Dan Rather Slyly Suggests Bush Team Knew Iraq Had No WMD --9/26/2003
2. FNCer Sees TV Distortion of Iraq, Nets Deliver More Negativity
3. Washington Post Stresses Bush Failure When Other Papers Don't
4. Franken Accuses Hume of "Obscene...Trivializing" of Troop Deaths
5. CBS Sees a Conservative But No Liberals in California Race
Corrections: The September 22 CyberAlert referred to how Dick Cheney "led Halliburton...through 2002." Obviously, he left their employ in 2000. That was my error. Another item in the same issue relayed an error by Tim Russert who recalled how "in October 12, 2002, the USS Cole was blown up." That occurred in 2000.
ABC and CBS on Thursday night gave credibility to liberal talking points as they jumped on a February, 2001 comment by Secretary of State Colin Powell about how Saddam Hussein "has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction." Dan Rather slyly turned that into: "Tonight, the Iraq weapons search. New questions about what the Bush administration knew before the war." Peter Jennings avoided such a suggestion of duplicity: "On World News Tonight, the Bush administration's hunt for weapons of mass destruction comes up dry in Iraq."
Both networks put the old Powell comment into stories about how an interim report by David Kay will say that his team has been unable to locate any weapons of mass destruction. CBS's John Roberts argued that the Bush administration "could have seen this coming if what Colin Powell said back in February of 2001 was true when he insisted UN sanctions against Iraq had kept Saddam contained."
Roberts also asserted: "And still missing in all of this, of course, is any link between Saddam and 9/11 or conclusive evidence that he was working with al-Qaeda. And until one of those links is established or weapons found, critics say, there will remain a substantial gap between the threat posed by Iraq and the White House response to it."
The NBC Nightly News didn't consider Powell's old comments or the leak about the upcoming Kay report to be newsworthy while CNN's NewsNight focused a story on the Kay angle.
Absent from the ABC and CBS stories: Any context about how it was not just the Bush team, but everyone in the intelligence communities of the world, who believed Iraq had WMD. As Fred Barnes reported on Wednesday, earlier that day about Senator Hillary Clinton's view: "'The intelligence from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 was consistent' in concluding Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was trying to develop a nuclear capability, Clinton said this morning."
Rather opened the September 25 CBS Evening News: "Good evening. Where are Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction? The search has gone on for months now, and a forthcoming report from the CIA's chief weapons hunter, David Kay, says nothing significant has been found. A White House spokesman insisted again today that President Bush still believes Saddam had such weapons and posed a grave threat to America. But, as CBS's John Roberts reports, long before David Kay's work began, some top administration officials had a very different view."
Roberts began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "White House officials today played down the significance of what they call just an interim report. But they could have seen this coming if what Colin Powell said back in February of 2001 was true when he insisted UN sanctions against Iraq had kept Saddam contained."
Over on ABC, World News Tonight delivered a less conspiratorial take as Jennings announced: "The Bush administration is under pressure today for failing to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or even as best we can tell, concrete evidence of them. The first progress report on the hunt for chemical and biological weapons has been leaking out. We've had some of it before. It shows very little progress."
Martha Raddatz explained how a team of 1200 has had unrestricted access to sites and scientists, "yet four months after beginning its work, David Kay's team reports it has not discovered a single chemical or biological weapon."
Raddatz elaborated: "According to officials, Kay's interim report does detail Iraq's efforts to maintain the capability to produce weapons. But the Bush administration's principle reason for war was the assertion that weapons would be found, so the scrutiny is already intense. Now Democrats are drawing attention to comments made by Secretary of State Colin Powell in February of 2001, arguing that sanctions against Iraq had indeed kept Saddam Hussein in check."
After a soundbite from former UN weapons inspector Charles Duelfer, Raddatz concluded by noting how Kay's team still has more interviews to go and documents to read.
An online posting Wednesday for The Weekly Standard, which carried te subhead, "The junior Senator from New York may be surprising some people with what she has to say about Saddam and weapons of mass destruction," Fred Barnes reported that "President Bush has a surprising defender of his contention that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York."
Barnes relayed: "'The intelligence from Bush 1 to Clinton to Bush 2 was consistent' in concluding Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and was trying to develop a nuclear capability, Clinton said this morning. And Saddam's expulsion of weapons inspectors and 'the behavior' of his regime 'pointed to a continuing effort' to produce WMD, she added.
For Barnes' story in full: www.weeklystandard.com
Another round Thursday night on ABC and CBS of depressing news on the plight of the Iraqi people. But on Thursday's Fox and Friends, FNC's Steve Harrigan, just back from Iraq, saw a huge contradiction between the Iraq he saw and the one he sees on U.S. TV networks. "You don't see a happy Iraqi," he regretted, "I've never seen one on TV." Recalling his time with families optimistic about the future, Harrigan contrasted it with how "coming over here," to the U.S., "there's a huge gap, like two pictures."
Matching Harrigan's observation, ABC's Jim Scuitto focused Thursday night on how "a wave of rapes and kidnapings of women has followed the war" in the nation in which women previously "had more freedom to study, to work and to dress as they like than in many Persian Gulf countries," but "now they see those rights under threat from the lack of security and from Islamic fundamentalists." It's so bad that "some women will even say they were better off under Saddam." CBS's Allen Pizzey focused on how "poverty and a ruined infrastructure are most people's daily reality."
For the September 25 World News Tonight, Scuitto looked at the plight of women in Iraq as he profiled a family which lives behind an iron gate because "a wave of rapes and kidnapings of women has followed the war here in the capital..."
Scuitto recalled better times: "Before the war, Iraqi women had more freedom to study, to work and to dress as they like than in many Persian Gulf countries. Now they see those rights under threat from the lack of security and from Islamic fundamentalists" who pressure them to cover their faces and to not work for foreigners.
Scuitto continued: "According to the UN, those fears are already having very real affects. As women are confined to the home, they and their children are cut off from health care. Only about half of Iraqi girls are attending school. And women are losing their ability to make a living. After Muslim gangs threatened her for promoting Western influences, Hania's beauty salon closes early now and earns half what it used to. 'I had to hire armed guards,' she says, 'we're petrified.' Some women will even say they were better off under Saddam. Hania's daughter broke into tears saying she missed him. They say things may get better, but their best hope may be to leave Iraq altogether."
Rather set up the CBS Evening News story: "In Iraq today, a top member of the U.S.-backed governing council died of wounds from an attack last weekend. Akila al-Hashimi was gunned down Saturday near her Baghdad home. The gunman escaped. Also today, the United Nations said it is pulling more staffers out of Iraq following two deadly bomb attacks on its Baghdad headquarters. And as CBS's Allen Pizzey reports, despite hints of returning normalcy, the Iraqi capital remains a dangerous place for Americans in and out of uniform."
Pizzey began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "American troops used heat blasting from tanks to push back a crowd that had spilled out of a nearby mosque and began chanting for Saddam Hussein. The slogans from the past were as much to provoke the troops and play for the camera as they were statements of political conviction. Situations like this present U.S. troops with one of their worst dilemmas: whatever they do to protect themselves, they risk hurting Iraqi civilians, and that just makes them more enemies. And they have enough of those already. These men, caught in a raid in Tikrit, are suspected of financing so-called Saddam Fedayeen who have been attacking American forces. And a new American target was hit today. A bomb at a hotel used by NBC News in Baghdad killed a hotel employee and wounded a technician and one other person.
Thursday morning on FNC's Fox and Friends, MRC analyst Amanda Monson noticed, Steve Harrigan, who recently returned from an assignment in Iraq, was in studio where he lamented the overly negative U.S. media portrayal of the situation in Iraq.
Harrigan recalled following around a happy cigarette factory worker who sees challenges, but "he was really happy and that's what you don't get over here. I come back here, I was out in a boat last weekend in Tennessee and some guy said to me, 'they hate us over there, right? They want to kill us.' That's the picture I think that everyone has over here and that's what they're talking about. You don't see a happy Iraqi. I've never seen one on TV."
Harrigan cited other good signs, such as people getting married and the Gallup poll which found two-thirds optimistic that the future will be better than life was under Hussein. Harrigan concluded: "It's tough, but the media's just killing this war." He elaborated: "Being over there, living there, sitting around eating kabob with a family for five hours, hearing what they're saying about Americans and then coming over here there's a huge gap, like two pictures."
(FNC has posted a brief bio of Harrigan, a CNN veteran, but it lacks a picture of him: www.foxnews.com )
Indeed, during a segment on Thursday's Good Morning America with Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez, commander of forces in Iraq, ABC's Charles Gibson showed he's a victim of his own network's distorted reporting as he expressed befuddlement at how anyone could say things are getting better in Iraq:
And, by the way, World News Tonight has only one more night to come through on its promise made in promos run last weekend: "Plus, good news from Iraq: These Iraqis and U.S. soldiers are getting along just fine."
Washington Post versus the media consensus. Thursday night on Special Report with Brit Hume, FNC's Hume contrasted some major newspaper headlines, about how Bush and the leaders of France and German put aside their differences to move forward on Iraq, with how the Washington Post headlined declared: "Bush Fails to Gain Pledges on Troops or Funds on Iraq." Hume noted how not until deep in the article did the Post mention the Bush/Schroeder reconciliation.
During the "Grapevine" segment on his September 25 show, Hume showed these headlines from that day's papers:
-- USA Today: "Chirac signals flexibility on Iraq"
Hume added: "Not until page 22 do you read that the White House said that Bush did not ask foreign leaders for troops or money and even deeper on page 22 in the Post come mention of that Bush/Schroeder reconciliation."
Left-wing ranter Al Franken, on Thursday's The View on ABC, maintained that in contrast to how "I love our troops," he charged that FNC's Brit Hume is "trivializing the danger that our soldiers are under" in Iraq and claimed of a news item Hume read in late August: "It's obscene and it's offensive to those troops and their families."
Franken's allegation, based on misquoting, distorting and misrepresenting what Hume actually said and meant, came as he defended his mean-spirited, vulgar tirade against Hume and FNC which he leveled during a Howard Dean fundraising event last Saturday.
On FNC's O'Reilly Factor on Monday night, Bill O'Reilly showed a clip of Franken on stage at the Saturday, September 20 event in New York City, in front of a big "Dean for America" sign. The clip joined Franken mid-rant, and though FNC bleeped out the vulgarities, it was pretty clear what Franken was saying. But instead on listing the actual word, or putting in a bunch of asterisks, I thought I'd try something new, a bit of simple encryption I've seen employed by Michael Z. McIntee, Editor of the Late Show's online Wahoo Gazette, to avoid publishing offensive words: Look one letter to the left on your keyboard. So, with that code in mind, here's Franken on Hume and FNC:
Appearing on the September 25 The View to promote his book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right, Franken was asked to explain his anti-FNC outburst. Franken contended:
Franken quoted Hume as reporting: "Statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California." But for a guy so concerned about accuracy, he misstated what Hume said, though the difference did not change Hume's meaning in a significant way. Hume stated on his August 26 show: "Statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying from all causes in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California which is roughly the same geographical size."
But in order to impugn Hume as some kind of monster mocking the deaths of soldiers in Iraq, Franken clearly distorted and misrepresented Hume's point. Hume's statistical contrast may not match up on the risk of death for a U.S. soldier in Iraq versus a citizen in California, but that was not his point. He was making an observation about media priorities. Hume was trying to contrast the raw number of murders occurring in the two places in order to make a point about excessive media focus on the casualty rate in Iraq as being inordinately high and newsworthy above all other developments -- along the theme of how the media will ignore a thousand people killed during a year in car accidents one or two at a time in a metropolitan area, but then go wall-to-wall when a plane crash kills 40 people -- only in this case the media were focusing on the daily deaths and not putting them into a larger context of how many more go unnoticed when murdered in a U.S. state that is not perceived as particularly dangerous.
Here, in full, is Hume's August 26 "Grapevine" segment item on Special Report with Brit Hume:
Even if you somehow believe that this one short item represents some kind of terrible bias, it pales compared to the regular onslaught of liberal bias delivered night after night and morning after morning by ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC and yet the MRC has never resorted to yelling about how Dan Rather or Peter Jennings or Matt Lauer or Aaron Brown are "givlomh shameless" or to distort their real bias into a ridiculous accusation about any of them making fun of people being murdered.
Franken's media analysis is pretty pathetic.
The Early Show just can't see any liberals in California, but reporters for the CBS show have no trouble identifying the conservative in the recall race for Governor.
Thursday morning, after the debate the night before, Jerry Bowen, the MRC's Brian Boyd observed, offered this description of the candidates beyond the Arnold Schwarzenegger-Arianna Huffington sparring: "The other three candidates: conservative Republican Tom McClintock, the Green Party's Peter Camejo and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante were subdued by comparison."
Of course, if he wanted to be consistent and use office titles, after having deciding to describe Bustamante as the Lieutenant Governor he could have identified McClintock as a state senator.
But that wouldn't be keeping with the CBS record. As recounted in the August 1 CyberAlert, CBS reporter Sandra Hughes insisted upon applying an ideological tag to every potential Republican gubernatorial candidate she mentioned in a story on California's upcoming recall vote on Governor Gray Davis, but she refused to label either Democrat she cited, Davis or Dianne Feinstein.
On the July 31 Early Show she described Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Riordan as "moderate Republicans" before referring to Bill Simon as being "on the conservative Republican side" along with "conservative Congressman Darrell Issa." Bur for the two Democrats, it was simply "Democratic Governor Gray Davis" and "Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein."
For details: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Brent Baker