Appearance Alert
MRC's Bozell to appear on Fox News' 'The Kelly File' at 9:40pm ET

Dan Rather Slyly Suggests Bush Team Knew Iraq Had No WMD --9/26/2003


1. Dan Rather Slyly Suggests Bush Team Knew Iraq Had No WMD
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."

2. FNCer Sees TV Distortion of Iraq, Nets Deliver More Negativity
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, "there's a huge gap" between what he saw and what TV shows, "like two pictures." Matching Harrigan's observation, ABC's Jim Scuitto focused on how "a wave of rapes and kidnapings of women has followed the war" and now 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."

3. Washington Post Stresses Bush Failure When Other Papers Don't
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.

4. Franken Accuses Hume of "Obscene...Trivializing" of Troop Deaths
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.

5. CBS Sees a Conservative But No Liberals in California Race
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 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."


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.

Dan Rather Slyly Suggests Bush Team Knew
Iraq Had No WMD

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."
Colin Powell in Cairo, from February 24, 2001: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction."
Roberts: "Six months later, right after the attacks of 9/11, Vice President Cheney seemed to agree."
Dick Cheney on Meet the Press, September 16, 2001: "Saddam Hussein's bottled up at this point."
Roberts: "But a year later, President Bush declared to the United Nations:"
George W. Bush, September 12, 2002: "Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence."
Roberts saw contradiction where there was none: "So what changed in that time? The White House seems to be of two minds. In an appearance this morning, the national security advisor suggested new information had come to light."
Condoleezza Rice on ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday: "Yes, the story unfolded. The intelligence estimate on which the President acted said that Saddam Hussein had chemical, biological weapons, and was pursuing nuclear weapons."
Roberts: "The President, on the other hand, today pointed to no new intelligence, saying only that the threat Saddam had posed for years took on new urgency after the attacks on America."
Bush earlier in the day in cabinet room: "9/11 changed my calculation. It made it really clear we have to deal with threats before they come on our shore."
Roberts concluded: "But if another of Powell's statements from February 2001 was accurate, that threat may never have been directed toward the U.S. Powell said Saddam's regime presents 'a danger to the region, not a danger to the United States.' 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."

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."
Powell, February 24, 2001: "He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors."
Raddatz: "Today Powell denied any contradiction."
Powell: "You will note I did not say that he didn't have weapons of mass destruction."
Raddatz: "And President Bush today dismissed Colin Powell's statements from 2001 because the came before September 11th."
Bush: "9-11 changed my calculation. It made it really clear we have to deal with threats before they come on our shore."
Raddatz: "Critics are argue that what the administration should be saying is why were these mistakes made."

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.
"The senator said she did her own 'due diligence' by attending classified briefings on Capitol Hill and at the White House and Pentagon and also by consulting national security officials from the Clinton administration whom she trusts. 'To a person, they all agreed with the consensus of the intelligence' that Saddam had WMD....
"Clinton's comments came during an appearance before dozens of reporters at a Wednesday breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor...."

For Barnes' story in full: www.weeklystandard.com

FNCer Sees TV Distortion of Iraq, Nets
Deliver More Negativity

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.
"But blood and anger are only part of the story here. The dramatic incidents that make the headlines tend to overshadow another struggle that is equally crucial to Iraq's future: the daily effort ordinary Iraqis must make just to get on with their lives. Under American protection, thousands of pensioners a day line up for hours to collect $60, paid with money seized from Saddam Hussein's bank accounts. That and $87 billion more from Washington may mean a bright future, but poverty and a ruined infrastructure are most people's daily reality. Even those with money are victims of forces beyond their control. Adra Mahmoud was shopping for her family of four. 'Prices are high because the dollar is very high,' she says. The situation in this market was much the same when Iraq was under UN sanctions. Changing things may prove as big a challenge for the U.S. administration here as it is for Iraqis just trying to cope. Allen Pizzey, CBS News, Baghdad."

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:
"Yesterday was one of the most violent days we've seen in some time in Iraq. There were clashes between forces, there was another bombing, bombings. It all seems at odds as you look at it from the view back in this country, it all seems at odds with the reassurances that things are getting better."

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."

No such story aired Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Just Friday to go.

Washington Post Stresses Bush Failure
When Other Papers Don't

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"
-- Los Angeles Times: "Bush, Schroeder End Feud; Germany Offers Aid in Iraq"
-- Washington Times: "U.S., Germany put aside differences on Iraq"
-- Washington Post: "Bush Fails to Gain Pledges on Troops or Funds 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."

Franken Accuses Hume of "Obscene...Trivializing" of Troop Deaths

Al Franken 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:
"-How big an asshole Brit Hume is and how shameless, how givlomh shameless these people are. These people are so givlomh shameless. They are shameless. And I don't just say this because the Fox people sued me."

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:
"I am about, at Christmas, to go on my fourth USO tour. I'm going to Afghanistan and Iraq. I love our troops. I've been to Kosovo three times, went to Bosnia three times. What I was responding to was Brit Hume went on his show, Special Report, and he said this, he said this about our troops, he says: 'Statistically speaking, U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California.'"
View quad-host Joy Behar interjected: "Nasty."
Franken picked up: "And this is, and then his evidence was there are about 6.6 homicides a day in California and we're losing only 1.7 soldiers a day in Iraq. Now what he's forgetting is there are 34 million people living in California and there are one point, and there are 140,000, so you're actually 60 times more likely to die if you're a soldier in Iraq.
"And so what he was doing, the point of this was, that Fox News, and this is what I talk about in my book, is a shill for this administration and they were trying to say, 'oh, it's not so bad in Iraq. Everything's under control in Iraq and our soldiers really are' -- and anyone who's trivializing the danger that our soldiers are under there, and for every soldier that gets killed ten get wounded, for anyone who trivializes that, I think that's obscene. And I'm sorry, I don't apologize if, I don't apologize for getting angry at someone who trivializes the danger that our troops are under and that's why I'm going at Christmas and I just think that it's obscene and it's offensive to those troops and their families."

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:
"Two hundred seventy seven U.S. soldiers have now died in Iraq, which means that, 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. The most recent statistics indicate California has more than 2,300 homicides each year, which means about 6.6 murders each day. Meanwhile, U.S. troops have been in Iraq for 160 days, which means they're incurring about 1.7 deaths, including illness and accidents, each day."

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.

CBS Sees a Conservative But No Liberals
in California Race

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