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Moran Hits Bush with Obscure Case, WPost Delights He's "Stumped" --1/27/2005


1. Moran Hits Bush with Obscure Case, WPost Delights He's "Stumped"
In a "gotcha" moment at Wednesday's presidential news conference, ABC's Terry Moran raised the case of a man in Jordan jailed for "slander" after he claimed the Jordanian government uses U.S. weapons against its own people. Moran snidely asked President Bush to square that arrest with his Inaugural address: "I wonder if here and now you will specifically condemn this abuse of human rights by a key American ally, and if you won't, sir, then what in a practical sense do your fine words mean?" In Thursday's Washington Post, reporters Glenn Kessler and Scott Wilson devoted a story to how "President Bush was stumped yesterday" by the question and had replied: "I'm unaware of the case." Though al-Jazeera has highlighted the case, neither the Washington Post or ABC News has ever previously reported on the December arrest. Moran apparently still didn't consider it newsworthy since he didn't mention the subject during his World News Tonight story on the press conference.

2. Wash Post and CBS Dub Liberals as "Centrist" & "Not...Left Wing"
Democratic Senators Tom Harkin, Carl Levin and Mark Dayton are "centrists"? Writing a mid-day story Wednesday for the Washington Post Web site, about the Senate's confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, reporter Charles Babington asserted: "Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)." After National Review Online noted the ridiculous label, the Post dropped it. But then it returned in Babington's piece in the Thursday newspaper where he referred to Senator Russ Feingold as one of the Senate's "more centrist or independent members." Maybe Babington took his lead from CBS's Harry Smith who on Wednesday's Early Show insisted that Dayton is "not known as a rabble rouser or a left-wing infiltrator."

3. Brown Provides Sympathetic Forum for Boxer, Cues Up Her Attacks
CNN's Aaron Brown on Tuesday night, hours before the confirmation vote on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, gave Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer a sympathetic forum to spout off against Rice. On NewsNight, Brown cued her up: "Was it simply a case of bad intelligence or did they cook the books? Did they lie? Which is it?" And: "Do you feel like they can just come before the country and say anything they want and people will forget because, frankly, it's water over the bridge now anyway?" Brown also lamented the lack of support for Boxer from her fellow Democrats, wondering "why so few of the leaders of the party have joined you in either tone or substance?"

4. Turner: Iraq War "Obscene," FNC: Bush's "Propaganda Voice"
At a Tuesday industry forum in Las Vegas, Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and former Vice Chairman of Time Warner who still owns a chunk of the company, denounced the war in Iraq as "obscene and stupid" since we "spent $200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend $200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole -- one guy." Turner also denigrated FNC as a "propaganda voice" for the Bush administration and while that's "certainly legal," it "does pose problems for our democracy when the news is 'dumbed-down.'" Asked about how FNC has more viewers than CNN, Turner admitted he's "not happy about it," but "Adolph Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early '30s than his -- the people that were running against him, so just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're right."


Corrections: The January 25 CyberAlert noted how in Iraq Peter Jennings "traveled on a patrol with the 1st Calvary." That should have read "cavalry." And for those scoring at home, the January 21 CyberAlert was the 13th edition this year, not the 12th, the January 24 was the 14th, the January 25 the 15th and the January 26 the 16th.

Moran Hits Bush with Obscure Case, WPost
Delights He's "Stumped"

ABC's Terry Moran In a "gotcha" moment at Wednesday's presidential news conference, ABC's Terry Moran raised the case of a man in Jordan jailed for "slander" after he claimed the Jordanian government uses U.S. weapons against its own people. Moran snidely asked President Bush to square that arrest with his Inaugural address: "I wonder if here and now you will specifically condemn this abuse of human rights by a key American ally, and if you won't, sir, then what in a practical sense do your fine words mean?" In Thursday's Washington Post, reporters Glenn Kessler and Scott Wilson devoted a story to how "President Bush was stumped yesterday" by the question and had replied: "I'm unaware of the case." Though al-Jazeera has highlighted the case, neither the Washington Post or ABC News has ever previously reported on the December arrest. Moran apparently still didn't consider it newsworthy since he didn't mention the subject during his World News Tonight story on the press conference.

During the 10am EST session on January 26 Moran asked, as checked against the tape by the MRC's Jessica Barnes:
"Last month in Jordan, a gentleman named Ali Hattar was arrested after delivering a lecture called, 'Why We Boycott America.' He was charged under Section 191 of their penal code for slander of government officials. He stood up for democracy, you might say, and I wonder if here and now you will specifically condemn this abuse of human rights by a key American ally, and if you won't, sir, then what in a practical sense do your fine words mean?"
Bush: "I am unaware of the case. You've asked me to comment on something that I didn't know took place. I urge my friend, His Majesty, to make sure that democracy continues to advance in Jordan....Obviously we're discussing a process. As I said in my speech, not every nation is going to immediately adopt America's vision of democracy, and I fully understand that, but we expect nations to adopt the values inherent in a democracy, which is human rights and human dignity, that every person matters and every person ought to have a voice, and His Majesty is making progress toward that goal. I can't speak specifically to the case. You're asking me to speak about a case that I don't know the facts."
Moran: "Fair enough. If I could just follow up. Will you then, does your inaugural address mean that when it comes to people like Mr. Hattar you won't compromise because of a U.S. ally and you will stand-"
Bush: "Again, I don't know the facts, Terry. You're asking me to comment on something I do not know the facts. Perhaps you're accurate in your description of the facts, but I have not seen those facts...."

The MRC's Tim Graham checked Google and found no stories in amy major U.S. media outlet, but he did locate a December piece in al-Jazeera, "Jordanian charged for criticising US." See: english.aljazeera.net

A Nexis search located nothing on him in any significant U.S. media outlet -- not ABC News or the Washington Post -- but the AP did produce, from Amman Jordan, a December 23 story with distribution to "Middle East; England; Europe; Britian; Scandinavia."

An excerpt from the AP dispatch by Shafika Mattar:

A rights activist has been charged with slandering the Jordanian government after he accused it of buying weapons from the United States and deploying them against its own people.

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch criticized the prosecution of Ali Hattar, saying Thursday that it contradicts Jordan's professions of political liberty.

Ali Hattar told The Associated Press that he pleaded innocent to violating article 191 of the Penal Code in a court appearance on Tuesday. The article outlaws the slander of government officials and carries a maximum penalty of two years' imprisonment.

Hattar is an engineer and a member of the Anti-Normalization Committee, a group that opposes Jordan's 1994 peace treaty with Israel and U.S. policy in the Middle East.

He said that last week he gave a lecture to the Professional Associations titled "Why We Boycott America." In the speech he accused developing countries of buying weapons from the United States and using them against their own people....

Human Rights Watch said while the government has pledged to increase freedom as part of its reform program, it has failed to revise laws that restrict freedom of expression.

"The Jordanian government is using the vague wording of its penal code to crack down on free speech," said the director of the group's Middle East and North Africa section, Sarah Leah Whitson....

END of Excerpt

The Washington Post on Thursday delighted in highlighting Bush's lack of awareness of the case, but failed to acknowledge how Post readers wouldn't know about it since the paper had never previously reported on the case.

"Bush Caught Off Guard by Case of Jailed Jordanian" announced the January 27 headline over the article by reporters Glenn Kessler and Scott Wilson. An excerpt:

President Bush was stumped yesterday when he was asked at his news conference about the plight of a Jordanian man who faces a two-year prison term for slander after giving a lecture last month calling for a boycott of American goods and companies. "I'm unaware of the case," he said.

The circumstances are somewhat murky, but in many ways the case signifies the difficult choices and trade-offs inherent in Bush's call in his inaugural address for the right to dissent and protest around the world.

Jordan is a close U.S. ally, ruled by a monarch, whose support has been critical in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the war in Iraq, despite growing resentment among Jordanian citizens over these policies. Ali Hattar, the man charged with slander, is vehemently opposed to Jordan's 1994 establishment of relations with Israel, which he has demanded be reversed. Hattar is not a democracy activist, nor would he be considered an appealing figure by many Americans, but he has been charged under a type of vague law frequently used to suppress dissent across the Middle East.

Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, said there are few activists in the Middle East who could be considered supportive of U.S. policies. Yet Bush said last week that the United States will press the cause of "free dissent and the participation of the governed" with "every ruler and every nation."

"Freedom has to include the freedom to criticize the United States," Malinowski said. "If Bush would stand up for this guy, people who doubt his sincerity would be impressed. It is an opportunity for the administration."...

END of Excerpt

For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Wash Post and CBS Dub Liberals as "Centrist"
& "Not...Left Wing"

CBS's Harry Smith Democratic Senators Tom Harkin, Carl Levin and Mark Dayton are "centrists"? Writing a mid-day story Wednesday for the Washington Post Web site, about the Senate's confirmation of Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State, reporter Charles Babington asserted: "Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa)." After National Review Online noted the ridiculous label, the Post dropped it. But then it returned in Babington's piece in the Thursday newspaper where he referred to Senator Russ Feingold as one of the Senate's "more centrist or independent members." Maybe Babington took his lead from CBS's Harry Smith who on Wednesday's Early Show insisted that Dayton is "not known as a rabble rouser or a left-wing infiltrator."

On National Review's "The Corner" blog at 1:47pm EST Wednesday, Kathryn Jean Lopez posted this item brought to my attention by the MRC's Tim Graham:

"From the Washington Post:
"'Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).'
"Carl Levin's a centrist? Tom Harkin's a centrist? I could go on..."

She added: "BY THE WAY, ACU lifetime ratings: Byrd 31, Bayh 22, Dayton and Harkin 9, Levin 7."

Then at 5:59pm she picked up on an updated version of the same article:
"Centrist? Who said centrist? The Washington Post no longer uses the centrist label. It now talks about a 'cross section' of Democrats voting against Rice, made legit by Bayh."

For her postings: www.nationalreview.com

Indeed, Babington's 5:40pm EST version of his posting, "Rice Confirmed as Secretary of State: Senate Approves Nomination in 85 to 13 Vote," dropped the "centrist" term from this sentence: "Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (W.Va.), Mark Dayton (Minn.), Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and Tom Harkin (Iowa)."

For Thursday's newspaper, Babington updated his story to include the Senate's approval of Mike Leavitt as HHS Secretary and the Judiciary Committee's party-line vote on Attorney General nominee Alberto Gonzales. Referring to Gonzales, Babington reported:
"As in Tuesday's day-long debate on Rice's nomination, yesterday's criticisms came not only from liberal Democrats but also from more centrist or independent members who have backed the Bush administration on key issues.
"For example, Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) voted against Gonzales's confirmation even though he had voted in 2001 to confirm Ashcroft, a staunch conservative and an irritant to many liberal groups. Feingold told his committee colleagues that Gonzales "too often has seen the law as an obstacle to be dodged or cleared away in furtherance of the president's policies."

Babington did not offer the names of any other Senators who fit his "centrist or independent" definition.

That final version of the evolving article is online at: www.washingtonpost.com

Just how "centrist" is Feingold? He's earned a lifetime 12 rating from the American Conservative Union (ACU): acuratings.com

The left-wing Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) assessed Feingold at an impressive 95 percent over his career. That matches Ted Kennedy's rating and puts Feingold to the left of John Kerry, who has earned 85 percent approval from the ADA. See: adaction.org

Wednesday morning on CBS's The Early Show, the MRC's Brian Boyd noticed, Harry Smith, in a segment about the Rice confirmation vote, proposed to Republican Senator George Allen:
"Mark Dayton from Minnesota gets on the Senate floor yesterday, not known as a rabble rouser or a left-wing infiltrator, says 'I don't want to impugn anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally.' Senator Allen, when you heard that, what did you think?"

Not "left wing"? For 2002 Dayton earned a 95 percent ADA rating. See: www.adaction.org

For his career votes, the ACU put him at a mere 9 percent. See: acuratings.com

Brown Provides Sympathetic Forum for
Boxer, Cues Up Her Attacks

CNN's Aaron Brown & Senator Barbara Boxer CNN's Aaron Brown on Tuesday night, hours before the confirmation vote on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, gave Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer a sympathetic forum to spout off against Rice. On NewsNight, Brown cued her up: "Was it simply a case of bad intelligence or did they cook the books? Did they lie? Which is it?" And: "Do you feel like they can just come before the country and say anything they want and people will forget because, frankly, it's water over the bridge now anyway?" Brown also lamented the lack of support for Boxer from her fellow Democrats, wondering "why so few of the leaders of the party have joined you in either tone or substance?"

The MRC's Ken Shepherd alerted me to the session on the January 25 NewsNight on CNN.

Brown introduced Boxer, who appeared via satellite from Washington, DC: "It's good to have you with us. I guess if you've been parodied on Saturday Night Live -- and I know this -- you have at some level made it in the culture. So we appreciate your time tonight."
Boxer: "Well, my kids tell me that. They said, we always -- you always were our hero, but now you're our idol, mom."

Brown's first question: "Look, if you say to someone -- and let me paraphrase what you said -- that your commitment to selling the policy overwhelmed your commitment to the truth, aren't you, in fact, saying you lied?"
Boxer: "I said it the way I said it, Aaron. And I think it was the right way to say it. And I gave Dr. Rice every opportunity at that hearing after I made that comment to look at her statements that were made on the record and on your station, on other television stations. And she looked out at the people. She said those aluminum tubes that Saddam wants to get, they can only be used for nuclear weapons. Well, that wasn't true. At the time she said it, there was a big dispute in the intelligence community. She still doesn't straighten out the record. And this goes on when she said there were ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. The State Department a month after 9/11 said there were no cells, no operations, nothing going on with al Qaeda in Iraq. Now, unfortunately, it's a hotbed of terror. But she still won't correct the record."
Brown: "The question, I think -- let's move on from this -- is, we know now, we know there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And the question becomes, was it bad intelligence that the administration had and that members of your party relied on, members of the other party relied on, the country relied on? Was it simply a case of bad intelligence or did they cook the books? Did they lie? Which is it?"
Boxer: "Well, if you look at the material that I had, and I'm sure it's too late at night to delve into it, she was -- Condoleezza Rice was telling half the story all the time. And even on a recent issue that had to do with the torture issue, where she actually wrote a letter and asked the conferees -- and this is just three, four months ago -- to drop an anti-torture provision from the intelligence bill, she comes before my committee and said, 'oh, I really didn't have any problem with that,' when she had written a letter to get that, you know, amendment dropped. So it's very disturbing to me."
Brown: "So what do you make of that? Actually, I did read tonight the statement that -- the lengthy statement you made where you went sort of point by point over all of the things she said and all the things you view as contradictions. And many of them are, in fact, contradictions. Do you feel like they can just come before the country and say anything they want and people will forget because, frankly, it's water over the bridge now anyway?"
Boxer: "It's kind of the sense you get. But, America, we have values here. And one of the values we have is to level with people and to tell them the whole story and to admit an error, a mistake, a misstatement, being held accountable, being responsible...."
Brown: "Why do you think it is that, honestly, so few members of your party, which, at the grassroots, is quite anti-war and I think quite comfortable at the grassroots with the tone and substance of your questioning, why so few of the leaders of the party have joined you in either tone or substance?"
Boxer: "Well, you know people have different ways that they view Cabinet posts. Some of them believe that the President deserves his Cabinet, and, you know, absent some incredible issue. I would argue we have those incredible issues...."

Turner: Iraq War "Obscene," FNC: Bush's
"Propaganda Voice"

Ted Turner, the founder of CNN At a Tuesday industry forum in Las Vegas, Ted Turner, the founder of CNN and former Vice Chairman of Time Warner who still owns a chunk of the company, denounced the war in Iraq as "obscene and stupid" since we "spent $200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend $200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole -- one guy." Turner also denigrated FNC as a "propaganda voice" for the Bush administration and while that's "certainly legal," it "does pose problems for our democracy when the news is 'dumbed-down.'" Asked about how FNC has more viewers than CNN, Turner admitted he's "not happy about it," but "Adolph Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early '30s than his -- the people that were running against him, so just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're right."

Turner's January 25 comments were made during a session at the convention of the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE) held at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas.

"Turner Compares Fox's Popularity to Hitler," declared a Tuesday afternoon e-mail/posting from Broadcasting & Cable magazine, but that story, which formed the basis for widespread coverage of the Hitler comment, did not provide an actual quote from Turner, a hole that was filled by FNC's Fox and Friends on Wednesday morning when the program played a video clip of Turner's Hitler remark.

Jim Finkle's 2:14pm EST B&C posting of January 25 included this comment from Turner: "We've spent 200 billion destroying Iraq. Now we've got to spend 200 billion to rebuild it, if they'll let us -- and all to find a nut in a fox hole -- one guy," Turner said. "He posed no threat to any of his neighbors, particularly with us there with overwhelming military superiority" -- "it is obscene and stupid."

For that article in full: www.broadcastingcable.com

A Wednesday AP dispatch, "Turner Calls Fox a 'Propaganda Voice,'" highlighted that aspect of Turner's comments. Despite the misleading "Fox" headline and Turner's reference to "Fox," both meant the Fox News Channel (FNC), not Fox the broadcast network which hardly could be seen as presenting programming compatible with conservative values.

An excerpt from the top of the story filed from Las Vegas by the AP's Ken Ritter:

Cable news pioneer Ted Turner used an appearance before a group of television executives to criticize the Fox network as a "propaganda voice" of the Bush administration and to compare Fox News Channel's popularity to Adolf Hitler's rise to power in Germany before World War II.

Turner, 66, in a speech Tuesday before about 1,000 people at the National Association of Television Programming Executives targeted "gigantic companies whose agenda goes beyond broadcasting" for timidity in challenging the Bush White House.

"There's one network, Fox, that's a propaganda voice for them," Turner said. "It's certainly legal. But it does pose problems for our democracy when the news is 'dumbed-down.'"...

END of Excerpt

For the AP article in its entirety: news.yahoo.com

Wednesday's Fox and Friends on FNC, the MRC's Megan McCormack noticed, played a video clip from Turner's rant in which he was responding to an audience question about how, as moderator Bernard Shaw, a CNN veteran, put it in encapsulating the question: "Fox has outdistanced CNN in the ratings." (The O'Reilly Factor on Wednesday night played a longer clip which included the set up.)

Turner answered: "That's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean it's not -- I'm not happy about it. But Adolph Hitler was more popular in Germany in the early 30's than his -- the people that were running against him, so just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're right."

Back on live on Fox and Friends, Steve Doocy noted: "A Fox spokesperson said, 'Ted is understandably bitter having lost his ratings, his network and now his mind. We wish him well.'"

Doocy soon quipped: "He also said that Fox News is the 'propaganda wing' of the Bush White House. And that, according to the fax I got this morning from Karl Rove, is 'poppycock.'"

CyberAlert Flashback to last July: Ted Turner Wants Women to Run the World, Kerry to Run the U.S. Ted Turner, as out there as ever. Appearing from Aspen on CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports on Thursday afternoon, the founder of CNN reaffirmed his view that women should replace men in public office since "I think if women ran the world for one hundred years, we'd see more money going into education and health care and homes for the homeless, and so forth, and less into the military, and I think we'd be a safer and better world with women in charge for a while." He also repeated his opposition to the Iraq war, insisting that "the world is less safe and more of a mess today than it was before we started dropping the bomb," and made clear he'll be voting for John Kerry.

For more, see the July 16, 2004 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org


-- Brent Baker