Appearance Alert!
MRC's Brent Bozell talks about media bias on FNC's The Kelly File, 9:30pm ET/PT Thursday

Nets Use 4 Year Mark of Statue Toppling to Relay Iraqi's Regret --4/10/2007


1. Nets Use 4 Year Mark of Statue Toppling to Relay Iraqi's Regret
Both ABC and CBS on Monday night used the fourth anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad as a chance to highlight the regret of a man who used a sledgehammer to destroy the pedestal. After starting her story with anti-U.S. protests inspired by Moqtada al-Sadr, ABC's Hilary Brown, presumably referring to ABC's March poll of Iraqis, asserted that "the appalling bloodshed has turned most Iraqis -- 78 percent -- against the occupation. Thirty-six percent now say that life is worse than it ever was under the dictator." She proceeded to focus on how "one Iraqi in particular remembers, and now regrets, that iconic moment four years ago when the huge statute of Saddam Hussein was toppled." Brown relayed how Khadim Yabani "says 'but now I just feel regret because nothing has improved.' That's why he says it would have been better that Saddam had never been overthrown." On the CBS Evening News, Martin Seemungal, before he highlighted Yabani, at least acknowledged that "in some places, like in the southern city of Basra, people were out celebrating the anniversary." Meanwhile, ABC's World News led with Diane Sawyer in Afghanistan where she suggested misplaced priorities as she pointed out that "on this anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, the leaders here note the U.S. has spent some four-times the amount in Iraq, per person, as in the place the fight against terrorism started."

2. BBC Pulls Movie on Iraq War Hero Because It's 'Too Positive'
"A planned TV drama based on the exploits of a British Iraq war hero has been dropped by the BBC," FNC's Brit Hume reported in his Grapevine segment on Monday night. Picking up on a Sunday Telegraph of London story, Hume related how the paper quoted "a source close to the project as saying the BBC began to have second thoughts about the project last year because it was hesitant to show anything positive about the war." The movie was based on Private Johnson Beharry, the youngest person to earn Britain's highest award for valor. The newspaper reported he received the Victoria Cross for his "courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries." The Sunday Telegraph suggested: "The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism."

3. GMA's Champion Promotes Leftist Celebrity's Global Warming Tour
On Monday's Good Morning America, weatherman and left-wing environmental activist Sam Champion took his global warming lobbying to the next step. Champion appeared at Southern Methodist University in Texas with liberal celebrity activist Laurie David and noted anti-Bush singer Sheryl Crow for the start of their "Stop Global Warming College Tour." It's rather amazing that ABC allowed on-air talent to kick off a political campaign with specific policy agendas. Would Champion appear at the commencement of a nationwide "Stop Abortion" tour? ABC even let David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, and Crow introduce the 8:30am half-hour.


Nets Use 4 Year Mark of Statue Toppling
to Relay Iraqi's Regret

Both ABC and CBS on Monday night used the fourth anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue in Baghdad as a chance to highlight the regret of a man who used a sledgehammer to destroy the pedestal. After starting her story with anti-U.S. protests inspired by Moqtada al-Sadr, ABC's Hilary Brown, presumably referring to ABC's March poll of Iraqis, asserted that "the appalling bloodshed has turned most Iraqis -- 78 percent -- against the occupation. Thirty-six percent now say that life is worse than it ever was under the dictator." She proceeded to focus on how "one Iraqi in particular remembers, and now regrets, that iconic moment four years ago when the huge statute of Saddam Hussein was toppled." Brown relayed how Khadim Yabani "says 'but now I just feel regret because nothing has improved.' That's why he says it would have been better that Saddam had never been overthrown." On the CBS Evening News, Martin Seemungal, before he highlighted Yabani, at least acknowledged that "in some places, like in the southern city of Basra, people were out celebrating the anniversary."

Meanwhile, ABC's World News led with Diane Sawyer in Afghanistan where she suggested misplaced priorities as she pointed out that "on this anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, the leaders here note the U.S. has spent some four-times the amount in Iraq, per person, as in the place the fight against terrorism started." Sawyer reminded Afghan President Hamid Karzai of how "you have said if the U.S. had given Afghanistan what it spent in Iraq, it would be like 'heaven' here. Did the U.S. give too little? In your view?" Karzai refused to take Sawyer's bait, responding: "We are grateful to the American people, to the taxpayers, for having helped Afghanistan, in a big way."

[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Sawyer's exchange with Karzai as played on the April 9 World News:

Diane Sawyer: "On this anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, the leaders here note the U.S. has spent some four-times the amount in Iraq, per person, as in the place the fight against terrorism started."
Sawyer to Hamid Karzai: "You have said if the U.S. had given Afghanistan what it spent in Iraq, it would be like 'heaven' here. Did the U.S. give too little? In your view?"
Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan: "The world as a whole -- other crises [probably meant 'countries'] in the world pay us little. We are grateful to the American people, to the taxpayers, for having helped Afghanistan, in a big way."
Sawyer: "Do you have enough American and NATO troops?"
Karzai: "No. We don't have enough manpower or enough equipment or air power."

Last September on Meet the Press Karzai had asserted: "Three hundred billion dollars? You give that to Afghanistan and we will be heaven in less than a year." See: www.msnbc.msn.com

#CBS Evening News. After starting with the anti-U.S. protests, and noting how there was celebration in Basra, Martin Seemungal concluded his piece with the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue:
"Remember the loan Iraqi battering it with a sledge hammer?"
Khadim Yabani, through translator: "It was my wish in life to destroy the statue."
Seemungal: "That was Khadim Yabani. He remembers that moment as if it were yesterday."
Yabani, through translator: "We were so happy we had got rid of the tyrant."
Seemungal: "Now he spends most of his time in his shop working on old motorcycles. But business is slow. There's more demand for heavily armored vehicles in Baghdad than for Harley-Davidsons."
Yabani, through translator: "We are going into the fifth year and we are suffering from problems more than we used to suffer in Saddam's time."
Seemungal concluded: "The memory of that triumphant moment is fading fast. Martin Seemungal for CBS News, Baghdad."


# ABC's World News. Charles Gibson set up the anniversary story, which followed Sawyer's lead report from Afghanistan:
"Next, to Iraq. This is a major anniversary there. It was four years ago today that Saddam Hussein's statue came down in Baghdad's Fardus Square. There were many in the streets that day. There were many in the streets today. But for a different reason. ABC's Hilary Brown is in Baghdad."

Hilary Brown: "Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the holy city of Najaf in a sea of Iraqi flags to demand an immediate end to the U.S. occupation. A cleric on stage shouted, 'Get out, get out, occupier!' as the mainly Shiite crowd roared in assent. The protest was ordered by the powerful Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr, believed by U.S. officials to be in Iran. But in a statement, he called on Iraqis to stop fighting each other and unite against American troops. Authorities imposed a ban on cars, trucks, even motorcycles, in both Baghdad and Najaf. The fear was that the rally could become a target for bombers. The 24-hour traffic ban before and after the demonstration seems to have worked.
"There was little violence today. And that is rare in a country where ordinary people are being shot or blown up at the rate of 100 a day. The appalling bloodshed has turned most Iraqis -- 78 percent -- against the occupation. Thirty-six percent now say that life is worse than it ever was under the dictator. [For more on the poll, check the March 20 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org ]
"One Iraqi in particular remembers, and now regrets, that iconic moment four years ago when the huge statute of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Fardus Square. Khadim Yabani is a former weightlifter whose great strength helped bring the statue down. 'At the time, I was proud,' he says, 'but now I just feel regret because nothing has improved.' That's why he says it would have been better that Saddam had never been overthrown. The U.S. military said today that if Saddam were still in power, a protest like this one would not have been possible. Hilary Brown, ABC News, Baghdad."

Just last week, ABC's World News uniquely featured a report from Terry McCarthy on "improvements" in security and living conditions for the people of Iraq. See the April 4 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

BBC Pulls Movie on Iraq War Hero Because
It's 'Too Positive'

"A planned TV drama based on the exploits of a British Iraq war hero has been dropped by the BBC," FNC's Brit Hume reported in his Grapevine segment on Monday night. Picking up on a Sunday Telegraph of London story, Hume related how the paper quoted "a source close to the project as saying the BBC began to have second thoughts about the project last year because it was hesitant to show anything positive about the war." The movie was based on Private Johnson Beharry, the youngest person to earn Britain's highest award for valor. The newspaper reported he received the Victoria Cross for his "courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries."

The Sunday Telegraph revealed that the BBC "has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq. The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism."

Hume's April 9 Grapevine segment on Special Report with Brit Hume: "A planned TV drama based on the exploits of a British Iraq war hero has been dropped by the BBC. The Sunday Telegraph quotes a source close to the project as saying the BBC began to have second thoughts about the project last year because it was hesitant to show anything positive about the war. Private Johnson Beharry twice braved ambushes to lead troops to safety, becoming the first person to receive Britain's highest award for valor -- the Victoria Cross, the first in 25 years. The BBC confirms the decision but won't comment on the reasons."

An excerpt from the April 8 Sunday Telegraph article:

Hero's tale is 'too positive' for the BBC

By Chris Hastings, Arts and Media Editor

Amid the deaths and the grim daily struggle bravely borne by Britain's forces in southern Iraq, one tale of heroism stands out. Private Johnson Beharry's courage in rescuing an ambushed foot patrol then, in a second act, saving his vehicle's crew despite his own terrible injuries earned him a Victoria Cross.

For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.

The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.

The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism.

"The BBC has behaved in a cowardly fashion by pulling the plug on the project altogether," said a source close to the project. "It began to have second thoughts last year as the war in Iraq deteriorated. It felt it couldn't show anything with a degree of positivity about the conflict.

"It needed to tell stories about Iraq which reflected the fact that some members of the audience didn't approve of what was going on. Obviously a story about Johnson Beharry could never do that. You couldn't have a scene where he suddenly turned around and denounced the war because he just wouldn't do that."...

The independent production company which was developing the project for a prime-time slot on BBC1 is now believed to have taken the script to ITV.

Pte Beharry, 27, who was awarded the VC in March 2005, was the first person to receive the country's highest award for valour since 1982 and the first living recipient since 1965. He was honoured for two acts of outstanding gallantry which occurred just over a month apart while he was serving with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, in the Iraqi town of al-Amarah, in 2004.

He was cited for "valour of the highest order" after he drove a Warrior tracked armoured vehicle through heavy enemy fire in May 2004 to come to the rescue of a foot patrol that had been caught in a series of ambushes. The 30-ton Warrior was hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades, causing damage and resulting in the loss of radio communications. Pte Beharry drove through the ambush, taking his own injured crew and leading five other Warriors to safety. He then extracted his wounded colleagues from the vehicle, all the time exposed to further enemy fire.

The following month, Pte Beharry was again driving the lead Warrior vehicle of his platoon through al-Amarah when his vehicle was ambushed. A rocket-propelled grenade hit the vehicle and Pte Beharry received serious head injuries. Other rockets hit the vehicle incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.Despite his very serious injuries, Pte Beharry then took control of his vehicle and drove it out of the ambush area before losing consciousness. He required brain surgery for his head injuries and he was still recovering when he received the VC from the Queen in June last year....

The BBC's decision to pull out will only confirm the fears of critics that television drama is only interested in telling bad news stories about the war....

END of Excerpt

For the article in full: www.telegraph.co.uk

GMA's Champion Promotes Leftist Celebrity's
Global Warming Tour

On Monday's Good Morning America, weatherman and left-wing environmental activist Sam Champion took his global warming lobbying to the next step. Champion appeared at Southern Methodist University in Texas with liberal celebrity activist Laurie David and noted anti-Bush singer Sheryl Crow for the start of their "Stop Global Warming College Tour."

Press release about the tour: sev.prnewswire.com

It's rather amazing that ABC allowed on-air talent to kick off a political campaign with specific policy agendas. Would Champion appear at the commencement of a nationwide "Stop Abortion" tour? ABC even let David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, and Crow introduce the 8:30am half-hour. Co-host Robin Roberts, ignoring David's liberal activism, referred to the celebrity wife simply as a "global warming activist":

Laurie David: "Hi, I'm Laurie David."
Sheryl Crow: "And I'm Sheryl Crow. And we're here in Dallas, Texas at SMU!"
David: "To kick off the Stop Global Warming College Tour. Good morning, America!"
[College students surrounding David and Crow's bus cheer wildly.]
Robin Roberts: "Grammy winning Sheryl Crow and global warming activist Laurie David at SMU in Dallas, kicking off their Stop Global Warming College Tour. Then, on to ten more universities aboard their bio diesel fuel bus, as you would imagine. Sam is there with them and he's going to have a good time with them in our last half hour."

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
A few minutes later, at 8:34am, Champion appeared to talk with David and Crow about their plans to encourage college students to adopt the environmental agenda:

Roberts: "Time for the weather. We have got Diane in Afghanistan. We have Sam Champion down there in Dallas. Some very, very special guests, Sam."
[Champion standing outside the Stop Global Warming Bus as he's waiting for Laurie David and Sheryl Crow to come out.]
Sam Champion: "Morning Robin. Morning Chris. Come on out! The big reveal! [Cheering from college students] Laurie David, good morning, how are you?"
David: "Good Morning."
Crow: "How are you?"
Champion: "Sheryl Crow, good morning. Now, why take the tour to college campuses? Why, why do that?"
David: "Well, look, the movement to stop global warming has to become the biggest movement this country has ever seen. And how do you do that without your college campuses?"
Sheryl Crow: "That's right."
Champion: "All right, so you start here, and get everybody excited about it. And we do have to point out, this is the first time that a global diesel bus has been on the quad -- Did I say global diesel? I did, didn't I? Bio-diesel. No! Why bio-diesel?"
Crow: "Isn't it cool? We're just trying to cut down on carbon emissions. And we're running on vegetable oil, basically. And most tours are trying to do that. Yeah, we're just trying to go totally green, spread the message."
Champion: "All right. We cannot have you here without sharing a little music. And yesterday, I got a preview of the tour. Now you can see it."
[Cut to clip of Crow playing "Soak Up the Sun."]

The April 9 segment ended with Champion noting the lack of bathroom amenities on the bus and adding, "I have to point out, that we're going to get very close on this tour because there's really only one bathroom inside the bus, right?" It's unclear at this point whether the weatherman will be actively participating in the tour, but it's still rather amazing that ABC is allowing him to so blatantly promote a political agenda.

Champion, for the second time in less than a week, displayed no sense of irony weather-related irony. Earlier in the morning, prior to explaining the need to fight global warming, he offered this report on the arctic cold afflicting the East Coast:

Robin Roberts, in the 7am half hour: "Time now for the weather. Sam Champion is down is down in big D, Dallas, Texas this morning, where like much of the country, this holiday weekend, it was a chilly one. Sam, you warned us on Friday. You said Easter was going to be colder than Christmas."
Sam Champion: "Yeah, and we told you there would be some snow in Dallas as well. And when we landed on Saturday, there was. So when is Easter warmer than Christmas? It's not some kind of freaky riddle. It's the reality of the weekend. Take a look at area temperatures, like Charleston, South Carolina which got into the twenties. 28, 29 degrees for Easter morning. Your Christmas morning temperature, 58 degrees. Atlanta, Georgia was 28 at Easter and 57 on Christmas. Okay, it's more than just weird and uncomfortable. This cold spell is likely to be costing us an awful lot of money pretty soon. For most of the nation, it was a chilly, okay, call it, frigid Easter holiday. All across the south, new record lows. Atlanta, Georgia, 30 degrees. Charlotte, North Carolina. 21. Jacksonville, Florida, 31 degrees. Nashville, Tennessee 23. And all this cold could add to our produce bills. The price of the crops from the Midwest in strawberries, blueberries and peaches from all across the south may all rise due to sub-freezing temperatures. In Alabama alone, the peach crop is worth an estimated three to five million dollars."

In 2007, Champion has demonstrated an unrelenting push for liberal environmental issues. On April 2, he promoted "green weddings." And in late January, he hosted a segment that hyperbolically wondered if "billions will die from global warming." See: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker