CyberAlert -- 12/04/2001 -- Restrain the Israelis?
"Restrain the Israelis?"; Pat Leahy's View Endorsed; FNC's Idea that War is Good vs. Evil Novel for NYT; Brit Hume in Playboy
1) Israel was the victim of an attack by a terrorist group. But Peter Jennings wanted to know if the Bush administration wished to "restrain the Israelis?" Jennings also referred to Hamas simply as an "organization." CBS's Bryant Gumbel offered Palestinians an excuse: "Is it realistic" for Palestinians to "ever reach some kind of agreement with Ariel Sharon, a man who has done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East?"
2) Rather didn't hesitate to apply accurate labels on Monday night from Kabul: "The few, the proud, the Marines. Ready to put their lives on the line now in the fight against terrorists who murdered thousands of innocent Americans September 11th."
3) "I think Pat Leahy is right when he says we have to be able to hold our head high when this war is over," Steve Roberts opined in endorsing the liberal Senator's attacks. Roberts castigated John Ashcroft: "We have to be able to show to the world that...we've dealt fairly with the people we've captured, and I think that Ashcroft has put that at risk."
4) Eleanor Clift attributed high public approval for military tribunals to ignorance. "I don't think most people understand what we are giving up," she contended as she suggested: "We need to educate the public about what's going on."
5) White House reporter identified, the one who argued providing information about terrorists bears "a passing similarity to what totalitarian societies like East Germany and the Soviet Union used to do...turn informant, and you'll get rewarded."
7) FNC's portrayal of the war is so novel to other media that Monday's New York Times carried a story headlined: "Fox Portrays a War of Good and Evil, and Many Applaud." ABC News President David Westin insisted his journalists must "maintain their neutrality in times of war." Fox Chairman Roger Ailes marveled: "Suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair and balanced,' but only when it's radical terrorism versus the United States."
8) FNC's Brit Hume is the interviewee in the latest Playboy. In a posted portion, Hume criticized ABC for banning flag lapel pins: "The idea that wearing a small symbol, not of a political administration or a political cause but a flag of the country, means you have stepped over journalistic lines is ridiculous and unfortunate."
>>> Bernard Goldberg video now up on
the MRC's home page. The MRC's Mez Djouadi has now posted a RealPlayer
clip from MSNBC last June of the former CBS News reporter discussing
liberal media bias with host Mike Barnicle. His appearance followed an
op-ed he wrote for the Wall Street Journal. As reported in the December 3
CyberAlert, Goldberg has penned a book, Bias: A CBS News Insider Exposes
How the Media Distort the News. It hasn't made book stores yet and its
publisher, Regnery, does not yet list it on its Web site, www.regnery.com.
But you can order it online from Amazon.com:
Peter Jennings, Palestinian sympathizer first, journalist second? Israel was the victim of a murderous terrorist attack by a terrorist group, Hamas, which claimed credit. But on Monday night Jennings wanted to know if the Bush administration wished to "restrain the Israelis?" Jennings also tried to absolve Yasser Arafat of responsibility as he referred to Hamas simply as an "organization." He asserted: "There's some question as to whether Mr. Arafat can really control organizations like Hamas."
Imagine wondering on September 13 how to "restrain" the Bush administration's reaction to an "organization" which completed suicide bombings two days before.
Jennings' assessments came during a World
News Tonight q and a with White House reporter Terry Moran. Jennings'
first of two questions: "Terry, the Bush administration wish to
restrain the Israelis at this point?"
On Monday morning, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, Bryant Gumbel also asked about restraining Israel, though he also inquired about restraining Arafat. But less than 48 hours after Israel was a victim of terrorism, Gumbel put the burden on Israel's Prime Minister for having "done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East."
During the December 3 Early Show interview with former Senator George Mitchell, Gumbel inquired: "You saw the tape, Secretary Powell chiding Yasser Arafat for not restraining those terrorist forces that he says are under his command. Do you think it is within his capability to restrain those forces, to restrain Hamas and Islamic Jihad?"
Gumbel followed up: "Should this administration be taking the same efforts to restrain Sharon, should they be acting much more even handed than they have been?"
Gumbel then proposed: "Is it realistic, Senator, to think that the Palestinians, whoever is in charge, would ever reach some kind of agreement with Ariel Sharon, a man who has done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East?"
Rather remains willing to apply accurate labeling. After a Monday night
story on some Marines in Afghanistan setting up a base of operations, from
Kabul Rather closed the December 2 CBS Evening News:
Steve Roberts of U.S. News & World Report prefers Senator Patrick Leahy's approach to the one being pursued by Attorney General John Ashcroft. "I think Pat Leahy is right when he says we have to be able to hold our head high when this war is over," the former New York Times reporter declared on CNN's Late Edition. He castigated Ashcroft: "We have to be able to show to the world that not only have we won, we've won fairly, and we've dealt fairly with the people we've captured, and I think that Ashcroft has put that at risk."
The comments from Roberts came during the panel segment on the December 2 show, which host Wolf Blitzer set up: "The other contentious issue that the debate in Washington, Steve, over some of the extra-constitutional, if you will, measures that are being taken -- military tribunals, detaining individuals. In the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, 'Is the U.S. justified in detaining 600 people in its September 11 investigation?' 86 percent say yeah, justified; only 12 percent, not justified."
Blitzer observed: "On this specific issue, the American public, all of the polls say, overwhelmingly supports Attorney General John Ashcroft."
But Roberts was not persuaded the public is
correct: "Well, that's certainly true. And you would expect that. I
mean, there is a general sense of patriotism in the country. And, look,
civil liberties is never popular. And it's easy to stand up for individual
rights when it's a popular issue. It's hard when everybody else is against
Newsweek reporter Eleanor Clift attributed high public approval for military tribunals to ignorance. "I don''t think most people understand what we are giving up," she contended on FNC last Thursday night as she suggested: "We need to educate the public about what's going on."
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down her
comment uttered on the November 29 edition of FNC's 10pm EST War on
Let's educate them to disbelieve whatever Clift says.
Mystery reporter identified as, probably, Ken Fireman of Newsday.
The November 30 CyberAlert reported how a bearded male reporter posed this question to Ari Fleischer during the November 29 White House press briefing: "Back on the subject of the 'responsible cooperator' program that the Attorney General announced today. Does it not make the administration uncomfortable to be promulgating a program that bears at least passing similarity to what totalitarian societies like East Germany and the Soviet Union used to do, which is to say to people: Turn informant, and you'll get rewarded?"
I asked for help identifying the reporter and got one suggestion: Tim Graham of World magazine thought it was Ken Fireman of Newsday, the Tribune-owned daily on New York's Long Island. What Fireman wrote in his November 30 Newsday story seems to confirm his identity.
Fireman reported: "The program, however, drew a sharply negative response from one of the nation's most prominent Arab-American groups, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. For one thing, said spokesman Hussein Ibish, the name of the program contains a word -- 'cooperator' -- that has an extremely negative connotation in Arabic and is likely to deter rather than encourage participation. 'What it implies is someone who sells himself,' said Ibish. 'It's a poor choice of words.' He said the term recalled previous linguistic gaffes by the government in its anti-terror campaign, including President George W. Bush's description of it as a 'crusade' and the Pentagon's quickly rescinded code name of 'Infinite Justice,' both of which rankled Arabic sensibilities."
During Friday's briefing the same reporter who posed the question on Thursday quoted above asked Fleischer about how "cooperator" might offend Muslims and how it isn't the first time the administration has poorly chosen its words.
To read Fireman's November 30 Newsday story,
For a picture of the reporter I now believe is
Fireman, go to:
The panel on ABC's This Week on Sunday offered their opinions on whether Time magazine should pick Osama bin Laden as its Person of the Year, the person who "has had the most impact for better or worse."
ABC News reporter Claire Shipman:
That's three-to-one in favor.
The Fox News Channel's portrayal of the war as a battle between "good and evil" is such a novel concept to much of the media that the New York Times on Monday devoted a whole story to the subject under the headline: "Fox Portrays a War of Good and Evil, and Many Applaud."
Reporter Jim Rutenberg explained at the top of his December 3 story: "Ever since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, the network has become a sort of headquarters for viewers who want their news served up with extra patriotic fervor. In the process, Fox has pushed television news where it has never gone before: to unabashed and vehement support of a war effort, carried in tough-guy declarations often expressing thirst for revenge."
Fox Chairman Roger Ailes told Rutenberg that unlike the other networks, "we just do not assume that America's wrong first."
ABC News President David Westin, naturally, "said it was important for his journalists to maintain their neutrality in times of war. 'The American people right now need at least some sources for their news where they believe we're trying to get it right, plain and simply,' he said, 'rather than because it fits with any advocacy we have.'"
The great come back from Ailes, playing on FNC's slogan: "Suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair and balanced,' but only when it's radical terrorism versus the United States."
An excerpt from the December 3 New York Times story by Jim Rutenberg:
Osama bin Laden, according to Fox News Channel anchors, analysts and correspondents, is "a dirtbag," "a monster" overseeing a "web of hate." His followers in Al Qaeda are "terror goons." Taliban fighters are "diabolical" and "henchmen."...
The usual anchor role of delivering the news free of personal opinion has been altered to include occasional asides. On a recent edition of the network's 5 p.m. program, "The Big Story," the anchor, John Gibson, said that military tribunals were needed to send the following message to terrorists: "There won't be any dream team for you. There won't be any Mr. Johnnie hand-picking jurors and insisting that the headgear don't fit, you must acquit. Uh-uh. Not this time, pal."...
So far, the journalistic legacy of this war would seem to be a debate over what role journalism should play at a time of war. The Fox News Channel is the incarnation of a school of thought that the morally neutral practice of journalism is now inappropriate.
It has thrown away many of the conventions that have guided television journalism for half a century, and its viewers clearly approve. The network's average audience of 744,000 viewers at any given moment is 43 percent larger than it was at this time last year -- helped along by a sizable increase in distribution.
On some days, Fox draws an audience even larger than the audience of CNN, part of AOL Time Warner; CNN is available in nine million more homes. In prime time, Fox draws a larger average audience than CNN even more often, a challenge to CNN that could become stronger as Fox's distribution grows....
Like the rest of the country, television journalism has engaged in a good bit of soul-searching since Sept. 11. Faced with covering a direct, large-scale attack on American soil, people at the other television networks have debated the merits of wearing American flag lapel pins in front of cameras and the danger of letting emotions get in the way of objective reporting. Others, like executives at the Reuters news agency, have cautioned writers and editors about using the word "terrorist."
Such hand-wringing has become fodder for conservative press critics. But Fox has not been saddled with such problems.
The network's motto is "fair and balanced," a catch phrase drafted to imply that it is objective while its competitors carry a liberal bias. But in this conflict, Fox executives say, to be unequivocally fair and balanced is to participate in the worst kind of cultural relativism. Giving both sides equal credence is to lose touch with right and wrong, they contend.
Fox denies that its reports are tinged with ideology. They simply reflect the new realities facing the nation, the network says.
"What we say is terrorists, terrorism, is evil, and America doesn't engage in it, and these guys do," said Roger Ailes, the Fox News chairman. "Yet, suddenly, our competition has discovered 'fair and balanced,' but only when it's radical terrorism versus the United States."
Fox does not suffer from the same affliction as competitors who are "uncomfortable embracing a good-versus-evil canvas," argued John Moody, the Fox senior vice president in charge of news. That, he said, is a relic of the Vietnam War and Watergate, watershed eras that infused journalism with an outmoded, knee-jerk suspicion of government.
The Fox News mantra of "be accurate, be fair, be American," Mr. Moody said, is appropriate for the times.
Brit Hume, the anchor of "Special Report," Fox's 6 p.m. news program, said he had avoided giving too much weight to reports about civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
"O.K., war is hell, people die," he said. "We know we're at war. The fact that some people are dying, is that really news? And is it news to be treated in a semi-straight-faced way? I think not."...
"We are not anti-the United States," Mr. Ailes said. "We just do not assume that America's wrong first."
It may be a good time to have that position. A survey released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center of 1,500 adult Americans found that 30 percent wanted their newscasters to take a pro-American stance during their reports....
Alex S. Jones, the director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, said that by reporting the news with such an American perspective, Fox News was failing to explain the evolution of the other side's motivation against the United States.
"I think people need to understand what's going on on the other side of the equation, how the U.S. is viewed by its critics," he said.
Mr. Ailes said the Fox network did as much of that as was necessary.
"Look, we understand the enemy -- they've made themselves clear: they want to murder us," he said. "We don't sit around and get all gooey and wonder if these people have been misunderstood in their childhood. If they're going to try to kill us, that's bad."...
END of Excerpt
To read the entire story, if registered with
New York Times online:
Brit Hume is the January 2002 Playboy "Interview" subject. Playboy has only posted the introduction to the interview and one question and answer, but in that answer Hume lectured his former employer, ABC News, about their policy banning the wearing of flag lapel pins.
Playboy's question: "Will journalism
change in the wake of September 11?"
Online you can read Playboy's lengthy introduction which outlines the growth of the Fox News Channel and reviews Hume's journalistic career, including how Ralph Nader gave him the opportunity for a journalistic investigation that led to a book which brought Hume to national prominence. Go to: http://www.playboy.com/magazine/current/interview01.html
To read the interview itself, you'll have to buy the magazine or sign up for Playboy.com's paid access service.
But that way you'll get the pictures too. I'm looking forward to being able to combine learning Brit Hume's view of the media and how FNC sees its role while simultaneously seeing photos of beautiful women. Thanks, Brit, for a work-related rationale to buy Playboy.
-- Brent Baker