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CyberAlert -- 11/16/2001 -- Sept. 11 Not "Terrorism" to BBC

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Sept. 11 Not "Terrorism" to BBC; Hugging a Victim = "Taking Sides" to Larry King; Geraldo: Monicagate Distracted FBI From Bin Laden

1) Since the airport security bill would still allow private screeners at some airports, Dan Rather called it a "watered-down compromise bill."

2) Four out of five questions posed by Nightline host Chris Bury were hostile to the Bush plan to try suspected terrorists in military tribunals. He suggested that the plan would demonstrate "hypocrisy" since the U.S. would "essentially doing the same thing" the U.S. condemned Peru for doing in the case of Lori Berenson.

3) Hugging a victim equals "taking sides" in the war on terrorism? When ABC's Barbara Walter revealed that she offers comforting hugs to September 11 victims whom she interviews, CNN's Larry King pounced: "What about those who might say, should the journalist hug someone? Should a journalist take sides?"

4) Update: On Thursday Gallup posted an analysis about the poll cited in the November 15 CyberAlert. Gallup discovered: "The only organization that gets a negative rating by the public is the news media. A majority, 54%, disapprove of the way the media are handling the war on terrorism, while 43% approve."

5) The BBC World Service has decided to not call the events of September 11 "terrorism," the Guardian reported. A BBC official worried that describing the attacks as terrorism "could downgrade your status as an impartial and independent broadcaster."

6) Geraldo Rivera on his first day on FNC: "I would bet you that I can find you 4,000, 5,000 FBI agents who wish to God they weren't assigned to Whitewater, Monicagate, Bill Clinton -- that instead they were on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the people who were plotting mass murder against us." Plus, a reminder of Rivera's liberal crusading over the years on CNBC.


1

Republicans caved in on the airport baggage screening issue, but since the deal struck still would allow a few airports to not have screeners on the federal payroll, Dan Rather called it a "watered-down compromise bill."

Rather set up a story on the November 15 CBS Evening News: "Holiday travel is coming up fast now, so as CBS's Bob Schieffer reports, at long last there's talk of a watered-down compromise bill ready for takeoff."

Schieffer explained the provision which led Rather to call it "watered-down": "To satisfy conservatives worried about enlarging the government, a few airports will be allowed to experiment with a combination of federal supervisors and private baggage screeners. Other airports can opt for a similar program in two years."

2

ABC's Chris Bury, hosting Wednesday's Nightline, suggested that the Bush proposal to try suspected terrorists in a military tribunal would demonstrate "hypocrisy" since the U.S. would "essentially doing the same thing" the U.S. condemned Peru for doing in the case of Lori Berenson.

Bury's assertion came in the last question of five he posed, four of which were hostile to the military trial plan, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed.

On the November 14 Nightline, Bury interviewed former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger, who supports the military trial plan, and Georgetown University law professor David Cole, who opposes it. Bury's questions:

-- "George, isn't it a stronger statement for the United States and its legal system to show terrorists and the rest of the world that this system is resilient enough even to handle such crimes as the attacks September 11th?"

-- "David Cole, at the same time we have handled other terrorist cases in the legal system, including of course, the World Trade Center bombing that convicted Ramzi Yousef, the McVeigh case. We have used the legal system to handle this kind of thing before."

-- "George, why is this so extraordinary that a United States court could not handle it?"

-- Bury's only question which challenged opposition to the plan: "And George, let's bring in David Cole here. What about that point, that sources and intelligence methods would be compromised by a public trial?"

-- "I just want to bring up one other point in the international community and the environment with which we're operating. Isn't it a matter of hypocrisy for the United States to condemn such trials as the one of Lori Berenson, who was accused in Peru by a military tribunal. The administration, both administrations have just castigated the Peruvian government for that, and at the same time, set up a system whereby we would essentially be doing the same thing?"
Terwilliger countered: "Chris, you surely don't suggest that there is a parallel between whatever Lori Berenson was allegedly involved in and what happened in the United States on September 11th? It's not hypocritical at all. This was a crime against all civilized and law-abiding nations."

Some conservatives also oppose the plan, such as William Safire in Thursday's New York Times, but that does not excuse Bury from his duty to equally challenge advocates on both sides.

3

Journalists are human too, even if Larry King thinks it violates a journalistic norm. When ABC's Barbara Walter revealed Wednesday night that she offers comforting hugs to September 11 victims whom she interviews, CNN's Larry King pounced: "What about those who might say, should the journalist hug someone? Should a journalist take sides?" Walters replied: "I don't care." But she quickly made clear she does her hugging off the air.

Walters appeared on the November 14 Larry King Live. King queried: "You've been doing this for a while, but everyone has different thoughts. What is it like for you to interview people in severe emotional distress?"
Walters explained: "I don't say, 'How do you feel?' I don't put a microphone. I try to listen to them, because just to let them talk and not to deliberately try to make them cry. You know, what could be easier than asking that kind of a question? And to really have the kind of compassion and sensitivity that you would have if you were talking to a relative. I think of it that way, if this were my sister, this were my child, how would I want to be treated? And I hug them.
"When we went to Windows on the World and we talked to many of the employees, some of them who were immigrants, you know, who were custodians in the building or busboys and so forth, and I think of what their lives -- these are people who don't have money, who lots of times don't have insurance, although Windows on the World has been, I think, very good to them and tried very hard. I hugged them. I mean, yes, I'm a journalist, but I have feelings and a heart. And some of them just wanted to be hugged and just cry."
King pounced: "What about those who might say, should the journalist hug someone? Should a journalist take sides?"
Walters insisted: "I don't care. We're not talking, this is not a question of-"
King: "That's a two-part question."
Walters retreated a bit: "Well, do I hug them on the air? No. Do I hug them when I see them? I'm a person, and when someone is in pain and crying, sure I do. That doesn't mean that I can't also do my job."

4

Update: The Gallup Organization on Thursday posted a "polling analysis" about the evaluations generated by their new poll which asked: "Do you approve or disapprove of the way the following people are handling the war on terrorism since September 11th?"

The November 15 CyberAlert cited the public's disapproval for the news media, but noted Gallup had not posted that finding in their November 14 summary of the poll. They did on Thursday: "The only organization that gets a negative rating by the public is the news media. A majority, 54%, disapprove of the way the media are handling the war on terrorism, while 43% approve." For the full rundown of the public's approval ratings, go to:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr010926b.asp

For the November 15 CyberAlert item on the poll, refer back to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011115.asp#2

[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]

5

Following in the footsteps of Reuters, the BBC World Service has decided to not call the events of September 11 "terrorism," a Guardian story on a media conference reported on Thursday.

The BBC's Deputy Director of News maintained: "However appalling and disgusting it was, there will nevertheless be a constituency of your listeners who don't regard it as terrorism. Describing it as such could downgrade your status as an impartial and independent broadcaster."

James Taranto's "Best of the Web" report on OpinionJournal.com highlighted the BBC policy directive as reported by the Guardian, a left-wing British newspaper. For the daily "Best of the Web," go to: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/

An excerpt from the November 15 Guardian story by Matt Wells which is a bit unclear on whether BBC has never used the term "terrorism" to describe the September 11 attacks, or did for a while and has recently decided to stop doing so:

The BBC World Service has taken a policy decision not to describe the attacks on the US as "terrorism."

Mark Damazer, the BBC's deputy director of news, said the service would lose its reputation for impartiality around the world if it were seen to use such a subjective term.

While guests and contributors to World Service programmes may describe the deliberate flying of jet planes into the World Trade Centre as acts of terror, news correspondents use more neutral terms such as "attack."

Mr. Damazer, speaking in a debate about television coverage of September 11 at the Newsworld conference in Barcelona, insisted the decision was not intended to downgrade the horror of the event. But if the word terrorism was used there would be implications for the description of more subjective acts of terror such as those carried out by Hamas in the Middle East or ETA in Spain.

He said of the attack on the US: "However appalling and disgusting it was, there will nevertheless be a constituency of your listeners who don't regard it as terrorism. Describing it as such could downgrade your status as an impartial and independent broadcaster."

Because of its reputation for impartiality, the World Service has to be careful about its use of language. It does not usually describe IRA attacks as terrorism, because they may not be seen as such in a world context....

END of excerpt

For the story in full, go to:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,593698,00.html

6

Geraldo Rivera did double duty on Thursday, appearing on both CNBC and FNC. Though he maintains he's a "changed man" by the September 11 terrorist attacks, Thursday night on FNC's O'Reilly Factor, he defended his view that the pursuit of Bill Clinton was illegitimate by suggesting it's culpable for the terrorist attacks:
"I would bet you that I can find you 4,000, 5,000 FBI agents who wish to God they weren't assigned to Whitewater, Monicagate, Bill Clinton -- that instead they were on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the people who were plotting mass murder against us."

Earlier in the day, a bit before 4pm EST, Rivera appeared with David Asman. Brit Hume called in to welcome him to FNC. Later he showed up in a taped interview with Bill O'Reilly before doing his 9pm EST CNBC show for the next to last night. In both FNC appearances, his on-screen identifier read: "War Correspondent."

O'Reilly told Rivera "there's a residual anger" against him from FNC viewers over his defense of Bill Clinton. Rivera defended his defense: "It was a huge national distraction, going after a guy who lied about getting oral sex from a woman he wasn't married to and I think I know a million guys who get oral sex from a woman they weren't married to and to impeach the President over that just didn't see appropriate."

A "million guys"? Or did Geraldo do it a million times?

Rivera later argued: "All of us have a shared guilt right now. And the shared guilt is for the last ten years we have been horribly distracted. I would bet you that I can find you 4,000, 5,000 FBI agents who wish to God they weren't assigned to Whitewater, Monicagate, Bill Clinton -- that instead they were on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the people who were plotting mass murder against us. I think it's time to say, now let's move forward, let's all be in this together, let's back our President and let's win this war."

The latter attitude is the new Rivera that FNC has hired to cover the war, but let's not forget that the former is the Rivera who will probably end up with a prime time FNC show once interest in the war recedes.

Last Friday night on FNC's 10pm EST War on Terror show Rivera made clear he does not regret defending Clinton, though Clinton himself did not show any gratitude. Rivera told Shepard Smith on the November 9 show that Clinton "never...gave me an interview, you know, after all, putting so much on the line for Bill and-"
Smith noted: "You were out there for him."
Rivera agreed: "I really was. I think if there were one journalist -- you know, and I understand your viewers' wrath if there's one journalist who really helped save Bill Clinton's behind, it was me. I don't regret it. I really, when push comes to shove, he was a liar, a perjurer, but he was basically an adulterer. I think that's, he had a character flaw. He may still. But that's basically what it was about. Had he been guilty of peddling nuclear secrets or doing something more blatant, something more profoundly affecting the well being of the republic, I would have been on the same side as the majority of my colleagues in the fourth estate."

For the occasion of Rivera's last appearance tonight on CNBC, the MRC's Rich Noyes reviewed the MRC archives for highlights of his most obnoxious statements as chronicled in the MRC's Notable Quotables:

-- Geraldo Rivera discussing Bill Clinton's "heroic re-emergence" at the opening of his new Harlem offices, on CNBC's Rivera Live, July 30, 2001: "Now, the return of the Prodigal Son. The, you know, the man who left office disgraced, burdened down by at least three major scandals that I can think of, got a hero's welcome today, and I couldn't be happier....After impeachment, after Pardongate, after the fake stories about their pilfering of the White House, Bill Clinton's appearance today in Harlem must have been the feel good event of the season for the former President, and he soaked up the sunshine and love."

-- Rivera on Bush as an illegitimate President, Rivera Live, June 18, 2001: "Did the Supreme Court of the United States rob the American people of their duly-elected President?...Yes, says Alan Dershowitz. That history-making heist is exactly what happened when the justices issued their highly controversial Bush vs. Gore ruling last December. The 5_4 decision stopped the Florida ballot recount, as you recall, put George W. Bush in the White House and, according to Professor Dershowitz, forever tarnished the exalted reputation of this nation's highest court. Now the professor backs up his charges in this hard-hitting and maybe his best, certainly in the non-fiction area, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000."

-- Beginning and end of Geraldo Rivera's interview with Vincent Bugliosi, CNBC's Rivera Live, June 25, 2001: "Should five of our nation's nine Supreme Court Justices be imprisoned? That's the opinion of famed former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. He says the justices who supported George W. Bush in the election dispute are almost treasonous white-collar criminals. He'll explain why."
"It is a scathing indictment of the high court of the United States, at least these five conservative justices. And I really, really, I urge law students especially, but anyone who's interested in the machinations of the Court, to check this out. Vincent Bugliosi's The Betrayal of America."

-- Rivera to Governor Jesse Ventura, April 23, 2001 Rivera Live on CNBC: "What about the rest of his [President Bush's] performance? Aren't you concerned that some of these moves to erode some of the legislation designed to protect our environment, this stuff about arsenic and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, etcetera? Don't you think that some of that is excessive in terms of undoing some of the good work done by the Democrats or the other progressives over the years?"

-- Rivera denigrating his new employer, FNC, on the February 20, 2001 Rivera Live, in a segment on the controversy over Clinton's pardons: "Now the Teamsters - one million strong - endorsed Richard Nixon after Jimmy Hoffa was pardoned by Richard Nixon. Now that, to me, smacks of a quid [pro quo] far more logical than Bill Clinton taking money for his library, for God sakes, not himself, but for his library or for the Democratic National Committee....Why is it that on Fox television you never hear the mention of the Hoffa pardon?!"

-- Clinton has told just one lie? Rivera referring to Monica Lewinsky, February 15, 2001 Rivera Live: "The only lie he told was to his wife and to us about it."

-- Geraldo Rivera after humming the theme from Rocky over footage of Clinton's pre-speech hallway walk at the Democratic convention, August 21, 2000 Rivera Live on CNBC: "You're going to miss that guy. Don't tell me you're not gonna miss that guy. This is a master. He may be a rogue, but he is an artful and pleasant rogue and done a hell of a job as President. I'm gonna miss the guy...He should've been the vice presidential candidate."

-- Bashing Ken Starr. CNBC's Rivera Live, October 20, 1999: "Today's Washington Post [editorial] says...'Mr. Starr should be remembered as a man who, hampered alike by intensely adverse conditions and by his own missteps, managed to perform a significant public service,' end quote. Missteps? What would The Washington Post call the Lincoln assassination? Missteps?"

-- Rivera referring to Ken Starr's prosecutors in a question to Susan McDougal, April 14, 1999 Upfront Tonight: "Do you believe that they had, at least indirectly, something to do with your ex-husband, Jim McDougal's, ultimate demise?...Did they help speed your husband's sickness and his ultimate death?"

-- March 8, 1999 Rivera Live: "[Susan McDougal] has been hounded for 15 years by investigators and for the last five by the investigative terrorist, Ken Starr."

-- Rivera, with "NBC News" under his name as his identifier, December 22, 1998 Today: "That was the party with the slender majority and two weeks to live that impeached the man because they could. It was a spiteful action, an action that they performed absolutely in violation of the framers' intent. It was a legislative coup d'etat, and it has been rejected utterly by the American people, 73 percent of whom now say they approve of the President's performance in office..."

-- Rivera singing his version of Twinkle Little Star after playing video of U.S. Representative Mike Pappas (R-NJ) on the House floor singing his version in a birthday tribute to Kenneth Starr, July 21, 1998 Rivera Live on CNBC: "Twinkle, twinkle Kenneth Starr, now we see how crude you are/Up above your jury high, like the judge up in the sky/Twinkle, twinkle little Starr, now we see how wrong you are/When you drag the agents in, when you bully moms and kin/then you kiss the treacherous Tripp, twinkle, twinkle DC drip/Twinkle, twinkle little Starr, now we see how small you are."

-- Rivera on Clinton's plight, May 19, 1998 Rivera Live: "How much of his vital attention is being consumed by Ken Starr's endless probe, by the Monica Lewinsky saga, by the fears that his trusted Secret Service agents will be forced to rat out the maybe gory details of his private life....And finally, and most importantly, how can our bridge to the 21st century feel about the slanderous charge amounting almost to treason, that for Johnny Chung's bribe of 100,000 lousy dollars he sold America's missile secrets to the Chinese, who now aim their deadly devices at America's children?....I watch him and I wonder how he does it. I watch him and wonder how much is too much for any man."

-- Rivera as a guest expert on NBC's Today, November 18, 1998: "I thought that Linda Tripp now takes her place in the Hall of Infamy as a betrayer of the order of Benedict Arnold in the, in the, at least in the love '90s...I think anybody who wrapped themselves around Linda Tripp and her tapes is now soiled. You felt the need to take a shower. What that woman did to her young friend is beyond the pale. I think it's much worse than anything Bill Clinton did."

-- Rivera from China where he was covering Clinton's visit, on CNBC's Rivera Live, June 26, 1998: "They [Linda Tripp and Lucianne Goldberg] wanted to make money on a book but once push came to shove they were perfectly willing to sacrifice the young former White House intern on the altar of greed, on the altar of hatred for Bill Clinton and his administration and I think they're going to accomplish that at least in the short term. But if it comes to trial Linda Tripp will be facing some severe questioning by Monica Lewinsky's very capable counsel. And my God, a first year law student hearing those tapes will be able to make her look like exactly what she is, a treacherous, back-stabbing, good-for-nothing enemy of the truth."

-- Rivera urging Clinton not to cooperate, August 6, 1998 edition of Rivera Live on CNBC: "Mr. President, we love you. I want to hug you, I want to hug you, please do the right thing. This is nothing, this is nothing. Thomas Jefferson did not have this in mind, I swear to God....I would give Ken Starr the Nobel Peace Prize were he to be man enough not to refer a sex lie to the House for impeachment."

I could go on, but I can't take much more. -- Brent Baker


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