CyberAlert -- 04/02/2002 -- ABC Scolded Pro-Israel Policy
ABC Scolded Pro-Israel Policy; Terrorists as "Freedom Fighters"; Today Promoted Slavery Reparations; MSNBC Pursuing Phil Donahue?
1) From Friday through Monday ABC railed against Bush's Middle East policy. On Friday night Peter Jennings warned that the French were upset that the Bush administration did not do enough to restrain Israel. On Sunday Terry Moran worried that by leaning in favor of Israel Bush had put in jeopardy the "honest broker" role for the U.S. which reached its "apex" under Bill Clinton and on Monday morning Charles Gibson casually relayed how a Palestinian he talked to labeled Bush's policy "criminal."
2) MSNBC and CNN on Friday night were willing to pass along how terrorists consider themselves to be "freedom fighters." An MSNBC promo equated Arafat and Sharon: "To their people, they're freedom fighters." CNN's Connie Chung set up an interview with a Hamas representative by saying it's "an organization seen by most as a terrorist group," but that her guest "would probably prefer the term freedom fighter."
3) NBC's Today gave a promotional forum on Monday morning to three people pushing a slavery reparations lawsuit against three corporations. Lauer posed eight softball questions to the plaintiff and her lawyers before posing just one mildly challenging question while an opponent only got time for one comment. At one point, Lauer helpfully chimed in with the widespread benefits of reparations: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."
4) Demagogic attacks on Republicans for somehow endangering Social Security, scare tactics liberals have trotted out for decades, are just fine with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos who disagreed with Cokie Roberts' characterization of the strategy as "pathetic."
5) MSNBC sees ratings salvation in going left. The New York Daily News reported that MSNBC is pursuing Phil Donahue for a prime time slot opposite FNC's Bill O'Reilly. Reporter Stephen Battaglio also disclosed that MSNBC is interested in Bill Maher, Sam Donaldson and Dennis Miller.
Day by day from Friday through Monday ABC railed against President Bush's policy which showed sympathy for the victims of terrorism over its perpetrators.
On Friday night, Peter Jennings assumed the Israeli attack on Arafat's headquarters was worthy of condemnation as he asserted that "almost everywhere you turn this weekend...you hear people criticizing the Bush administration for not doing more to end the violence," specifically quoting the French foreign ministry, as he asked Terry Moran: "Did the White House know about" the Israeli attack "and try to stop it?"
Sunday morning on This Week, Moran worried that by leaning in favor of Israel Bush had put in jeopardy the "honest broker" role for the U.S. which reached its "apex" under Bill Clinton: "Bush's positive comments about the Israeli President's personal endorsement of Prime Minister Sharon's tough tactics raises a question if the United States can continue to play its traditional role of honest broker in this conflict, a role that reached its apex under President Clinton."
The next morning, on Monday's Good Morning America, Charles Gibson relayed from Israel how a Palestinian told him "that they felt it was 'criminal' -- criminal was the word used -- that the White House and President Bush have not involved themselves more to try to defuse what is such a high-tension situation here."
Now, fuller quotations of those three stories:
-- On Friday's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings announced: "Almost everywhere you turn this weekend, inside the Middle East and out, you hear people criticizing the Bush administration for not doing more to end the violence. In the Middle East, the Egyptians, many Israelis, the Arab League. Outside, the European Union, the French, to cite some. The French foreign ministry spokesman said today, 'We continue to plead for the Americans to commit themselves further.' ABC's Terry Moran is at the White House tonight. Terry, on the attack on Arafat's headquarters today, did the White House know about it and try to stop it or could not stop it?"
-- ABC's This Week on Sunday, March 31. In
an up front piece reviewing the situation in the Middle East, Moran
accurately reviewed how the Bush administration had put out contradictory
statements, but then he went further in claiming Bush had damaged the U.S.
role as an independent broker, as if that were more important than
consistently battling terrorists:
-- ABC's Good Morning America on Monday,
April 1. MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed that during the 8am half
hour Moran delivered basically the same spin as he had the day before, but
afterward anchor Charles Gibson, from Israel, added his own shot at Bush
policy by giving credibility to the claim that the policy is
"criminal." Moran reported:
If it's good enough for terrorists it's good enough for us. MSNBC and CNN on Friday night were willing to pass along how terrorists consider themselves to be "freedom fighters" even if most everyone else considers them to be terrorists.
-- An MSNBC promo which ran on Friday conveyed
a certain moral equivalence between Yasser Arafat and the elected leader
of a democracy:
-- On CNN's NewsNight at 10pm EST Friday
night, fill-in anchor Connie Chung, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, set
up an interview with a representative from Hamas by noting that the guest
"would probably prefer the term freedom fighter." Chung asserted
on the March 29 show:
At least she pointed out that most consider Hamas to be a terrorist group.
NBC's Today gave a promotional forum on Monday morning to three people pushing a slavery reparations lawsuit against three corporations. NBC hardly made any effort at balance, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed, as interviewer Matt Lauer posed eight softball questions to the plaintiff and her lawyers before posing just one mildly challenging question. Lauer began the segment by asking the plaintiff to outline how she became involved. Noting that the suit says "these companies are still profiting from the slave trade of 150 years ago," Lauer prompted the lawyers to "explain" the "basic economic model" on which the suit is based. When the lawyers explained how a commission would decide how much is owed, Lauer helpfully chimed in with the widespread benefits: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."
Today did bring aboard a lawyer who thought the lawsuit is legally unsound, but Lauer gave him time for just one comment during the segment.
Last Tuesday, March 26, the CBS Evening News
promoted the legitimacy of the suit demanding reparations for slavery.
Substitute anchor Ed Bradley imparted great meaning to the effort pushed
by radical race-mongers, calling it "landmark" and stressing how
it supposedly has "major legal and financial implications today and
for the future." For details:
Lauer set up the 7:30am half hour segment on
the April 1 broadcast of Today:
-- "Ms. Farmer-Paellmann how did you get involved in filing this lawsuit?"
-- "When you say the government case, what you mean is filing suit against the federal government had shown to be a dead end in the past."
-- "When we talk about the corporations that are targeted at this point, Aetna Insurance, CSX Transportation, Fleet Boston are you alleging that these companies are still profiting from the slave trade of 150 years ago?" [Paellmann: "Absolutely they are."]
-- Lauer: "It is unusual, not unheard of Mr. Fagan to target private corporations in a suit. Against slavery, no, but in other situations you have experience. You say it's based on a basic economic model. Explain that."
-- After Fagan likened it to the Holocaust cases tried at Nuremberg, Lauer jumped in: "Let me stop you for a second. Profit off illegal activities. Were any of the actions these companies took 140 years ago illegal or were they immoral?" [Fagan: immoral]
-- "Mr. Wareham, what kind of money are we talking about? If we start to file suits against all the companies that were in existence and may have participated, even in a fringe way in the slave trade 140 years ago, what kind of money are we talking about?"
-- After Wareham maintained they do not have a total dollar amount, Lauer helpfully explained the widespread anticipated benefits: "This is gonna go to community programs, education, health care."
-- Lauer finally got to the other side: "Let me, let me read a couple of quick statements from two of these corporations. CSX Transportation: Quote, 'Slavery was a tragic chapter in our nation's history. It's a history shared by every American and its impacts cannot be attributed to any single company or industry.' Aetna Insurance: Quote, 'We do not believe that a court would permit a lawsuit over events, which however regrettable, occurred hundreds of years ago. These issues in no way reflect Aetna today. Let me bring in another guest who is joining us this morning. This is Owen Pell. And Mr. Pell I know you've been involved in lawsuits and negotiations over settlements like this in the past. Why do you not think that the courtroom is the proper place to handle this?"
Pell, identified on screen as an "attorney who is critical of lawsuit," got time for one answer. He outlined how the lawsuits have two problems: First, no plaintiff has any connection to the defendants and second, they call for retroactive law when at Nuremberg the allies showed the actions were illegal when they were committed.
-- Lauer then cued up a retort: "Deadria, you're the one filing the lawsuit. Why don't you respond to that."
-- Lauer then finally offered a mild challenge: "You, you are going to, if, if the money that we're talking about in the trillions, billions can irreparably damage certain companies that would have to pay this money. Many of these companies employ thousands of African-Americans today. In some ways are you worried you may hurt the people you are trying to help?" [Paellmann maintained they are not trying to damage the companies, just "share some of the wealth they acquired through stealing people, through raping, torturing, stealing labor."]
Lauer then wrapped up: "We're gonna be hearing a lot more about this issue over the months to come."
If so, maybe Today could get around some morning to giving equal time to the other side.
Demagogic attacks on Republicans for somehow endangering Social Security, scare tactics liberals have trotted out for decades, are just fine with ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos who disagreed with Cokie Roberts' characterization of the strategy as "pathetic."
During the second roundtable segment on Sunday's This Week, viewers witnessed this exchange:
Stephanopoulos: "One of the things that
Democrats take comfort in is is that the President's popularity in the war
doesn't bleed over into other issues. The problem for them is they can't
figure out what issues to use. There's not going to be a recession right
now. They had a big strategy meeting two weeks ago where they said Social
Security is going to be the issue."
Not "tired" to liberal demagogues, a group which apparently still counts Stephanopoulos among its membership.
Of course, it's also worked thanks to acquiescence from journalists. Maybe Stephanopoulos has reason to believe they'll go along again.
MSNBC sees ratings salvation in going left. The New York Daily News on Monday reported that the cable network is pursuing Phil Donahue for a prime time slot opposite FNC's Bill O'Reilly. Reporter Stephen Battaglio also disclosed that MSNBC is interested in Bill Maher, Sam Donaldson and Dennis Miller. Miller has some contrarian views which stray from the liberal line, but the other three range from far-left to standard liberalism.
Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/) highlighted the April 1 New York Daily News story. An excerpt:
MSNBC is close to signing a big name for its struggling prime-time lineup, with the white-haired godfather of daytime talk, Phil Donahue, topping the list.
Donahue, whose last regular television job was co-host of a nightly talk program on CNBC, is the most likely prospect being considered to take over an hour of MSNBC's prime-time schedule, which could be getting a makeover as soon as this week.
Others under consideration include Bill Maher, host of ABC's "Politically Incorrect," ABC News' "This Week" co-anchor Sam Donaldson and topical comic Dennis Miller, who recently lost his spot in the "Monday Night Football" booth....
MSNBC and NBC News executives have remained behind closed doors in recent days, looking to come up with a bold move to lift the cable news channel's sagging ratings. MSNBC has fallen into a distant third in audience behind Fox News Channel and CNN despite having the editorial resources and promotional clout of NBC News behind it.
The channel plans to move "The News With Brian Williams" from 8 p.m. to 7 p.m. to make way for a new talk program in prime time....
Donahue also spent several years during the 1990s as co-host of a nightly CNBC talk program with Russian television commentator Vladimir Posner.
If Donahue joins the cable news fray, he would be one of the few unabashed liberal voices with their own nightly platform. During the last presidential election campaign, Donahue appeared on numerous talk shows to support Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
END of Excerpt
"One the few unabashed liberal voices" other than most of the prominent faces on ABC, CBS and NBC news programs.
For the Daily News story in full:
In prime time television the networks imitate successful program concepts, so you would think that if FNC has become successful by appealing to conservatives who feel slighted by the liberal tilt of the other networks, that MSNBC would try to copy FNC, not do the opposite.
Maybe they feel they already tried that with Alan Keyes who, the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes noted in an April 2 report, is pulling in a paltry 241,000 viewers since his late January debut compared to 887,000 for FNC's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren and 825,000 for CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown.
Then again, MSNBC's liberals don't do very well either. At 8pm EST, The News with Brian Williams attracted only 375,000 viewers during the first quarter this year, de Moraes reported, compared to 2 million for FNC's The O'Reilly Factor and even 700,000 for CNN's never-consistent variety programming of Live from someplace and The Point with somebody different every day.
I'd advise MSNBC that they'll have better luck if they try to find a conservative more compelling than Keyes than by trotting out a stale old liberal who will annoy the kind of people who go to cable news for an alternative to broadcast network news.
From the April 1 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten April Fool's Pranks in Afghanistan."
10. Short-sheeted burqas
Not sure #2 is all that far from reality. -- Brent Baker
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