CyberAlert -- 04/04/2002 -- Piling On Israel Bashing
Piling On Israel Bashing; Treat Palestinians Like the Taliban?; Give Osama a Platform; Comedian Tougher on Brock Than CNN & NBC -- Extra Edition
1) With the Vatican critical of Israel, ABC and CBS suddenly considered it a fount of wise counsel. ABC's Peter Jennings noted how the Vatican complained "about 'unjust conditions and humiliations' imposed on the Palestinians."
2) On CBS's 60 Minutes II on Wednesday night Scott Pelley posed a contrarian question to Colin Powell: "Why doesn't the United States move against Arafat and the terrorists in the Palestinian territories in the way that we moved against Mullah Omar and the Taliban?"
3) MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is eager to give terrorist murder mastermind Osama bin Laden a forum from which to pontificate. "Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden," she declared on her show late last week, since "I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say."
4) Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's Daily Show, posed tougher questions to conservative-basher David Brock than did Today co-host Matt Lauer or CNN's Aaron Brown. Stewart asked Brock: "Is the left-wing innocent in all this?" He wondered: "Don't they have their own team of guys trying to dig up dirt on the right?" When Brock disagreed, Stewart pointed out: "Hustler, Larry Flint, offered millions of dollars to people for sexual material on right-wingers, on Gingrich and those folks."
5) CNN Crossfire co-host Paul Begala again questioned Bush's legitimacy. After a clip Tuesday night of George W. Bush with the Super Bowl champion team, Begala scolded: "The Patriots scored more points. They won. You got fewer votes and you got in because of a rigged deal at the Supreme Court." Begala also asserted: "When the right-wing FBI spy, Robert Hanssen came up, the Clinton administration prosecuted him successfully by guaranteeing his rights." Not possible.
Suddenly the media consider the Vatican to be a fount of wise counsel. The U.S. news media usually dismiss the Pope as out of step with the modern world, but not on Wednesday night when both ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather cited as authoritative a Vatican statement critical of Israel.
On ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings intoned: "The Vatican criticized terrorism again today, but when it called in the U.S. and Israeli ambassadors it was to complain about 'unjust conditions and humiliations' imposed on the Palestinians."
Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather asserted: "While the fighting raged the Vatican today charged Israel with quote, 'humiliating the Palestinians in Bethlehem,' and urged all sides to stop the violence."
A contrarian question to Colin Powell. In the midst of an interview dominated by the media's usual focus on how the U.S. must get more involved in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, how the U.S. is out of step with the world in its backing of Israel and what can be done to get Israeli troops out of Ramallah, on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II Scott Pelley pressed Secretary of State Colin Powell: "Why doesn't the United States move against Arafat and the terrorists in the Palestinian territories in the way that we moved against Mullah Omar and the Taliban?"
On the April 3 edition of 60 Minutes II, Pelley inquired: "The President said, famously, after September 11th, you are either with us or you're with the terrorists. Arafat doesn't seem to be siding with us. Why doesn't the United States move against Arafat and the terrorists in the Palestinian territories in the way that we moved against Mullah Omar and the Taliban?"
Powell evaded the question and only answered that the U.S. has identified Palestinian groups as terrorist.
Maybe Pelley's suggestion would be more viable if the networks stopped focusing more attention on suffering Palestinians than on Israelis who have been victims of never-ending Palestinian terrorism.
MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is eager to give terrorist murder mastermind Osama bin Laden a forum from which to pontificate. "Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden," she declared on her show late last week, since "I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say."
Media observers sometimes ruminate about if modern media technology had existed 60 years ago whether the networks would have given a forum to Hitler and other Nazi leaders to push their propaganda or, just after Pearl Harbor, would have featured Japanese leaders explaining how U.S. imperialism left them with no other option.
In Banfield's case we now have an answer as she boasted of having no journalistic discernment: "There's no one I would not want to interview."
MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth just came across her
comments uttered on the March 28 edition of her 9pm EST show, Region in
Conflict, which that night she hosted from Beirut. At the end of the show
she read an e-mailed question: "If given the chance to interview
Osama bin Laden, would you?" Her answer:
I guess figuring out how to make sure he faces American justice isn't of any interest to her. File this one under journalist first, American second.
[Web Update: Banfield is a Canadian citizen. As reported in the February 20 CyberAlert, on the Late Show she told David Letterman that when in Pakistan or Iran she's "very quick to point out" that she's not a U.S. citizen but is Canadian. With that known, "I tend to get a warmer reception."]
[2nd Web Update: The night before Banfield expressed her interest in interviewing Osama bin Laden she scolded an Arab journalist who told her he'd interview him: "There are millions of people in America who believe that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 innocent people on September 11th, but you would not see this as a platform for a maniac?" See the April 9 CyberAlert.]
The host of a comedy show posed tougher questions to conservative-basher David Brock on Tuesday night than did Today co-host Matt Lauer or CNN's Aaron Brown back in mid-March.
On the April 2 Daily Show on the Comedy Central cable channel, a mock newscast, host Jon Stewart asked Brock: "Is the left-wing innocent in all this?" He wondered: "Don't they have their own team of guys trying to dig up dirt on the right? Isn't this a relatively balanced operation?" When Brock disagreed, Stewart pointed out: "Hustler, Larry Flint, offered millions of dollars to people for sexual material on right-wingers, on Gingrich and those folks. There is some balance to it."
Lauer set up a March 14 Today segment by
treating Brock's claims as fully credible. Lauer even added a colorful
dose of invective toward conservatives:
Lauer did not once question any of Brock's claims as he prompted him to elucidate on how wealthy conservatives who directed the anti-Clinton conspiracy allowed him to smear people.
That night, CNN NewsNight anchor Aaron Brown assumed David Brock's charges were beyond dispute. Brown set up the segment: "He helped trash Anita Hill, went looking for the illegitimate children of Bill Clinton, took money from conservative patrons, and made things up if it made Mr. Clinton look bad. And then he says he saw the light, the errors of his ways." Brown failed to challenge anything Brock charged as he outlined his claims about a conservative conspiracy against Clinton fueled by anger at Clinton's anti-segregation policies.
For more on the Lauer interview, as well as an overview of Brock's transformation from an American Spectator writer to a right-wing basher, plus what he now claims, refer back to the March 14 CyberAlert: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2002/cyb20020314.asp#1
For more on the Brown interview, as well as
how FNC's David Asman actually challenged David Brock's on his broad
accusations and took on some of the specific allegations made in his book
trashing conservatives, check the March 19 CyberAlert:
Back to Tuesday's Daily Show on Comedy Central, like Lauer and Brown, Stewart bought into Brock's claims, but he at least suggested conservatives aren't the only ones who do the awful things alleged by Brock.
Stewart's first question, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "When Hillary Clinton went on the Today Show and went, 'there's a right wing conspiracy,' everyone said [makes dismissive noise], but there was."
Stewart jokingly asked: "But is it 'vast' or is it, is it relatively narrow? Actually, it's you and who else?"
Stewart pursued Brock's claims that his Paula Jones reporting and defense of Clarence Thomas were inaccurate stories funded by one rich conservative: "Let me ask you this though, how did it get such legs, what's frightening to me, is that, I'm assuming you're saying these allegations are not true, how does it get such legs? How does this small, like you say, paranoid sort of guy, conspiratorial, very rich, get such play in the mainstream world?"
Stewart soon got to a line of questioning
never broached by CNN or NBC: "But let me ask you this, is the
left-wing innocent in all this? Isn't, don't they have their own team
of guys trying to dig up dirt on the right? Isn't this a relatively
Liberals, of course, have six networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and, especially, PBS. Plus NPR.
Reverting to network news style, Stewart next
pressed: "How dangerous do you find this and has it been exposed and
has it been dismantled?"
Stewart's last question: "The thing that I can't quite get my head around is why the reversal on your part. Why now, how do we believe you? After, you know, the Anita Hill stuff, after the Paula Jones stuff, where does your credibility lie now?"
CNN and NBC should be embarrassed that a comedian managed to conduct a more discerning interview than did their anchors.
For a second straight night, Paul Begala, the new co-host of CNN's Crossfire, questioned the legitimacy of the Bush presidency, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed. After a clip Tuesday night of George W. Bush with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, Begala scolded: "The Patriots scored more points. They won. You got fewer votes and you got in because of a rigged deal at the Supreme Court."
On Monday night, Begala had whined: "When
is the Congress going to stand up to these authoritarian acts from a
right-wing unelected President?" For details:
At another point on the show Begala also reverted to September 10 thinking: "Well, even George W. Bush, whose IQ hovers around room temperature even under global warming, acknowledges that there is global climate change."
Begala also criticized how the Bush administration's treatment of John Walker Lindh hurt the case against him, recalling: "When the right-wing FBI spy, Robert Hanssen came up, the Clinton administration prosecuted him successfully by guaranteeing his rights."
There's just one problem with that claim. See the end of this item for the answer.
But first, a bit more on Begala's
questioning of whether Bush should be in the White House. Begala set up
the April 2 video clip on Crossfire: "And now, our momentous event,
the quote of the day it's from none other than the President of the United
States. In a meeting today with the Super Bowl champion, New England
But maybe not the most pathetic thing Begala
claimed. During a discussion about allegations by John Walker's lawyers
about how he was "tortured" by the U.S. government, Begala
Only problem with Begala's praise of Clinton's prosecution of Hanssen: The FBI agent may have spied during the Clinton years, but he wasn't prosecuted during them since he was arrested on Sunday February 18, 2001 -- a month after Clinton left office.
Speaking of Crossfire, Bill Press, who in retrospect looks downright reasonable compared to his replacement, Paul Begala, insisted on FNC that the whole idea of a liberal media bias is "just a big myth" conservatives use to raise money and intimidate news producers.
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught this exchange on the April 1 Hannity and Colmes:
Bill Press: "Where is the liberal media?
You're looking at it. You and me are the liberal media. I think that the
whole, the idea that the media is controlled by liberals is just Bernie
Goldberg, with all due apologies, I think its just a big myth."
I'm not sure what Kristol supposedly said, but I do know that Fred Barnes, the Executive Editor of the magazine at which Kristol holds the title of Editor, wrote a story last fall which assumed there is liberal bias. That's the December 3 Weekly Standard article in which Barnes dubbed me the "scourge of liberal bias." For an excerpt: http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2001/cyb20011127.asp#4 -- Brent Baker
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