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NBC: Iraq "Rhetoric Beginning to Sound Much the Same" as Vietnam --8/24/2005


1. NBC: Iraq "Rhetoric Beginning to Sound Much the Same" as Vietnam
NBC on Tuesday night devoted a story to comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluded that "while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same." Miklaszewski used as an excuse for bringing up the subject how "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself raised the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today" and rejected the equivalence. Miklaszewski went on to highlight how Senator Chuck Hagel, "the prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran, said this week the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam." Miklaszewski reported that "there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home" -- a drumbeat being pounded by NBC -- "could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam." He also chided Rumsfeld for how he "ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."

2. Newspaper Mag Editor Urges Papers to Urge Withdrawal from Iraq
In a Monday posting, Greg Mitchell, the Editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The up top summary below the "Tipping Point on Iraq" headline over his August 22 piece: "At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time."

3. Network Firestorm Tuesday Night Over Pat Robertson
Despite Pat Robertson's waning role in national politics, the broadcast and cable networks on Tuesday evening jumped on his Monday suggestion that Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated now in order to avoid a costly war later. All three broadcast network evening newscasts featured full stories, with ABC's World News Tonight making it the lead story. Anchor Charles Gibson snidely forwarded: "A popular Christian broadcaster says assassination is the way to deal with one world leader who criticizes the U.S. Some ask, 'is this Pat Robertson's definition of Christian love?'" CBS played a clip of Donald Rumsfeld dismissing Robertson as just another example of how "private citizens say all kinds of things all the time," and Gloria Borger then countered by touting Robertson's prominence: "But Robertson is not just any private citizen. He's a former Republican presidential candidate with a large evangelical following." NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams declared that Robertson "has created something of an international firestorm." FNC's Brit Hume noted CNN's all-day obsession which continued into prime time.


NBC: Iraq "Rhetoric Beginning to Sound
Much the Same" as Vietnam

NBC on Tuesday night devoted a story to comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Reporter Jim Miklaszewski concluded that "while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same." Miklaszewski used as an excuse for raising the subject how "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself bringing up the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today" and rejected the equivalence. Miklaszewski went on to highlight how Senator Chuck Hagel, "the prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran, said this week the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam." Miklaszewski reported that "there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home" -- a drumbeat being pounded by NBC -- "could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam." He also chided Rumsfeld for how he "ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."

The August 23 CyberAlert recounted: Like feeding raw meat to a lion, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel on Sunday gave television journalists what they wanted and couldn't resist: A soundbite comparing Iraq to Vietnam when he said on ABC's This Week that "we are locked into a bogged-down problem, not dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam." CNN's Aaron Brown trumpeted at the top of Monday's NewsNight how "the anti-war voices are not just liberal groups camped out with Cindy Sheehan in Texas, but at least one senior Republican Senator, who has always had questions about the war, but now compares it to a war he fought a generation ago." On the CBS Evening News, anchor John Roberts played up Hagel's influence: "What's the White House making of what would seem to be some pretty harsh criticism from a guy who's supposed to be on the President's team?" NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams listed a litany of setbacks for Bush on Iraq, ending with how "it doesn't help that a prominent Senator, in his own party, is comparing it to Vietnam." In the morning on Today, Ann Curry stressed how "a prominent Republican Senator compared the war in Iraq to Vietnam" and Don Teague touted how Bush is "even facing fire from within his own party." See: www.mediaresearch.org

Brian Williams set up the August 23 NBC Nightly News piece: "In Iraq tonight, even though there is a basic framework on a deal for a constitution, there is still a danger the entire process will fall apart and become a mess if the Shiites and Kurds fail to win over the Sunnis who are not on board. That would be a huge blow to the Bush administration. But on the military side at the Pentagon today, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the possibility of civil war and denied that Iraq is in any way another Vietnam. Here with that, NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski."

Miklaszewski began: "Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself raised the Vietnam issue at his Pentagon briefing today, claiming the enemy in Iraq, unlike that in Vietnam, does not have strong popular support."
Rumsfeld at Pentagon briefing: "Their most prominent leaders are not Iraqis, they're not Ho Chi Minh with a nationalistic base, but in the case of Zarqawi, a Jordanian murderer."
Miklaszewski: "Rumsfeld lashed out at critics of the war who predict America's failure in Iraq, but avoided direct criticism of at least one, Senator Chuck Hagel. The prominent Republican and decorated Vietnam veteran said this week, the U.S. is now bogged down in Iraq, similar to Vietnam. Rumsfeld politely disagreed."
Rumsfeld: "The differences are so notable that it would take too long to list them."
Miklaszewski: "Rumsfeld also tiptoed through the political minefield laid down by anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan, who lost her soldier son in Iraq."
Rumsfeld: "One always tries to help those that are grieving understand the importance of what their sons and daughters have been doing."
Miklaszewski: "While Rumsfeld empathized with Sheehan in her grief, he firmly rejected her demand to bring American troops home now. But there's increasing concern in the Pentagon that a growing anti-war drumbeat here at home could eventually take a toll on troop morale in Iraq, not at all unlike Vietnam. Today, however, Rumsfeld ignored the latest polls which indicate a majority of Americans now think it was a mistake to go to war in Iraq."

[on screen: CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll
"Iraq war a mistake?"
Yes: 54%]

Rumsfeld: "I think it will have the support of the American people, and it will be sustained and we will be successful."
Over protest signs, including "Impeach Cheney First," Miklaszewski concluded: "And while there are marked differences between the wars in Iraq and Vietnam, the rhetoric, at least, is beginning to sound much the same. Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon."

Newspaper Mag Editor Urges Papers to
Urge Withdrawal from Iraq

In a Monday posting, Greg Mitchell, the Editor of the leading newspaper industry magazine, Editor & Publisher, urged newspapers to editorialize about getting the U.S. out of Iraq. The up top summary below the "Tipping Point on Iraq" headline over his August 22 piece: "At this critical moment, it's time for newspapers -- many of which helped get us into this war -- to use their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands. Now, it's literally do-or-die time."
FNC's Brit Hume, in his "Grapevine" segment on Tuesday, picked up on Mitchell's advocacy which Romenesko (www.poynter.org ) had highlighted.

An excerpt from Mitchell's harangue:

As the dog days of August wind down, the editorial pages of American newspapers face a moment of truth on the Iraq war. Over the next few weeks, with vacationers heading home, the president's popularity sinking, hearings planned in Congress, and major protests set, the case for a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq -- sooner rather than later, as Al Neuharth has repeatedly put it -- will finally become a center of public and political debate.

Or, as Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (who once favored the war) said on Sunday, "We should start figuring out how we get out of there. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

It's time for newspapers, many of which helped get us into this war, to consider using their editorial pages as platforms to help get us out of it. So far, few have done much more than wring their hands, or simply criticize the conduct of the war, or the lack of body armor for our troops. Not many months ago, in fact, some papers, including The New York Times, were calling for more U.S. troops for Iraq.

Now it's literally do-or-die time.

President Bush clearly recognizes this. This week, in a desperate attempt to counter the sensible idea of a phased withdrawal, he has lashed out at those who advocate something quite different -- an immediate pullout -- as if that is the only option.

As some of you no doubt know (and may be sick of reading), I have challenged major U.S. newspapers for more than two years to be first to clearly call for a phased withdrawal. Once a few do so, they will show that it is safe for others to stick their toes in the water.

The argument I've made is akin to Hagel's: While many claim that exiting will only make matters worse, the United States' presence is more of a long-term problem than a long-term solution, for both that country, and our own. Now, with Iraq moving toward a decentralized, pro-Iranian state, even some of my friends at conservative blogs and Web sites are shifting course, declaring that no American GIs should die for an Islamic nation....

Since I have taken a lot of grief since 2003, from Jonah Goldberg and others, for even mentioning "Iraq" and "Vietnam" in the same paragraph, I will note a further Hagel comment: "We're past that stage now because now we are locked into a bogged-down problem not unsimilar, dissimilar to where we were in Vietnam. The longer we stay, the more problems we're going to have.

"What I think the White House does not yet understand, and some of my colleagues, the dam has broke on this policy. The longer we stay there, the more similarities [to Vietnam] are going to come together."

The time for the press to act, if it ever does, is now. Not for the first time, the newspapers are lagging behind the public, as major polls show that most Americans favor starting a pullout now, and feel the war was a mistake from the start....

When he wrote the following this month, [Knight-Ridder's Joe] Galloway was addressing the White House and the Pentagon, but he could have aimed it just as easily at the media: "Don't tell me we are going to stay the course. We are on the wrong course, and it only leads deeper into the quicksand. Tell me how we are going to change course."

END of Excerpt

For Mitchell's piece in full: www.editorandpublisher.com

Network Firestorm Tuesday Night Over
Pat Robertson

Despite Pat Robertson's waning role in national politics, the broadcast and cable networks on Tuesday evening jumped on his Monday suggestion that Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated now in order to avoid a costly war later. All three broadcast network evening newscasts featured full stories, with ABC's World News Tonight making it the lead story. Anchor Charles Gibson snidely forwarded: "A popular Christian broadcaster says assassination is the way to deal with one world leader who criticizes the U.S. Some ask, 'is this Pat Robertson's definition of Christian love?'" CBS played a clip of Donald Rumsfeld dismissing Robertson as just another example of how "private citizens say all kinds of things all the time," and Gloria Borger then countered by touting Robertson's prominence: "But Robertson is not just any private citizen. He's a former Republican presidential candidate with a large evangelical following." NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams declared that Robertson "has created something of an international firestorm" before reporter Bob Far concluded that Robertson is "a man of God who doesn't calm waters, but roils them."

Robertson "may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you wouldn't know that from watching CNN today," FNC's Brit Hume noted in reviewing the competing cable network's all-day obsession -- a focus which continued into the evening with Robertson leading the 7pm EDT Anderson Cooper 360 (hosted by Heidi Collins), the 8pm EDT Paula Zahn Now and the 10pm EDT NewsNight with Aaron Brown who tried to hold the whole religious right culpable as he asserted that "political leaders worried it makes the so-called Christian Right seem neither Christian nor right." Robertson was also the first topic covered by MSNBC's 7pm Hardball with Chris Matthews and 8pm Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

[This article was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's NewsBusters blog. To comment, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Unlike the broadcast network coverage, at least the cable shows reviewed some of Chavez's radical policies and alliances.

Hume relayed in his "Grapevine" segment on his 6pm EDT FNC program: "Televangelist Pat Robertson's political influence may have been declining since he came in second in the Iowa Republican caucuses 17 years ago and he may have no clout with the Bush administration, but you would not know that from watching CNN today. CNN covered his call for Hugo Chavez's assassination at length, undeterred by the fact that during the 12 o'clock hour CNN's own analyst, Bill Schneider, said Robertson had little influence. At the top of the next hour, there it was again followed by a glowing report on the alliance between Chavez and Cuban President Fidel Castro. And it led CNN's three-hour Situation Room, followed minutes later by live coverage of reaction from the Venezuelan ambassador, and then nearly two hours after that an in-studio interview with the ambassador."

A rundown of the ABC, CBS and NBC stories from Tuesday night, August 23:

# ABC's World News Tonight. Charles Gibson's tease: "On World News Tonight: A popular Christian broadcaster says assassination is the way to deal with one world leader who criticizes the U.S. Some ask, 'is this Pat Robertson's definition of Christian love?"

Gibson opened the newscast: "Good evening. It is not something you expect to hear from a Christian minister: A call for the assassination of a world leader. The Reverend Pat Robertson, a television fixture with his 700 Club and a former presidential candidate, suggested that U.S. operatives should take out the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, to stop that country from becoming, in Robertson's words 'a launching pad for communism and Muslim extremism.' ABC's Dan Harris is here."

Harris began: "Good evening. Pat Robertson says Hugo Chavez is quote, 'a terrific danger to the United States.' But his spokesperson could not say whether Robertson's assassination suggestion is in keeping with his Christian faith. "
Robertson on Monday's 700 Club on the ABC Family channel: "We have the ability to take him out. And I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."
Harris: "Pat Robertson is standing by his call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Chavez, an outspoken critic of the U.S., who today wrapped up a visit with Cuba's Fidel Castro."
Robertson on 700 Club: "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-armed dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Harris: "Today, those comments were condemned by both the U.S. State Department:"
State Dept. spokesman: "We do not share his views."
Harris: "And the Venezuelan ambassador, who described the remarks as a 'call to terrorism.' Nearly every prominent Christian conservative leader we called today [pictures of several scroll by on screen], however, even those who are normally eager for media attention, refused to comment. Except pastor Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals."
Haggard: "Pat was not speaking for Christianity. He was not speaking for American evangelicalism. He was having a discussion on his program."
Harris: "By contrast, liberal evangelicals went much further today in criticizing Robertson, saying his comments were downright anti-Christian."
Dr. Os Guinness, Trinity Forum: "Jesus called for nothing like this. And Pat Robertson sounded more like one of the radical imams."
Harris: "Some evangelicals believe Robertson's influence has waned in recent years because of incendiary comments such as suggesting the State Department be nuked and linking feminism to witchcraft. As one said today, 'if this is the sort of person who speaks for evangelicals, then God help us.' Three hundred thousand people a day watch Robertson's show, The 700 Club. But apparently, President Hugo Chavez is not one of them. When asked about the Robertson controversy, as he prepared to leave Cuba late today, Chavez said quote, 'I don't even know who that person is.'"


# CBS Evening News. Anchor John Roberts: "Well, the President wants no part of a policy proposed by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. The White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department today all rejected Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuela's outspoken President, Hugo Chavez. Gloria Borger in Washington has more on what Robertson said, and the swift reaction to it."

Borger began: "Pat Robertson's suggestion is unmistakable. Since the Venezuelan President claims that America is trying to kill him:"
Robertson on Monday's 700 Club, via Web video: "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. [edit jump] We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-armed dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Borger: "Robertson's rationale: That Chavez is a communist-leaning Castro ally who is destroying the oil-rich Venezuelan economy. The administration is no friend of Chavez either, but Venezuela is America's second-largest oil supplier. Pat Robertson's foreign policy advice went way beyond the diplomatic playbook."
Donald Rumsfeld: "Certainly it's against the law. Our department doesn't do that type of thing. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."
Borger: "But Robertson is not just any private citizen. He's a former Republican presidential candidate with a large evangelical following. Venezuela's Vice President condemned Robertson's remarks as terrorist statements, and challenged the U.S. government to treat him accordingly. The response? A diplomatic denial of any intent to assassinate Chavez."
Sean McCormack, State Department spokesman: "Any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless and without fact."
Borger: "And late this afternoon, Chavez, who was in Cuba with fidel Castro said, 'I don't even know who this person is.' Of course, this is probably only going to add to his popularity back home in Venezuela, where Americans are not very popular these days. John."
Roberts: "Certainly statements like this will add to Robertson's popularity among his most devout followers. And it's not the first rather strange thing that he's said, either."
Borger: "No, Robertson has a history of saying very strange things. Just recently he said national television that so-called activist judges were worse than the 9/11 terrorists. This is something he does to create controversy. Lots of people say he does it to raise money for his organization. John."


# NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams: "Pat Robertson is in the news tonight. More than that, he has created something of an international firestorm. It's not the first time the prominent Christian broadcaster has turned heads with something he said, but this time it's different because he called for the U.S. government to assassinate a political leader, a leftist and Castro ally who has himself often accused the U.S. of trying to kill him. NBC's Bob Faw picks up the story tonight."

Faw began: "It was not an extremist cleric issuing a death threat. This was Christian minister Pat Robertson discussing Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez."
Robertson on Monday's 700 Club: "If he thinks we are trying to assassinate him, I think we at to do it. It is cheaper than starting a war. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-armed dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
Faw: "Immediately Chavez's government called the remarks terrorist. Inappropriate, said the State Department. The National Council of Churches called them appalling to the point of disbelief."
Barry Lynn, American's United for Separation of Church and State: "I do think this is just the kind of political and religious fanaticism that leads to violence throughout the world."
Faw: "But today there was no apology, no comment whatsoever, from the founder of the Christian Coalition, and a one-time presidential candidate once suggested Saddam Hussein also be assassinated, and that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. Islam, he once said, is a Christian heresy."
Host of 700 Club in 1985 video: "You are not saying there are no other people qualified to be in government or whatever if they're not Christians or Jews?"
Robertson in 1985 video: "Yeah, I'm saying that. I just said it."
Faw: "Robertson has gotten into hot water, not just because of what he said -- urging Christians, for example, to get mad and take back the nation -- but also because of what he's done. Like using his religious TV network to help pedal 'Pat's Diet Shake,' the recipe, he says, he devised himself. Or like denouncing gambling while owning an expensive racehorse."
Ole Anthony, identified on-screen as "critic of televangelists": "He is violently against abortion, yet he's encouraging support of the Chinese government, which has forced abortions. What I'm troubled by is the hypocrisy."
Faw concluded: "And now comments further inflaming tension between Caracas and the United States, the number one buyer of Venezuelan crude, from a man of God who doesn't calm waters, but roils them."



# If you haven't yet, check out the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: Exposing and Combating Liberal Media Bias. Go to: www.newsbusters.org

-- Brent Baker