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CyberAlert -- 11/15/2001 -- CNN: Taliban Kept "Law and Order"

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CNN: Taliban Kept "Law and Order"; Public Disapproval for Media Coverage; Vietnam Analogies; Connie Chung Sang to Dan Rather

1) The Taliban aren't all bad, CNN reporter Kamal Hyder contended Tuesday night. On the up side, in Kandahar the Taliban kept "a semblance of law and order."

2) The public approves of the performance of all of the major players in the war on terrorism, except one: the "news media." A Gallup poll released on Wednesday found 54 percent disapproval for how the news media are "handling the war on terrorism since September 11," compared to 43 who approve.

3) R.W. Apple in the New York Times two weeks ago: "Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world?"

4) Dumb question of the week, from CBS's Jane Clayson: "What about the Airbus itself, will we see it in the air anymore?"

5) "In the rear window, you'll find sweat from the back of my head," Dan Rather told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister about his cab ride to the train station. Upon learning of the plane crash while he was on a plane, Rather recalled: "My first reaction was, 'Our Father, who art in heaven.'"

6) To the tune of "Love and Marriage," Connie Chung, who once anchored the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather in a failed experiment, sang a song parody to him. One stanza: "Dan and Connie/Chung and Rather/Time to put aside the past and gather/Glad that I came back, Dan/What's done is done/You're number one..."


1

On the up side, despite a lack of electricity in Kandahar as it was being bombed, the Taliban did "succeed in certain things" as they kept "a semblance of law and order," CNN reporter Kamal Hyder contended Tuesday night.

Hyder, who had just arrived in Quetta, Pakistan from Kandahar, talked to anchor Aaron Brown on CNN's 10pm EST NewsNight on Tuesday night, November 13. After Hyder recounted how the Taliban were abandoning the city as he left it too, Brown asked him whether the people would celebrate the defeat of the Taliban as they had done in Kabul.

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed that Hyder acknowledged that the Taliban enforced policies the people did not like, but then he added a caveat. Hyder told Brown that the "dreaded vices and virtues ministry" had banned music and harassed men for having beards which were too short as they "unleashed a reign of terror on the cities of Afghanistan. Obviously, therefore, when these people are gone from Kandahar city there will be a sigh of relief as far as the people are concerned, but at the same time, it would be unfair to say that the Taliban did not succeed in certain things. The law and order for example, even today as Kandahar is bombed and there is no electricity and streets remain open and vacant, the Taliban still keep a semblance of law and order."

Can you imagine a U.S. reporter taking a similar approach during World War II as the Nazis retreated across Europe, looking at the up side of how the Nazis kept "a semblance of law and order" in France or Poland?

Even if you don't recognize the name Kamal Hyder, if you watch CNN you may be familiar with his work. He has a beard and a thick accent and is apparently a native of the region, though the CNN Web site does not have a bio for him under either CNN or CNN International. You can see a picture of him by going to:
http://www.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/11/13/ret.hyder.otsc/index.html

2

The public approves of the performance of all of the major players in the war on terrorism, except one: the "news media." A Gallup poll released on Wednesday found 54 percent public disapproval for how the news media are "handling the war on terrorism since September 11," compared to 43 who approve.

That compares to 89 to 8 percent approval over disapproval for President Bush's performance. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Postal Service earned 77 percent approval, as did Congress despite media angst over the fight over federalizing baggage screeners. A fourth of those polled have no opinion about Tom Ridge, but his 60 percent approval still means four times as many approve as disapprove.

The MRC's Rich Noyes caught the poll result, which is not in the Gallup Organization's press release about the survey conducted November 8-11 of 493 adults nationwide, but it is listed on the PollingReport.com Web site.

The question: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way the following people are handling the war on terrorism since September 11th?"

You can see the results in an orderly table at:
http://www.pollingreport.com/terror.htm

Here is my rendition, with the percentages for "approve," "disapprove" and "no opinion" listed in that order after each name or entity:

George W. Bush

89

8

3

Secretary of State
Colin Powell

87

6

7

Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld

80

8

12

Attorney General
John Ashcroft

77

10

13

Congress

77

16

7

The United States
Postal Service

77

19

4

Dick Cheney

75

11

14

The Centers for
Disease Control,
or the CDC

71

20

9

Homeland Security
Director Tom Ridge

60

14

26

The news media

43

54

3

For Gallup's rundown of the poll which posed this question:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr011114.asp

That summary does not mention the above question, but the accompanying RealPlayer video of Gallup's Frank Newport delivering an overview of the poll does cite the negative assessment of the news media. Newport attributed the disapproval for the media to over-coverage of anthrax and to how the media had been bringing bad news about the war effort in Afghanistan.

I'd suggest it might have something to do with people wondering whether some in the media think they are above being Americans, an excessive focus on stressing the negative and questioning the actions of the players, of which the poll found, the public overwhelmingly approves.

To watch the video of Newport, go to the above listed Gallup page. On the left you'll see a link to the video report.

[Web Update: On November 16 Gallup posted a polling analysis which explored the finding
about disapproval for the news media: "High Approval for Most People/Institutions Handling War on Terrorism; But majority of Americans disapprove of news media's performance." It relayed how "just 43% of Americans approve of the way the news media have been handling the war, and 54% disapprove."
Gallup added these details: "Approval ratings for the news media vary somewhat among demographic subgroups, but even the most positive groups show no more than half who approve, far below the approval rating of all other people and institutions mentioned in the poll. Exactly 50% of males under the age of 50 approve of the news media, as do 50% of Democrats and 50% of people who did not attend church in the past seven days. By contrast, only 38% of older males, 33% of Republicans and 33% of people who attended church in the past seven days indicate their approval."
For more, go to: http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr011116.asp]

3

Johnny Apple's Vietnam Syndrome. Speaking of negative spin in the news media, the MRC's Rich Noyes recently collected a series of New York Times articles in which R.W. "Johnny" Apple, the newspaper's former Washington Bureau Chief, obsessed about how Afghanistan may become another Vietnam.

-- Apple, writing in the Week-in-Review section, September 30: "We may hear about an assassination here, a terror attack there, a special forces operation that succeeds, a bombing mission that doesn't, but it will not be easy to tell what it all adds up to. The government will tell us, of course, but those with long memories will recall the notoriously unreliable government accounts of progress in Vietnam and wonder. There the body count or the number of pacified hamlets was said to hold the answer, but it didn't. What will the new measure be? Bank accounts closed? Terrorist cells smashed?"

-- October 15 "news analysis" piece by Apple: "[President Bush] has found no way yet to involve the American people as a whole in the campaign -- that vast majority who were not touched by the Sept. 11 attacks or the various anthrax scares, who do not serve in the military. The danger, over the long term, is loss of interest....The experience of Vietnam is instructive. Lyndon B. Johnson, sensing the minimal support for the war in Vietnam, hesitated to appeal for sacrifice. He restricted tours of duty for the military, and he promised the American people that they could have both guns and butter. In the midst of 'prosperity that has been unequaled in this nation,' he said defiantly in 1965, 'I see no reason for declaring a national emergency, and I rejected that course of action.'"

-- An October 30 "news analysis" by Apple: "Could Afghanistan become another Vietnam? Is the United States facing another stalemate on the other side of the world? Premature the questions may be, three weeks after the fighting began. Unreasonable they are not, given the scars scoured into the national psyche by defeat in Southeast Asia. For all the differences between the two conflicts, and there are many, echoes of Vietnam are unavoidable. Today, for example, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld disclosed for the first time that American military forces are operating in northern Afghanistan, providing liaison to 'a limited number of the various opposition elements.'"

Doesn't look now like much of a "stalemate."

4

Dumb question of the week, from CBS's Jane Clayson. Interviewing an aviation consultant on Tuesday's Early Show, Clayson wondered if the American Airlines crash Monday of an Airbus airplane would mean that model would no longer fly.

In a November 13 segment on the economic plight of the U.S. airlines, she asked Michael Boyd: "What about the Airbus itself, will we see it in the air anymore?"

Boyd set her straight: "Oh sure, I mean, that airplane has been in the air for almost 30 years, or that version of the Airbus. Airbus builds a fine airplane, but remember Airbus builds a machine and machines do break. So, I think that's probably the alpha and the omega of it, we have a machine that broke. It isn't necessarily something that should put a pall over every Airbus."

By Clayson's reasoning, the Boeing 737 would long ago have been taken out of service.

5

Dan Rather paid a Philadelphia cab driver $100 to get him from the airport to the train station in just 14 minutes so he could catch a train back to New York City after his plane was diverted to Philadelphia because of the crash in Queens. "In the rear window, you'll find sweat from the back of my head," Rather told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Gail Shister, "a New York cabbie couldn't hold a candle to this fellow."

Upon learning of the crash while he was on a plane, Rather recalled: "My first reaction was, 'Our Father, who art in heaven.'"

Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews) and James Taranto's "Best of the Web" on www.OpinionJournal.com highlighted the November 13 story by Shister recounting Rather's experience in the cab and on the plane before. An excerpt:

CBS's Dan Rather credits a Philadelphia cabbie with making sure he got to New York quickly after his flight from Texas was diverted yesterday to our town.

Rather's American Airlines Flight 1342 from Austin to New York's LaGuardia was rerouted after the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 after takeoff from JFK yesterday morning.

Once on the ground, Rather was whisked to a cab by American Airlines employees Jeff Plant and Jill Johnson. They had been tipped off by Rather's ace assistant, Claire Fletcher. (She's being treated for cutaneous anthrax.)

Rather got to 30th Street Station "in a flat 14 minutes. I made it clear to the driver he was on the incentive system."

The incentive was $100. "In the rear window, you'll find sweat from the back of my head," Rather says. "A New York cabbie couldn't hold a candle to this fellow."

Rather caught the 12:43 Metroliner, got to CBS by 2:15, and did his first report at 3:55....

Rather was returning from a family event in Austin -- his first flights since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Here's his account:

About 9:45 a.m., a flight attendant handed him a note from the captain about the crash. (The captain had said hello to him in the terminal.)

"My first reaction was, 'Our Father, who art in heaven.' My second reaction was, 'Here we go again.' My third reaction was, 'Don't assume anything.'"...

At 10:40, the pilot made a "calm, low-key announcement." A woman in the seat across the aisle from Rather "burst into tears, touched my hand, and asked if I knew any more information."

For his part, Rather "felt like something dropped in the pit of my stomach. I had some concerns, but I'm fatalistic in the sense that if your number's up, you're going to get it. If it isn't, you aren't."

At 10:55, the pilot told the passengers he had been instructed to land in Nashville, and the plane turned around.

About five minutes later, the pilot said that the New York airports were going to reopen and that he would land there. The plane made another turn.

"I was figuring I'd be lucky to get to New York some time that night."

Next thing he heard was the pilot saying the plane was circling the Baltimore airport, awaiting instructions.

With the situation at the New York airports "unclear" and fuel running low, the pilot said he would land in Philly, refuel, then go to New York....

END Excerpt

For Shister's account in full, go to:
http://inq.philly.com/content/inquirer/2001/11/13/magazine/SHIS13.htm

6

To the tune of "Love and Marriage," at a Tuesday night event at which Dan Rather received an award, ABC's Connie Chung, who anchored the CBS Evening News with him in a failed 1993-94 experiment, sang a song parody to him.

Her first stanza, as recounted by the New York Post: "Chung and Rather/Chung and Rather/How the gossips used to love to blather/None of it was true, Dan/I treasured sitting next to you, Dan."

An excerpt of the November 14 New York Post story by Michael Starr about Chung's appearance at the dinner produced by the New York Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences:

....Chung, who co-anchored the "CBS Evening News" with Rather from 1993-95 -- an often stormy alliance -- materialized as Rather was inducted by Maury Povich into the Silver Circle of the New York Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences.

The ceremonies, hosted by Povich (Chung's husband), came to a sudden halt as Chung walked in and sang to the tune of "Love and Marriage."

Here's how it went:

"Chung and Rather/Chung and Rather/How the gossips used to love to blather/None of it was true, Dan/I treasured sitting next to you, Dan.

"Dan and Connie/Dan and Connie/Nothing like Mark Green and Giuliani/As I said to Maury/It's time to tell the honest story.

"I loved being your co-anchor/Right from the starting/You'd be in Afghanistan/I'd be with Tonya Harding.

"Dan and Connie/Chung and Rather/Time to put aside the past and gather/Glad that I came back, Dan/What's done is done/You're number one/And here's your Silver Circle platter." [See below for a corrected transcription of the end of this line.]

"This is my tribute to Dan," Chung told The Post. "Maury came up with the idea -- and I always do everything my husband asks me to do."

END Excerpt of the story posted at:
http://www.nypost.com/entertainment/34314.htm

On Tuesday night, the NBC-produced Access Hollywood program played a clip of Chung singing this stanza: "Dan and Connie/Chung and Rather/Time to put aside the past and gather/Glad that I came back, Dan/What's done is done/You're number one/And here's your Silver Circle plaque, Daaaaan!" -- Brent Baker


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