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CNN's Brown Admits Focus on Iraqi Attacks Skewing Public's View --7/2/2003


1. CNN's Brown Admits Focus on Iraqi Attacks Skewing Public's View
By focusing so much on day by day problems in Iraq, former Army officer Ralph Peters argued in a New York Post op-ed on Tuesday, the media are obscuring America's overall success. Tuesday night's network newscasts illustrated Peters' point as all led with the latest incidents of violence and contrasted them with the Bush administration's "insistence" that conditions are improving in Iraq. CNN's Aaron Brown conceded that "it is undoubtedly true that the reporting of these attacks are changing the country's view of the war."

2. The CBS Evening News Hit a Record Ratings Low Last Week
The CBS Evening News hit a record ratings low last week, attracting just 6.5 million viewers, more than two million fewer than tuned it either ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News, the AP's David Bauder reported Tuesday.

3. ABC Hires CNN Reporter Who Gushed Over Castro's "Safety Net"
ABC News's new White House correspondent: Kate Snow, who last year fawned over the wonders Fidel Castro has generously provided the Cuban people, especially in education and health care, and in May of this year delivered an entire story, about how low-income families were denied an increase in the child credit, without bothering to mention how those families already live income tax-free.

4. With a Book to Sell, Ex-CNN Chief Isaacson Finds Virtue in FNC
When he was running CNN until early this year Walter Isaacson, the former Chairman of the CNN News Group, might not have thought much of FNC's journalism, but now that he's got a book to sell he's pleased to go on FNC to plug it. And he's decided that FNC is part of "the great thing about the American system" in which "the more choices people have, the more vibrancy there is in the press, the better off we all are." Isaacson added: "I think it was a good thing for CNN to have much more competition, and you know it certainly helped enliven CNN."

5. Garrett and Russert Note Biggest Tax Cuts Go to Middle Class
Smaller tax cut for the wealthiest. FNC's Major Garrett on Tuesday and NBC's Tim Russert just over a week ago offered rare, if not the first of this tax cut season, recitations of how the middle class will get far bigger tax cuts than the wealthiest.

6. NBC to Celebrate July 4th with Look at the "New Homeless"
Happy birthday America! You suck. That seems to be the attitude of NBC News. Check out this promo, run at the end of Wednesday's Today this morning, for the July 4th Dateline: "Friday -- They had good jobs, making good money, but now they've lost almost everything. An American nightmare: The new homeless. All new Dateline Friday."


CNN's Brown Admits Focus on Iraqi Attacks
Skewing Public's View

By focusing so much on day by day problems in Iraq, former Army officer Ralph Peters argued in a New York Post op-ed on Tuesday, the media are obscuring America's overall success. Tuesday night's network newscasts illustrated Peters' point as all led with the latest incidents of violence and contrasted them with the Bush administration's "insistence" that conditions are improving in Iraq.

"It was another violent day on the streets of Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqis alike," warned CBS Evening News anchor John Roberts. "It has been another dangerous and bloody day for American forces in Iraq," echoed NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.

CNN's Aaron Brown CNN's Aaron Brown conceded that "it is undoubtedly true that the reporting of these attacks are changing the country's view of the war."

In his July 1 op-ed Peters, who has appeared on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, proposed:
"A relatively small number of foreseeable attacks...have been blown wildly out of proportion.
"Our troops are doing remarkably well -- but the headlines make it sound like a disaster. Last weekend, almost as many Americans died in a residential balcony collapse in Chicago as have been killed by hostile fire in 'postwar' Iraq.
"As a former soldier, I don't discount any American casualties as unimportant. But the fact is that, despite real errors and miscues, reconstruction efforts in Iraq are going surprisingly well..."

Matching Peters' take on the media's highlighting of the latest violence, ABC's Peter Jennings announced on Tuesday night: "On World News Tonight, the Bush administration says conditions in Iraq are improving. But today a mosque was damaged and American soldiers wounded."

CBS anchor John Roberts contrasted the violence with Bush administration claims: "It was another violent day on the streets of Iraq for U.S. troops and Iraqis alike. Six Americans were wounded in two ambush attacks, four Iraqi civilians were shot and killed in incidents at U.S. checkpoints and at least ten died in a disputed explosion at a mosque. Despite all that, the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq insisted today that conditions there are steadily improving. CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer has more on the struggle to win the peace in Iraq, beginning with an ambush in the heart of Baghdad."

Over on the July 1 NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw similarly opened his broadcast: "Good evening. It has been another dangerous and bloody day for American forces in Iraq. A bomb attack on a humvee in the heart of Baghdad. Still, administration officials are insisting they're gaining ground and current polls show the American people continue to support the war. Thousands of international peace-keeping forces are due to begin arriving this month, but in the meantime small hit and run attacks are a daily and deadly menace."

CNN's Brown had the same news judgment, but realized it is influencing the public's perception. Brown opened NewsNight:
"Maybe the day is coming when we no longer look at the attacks on American soldiers in Iraq as the lead story. We aren't there yet and it is undoubtedly true that the reporting of these attacks are changing the country's view of the war.
"Two months ago, 86 percent of those polled said the war was going well. The poll yesterday showed the number down to 56 percent. The reality, the danger of nation building has become very clear for many Americans and the president today in language more blunt than soaring told the country we need to get used to it. It's where we begin the whip tonight, the latest violence in Iraq..."

Bill Plante had picked up on the same poll, noting on the CBS Evening News: "Faced with mounting post-war casualties and poll numbers showing a big drop in public confidence that things are going well in Iraq, President Bush defended the continued U.S. troop presence and vowed there would be no return to tyranny in Iraq."

That poll is a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup survey which Richard Benedetto summarized in the July 2 USA Today:
"Most Americans say things are going well for the United States in Iraq. But although 56 percent feel that way in the latest survey, 70 percent were satisfied a month ago and 86 percent on May 7, a week after President Bush declared combat largely over.
"The poll finds most people have confidence in the President's leadership and character, but there is erosion on those questions, too.
"Bush is rated as being 'honest and trustworthy' by 65 percent of respondents, and 57 percent say he 'cares about the needs of people like you.' Both are down 8 percentage points from a poll conducted in April."

For more: www.usatoday.com

An excerpt from the op-ed in the July 1 New York Post by Ralph Peter, identified as "a retired Army officer and the author, most recently, of Beyond Terror: Strategy in a Changing World":

....[T]he fierce competition that makes our media so effective can also be its worst enemy. The fight for the hottest headline can lead to peculiar forms of group-think and pack journalism at its worst.

The Laci Peterson story is a good example. One murder, among many, catches on -- and suddenly it's a more important story than terrorism, famine, coups or genocide. Pack journalism leads to a loss of perspective that badly distorts our national priorities.

Well, journalistically speaking, poor Laci Peterson's in Baghdad now. A relatively small number of foreseeable attacks -- predicted by this column months ago -- have been blown wildly out of proportion.

Our troops are doing remarkably well -- but the headlines make it sound like a disaster. Last weekend, almost as many Americans died in a residential balcony collapse in Chicago as have been killed by hostile fire in "postwar" Iraq.

As a former soldier, I don't discount any American casualties as unimportant. But the fact is that, despite real errors and miscues, reconstruction efforts in Iraq are going surprisingly well.

How bad is it in Iraq? It's terrible -- if you're a former Saddam loyalist, ex-secret policeman or Ba'ath Party muckety-muck on the wrong end of Operation Sidewinder. The party's over for Baghdad's bully-boys, and they don't much like it.

As one pal of mine serving in Iraq puts it, the attacks on U.S. forces are foolish acts of desperation. The last hardcore loyalists -- those whose futures and fortunes were tied to Saddam -- have recognized how unexpectedly smoothly the U.S. occupation has been going (Saddam's guys don't read the Western press, so they don't realize we're doomed to failure). And they're trying everything they can to disrupt things.

We shouldn't be surprised that the last embittered thugs are engaging in occasional acts of terrorism against us -- on the contrary, we should be relieved that we see so little continuing resistance. After toppling a totalitarian regime that ruled a population of 25 million for over a generation, it's amazing that we face only one or two attacks every few days. We could be suffering hundreds of incidents daily, if the population stood behind Saddam & Co.

On our worst day last week, when two convoys came under attack, more than 600 other U.S. convoys didn't hear a single shot. Two patrols got into firefights. The other 500 patrols didn't even get hit with a water balloon.

Are the Iraqis "turning against us"? Bull. Our best sources of intelligence continue to be Iraqis who are glad the regime is gone and don't want it to come back in any way, shape or form.

The Iraqi population is complex, with varying interests, loyalties and levels of political sophistication. But the masses aren't demonstrating to bring back Saddam, Uday and Qusay. They may find the integrity and diligence of our soldiers frustrating as they try to work their local scams -- but they don't miss the secret police....

END of Excerpt

For the piece in full: www.nypost.com

The CBS Evening News Hit a Record Ratings
Low Last Week

The CBS Evening News hit a record ratings low last week, attracting just 6.5 million viewers, more than two million fewer than tuned it either ABC's World News Tonight or the NBC Nightly News, the AP's David Bauder reported Tuesday.

To put the CBS Evening News viewership numbers in some context, even with a record low rating more are watching Dan Rather than the approximate 6 million who tune in the number one morning show, NBC's Today, and Rather is still managing to attract three times more viewers than the two million or so who watch the highest-rated cable news show, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor, to say nothing of how the half-hour CBS newscast far out-pulls the CNN and MSNBC prime time shows, most of which attract fewer than a million viewers.

But the trend for CBS isn't looking good, especially since the ABC and NBC evening newscasts are picking up viewers.

CBS News President Andrew Heyward insisted Dan Rather is not "the issue."

Sort of reminds you of the "emperor has no clothes" allegory.

An excerpt from Bauder's July 1 story:

CBS Evening News marked a low point in a storied history last week -- its smallest average audience in at least 10 years, perhaps ever....

It was watched last week by an average of 6.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. NBC's Nightly News had 8.9 million viewers and ABC's World News Tonight had 8.2 million.

The weeks around July 4 are generally the least-watched TV weeks of the year.

Discounting holidays and weeks when the news was pre-empted, researchers going back to 1993 could not find a worse week for the CBS Evening News. Ratings for these flagship newscasts have been steadily eroding, so you would probably have to go back to the early days of television to find a lesser-watched week.

"Clearly, we want to reverse that trend," CBS News President Andrew Heyward said Tuesday. "I don't think it's something to be overly concerned about...It's an issue but not something I want to overreact to. I think the program itself journalistically is as good as it has ever been."...

"He's [Dan Rather] one of the best broadcast journalists ever," Heyward said. "I don't think he's the issue."

For the first six months of this year, CBS' average evening news audience has dropped 5 percent, from 8.5 million to 8.1 million, compared to the first six months of 2002. This comes despite the war in Iraq, which helped cable news ratings shoot up during the same period.

NBC's Nightly News went up 4 percent, from 10.2 million to 10.6 million, from the first half of last year to this year. ABC's World News Tonight rose slightly, from 9.76 million to 9.79 million....

Some analysts suggested an emphasis on hard news by NBC and ABC has outflanked CBS, which always considered hard news a point of pride.

Heyward said not every ratings fluctuation can be explained by looking at the content. He said he'll look for tactical improvements, such as promoting the show more aggressively in certain markets, to boost viewership.

The ratings for last week were particularly heartening for NBC, since Brian Williams subbed for Brokaw as anchor against Jennings and Rather. (Elizabeth Vargas sat in for Jennings on Friday.) That will be the evening match-up starting in December 2004, when Brokaw retires from Nightly News....

END of Excerpt

You can find Bauder's story online: story.news.yahoo.com

ABC Hires CNN Reporter Who Gushed Over
Castro's "Safety Net"

ABC News's new White House correspondent: Kate Snow, who last year fawned over the wonders Fidel Castro has generously provided the Cuban people, especially in education and health care, and in May of this year delivered an entire story, about how low-income families were denied an increase in the child credit, without bothering to mention how those families already live income tax-free with most getting more back via the EITC than they pay in.

The New York Times on Tuesday and the Washington Post on Wednesday reported the imminent hiring of Snow by ABC News to be Good Morning America's primary White House reporter.

It's the first major hiring decision made by ABC News since former CNN chief Rick Kaplan returned to ABC News as Executive Vice President. Kaplan was a Friend of Bill who, when he was Executive Producer of Nightline in 1992, advised presidential candidate Bill Clinton on how to handle the Gennifer Flowers revelation and later as Executive Producer of World News Tonight blocked anti-Clinton stories from getting onto that newscast. For a lengthy rundown of his political activities while a news exec: www.mediaresearch.org

Snow may need to bone up on Politics 101. Last week, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, she seemed to confuse Wesley Clark with John McCain as she described Clark, the former NATO Supreme Commander, as a POW.

Anchoring the June 26 Inside Politics, Snow read this campaign brief: "Retired General Wesley Clark met behind closed doors today with leaders of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Workers. Was the POW here in Washington for a bid for campaign support? Clark says he still hasn't decided whether to seek the Democratic presidential nomination."

Snow corrected herself at the end of the show: "I have one thing I wanted to correct. I misspoke a little bit earlier. General Wesley Clark is not a former POW. He is the former NATO Supreme Commander."

(Snow missed another error. It's the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal "Employees," not Workers.)

Some past CyberAlert items documenting Snow's liberal advocacy and left-wing worldview:

-- May 30 CyberAlert: Prompted on a front page New York Times story that was little more than a press release for the left-wing Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and NBC on Thursday night all treated as an indictment of the supposed unfairness of the income tax cut how parents earning between $10,000 and $26,000, who don't pay income taxes, won't get the increased child care credit from $600 to $1,000 against their income tax payments. But CNBC, NBC and CNN never clued viewers in on how those in that income range pay little, if any, income tax while ABC and CBS only mentioned that little fact late in their stories -- after delivering profiles of supposed victims who will not get the tax break....

In a story which also ran on NewsNight, Snow contrasted two sets of kids, but in what should be considered embarrassingly shoddy reporting, she never noted how the parents of one set already live income tax free and, in many cases, already receive a child credit which exceeds their income tax payments:
"Call it a tale of two day care centers. At Minieland in Dale City, Virginia, many of these kids' parents are looking forward to a check in the mail this summer, $400 per child. But that's also because their parents make enough money to qualify for an increase in the child tax credit just signed into law.
"Contrast that with St. Joseph's Day Care in Washington. Most of these kids' parents will not get a check. According to the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a married couple with three kids making less than $26,625 will see no increase in their child tax credit from the tax bill the President just signed. The center says nearly 12 million kids would get no increase in the child tax credit at all.
"Senator Blanche Lincoln pushed to change that last week and she got a provision into the Senate tax bill covering all those families. But as Congress struggled to fit a lot of tax cuts into the $350 billion cap the Senate insisted on, something had to go. It wasn't a secret, but in conversations with CNN last Friday, Republican staffers never mentioned the change. In fact, staffers said all families making less than $110,000 a year would get checks."
Robert Greenstein, Executive Director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: "They knew that it would not be very attractive to the American public that the families with kids at $15,000 and $20,000 were dumped out, when there were such big benefits going to people at income levels so high, you can barely imagine it."
Snow: "Republicans say they had little choice in order to get a tax bill passed. They emphasize, this group will be helped by other elements of the President's tax cut."
Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary: "As the President said, he doesn't get everything that he wants. And if this provision had been included, the President would have signed it."
Snow concluded: "But the provision to cover those lower-income families wasn't in the President's original bill. If the President had gotten exactly what he wanted in the first place, these kids' families would still be left without a check from Uncle Sam. Kate Snow, CNN, Capitol Hill."

That's online at: www.mediaresearch.org

-- May 13, 2002 CyberAlert: Castro's wonderful "safety net." From Havana on Saturday, CNN's Kate Snow expressed awe at how youngsters get "incredible training" in athletics which leads to "all kinds of" Olympic medals. She oozed with envy over "how every Cuban has a family doctor. You cannot go without health care here because there's a system set up, a safety net, where, if you live in a neighborhood, you're covered by somebody." She even marveled at how some have DirecTV and "get more channels than I get at my home."

For more and a still shot of Snow in Cuba: www.mediaresearch.org

-- May 14, 2002 CyberAlert. On CNN's Monday night "Live from Havana," anchor Kate Snow fretted about the "hard line" views of President Bush and Cubans in Miami, as she hoped Jimmy Carter's visit might "moderate" the Cuban-Americans. She touted the "successes" of Cubans under Fidel Castro and she praised their schools and admired how "every Cuban has a primary care physician" who gets "to know their patients and even make house calls." And it's all free! "Everyone has access" to health care "and the concept of paying is completely foreign." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- May 20, 2002 CyberAlert. To CNN's Kate Snow, the only thing standing between better relations with Cuba and the United States is not dictator Fidel Castro, but President Bush and Cuban exiles who refuse to agree with former President Carter's wish to end the embargo. She made the claim three times in Friday interviews. Given Bush's support of the embargo, she asked a Castro henchman, "is there any chance during the Bush presidency of improving the relations?" See: www.mediaresearch.org

Snow should get along well with Peter Jennings.

With a Book to Sell, Ex-CNN Chief Isaacson
Finds Virtue in FNC

When he was running CNN until early this year Walter Isaacson, the former Chairman of the CNN News Group, might not have thought much of FNC's journalism, but now that he's got a book to sell he's pleased to go on FNC to plug it. And he's decided that FNC is part of "the great thing about the American system" in which "the more choices people have, the more vibrancy there is in the press, the better off we all are." Isaacson added: "I think it was a good thing for CNN to have much more competition, and you know it certainly helped enliven CNN."

The MRC's Rich Noyes caught Isaacson's sudden respect for FNC conveyed during a 9am hour interview on July 1 to promote Isaacson's new book on Ben Franklin.

FNC's Jon Scott asked him: "You talk about the fact that he [Benjamin Franklin] loved the 'cacophony of voices.' He was a big advocate of the free press. We didn't introduce you as 'the guy who used to run CNN' but you did that for a while too as well as Time magazine. When you were at CNN, in this Franklin ideal, were you embracing Fox News and the cacophony of voices that it was-"
Isaacson jumped in, as taken down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory: "That's a good question. The cacophony of voices he talked about is really to allow all sides to have wonderful expression. And when he first took over a newspaper he wrote a wonderful editorial called 'Apology for Publishers.' He said: 'When truth and falsity and all sides have fair play, we know truth will win out.' This is the great thing about the American system and whether it be Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, others, is the more choices people have, the more vibrancy there is in the press, the better off we all are. People don't like something, they can switch the channel. And so I think it was a good thing for CNN to have much more competition, and you know it certainly helped enliven CNN. And that's what Franklin would have thought: More choice, more competition, you'll get a better system."

Garrett and Russert Note Biggest Tax
Cuts Go to Middle Class

Smaller tax cut for the wealthiest. FNC's Major Garrett on Tuesday and NBC's Tim Russert just over a week ago offered rare, if not the first of this tax cut season, recitations of how the middle class will get far bigger percentage tax cuts than the wealthiest.

Typically, on the May 22 World News Tonight, Linda Douglass stuck to raw numbers for tax cut amounts: "Big winners are rich people and families with children" while "more than half of all taxpayers will get only $100 or less." Douglass proceeded to endorse the accuracy of liberal, class warfare arguments against the tax cut: "The other tax cut winners are the rich. The top five percent of taxpayers would get more than half of the benefits from the tax cut. Those who make between $100,000 and $200,000 would get a tax cut of more than $2,500 on their income alone. Those between $500,000 and a million dollars would get an average income tax cut of $17,324." For more on that skewed story: www.mediaresearch.org

Tuesday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, prompted by some of the tax cut provisions going into effect on July 1, Major Garrett looked at who will get what from the tax cut, but instead of just relaying raw numbers, he highlighted percentahe reductions:
"So who gains more from the Bush tax cut? Well in dollar terms, the rich. But in terms of shedding income tax liability, low and middle income taxpayers do better. The tax cut gives back 96 percent of the taxes a family of four, earning $40,000, would have paid this year. It gives back 28 percent of the taxes the same family earning $75,000 would have paid. It gives back nine percent to the same family earning $200,000."
Scott Hodge, Tax Foundation: "The top one percent of taxpayers earn about 20 percent of the income in America, but pay 40 percent of all the income taxes. And so when they get a ten percent tax cut it's a pretty large dollar amount, but after all they've paid an awful lot to begin with."

The Tax Foundation's Web site: www.taxfoundation.org

Back on the June 22 Meet the Press on NBC Tim Russert wasn't so explicit about how the middle class get a far bigger cut than the wealthy in their tax burdens, but in quizzing Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, Russert pointed out how his idea of revoking the Bush tax cut would result in a 4,000 percent tax hike for a $40,000 family with two kids.

Russert proposed to Dean: "This is what you said last month about the Bush tax cut and I'll show you and our viewers: 'It has become clear what this President is attempting to do and why we must repeal the entire package of tax cuts.' The Department of Treasury, we consulted and asked them: What effect would that have across America? And this is what they said. A married couple with two children making $40,000 a year, under the Bush plan, would pay $45 in taxes. Repealing them, under the Dean plan, if you will, would pay $1,978, a tax increase of over 4,000 percent. A married couple over 65 making $40,000 and claiming their Social Security, under Bush would pay $675 in taxes. You're suggesting close to $1,400, a 107 percent tax increase. Can you honestly go across the country and say, 'I'm going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent,' and be elected?"
Dean: "Well, first of all, were those figures from the Treasury Department, did you say, or the CBO?"
Russert: "Treasury Department."
Dean: "I don't believe them. This administration has not been candid about the impacts of this tax cut...."

To Russert's question, "Can you honestly go across the country and say, 'I'm going to raise your taxes 4,000 percent or 107 percent,' and be elected?", Dean won't have to since that's an angle only Russert and a few FNC reporters would ever consider. Most of the media would greet such a proposition as a great way to restore fiscal sanity.

NBC to Celebrate July 4th with Look at
the "New Homeless"

Happy birthday America. You suck. That seems to be the attitude of NBC News. Check out this promo, run at the end of Wednesday's Today this morning, for the July 4th Dateline. Over video of a man in a factory and a woman at a computer terminal, the announcer intoned:
"Friday -- They had good jobs, making good money, but now they've lost almost everything. An American nightmare: The new homeless. All new Dateline Friday."

They can't even refrain from their liberal agenda stories on Independence Day, a day to celebrate the opportunities the U.S. presents to all.

-- Brent Baker