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

Trumpeting Lack of "Smoking Gun" to Justify Iraq War -- 01/10/2003 CyberAlert


1. Trumpeting Lack of "Smoking Gun" to Justify Iraq War

Iraq is obligated to prove it doesn't have improper weapons, not the other way around, but ABC and NBC on Thursday night pounced on how Hans Blix said his team had yet to find a "smoking gun." ABC's Peter Jennings trumpeted "problems for the Bush administration if it really wants to overthrow Saddam Hussein militarily." Tom Brokaw proclaimed how "the UN weapons inspectors say there is no smoking gun so far," before he demanded of Colin Powell: "Don't you have to have irrefutable evidence...a smoking gun of some kind before you can go to war against Saddam Hussein?"

2. Blaming Bush for Making North Korea Feel Threatened
When an adviser to South Korea's new left-wing President argued that to address North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons "they have to not feel threatened by any country," CBS News reporter Barry Petersen suggested the real culprit, saying "or George Bush." And on Thursday's Today, Katie Couric passed along how "many people" see North Korea as more dangerous than Iraq since if "Saddam Hussein is developing them and North Korea has them this seems like a scarier situation."

3. GMA's Expert on Bush Tax Plan a Big Democratic Donor
Mellody Hobson, personal finance expert for ABC's Good Morning America who offered a critical assessment of Bush's tax cut plan and how "critics of the President's plan say it favors the rich," has contributed over $40,000 to Democrats in recent years, but a piddling $1,250 to Republicans, a search on OpenSecrets.org discovered. Amongst those she has supported: Ted Kennedy, Charles Schumer, Tom Harkin, Bill Bradley and the DNC.

4. CBS's America Under Bush: Depression- Era Food Lines
George W. Bush's America as painted by CBS News: Bread lines, reminiscent of the Depression-era, made up of average Americans with jobs. 60 Minutes II devoted 12 minutes this week to long food lines in Ohio. Scott Pelley didn't mention George W. Bush, but the implication was clear. Pelley relayed how "the U.S. Conference of Mayors says the need for emergency food aid in major cities jumped 19 percent last year alone." Pelley's emotions over facts style of reporting included this line: "Pre-schoolers come here with their parents and play in boxes as empty as the day's want-ads."

5. NBC's New Political Drama by a Liberal Debuts
Premiering tonight on NBC: Mr. Sterling, a new drama in the mold of The West Wing set on Capitol Hill revolving around a new Senator appointed to fill the term of a Senator who died. Offering hints about the show's likely political agenda, Laurence O'Donnell, who used to fill a liberal chair on the McLaughlin Group and on MSNBC, is the Executive Producer of the program and the lead actress and actor have said their role models are Nancy Pelosi and the late Paul Wellstone.


Trumpeting Lack of "Smoking Gun" to
Justify Iraq War

Iraq is the party obligated, under the UN resolution, to demonstrate that it has rid itself of weapons of mass destruction. The burden is not on the U.S. or the UN inspectors to find fresh proof of improper weapons within Iraq, but on Thursday night ABC and NBC pounced on the announcement by chief UN inspector Hans Blix that his team had yet to locate "a smoking gun."

ABC's Peter Jennings launched World News Tonight by trumpeting "problems for the Bush administration if it really wants to overthrow Saddam Hussein militarily," specifically the lack of a smoking gun and how Tony Blair is showing reluctance to go to war.

"The UN weapons inspectors say there is no smoking gun so far," Tom Brokaw announced at the top of the January 9 NBC Nightly News. Interviewing Secretary of State Colin Powell, Brokaw wanted to know: "Are you going to be able to provide the intelligence that could produce a smoking gun?" Brokaw pressed: "Don't you have to have irrefutable evidence, what people in the country are calling a photo, a smoking gun of some kind before you can go to war against Saddam Hussein and expect international cooperation?"

Jennings teased at the top of his show: "On World News Tonight, the UN weapons inspectors say they found no evidence that Iraq has forbidden weapons. The Bush administration's closest ally begins to have its doubts about attacking Iraq."

Over the screen graphic, "UN weapons inspectors find no 'smoking guns,'" Jennings began the newscast: "Good evening everyone. We're going to begin with problems for the Bush administration if it really wants to overthrow Saddam Hussein militarily. United Nations weapons inspectors have said today they are not finding evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. And the administration's most loyal supporter for military action, the British Prime Minister, says Mr. Bush should not rush things."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, over a "No Smoking Gun" graphic, Brokaw began: "Good evening. If the United States goes to war against Iraq will it first have to produce a smoking gun, hard evidence of Saddam Hussein hiding weapons of mass destruction? Tonight the UN weapons inspectors say there is no smoking gun so far. But they'd like more cooperation from Saddam."

In a subsequent excerpt from an interview with Powell, Brokaw pressed the need for a "smoking gun" to be found: "We now know that the United States is providing additional intelligence to the inspectors. Are you going to be able to provide the intelligence that could produce a smoking gun between now and January 27th?"

Powell replied that "because he says so far there is no smoking gun does not mean there is not one there," Brokaw countered: "But practically speaking, Mr. Secretary, and remembering your old military hat, don't you have to have irrefutable evidence, what people in the country are calling a photo, a smoking gun of some kind before you can go to war against Saddam Hussein and expect international cooperation?"

Powell wouldn't give in to Brokaw and maintained that if the "international community" sees Hussein not cooperating he will be considered in violation.

A bit later NBC went to Jim Avila with a piece from Beecher, Illinois where he found most people, four of the five from whom he played soundbites, opposed to any military action against Iraq. Avila concluded: "A nation unconvinced, deeply split, many still waiting for stronger evidence Saddam is a direct immediate threat."

Blaming Bush for Making North Korea
Feel Threatened

When an adviser to South Korea's new left-wing President argued that to address North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons "they have to not feel threatened by any country," CBS News reporter Barry Petersen suggested the real culprit, saying "or George Bush." The adviser responded: "You said it, I didn't." And on Thursday's Today, Katie Couric passed along how "many people" see North Korea as more dangerous than Iraq since if "Saddam Hussein is developing them and North Korea has them this seems like a scarier situation."

During a piece on the January 7 CBS Evening News, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, Barry Petersen looked at how the South Koreans view U.S. policy toward North Korea:
"There are millions of lives at stake across all of Asia, but especially here in South Korea, which could be ground zero. And that is why people here are increasingly nervous about the Bush administration's hard line toward the North. When President Bush labeled the North part of his 'axis of evil,' South Korean leaders cringed. They think the North's reclusive leader is more anxious about clinging to power in his crumbling homeland than taking on the world's only superpower."
Kim Sang Woo, South Korea presidential advisor: "The main thing at the moment for North Korea is regime survival. They have to not feel threatened by any country that-"
Petersen chimed in: "Or George Bush."
Kim: "Well, I mean, you said it, I didn't."

Thursday morning, January 9, on Today, Couric interviewed former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg. After suggested "some of the difficulties perhaps stem back from President Bush's reference to North Korea as part of the 'axis of evil,'" she highlighted an argument of those opposed to Bush's Iraq policy, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens observed. Couric proposed:
"Do you see Iraq as a much bigger threat than North Korea because many people, on the face of it, see North Korea as already having nuclear weapons in the process of developing long range missiles that could reach the United States with those nuclear weapons and they think, 'Gosh if Saddam Hussein is developing them and North Korea has them this seems like a scarier situation to me.'"

Not an unreasonable point, but it's also an illustration of what can happen once an outlaw regime obtains nuclear weapons and so an argument for taking Saddam Hussein out before he gets any nuclear missiles.

GMA's Expert on Bush Tax Plan a Big
Democratic Donor

Another expert a broadcast network turned to for a critical evaluation of the Bush tax cut proposal turns out to be an active donor to liberal Democratic candidates. Mellody Hobson, personal finance expert for ABC's Good Morning America, has contributed over $40,000 to Democrats in recent years, but a piddling $1,250 to Republicans, a search on OpenSecrets.org discovered.

Mellody Hobson On the January 6 Good Morning America, Hobson found opposition to Bush's plan from a millionaire: "Critics of the President's plan say it favors the rich. A person with a million-dollar income will get an estimated $24,000 in savings. Even wealthy investors like Bill Bartholomay, Chairman of the Atlanta Braves, are uneasy." Hobson, who is President of the Chicago-based Ariel Capital Management, suggested the Bush rhetoric does not match reality: "Everyone could use a little extra money in their pocket, but when you calculate how Bush's proposed tax plan will affect different American households, the math is very different."

Before getting to the millionaire, Hobson focused on a $50,000 family who "welcome the tax cuts," but "they worry what it'll cost in the long run." For more, see the January 7 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030107.asp#2

A Monday CBS Evening News story supported the liberal premise that Bush's tax cut helps the rich while abandoning the poor by featuring expert comment from a CPA who declared that "when you go to the lower brackets, there is no savings," and: "If you went to summarize this tax proposal as we see it today, the winners are the wealthy." But that accountant, the MRC's Rich Noyes learned, is a financial supporter of a liberal Democratic Congressman and the DNC. For details, see the CyberAlert item that Rush Limbaugh highlighted on his radio show on Thursday: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030108.asp#4

Rich then set his sights on Hobson and determined she's a very active donor to liberal Democrats and to Democrats in general. A search of OpenSecrets.org, a Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, revealed 67 contributions to federal political campaigns by Mellody Hobson, the President of Ariel Capital Management and for the past couple of years, ABC's financial consultant. Just two of those 67 contributions went to Republicans: $1,000 to North Carolina Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole on June 28, 2002, and $250 to then-U.S. Representative Bob Ehrlich of Maryland back on October 22, 1999. (Ehrlich was elected Governor of Maryland in November).

The remaining 65 contributions, totaling $40,800, went to a variety of Democratic candidates, state committees, federally-registered PACs and the Democratic National Committee, including:

-- $1,000 to then-New Jersey Senator Bob Torricelli on March 13, 2002
-- $1,000 to Iowa Senator Tom Harkin on June 27, 2001
-- $750 to Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, $250 on December 3, 1999 and $500 on April 4, 2000
-- $500 to Missouri Senate candidate Mel Carnahan on September 20, 2000
-- $1,500 to Missouri Senator Jean Carnahan in two contributions made on Nov. 15, 2001
-- $1,000 to North Carolina Senate candidate Erskine Bowles on March 6, 2002 (which matches the $1000 she gave to Bowles' opponent Dole)
-- $1,000 to New York Senator Charles Schumer on December 15, 2001
-- $2,000 to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry on June 17, 2001
-- $1,000 to then-Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone in two $500 contributions, one on June 23, 2001 and another on December 5, 2001
-- $1,000 to Colorado Senate candidate Tom Strickland on December 31, 2001
-- $1,000 to ex-Senator Bill Bradley on March 4, 1999 and another $500 to Bradley's PAC, Time Future Inc.
-- $2,000 to her home state Senator, Dick Durbin in five contributions in 1999 and 2001, plus $1,250 to a soft money committee Durbin had set up, Illinois Senate 2002
-- $10,450 in contributions between December 10, 1997 and February 21, 2002 to nine Illinois Democratic congressional candidates -- Lauren Gash, Lance Pressl, Mike Kelleher, Rahm Emanuel, Jan Shakowski, Rod Blagojevich, William Lipinski, Bobby Rush and Jesse Jackson, Jr. -- and three Illinois Democrats who lost congressional primaries: J.B. Pritzker, Martin Castro, and Obama Barack
-- $2,000 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000
-- $1,250 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 2001
-- $600 to the Democratic Party of Iowa on October 7, 1999
-- $1,500 to two Kennedy cousins who ran for Congress -- $1,000 to Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy and $500 to Mark Kennedy Shriver, who lost a congressional primary in Maryland.

For a picture of Hobson:
http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/business/GoodMorningAmerica
/mellody_hobson_021107.html

The site for her company: http://www.arielmutualfunds.com/

For the Web version of January 6 GMA story, with a retort from Ari Fleischer which did not appear in the version that aired:
http://www.abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/DailyNews/mellody_stimulus
_030107.html

CBS's America Under Bush:
Depression-Era Food Lines

George W. Bush's America as seen by CBS News: Bread lines, reminiscent of the Depression-era, made up of average Americans with jobs. Over video of a long line in Marietta, Ohio, on the January 8 60 Minutes II, Scott Pelley ominously intoned: "The lines we found looked like they'd been taken from the pages of the Great Depression. It's not just the unemployed, we found plenty of people working full-time but still not able to earn enough to keep hunger out the house. If you think you have a good idea of who's hungry in America today, come join the line. You'd never guess who you'd meet there."

While Pelley never uttered the name George W. Bush once during his 12 minute piece, the implication came through. Pelley noted, for instance, how "since 1999, the number of people getting emergency food aid in Ohio alone has grown from 2 million to 4.5 million." Pelley contended in relaying the view of a groups which wants more government spending: "Nationwide, the problem is not just in rural scenes like this. The U.S. Conference of Mayors says the need for emergency food aid in major cities jumped 19 percent last year alone."

Pelley's emotions over facts style of reporting included this line: "Pre-schoolers come here with their parents and play in boxes as empty as the day's want-ads."

Pelley asked, "When you look at this line, what do you see?" And answered the question himself: "You know what I see? Some pretty average looking Americans." When Pelley suggested "a lot of people in this country would be surprised to see this line, surprised to see a food line in America again," a local Ohio food bank operator declared in a comment which ended the story: "Oh yeah, we've gone backwards. This is what I heard from my mom and dad. This is what it was during the Depression era. That, you know, people stood in line to get government commodities. We haven't come very far, have we?"

Though Pelley highlighted some heartbreaking cases, he refrained from examining the poor personal decisions which led his victim families to their plight. All the families he looked at receive food stamps.

Pelley began his report, which was brought to my attention by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"We met some people standing in a line the other day, a nurse with a new baby, an army vet, three ladies who spent a lifetime working in the same factory. All of them and hundreds more were drawn to the line by hunger. We are about to show you bread lines in America that you may find hard to believe. With the recession there has been a sudden leap in the number of people on emergency food assistance. The lines we found looked like they'd been taken from the pages of the Great Depression. It's not just the unemployed, we found plenty of people working full-time but still not able to earn enough to keep hunger out the house. If you think you have a good idea of who's hungry in America today, come join the line. You'd never guess who you'd meet there."

Over video of a long line Pelley explained: "This is the head of a food line forming outside Marietta, Ohio. We're going to show you the end but that will take a while. The people in front came at dawn. Sometimes the food runs out before the line does. So it's best to get in early.
"They've come with empty boxes and baskets and little red wagons and if they wait, up to five hours, they carry away groceries that will last a few days. Lately, the food's been coming once every few weeks. And each time the crowd is getting larger, stretching like the line on a graph marking the recession.
"This day, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, the line was the longest it's been. Through the fair ground parking lot, out to the street and beyond. How many? We counted 896. One line from a thousand walks of life."

Pelley asked a woman: "Why do you have to come here?"
Marslyn (sp?) Clark: "Because we really, my husband really doesn't make enough for all of our groceries."
Pelley: "Is he working full-time?"
Clark: "He works full-time."
Pelley: "Usually Marslyn and her husband both work, but Marslyn is taking time off now for her new born, a girl named Autumn."
Clark: "I'm a nurse and I have a good job, but this is just something that we have to do to get by right now."

After showcasing a veteran of World War II and the Great Depression, Pelley turned to Bob Garbo, head of the local affiliate of America's Second Harvest. He opined: "This is going in my mind backwards, I mean this is, we're doing things that we did before food stamps, before we had various programs. And quite frankly it's a little bit hard to watch sometimes."
Pelley added: "Bob Garbo is watching as head of the local affiliate of the non-profit group America's Second Harvest. The food being distributed in his line comes mostly from government programs and from private donations.
"This day the line grew so long that they brought an extra truck -- they hadn't done that before. But since 1999, the number of people getting emergency food aid in Ohio alone has grown from 2 million to 4.5 million. There are a lot of reasons: housing costs are rising and medical costs. Unemployment is up, and many jobs that are available are minimum wage."
Garbo: "Our jobs are not high paying jobs. In rural America most of these jobs folks are getting when they come off of public assistance are $6 and $7 and hour jobs -- with no benefits, by the way."

Pelley soon profiled his first victim: "The issue is the working poor. Forty percent of the families in these lines have one parent working. Rick Payne is working full time in one of those big home improvement stores. But he's supporting a wife and four kids on $7.50 an hour. When we sat down with Payne, his wife Alexis and 12-year-old, Brandon, they had $17 to their name."

On a 40 hour a week basis over 50 weeks $7.50 an hour would total, by my calculation, $15,000 a year. Plus, as Pelley noted, the Paynes get $300 a month in food stamps. Yet at the end of the month they live on potato soup. Sounds to me like really bad money management.

Trying to generate viewer sympathy, Pelley asserted: "Almost half the people fed by these lines are kids. The Agriculture Department figures one out of six children in America faces hunger. That's more than 12 million kids. Nationwide wide children have the highest poverty rate. Pre-schoolers come here with their parents and play in boxes as empty as the day's want-ads."

Pelley talked with kids who wanted food and then profiled a woman who said she must mix milk with water to make it last for her baby, though she gets both welfare and food stamps.

Pelley conceded: "Most of the people in line don't look like they're starving. We noticed some were even overweight. But hunger in America isn't starvation, it's malnutrition -- children too hungry to concentrate in school, the pain of skipped meals. There may be some in line who are taking unfair advantage of a free food program even if they have to wait for hours. But it's also true that many in these lines are new to hunger: losing jobs or getting hit with medical bills, for example, just months or weeks ago.
"We visited another line in McArthur, Ohio, where the holidays were closing in and so was the weather. This line is about 40 percent longer than it was just three years ago. Nationwide, the problem is not just in rural scenes like this. The U.S. Conference of Mayors says the need for emergency food aid in major cities jumped 19 percent last year alone."

On to his third victim family, Pelley highlighted a woman whose marriage broke up and the kids now only can eat at school, but the 12-year-old brings some food home. The family supposedly can't eat, yet Pelley reported they get $700 a month in welfare and food stamps.

Garbo compared the situation to the fear of terrorism: "I'll tell you in all honesty I sense a fear. It's a fear. We talk about terror nowadays. The terror is fear. And if you really get to visit with families who are really up against it, there's a fear."

Back to the Payne family, they figured out you can work more than just one job and now make some money for cleaning their church each Sunday. But, and in the TV world of victims there is always a but, the father teared-up as he related how he cannot afford to pay his son the promised $5 a week for helping with the church clean-up.

Pelley wrapped up his anecdotal piece with this exchange between himself and Garbo: "When you look at this line, what do you see?"
Garbo: "You see pain."
Pelley: "You know what I see? Some pretty average looking Americans."
Garbo: "Oh yeah, sure, this is southeast Ohio, buddy. This is it, this is it and you'll see this pretty well all over the country probably."
Pelley: "I think a lot of people in this country would be surprised to see this line, surprised to see a food line in America again."
Garbo: "Oh yeah, we've gone backwards. This is what I heard from my mom and dad. This is what it was during the Depression era. That, you know, people stood in line to get government commodities. We haven't come very far, have we?"

If true, that would be quite an indictment of the billions spend in the war on poverty, but Pelley didn't broach that liberal failure.

As for how the Bush era has brought us full circle to Hoover, remember that the GDP is growing at a healthy rate, inflation, which most ravages the poor, is at a historically low level, unemployment is at barely 6 percent, well below where it stood in 1980, and the full welfare state is humming and sending out checks and food stamps to all of the poor.

For the Web-posted version of Pelley's story:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/01/08/60II/main535732.shtml

For a picture and bio of Pelley:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/06/23/60II/main51732.shtml

NBC's New Political Drama by a Liberal Debuts


Premiering tonight on NBC: Mr. Sterling, a new drama in the mold of The West Wing set on Capitol Hill revolving around a new Senator appointed to fill the term of a Senator who died. Offering hints about the show's likely political agenda, Laurence O'Donnell, who used to fill a liberal chair on the McLaughlin Group and on MSNBC, is the Executive Producer of the program and the lead actress and actor have said their role models are Nancy Pelosi and the late Paul Wellstone.

O'Donnell, who played "President Bartlet's" father The West Wing, was once Chief-of-Staff for the Senate Finance Committee under Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

In a November 10 Inside Politics piece, CNN's Bill Schneider talked to the two lead actors while they were filming one day on Capitol Hill. He asked actress Audra McDonald, who plays the Senator's Press Secretary: "Anyone in the press in your head as you play this role? Or in Congress or -- do you have any models?"
She replied: "Yeah. Nancy Pelosi. I mean obviously, my character is not an actual politician, but just in terms -- I was just reading a big article about her, you know, of course, you know, her being the high-ranking Congresswoman in history, you know, talking about the fact that female politicians a lot of times have to wrap their hammers in velvet."

Talking to the actor who plays Senator Sterling, Josh Brolin, the son of Barbra Streisand's husband James Brolin, Schneider wondered: "When you play this role, do you have any politicians or political figures at all in mind?"
Brolin affirmed: "Wellstone. I think Wellstone was -- and Lawrence O'Donnell Jr., I think based the character loosely on Wellstone in the fact that when he came in that he didn't play the bureaucratic, you know, line. He kind of did things his own way."

For Internet Movie Database bios of Brolin and McDonald: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Brolin,+Josh
http://us.imdb.com/Name?McDonald,+Audra

For more on the show, see an excerpt from Roll Call in the November 12 CyberAlert: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021112.asp#3

Here's how the NBC Web site describes the show, which will air Fridays at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST:
"FROM EMMY-AWARD WINNING WRITER/PRODUCER LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, JR. COMES THIS NEW POLITICAL DRAMA ABOUT A FRESH-FACED SENATOR FROM CALIFORNIA BRINGING HIS OWN PERSPECTIVE TO CAPITOL HILL -- When the Senior Senator of California suddenly dies, destiny is thrust upon William Sterling Jr. (Josh Brolin, "Hollow Man," "The Mod Squad") when the state's current governor (guest star Bob Gunton, "The Shawshank Redemption") suddenly offers him an appointment to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacated spot. With the super-charged Jackie Brock (Audra McDonald, "Ragtime") as his chief of staff and the principled, Beltway insider Tommy Doyle (William Russ, "Boy Meets World") as his legislative director, Sterling sets out to shake up the status quo. David Noro'a ("Six Feet Under") also stars as Leon, Sterling's resident techno-wiz. James Whitmore, "The Shawshank Redemption" guest stars as former California Governor, William Sterling, Sr. TV-PG"

NBC's page for the program: http://www.nbc.com/Mister_Sterling/

Liberals may not be able to win at the ballot box as much as they like and have to endure a George Bush presidency and a Bill Frist-led Senate, but now with two political shows produced by liberal Democrats, NBC gives them a fantasy world in which they can dream of what might be. -- Brent Baker