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Stephanopoulos Backtracks from Charge Iraq Blocked Korea Nuke Fix --7/10/2006


1. Stephanopoulos Backtracks from Charge Iraq Blocked Korea Nuke Fix
On Sunday's This Week, during the roundtable discussion, host George Stephanopoulos embarrassed himself and had to backtrack after he raised Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry's recommendation -- that President Bush bomb the nuclear missiles on the launchpad in North Korea -- but then went a step further and combined Perry's proposal with blaming the Iraq war for preventing that type of action in 2003, only to be thoroughly refuted by George Will. "I don't even believe what I said," Stephanopoulos sheepishly conceded, "So I take it back, you're right." Stephanopoulos had proposed: "What if in 2003, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush takes out the reprocessing facilities in North Korea?" Will pointed out how "the capital of South Korea is 30 miles away from the 38th parallel, North Korea, and we don't know what kind of spasm might result from this irrational regime. North Korea could destroy that capital without a soldier leaving the North Korea and using entirely conventional weapons."

2. NBC's Andrea Mitchell Blames Talk Radio and Bloggers for Hate
On Friday's Washington Week on PBS, taped at the Aspen Ideas Festival ("Inspired Thinking in an Idyllic Setting"), when asked by host Gwen Ifill about hateful speech in politics and directed at journalists -- "Is that polarization real or is it just people blogging?" -- NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell charged that "the kind of hateful speech that we have seen...in a lot of the blogosphere...goes back, in my own experience, to 1989 when the talk radio shows went crazy about the congressional pay raise." She then reasoned: "The anti-Washington, anti-bureaucrat bias that was built into that debate was then taken up by cable talk hosts as well and that became the kind of really combative conversation that displaced reasoned discussions about controversial issues." PBS picked six members of the Colorado conference audience to pose questions to the panel. None came from the right and four were clearly from the left, starting with a woman who wondered: "How can we keep religion out of government and politics?" AUDIO&VIDEO

3. WashPost on Mexican Leftists: Streets Swelled with 'Rage of Poor'
What is it about the liberal media that regularly confuses mass protests with public opinion? In Mexico, the vote has been certified, and conservative Felipe Calderon is the President-elect. But on Saturday, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) held a massive protest in Mexico City insisting he's the winner. The top of The Washington Post's front page Sunday carried a large photo of "Tens of thousands" of AMLO supporters, under the headline "Contender Alleges Mexico's Vote Was Rigged." Reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia began the story as if he was waving a leftist flag in the square: "Downtown Mexico City swelled Saturday with the accumulated frustration and rage of the poor, who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hopes will overturn the results of Mexico's presidential election."

4. Poll Finds Most Think NY Times Should Face Criminal Prosecution
Catching up from before the holiday week: A Fox News poll, released just before the long July 4 weekend, confirmed the public is not pleased with the decision by the New York Times to disclose an ongoing effort to track international financial transactions by terrorist operatives. Jim Angle recounted in the "Grapevine" segment on the Friday, June 30 Special Report with Brit Hume: "The latest Fox News poll reveals that 60 percent think the New York Times decision to publish a story on the financial tracking program helped the terrorists. Sixty-six percent say news organizations that report classified security information should face criminal charges and 43 percent say reporting on secret national security data amounts to an act of treason." And a week ago on Fox News Sunday, Fortune magazine's Nina Easton suggested the New York Times "has opened itself up to attack when its Publisher just declared this war as 'a misbegotten war.'"


Stephanopoulos Backtracks from Charge
Iraq Blocked Korea Nuke Fix

On Sunday's This Week, during the roundtable discussion, host George Stephanopoulos embarrassed himself and had to backtrack after he raised Clinton Defense Secretary William Perry's recommendation -- that President Bush bomb the nuclear missiles on the launchpad in North Korea -- but then went a step further and combined Perry's proposal with blaming the Iraq war for preventing that type of action in 2003, only to be thoroughly refuted by George Will. "I don't even believe what I said," Stephanopoulos sheepishly conceded, "So I take it back, you're right."

Stephanopoulos had proposed: "What if in 2003, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush takes out the reprocessing facilities in North Korea, which according to Secretary Perry, President Clinton was willing to do back in 1993 before they started the negotiations? We would be in a far different place." How ground troops in Iraq precluded one of many Navy ships not committed to Iraq from firing off a few missiles at a target, Stephanopoulos did not explain. But Will pointed out how "the capital of South Korea is 30 miles away from the 38th parallel, North Korea, and we don't know what kind of spasm might result from this irrational regime. North Korea could destroy that capital without a soldier leaving the North Korea and using entirely conventional weapons." To which, Stephanopoulos offered his retraction and quickly segued to the Lieberman Senate race.

[This item was posted late Sunday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

During the July 9 roundtable on the ABC show, with Democratic/ABC News consultant Donna Brazile, Peter Beinhart of the New Republic and columnist George Will, Stephanopoulos asserted:
"I think at this point, there's nothing to do but to learn to live with it. But you can dial the clock back to 2003. What if in 2003, instead of invading Iraq, President Bush takes out the reprocessing facilities in North Korea, which according to [former Defense] Secretary [William] Perry, President Clinton was willing to do back in 1993 before they started the negotiations. We would be in a far different place."
Will: "Well, Donna [Brazile] rightly says the capital of South Korea is 30 miles away from the 38th parallel, North Korea, and we don't know what kind of spasm might result from this irrational regime. North Korea could destroy that capital without a soldier leaving the North Korea and using entirely conventional weapons."
Stephanopoulos: "That is the problem. I don't even believe what I said [laughter from panelists]. So I take it back, you're right. Retaliation would be far too great."

NBC's Andrea Mitchell Blames Talk Radio
and Bloggers for Hate

On Friday's Washington Week on PBS, taped at the Aspen Ideas Festival ("Inspired Thinking in an Idyllic Setting"), when asked by host Gwen Ifill about hateful speech in politics and directed at journalists -- "Is that polarization real or is it just people blogging?" -- NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell charged that "the kind of hateful speech that we have seen...in a lot of the blogosphere...goes back, in my own experience, to 1989 when the


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talk radio shows went crazy about the congressional pay raise." She then reasoned: "The anti-Washington, anti-bureaucrat bias that was built into that debate was then taken up by cable talk hosts as well and that became the kind of really combative conversation that displaced reasoned discussions about controversial issues."

PBS picked six members of the Colorado conference audience to pose questions to the panel. None came from the right and four were clearly from the left, starting with a woman who wondered: "How can we keep religion out of government and politics?" A man complained: "What's the responsibility of government and the press regarding poor people and why do we hear so little about housing crisis, minimum wage, homeless people and low-wage workers?" That pleased James Bennet, a former New York Times White House reporter who is now Editor of The Atlantic magazine: "It's a great question. I've been wondering what happened to the issue of homelessness in America."

Web page for the Aspen Institute's Ideas Festival: www.aspeninstitute.org

The Atlantic's bio page for Bennet: www.theatlantic.com
[This item was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

In addition to Mitchell and Bennet, Ifill was joined by Priscilla Painton of Time magazine.

The Aspen Institute touts as its motto, "Timeless values, enlightened leadership," and is led by President & CEO Walter Isaacson, the former President of CNN and Managing Editor of Time magazine. The July 3-9 "Aspen Ideas Festival: Inspired Thinking in an Idyllic Setting," promises "a weeklong public celebration of important and intriguing ideas, with scores of top minds offering seminars, lectures, classes, and more." Indeed, the agenda, which skips over the Washington Week session, lists seminars and lectures on a wide-range of topics from big names ranging from Colin Powell to Laura Ingraham to Wolf Blitzer to James Fallows to Madeleine Albright.

Aspen's bio page for Isaacson: www.aspeninstitute.org

The agenda for the conference: www.aspeninstitute.org

Halfway into to the 23 or so minute discussion held at an Aspen theater and aired as the July 7 Washington Week, Ifill, a former NBC News reporter, proposed:
"I feel like the past few years, and I don't know whether it's technology which has sped this along or not, but that the polarization has been even more distinct than it ever was before and that people who write to disagree with something they think or they've heard I've said or done, don't just say I disagree, they say I hate your guts and I disagree. Is that polarization real or is it just people blogging?"
Andrea Mitchell replied: "I think it's real. And I don't think it reflects the vast majority of Americans but I certainly think it reflects those who take to the Internet and want to respond. And we read your e-mails and we really respond and we take seriously criticism that isn't abusive criticism. But the kind of hateful speech that we have seen, on the floor of the United States Congress and in a lot of the blogosphere, is what seems to dominate. And I do think it goes back, in my own experience, to 1989 when the talk radio shows went crazy about the congressional pay raise which was supported by Common Cause and some other groups in Washington who felt there needed to be a higher-paid salary -- Paul Volker the former Chairman of the Fed and others were arguing for this. But the anti-Washington, anti-bureaucrat bias that was built into that debate was then taken up by cable talk hosts as well and that became the kind of really combative conversation that displaced reasoned discussions about controversial issues."

The audience questions posed:

# Woman: "I would like to ask how can we keep religion out of government and politics?"

# Man: "Has there been a parallel in American history when issues normally reserved for the states, such as who can marry and right to die, that has so driven national politics?"

# A second man's agenda warmed Ifill and Bennet: "What's the responsibility of government and the press regarding poor people and why do we hear so little about housing crisis, minimum wage, homeless people and low-wage workers?"
Ifill: "You know I do think, that's a question I'd like James to take on, but I also want to just pop in. I think that's a question of power. Who has the power and who has the microphone and who has the voice. I actually do believe that Americans have more power than they think to force people on these issues, but often don't exercise it. I don't know, what do you think?"
James Bennet: "It's a great question. I've been wondering what happened to the issue of homelessness in America. There was a period ten of fifteen years ago-"
Ifill: "It was solved, didn't you hear?"
Bennet: "I can't square it with the guys I keep seeing sleeping outside our offices in Washington. There was a period when it consumed the attention of the news media ten or fifteen years ago. And part of the answer is obviously welfare reform..."

The next three audience questions:

# Second woman, with quite an insight: "I really think that having two political parties divides us as a nation. And I wonder what your thoughts are. I think if we really wanted to be united, we wouldn't have any political parties, we'd all work together and then we'd be the United States of America."

# Third man: "Much as been made of the creative redistricting by Tom DeLay and do you believe there is any possible mechanism for a uniform redistricting or districting in the states so that no group is left unrepresented?"

# Fourth man: "What impact blogs have on the political culture. And secondly, which blogs do you track?"

Bennet plugged his own blog on The Atlantic site and Mitchell observed that Hillary Clinton's hiring of a blogging expert shows blogs will be important in the pre-primary season.

WashPost on Mexican Leftists: Streets
Swelled with 'Rage of Poor'

What is it about the liberal media that regularly confuses mass protests with public opinion? In Mexico, the vote has been certified, and conservative Felipe Calderon is the President-elect. But on Saturday, leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) held a massive protest in Mexico City insisting he's the winner. The top of The Washington Post's front page Sunday carried a large photo of "Tens of thousands" of AMLO supporters, under the headline "Contender Alleges Mexico's Vote Was Rigged." Reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia began the story as if he was waving a leftist flag in the square: "Downtown Mexico City swelled Saturday with the accumulated frustration and rage of the poor, who were stoked into a sign-waving, fist-pumping frenzy by new fraud allegations that failed populist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador hopes will overturn the results of Mexico's presidential election."

The Post reporter continued: "López Obrador ignited the smoldering emotions of his followers Saturday morning, alleging for the first time that Mexico's electoral commission had rigged its computers before the July 2 election to ensure the half-percentage-point victory of Felipe Calderón, a champion of free trade. In a news conference before the rally, López Obrador called Calderón 'an employee' of Mexico's powerful upper classes and said a victory by his conservative opponent would be 'morally impossible.'"

For the July 9 front page article, "Contender Alleges Mexico Vote Was Rigged: Populist's Plan for Legal Challenge Ignites Boisterous Crowd at Massive Rally in Capital," go to: www.washingtonpost.com

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Sunday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Let's imagine, just for the sake of theory, that it's a reporter's job to report the facts, and not make political assumptions. It's obvious that Lopez Obrador's entire political strategy was about accumulating and stoking the "frustration and rage of the poor." But can we assume that everyone who was poor in Mexico voted for the socialists? And that everyone in the upper classes voted for that "employee" Calderon? Roig-Franzia seems to forward that thesis without any attempt at qualification.

The entire story seems dedicated to publicizing the leftist party's case, on Lopez Obrador and his strategies and the voices of his supporters complaining that "They stole this from us" and "The Mexican people are awakening." There is no room in the story for Calderon or his supporters -- or from nonpartisan political analysts or electoral experts of any kind. It does acknowledge that European Union electoral observers found no significant irregularities, that most Mexicans have accepted the results, and that Calderon has been taking congratulatory calls from world leaders. But it ended as it began, in a flourish that suggests the reporter's allegiances:
"After López Obrador left the stage Saturday, the crowd lingered. Someone started singing the national anthem, and countless voices joined in its rallying cry: 'Mexicans, to the shout of war!'"

"Countless voices" is a swoon in print, not a just-the-facts, ma'am approach.

Poll Finds Most Think NY Times Should
Face Criminal Prosecution

Catching up from before the holiday week: A Fox News poll, released just before the long July 4 weekend, confirmed the public is not pleased with the decision by the New York Times to disclose an ongoing effort to track international financial transactions by terrorist operatives. Jim Angle recounted in the "Grapevine" segment on the Friday, June 30 Special Report with Brit Hume: "The latest Fox News poll reveals that 60 percent think the New York Times decision to publish a story on the financial tracking program helped the terrorists. Sixty-six percent say news organizations that report classified security information should face criminal charges and 43 percent say reporting on secret national security data amounts to an act of treason." And a week ago on Fox News Sunday, Fortune magazine's Nina Easton suggested the New York Times "has opened itself up to attack when its Publisher just declared this war as 'a misbegotten war.'"

An excerpt from a summary of the poll posted on FoxNews.com:

....The Bush administration asked the New York Times not to publish information about the secret program, but the newspaper went ahead because it felt it was in the public interest to do so. By publishing the story, a 60 percent majority thinks the Times did more to help terrorist groups than the public (27 percent).

More Americans blame government employees for leaking the classified info (51 percent) than the media for reporting it (28 percent).

Furthermore, almost all (87 percent) think the employees who leaked should face criminal charges and two-thirds think the news organizations should. Even so, only 43 percent are willing to call what the media did treason, and almost as many think the organizations that published the information were operating for the public good (37 percent).

Overall, by 40 percent to 25 percent, Americans trust news reporters more to tell the truth than government officials, with 26 percent saying "neither." These results are in line with polling conducted last summer: 38 percent said they trust news reporters more, 18 percent government officials and 33 percent neither (June 2005)....

END of Excerpt

For the report on the survey in its entirety: www.foxnews.com

During the panel segment on the July 2 Fox News Sunday, after Brit Hume and Bill Kristol suggested an anti-Bush bias at the New York Times and denounced the newspaper for publishing the story which hurt an ongoing anti-terrorism effort, Nina Easton, the former Deputy Washington Bureau Chief for the Boston Globe, who recently jumped to Fortune magazine, reminded viewers:
"I'll also add on this question about the ideology, I think there is, the main ideology is a drive for prizes and a drive to get, you know, get this kind of news out, but there is this, the New York Times, I think, has opened itself up to attack when its Publisher just declared this war as 'a misbegotten war' and in a recent speech attacked the administration at a graduation."
Chris Wallace: "In a graduation speech he apologized to the generation that we had left them with the mess that we're in now."
Easton: "Yeah. And I think that, you know, that was a, that was a very unfortunate moment for the New York Times."

Indeed, as the May 30 CyberAlert recounted: C-SPAN on Saturday night (May 27) aired the Sunday, May 21 commencement remarks, by New York Times Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., at the State University of New York at New Paltz where he was honored with a Doctorate of Humane Letters. Sulzberger delivered a left wing rant in which he presumed liberal policy goals are more noble than conservative ones as he offered an "apology" for the nation his generation has left to the next


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generation: "You weren't supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, whether it's the rights of immigrants to start a new life; or the rights of gays to marry; or the rights of women to choose. You weren't supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drove policy and environmentalists have to fight relentlessly for every gain."

A video clip of Sulzberger will be added to the posted version of this CyberAlert, but in the meantime, you can watch it in RealPlayer or Windows Media formats, or listen to the MP3 audio, by going to the May 30 CyberAlert: www.mrc.org

To follow the latest on the New York Times' undermining of secret anti-terrorism efforts, check in with the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org

-- Brent Baker