, was made up of people in motor vehicles, including a few SUVs.


Back on the January 8 60 Minutes II, over video of a long line of people in Marietta, Ohio, Scott Pelley ominously intoned: "The lines we found looked like they'd been taken from the pages of the Great Depression. It's not just the unemployed, we found plenty of people working full time but still not able to earn enough to keep hunger out the house. If you think you have a good idea of who's hungry in America today, come join the line. You'd never guess who you'd meet there."

Pelley contended, in relaying the view of a group which wants more government spending: "Nationwide, the problem is not just in rural scenes like this. The U.S. Conference of Mayors says the need for emergency food aid in major cities jumped 19 percent last year alone." Pelley's emotions over facts style of reporting included this line: "Pre schoolers come here with their parents and play in boxes as empty as the day's want ads."

Pelley asked, "When you look at this line, what do you see?" And answered the question himself: "You know what I see? Some pretty average looking Americans."

For a full rundown of Pelley's skewed story: www.mediaresearch.org

Now, a full rundown of the July 10 CBS Evening News story about Logan, about 50 miles west of Marietta.

Anchor John Roberts warned: "Americans are not just lining up for unemployment insurance in this struggling economy. Another line is getting longer too, Cynthia Bowers reports in our special Eye on America series, Making Ends Meet."

Bowers began, over video of outdoor displays of produce and a woman yelling about running out of squash: "It's only mid morning in Logan, Ohio, but some of the food is already running low. Twice a month in this small town on the edge of Appalachia, groceries are given away. You could call it a 'line of the times,' because in a growing number of American communities making ends meet means waiting for a handout."
After video of a long line of vehicles, including a few SUVs, Bowers to a woman in a car: "What's your food situation like at home right now?"
Ginger Walls, food recipient: "Oh, well, my cupboards aren't real full, and my kids don't have a lot to choose from."
Bowers: "The line stretches down the road and out of sight and most, like Ginger Walls, never dreamed they'd be here. Many are embarrassed, and didn't want to talk to us, but they're far from alone. Each year an estimated 30 million Americans go hungry. Some places have it worse than others, like Logan."
Rob Calender, food recipient: "We're not really on the bottom, but we're at a point where we still need the help."
Bowers: "For Virginia Luzier, this trunk full groceries means she won't go hungry."
Virginia Luzier, food recipient: "I just live on Social Security and that ain't very good living I'll tell ya."
Bowers: "When it started two short years ago, volunteers fed 17 families. Today it was well over 500. Goodyear behind me is just one of at least a half dozen plants around here that have relocated or closed over the last few years, taking with them thousands of jobs: jobs that have been counted on for generations, jobs that won't be coming back. Not everyone is unemployed, but many live on minimum wage, so the free food they get free means more money for kids clothing or maybe life saving medicine."
Mary Travis, food recipient: "I don't have enough money to buy three of my prescriptions. I'm on nine, so you have to do without."
Bowers: "At the local office of America's Second Harvest, a hunger relief organization that gave away 81 million pounds of food last year in Ohio alone, donations are drying up at a terrible time."
Lisa Hamler-Podalski, Ohio Second Harvest food bank: "We've seen an 18.3 percent increase in demand for services just in the first three months of this year. We're seeing a new phenomena. Last year's food bank donors are now this year's food bank clients."
Bowers: "Back on the line, Virginia Walls wonders about priorities."
Walls: "I find it very hard to see Americans providing for all the other countries, but yet we're suffering so and it's just not right."
Bowers concluded: "Right or wrong, she's still waiting along with so many others."

America's Second Harvest was so excited about the story that they touted it on their home page:
"TUNE IN TONIGHT! The CBS Evening News will look at the impact of the slow economy on the people we serve. CBS spoke with our affiliate food banks in Denver, Houston, Northern Illinois and Raleigh, and sent a reporter back to southeast Ohio, which 60 Minutes II profiled in January."

America's Second Harvest's Web site: www.secondharvest.org

For a bio of Bowers and a photo of her: www.cbsnews.com

Vieira Says Hillary Clinton Should Thank
Walters for Book Sales

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has Barbara Walters to thank for selling a million books, former CBS News correspondent Meredith Vieira suggested on Thursday's The View. So much for any notion that the Walters interview with Hillary Clinton was a news-based interview. Vieira, a veteran of 60 Minutes, saw it as simply a publicity stunt.

On the July 10 The View, the ABC daytime show, Vieira told Walters: "She should thank you Barbara because after you did the interview, after you did that interview with ABC News with Hillary, first time she was she was speaking out about the book, talking about it, the next day 300,000 copies flew off the shelves of that book. So Barbara, she owes you a big thank you."

Indeed she does.

As the June 9 CyberAlert reported: In Sunday's Barbara Walters special promoting Hillary Clinton's new book, Walters did little more than deliver an hour-long infomercial for the book as she cued up items in the tome for Hillary to comment on, book-ended with plugs for a presidential bid. For Walters, bad things just seemed to happen to an innocent Hillary Clinton whom Walters repeatedly saw a victim: "You made investments in the commodities markets, you dealt in real estate -- Whitewater, you worked for the Rose law firm, all of which at the time you thought were very innocent. All these things came back to haunt you." Walters concluded the hour by fancifully speculating on the possibility of a President Hillary Clinton and First Husband Bill Clinton. See: www.mediaresearch.org

Getting back to Vieira, of course 300,000 books hardly "flew off the shelves" in one day since that was simply how many books the publisher had shipped to bookstores in advance.

And despite CNN's Crossfire turning Tucker Carlson's promise to "eat his shoe" if Hillary sold a million books into publicity vehicle, a promise which led to the stunt of having Hillary present Carlson, on Crossfire, with a shoe-shaped cake -- and to Carlson's appearance on The View which prompted the discussion in which Vieira made her comment -- we don't know if she's really sold a million books. All we know is that the book's publisher, Simon & Schuster, says so and they have a self-interest in hyping their product. They may well get to a million, but Drudge has shown Neilsen "Bookscan" numbers which put sales at about 700,000 so far.

NY Times Reveals that Pluto is Suffering
from Global Warming

Global warming on Pluto? How can it be given they don't yet have any SUVs burning fossil fuel or coal-fired power plants? Yet Thursday's New York Times featured a story headlined: "Pluto Defies Expectations and Physics, Warming Up."

Keith Appell of Creative Response Concepts alerted CyberAlert to the story buried inside the July 10 paper, a story which might suggest the sun and natural atmospheric cycles have more to do with global warming than human industrial activity.

But Times reporter Kenneth Chang didn't get into that. An excerpt from the top of the story:

The planet Pluto appears to have warmed as it has moved away from the Sun, contrary to most expectations and seemingly in defiance of basic physics, scientists are reporting today.

In the process, some of Pluto's nitrogen ice has evaporated off its surface into the atmosphere.

The shifting climate raises chances that Pluto, the solar system's outermost planet and the only one not yet observed close up by a spacecraft, will still have an atmosphere when a NASA probe is to fly by, in 2015 or 2016.

Some experts had been concerned that as Pluto receded along its elliptical orbit, most of its air would turn to frost before then, leaving astronomers unable to study weather on Pluto until it next warmed up centuries from now....

Two groups of scientists who observed last year's eclipses, one led by Dr. Sicardy, the other by Dr. James L. Elliot of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, came to the same conclusion: the increase in nitrogen gas has doubled Pluto's atmospheric pressure since 1988. The two groups describe their findings in today's issue of the journal Nature.

"This is the biggest change in pressure ever detected in a planetary atmosphere," said Dr. S. Alan Stern, director of space studies at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and principal investigator for NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto.

The Earth's atmosphere has not experienced so drastic a change in atmospheric pressure in the last four billion years, and even Mars, known for its rapidly changing atmosphere, experiences seasonal swings of only 30 percent, Dr. Stern said.

For the pressure to double on Pluto, the temperature of nitrogen ice on the surface, about minus 390 degrees Fahrenheit, would have had to rise about two degrees, Dr. Elliot said.

Most scientists had expected Pluto to cool because less sunlight is reaching it now. Pluto passed its point closest to the Sun, 2.7 billion miles, in 1989....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: www.nytimes.com

If even Pluto's warming, no where is safe for SUVs.

-- Brent Baker