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ABC and NBC See Celebrating Iraqis in Baghdad, CBS Not So Sure --7/23/2003


1. ABC and NBC See Celebrating Iraqis in Baghdad, CBS Not So Sure
Reporters in Baghdad for ABC and NBC believed the firing off of guns in the capital city reflected happiness over news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons at the hands of U.S. soldiers, but CBS's Byron Pitts wasn't so sure. "It rained bullets in Baghdad as the city celebrated," asserted ABC's Jeffrey Kofman. NBC's Tom Aspell found: "Gunfire in Baghdad tonight -- celebration as word spread that Saddam Hussein's two sons are dead." But Pitts expressed confusion over whether he was witnessing "shots of anger or jubilation."

2. Couric Asks Lynch's Doctor If Rescue Was "Pentagon Propaganda"
Katie Couric on Tuesday morning tried to drag the Army doctor, who took care of ex-POW Jessica Lynch, into commenting on the left-wing, anti-U.S. military spin of ABC News and the BBC about how the rescue of her from a Nasiriyah hospital was just a staged "Pentagon propaganda" event for the cameras, a tale Couric's NBC colleague Jim Avila had discredited in late May.

3. NY Post Shows How BBC, Not Blair, is Guilty of "Sexing Up" Story
Network stories on the suicide of David Kelly in Britain have focused on how the death fuels the scandal over intelligence in Britain and further imperils Tony Blair's hold on power. But, as the New York Post outlined in an editorial on Tuesday, the suicide should really call into doubt the BBC's credibility since the BBC identified him as their source for a story about how a government report "sexed up" the Iraqi threat, yet he denied having ever conveyed anything that would suggest intelligence estimate were "sexed up." Plus, the original BBC story described him as "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier" and a member of "the intelligence services" when, in fact, he was neither.

4. Dan Rather Chokes Up as He Recites John Denver Lyrics
John Denver's lyrics nearly moved Dan Rather to tears. Shortly after ex-POW Jessica Lynch addressed the media inside a tent in Wirt County, West Virginia, a homecoming covered live by all the networks on Tuesday afternoon, Rather displayed both his middle American patriotic values in paying tribute to those felled in war, but also the goofiness and excessive emotionalism which fuels ridicule of him.

5. Washington Post Again Champions "Mainstream" Anti-War Groups
Washington Post reporter Evelyn Nieves has delivered at least her third story in the last eight months touting the growing momentum of the anti-liberation of Iraq movement, an effort led by groups which she tagged as "mainstream." Her July 22 polemic trumpeted: "The letters are pouring in like a water main break -- fast and yes, furious" to join the ranks of activists of "antiwar groups, almost by definition anti-Bush." This movement apparently needed no outside analysis, since the only experts she quoted were five left-wing, Bush-bashing activists. Just how "mainstream" were the groups she cited? One blames President Bush, not the North Korean communists, for moving the peninsula toward war and is promoting a rally to "stop Bush's war on the world!"

6. Dennis Miller on Tonight Show, Weekly Standard Recites His Jokes
Dennis Miller is scheduled to make a fresh appearance Wednesday night on a new edition of NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno. This week's Weekly Standard magazine carries a piece reviewing Miller's move to the right and recounting some of his latest material. Plus, Lesley Stahl on Wednesday's Late Late Show on CBS.


ABC and NBC See Celebrating Iraqis in
Baghdad, CBS Not So Sure

Reporters in Baghdad for ABC and NBC believed the firing off of guns in the capital city reflected happiness over news of the deaths of Saddam Hussein's sons at the hands of U.S. soldiers, but CBS's Byron Pitts wasn't so sure.

"It rained bullets in Baghdad as the city celebrated," asserted ABC's Jeffrey Kofman who elaborated: "These have not been easy weeks for people here, but now, finally, some good news. News that at first seemed too good to be true. 'We want to see it on television or we won't believe anything,' says this man..." Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Aspell checked in: "Gunfire in Baghdad tonight -- celebration as word spread that Saddam Hussein's two sons are dead."

But Byron Pitts, on the CBS Evening News, expressed confusion over whether he was witnessing "shots of anger or jubilation." As he crouched behind a railing, he relayed: "Tonight the sky over Baghdad is live with gunfire. We're on the roof of our hotel where often times the shots have been loud and close. This all started about the time the news began to spread that Saddam Hussein's two sons might have been killed by U.S. forces. We're not certain if these are shots of anger or jubilation or a combination of both."

Couric Asks Lynch's Doctor If Rescue
Was "Pentagon Propaganda"

Katie Couric on Tuesday morning tried to drag the Army doctor, who took care of ex-POW Jessica Lynch, into commenting on the left-wing, anti-U.S. military spin of ABC News and the BBC about how the rescue of her from a Nasiriyah hospital was just a staged "Pentagon propaganda" event for the cameras, a tale Couric's NBC colleague Jim Avila had discredited in late May.

During an interview by satellite on the July 22 Today, with Dr. Greg Argyros at the Walter Reed Army Hospital, just hours before Lynch was to be released so she could make a homecoming celebration in West Virginia, Couric took Argyros far afield:
"What does she make of the claim by some critics, Dr. Argyros, that this whole thing was sort of Pentagon propaganda? That the troops didn't need to storm the hospital and it was all sort of done for the cameras and, and to kind of increase enthusiasm and support of the war?"

Argyros quite properly declined to comment since he knew nothing about it and certainly never talked to Lynch about it.

Couric was giving credence to a bit of propaganda herself, left-wing, anti-U.S. propaganda which one of Couric's own colleagues at NBC had long ago undermined. An excerpt from the June 3 CyberAlert:

NBC News versus ABC News, the Toronto Star and the BBC. Back on May 7 ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings belittled the military effort to rescue POW Jessica Lynch from a Nasiriyah hospital, focusing on how the U.S. forces knew they would face no opposition, unnecessarily frightened the staff and caused a lot of damage, specifically by breaking door knobs.

ABC's story was prompted by a Toronto Star story which suggested that the presence of video cameras with the rescuers suggested it was all a Pentagon propaganda effort. A few weeks later, the BBC checked in with a documentary accusing the U.S. forces of firing off blanks in the hospital, a sure sign it was all staged for the cameras to provide great propaganda video of military heroics.

But now, several week later, NBC's Jim Avila and crew have gone to Nasiriyah and discovered that the truth seems to lie closer to the story initially conveyed by the U.S. military than to the anti-military tales spun by ABC and the BBC.

On Friday's [May 30] NBC Nightly News, Avila reported that hospital staff "say the so-called blanks were actually flash-bang grenades used to stun and frighten hospital workers and potential resistance. No bullets or blanks were fired inside the hospital. And the Americans had every reason to expect trouble. Hospital workers confirm the Iraqi military used the basement as a headquarters." A doctor told Avila that "what he calls the big heads of the Iraqi army left just six hours before the raid." Avila added that "the Iraqis told NBC News the American soldiers' behavior was humane." For instance, when one of the physicians said the handcuffs "hurt and they were too tight," the "soldiers immediately loosened them."

END of Excerpt

For much more on Avila's story and links to earlier CyberAlert items on the ABC and BBC stories: www.mediaresearch.org

NY Post Shows How BBC, Not Blair, is
Guilty of "Sexing Up" Story

Every network story I've seen on the suicide of David Kelly, the Ministry of Defense official grilled by a parliamentary committee about whether he was the source for a BBC story which claimed a government insider said the Tony Blair government had "sexed up" reports on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, have focused on how the death fuels the scandal over intelligence in Britain and further imperils Blair's hold on power.

But, as the New York Post outlined in an editorial on Tuesday, the suicide should really call into doubt the BBC's credibility since the BBC identified him as their source, yet he denied having ever conveyed anything that would suggest intelligence estimates were "sexed up." Plus, the original BBC story described him as "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier" and a member of "the intelligence services" when, in fact, he was neither.

An excerpt from "The BBC's Sexy Lies," an editorial in the July 22 New York Post:

Just as President Bush's critics on Capitol Hill and in America's reflexively lefty media have seized on an alleged "smoking gun" of faulty intelligence to undercut his public support, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is coming under similar assault.

The catalyst there is the suicide of Dr. David Kelly, a weapons inspector who was identified as the source of a British Broadcasting Corp. report charging that the Blair government had ordered a public dossier of Saddam Hussein's crimes "sexed up" to bolster the case for war.

Indeed, the prime minister already has found himself being taunted by reporters demanding to know "if you've got blood on your hands."

But though Blair is taking a major political hit, it's the supposedly impartial -- and, by the way, taxpayer-funded -- BBC that stands before the world as the purveyor of "sexed-up" information.

That is to say, disinformation.

Back in May, BBC defense correspondent Andrew Gilligan reported that "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier" on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was charging that Blair and his aides deliberately deceived the British people by overstating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

BBC officials refused to disclose their source, but said the story was based on "one senior and credible source in the intelligence services."

An understandably outraged Blair ordered an investigation, which quickly focused on Kelly, a microbiologist involved in the search for WMD.

Ordered to testify before a House of Commons panel, he insisted he couldn't have been the source -- because he hadn't said anything remotely like what Gilligan reported.

"From [our] conversation, I don't see how he could make the authoritative statement he was making," said Kelly.

But when Kelly -- obviously distraught over having been thrust into the limelight -- took his own life last week, the BBC confessed that he had, in fact, been the network's source.

Problem is, Kelly was never in the intelligence services. Nor was he "one of the senior officials in charge of drawing up the dossier."

And, as he himself insisted just days before his death, he'd never said what the BBC claimed he said.

Indeed, if anyone is guilty of having "sexed up" the information it gave the public, it's the BBC -- not Tony Blair.

But that's hardly surprising: From the start, the network was in the forefront of those trying to rouse opposition to war with Iraq and to undermine both Blair and Bush.

Indeed, the BBC was taken to task during the war itself by one of its own front-line correspondents, Paul Adams, who wrote a blistering memo to his bosses blasting the network's coverage, which contended that the U.S.-led coalition was suffering repeated military defeats.

Even before the conflict began, the London Daily Telegraph reported, the BBC was receiving "an unprecedented number of complaints at the alleged anti-war and anti-American tone of its coverage of the Iraqi crisis."...

END of Excerpt

For the editorial in full: www.nypost.com

Dan Rather Chokes Up as He Recites John
Denver Lyrics

CBS's Dan Rather John Denver's lyrics nearly moved Dan Rather to tears. Shortly after ex-POW Jessica Lynch addressed the media inside a tent in Wirt County, West Virginia, a homecoming covered live by all the networks on Tuesday afternoon, Rather displayed both his middle American, homespun patriotic values of paying tribute to those felled in war as well as the goofiness and excessive emotionalism which fuels ridicule of him.

At about 2:50pm EDT, Rather reminded his viewers that, in the incident in which Lynch landed in enemy hands, "eleven U.S. soldiers were killed," and so he asked that viewers "pause for a moment to absorb that and to remember them."

But then he overshadowed his tribute by choking up as he read lines from a John Denver song. "Almost heaven West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River," Rather recited as his voice choked. Then he barely got out these words as his voice broke up, his eyes teared-up and his lips quivered: "And today those country roads took PFC Jessica Lynch home."

Hey, she didn't die. She's alive, yet Rather was very near all-out weeping.

A complete rundown of Rather's words when he wrapped up the July 22 CBS News Special Report from the anchor desk Manhattan, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd:
"Two things we want to do quickly before returning you to our regular programming. One is to emphasize, as we mentioned coming on, that at the time Jessica Lynch was taken prisoner along with five other U.S. soldiers, eleven U.S. soldiers were killed. Pause for a moment to absorb that and to remember them."

After two seconds, Rather continued: "And then while keeping in mind that Jessica Lynch said that she was quote, 'glad to be home' today and one can believe it, come to mind the songs, the song written by John Denver, 'Take Me Home Country Roads.'"

He began to choke up as he recited these lyrics, but recovered by the end: "Goes: 'Almost heaven West Virginia. Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River, life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze. Country roads, take me home.'"

But then he experienced a relapse, barely getting these words out as his voice broke up, wetness appeared in his eyes and his lips quivered: "And today those country roads took PFC Jessica Lynch home."

This is a fresh Rather moment which is sure to become a classic, and so on Wednesday morning the MRC's Tim Jones and Mez Djouadi will post a RealPlayer clip of the sequence laid out above. Check the posted version of this CyberAlert for the video.

[Web Update: Dan Rather referred to how Lynch's homecoming reminded him of "the song written by John Denver, 'Take Me Home Country Roads.'" Though John Denver recorded it, Bill Danoff should get the writing credit. The CD Baby Web site, on a page profiling Danoff, features this quote from the late Denver: "I have great respect for Bill as a songwriter. He has written some of my favorite songs and one of my most successful songs, 'Take Me Home Country Roads.'" See: www.cdbaby.com]

Washington Post Again Champions "Mainstream" Anti-War Groups

Washington Post reporter Evelyn Nieves has delivered at least her third story in the last eight months touting the growing momentum of the anti-liberation of Iraq movement, an effort led by groups which she tagged as "mainstream." Her July 22 polemic trumpeted: "The letters are pouring in like a water main break -- fast and yes, furious" to join the ranks of activists of "antiwar groups, almost by definition anti-Bush." This movement apparently needed no outside analysis, since the only experts she quoted were five left-wing, Bush-bashing activists.

[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, contributed this item to CyberAlert, though I've edited it a bit from his original submission.]

In January's American Journalism Review, Nieves, assigned by the Post to cover anti-war activities, complained about reporters' "lack of respect" for the size and diversity of those against the war. She griped: "I don't think [the media] is taking [the antiwar movement] too seriously....I've noticed a kind of lack of respect for this antiwar movement, as if it's the same people who show up at all protests, and not looking at the breadth of the people involved." For the AJR article: www.ajr.org

On page A3 of Tuesday's Post, the latest Nieves story was headlined: "Antiwar Groups Say Public Ire Over Iraq Claims Is Increasing."

Imagine the Post running a story which simply relayed what a conservative groups touted, such as: "Anti-Tax Groups Say Public Ire Over Spending Cut Claims is Increasing." Then delve further into an alternative universe and imagine that story not citing a single detractor toward the views or tactics of the anti-tax groups. But that's just the gift Nieves and the Post delivered to the anti-war activists.

Nieves opened her San Francisco-datelined story:
"The letters are pouring in like a water main break -- fast, and yes, furious. From Alabama: 'We want to know the truth!' From Arizona: 'If there's nothing to hide, what's the harm in a bipartisan inquiry?' From Mississippi: 'We must get to the truth -- whatever it is!'"

Nieves passed along: "About 400,000 people from every state have contacted members of Congress in the past three weeks as part of a MoveOn.org petition that asks Congress to investigate the controversial claims that led to the war on Iraq, with more than 50,000 people signing on to the liberal activist Web site in the past five days alone."

That was the first and last use of a liberal or left-wing label in the piece as Nieves later described the far-left activists as "mainstream." She asserted:
"Both United for Peace and Justice and Win Without War, the largest mainstream antiwar coalitions, with hundreds of member groups, including the National Council of Churches and the AFL-CIO, have launched campaigns that include petitions demanding an investigation into the intelligence that led to war, print and television ads that accuse Bush of misleading the nation with discredited or unproven claims about Iraq's nuclear arsenal and suggestions for organizing at the local level to reinvigorate the broad movement that developed in the weeks before the war."

Nieves quoted only five hard-left, Bush-bashing activists:

-- Eli Pariser of MoveOn.org, with an audience dominated by fans of Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich.

-- Erik Gustafson of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, which Nieves relayed "considers itself neither antiwar, per se, nor anti-Bush," founded "to call attention to what opponents of U.S. policy describe as a humanitarian catastrophe created by economic sanctions imposed on Iraq," in other words, in favor of enabling Saddam to continue to oppress, but in a wealthier fashion.

-- Mark Karlin of Buzzflash.com, a Bush-hating site which spent Tuesday hyping a commentary titled, "If You're Not Paranoid, You're Not Paying Attention."

-- David Cortright of the "mainstream" Win Without War, an advocate of "nonviolent conflict resolution," another promoter of global nuclear disarmament. In a recent article in The Nation, Cortright wrote: "We hope there will be few casualties, both for Iraqis and Americans, but we know that a quick victory will bolster the very policies we abhor." See: www.thenation.com

Win Without War's Web site: www.winwithoutwarus.org

(For a bit of humor played by a conservative who beat them to the domain name filing, check out: www.winwithoutwar.org )

-- Andrea Buffa of the "mainstream" United for Peace and Justice, whose Web site demands that we "Act to Abolish All Nuclear Weapons."

Just how "mainstream" is United for Peace and Justice? They blame President Bush, not the North Korean communists, for moving the peninsula toward war and are promoting a rally to "stop Bush's war on the world!" Their Web site plugs an upcoming event:
"July 26-27: Mobilization for Peace in Korea -- Prevent Another Korean War!
"Bush is looking in East Asia for his next target. Through hostile rhetoric and threats of a preemptive strike, he is creating a crisis on the Korean peninsula that may result in war at any moment. This July 27th marks the 50th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice, which concluded open fighting without a commitment to peace between the United States and North Korea. Peace and justice activists will stand in solidarity with Koreans from the United States, the Korean homeland and around the world in order to commemorate this anniversary with a demand for change. On July 27th, community organizations and peace activists will stage public forums, cultural events and protests across the United States to demand fair negotiations towards a real peace treaty. From July 26th to July 27th Koreans and other activists from around the world will gather in Washington D.C. for a weekend of events culminating in a White House protest at 12:00pm on July 27th. You can also support this campaign for peace in Korea by circulating this petition. Join us to prevent another Korean War and stop Bush's war on the world!"

Their home page: unitedforpeace.org

For a list of their member groups, a collection of all kinds of far-left and anti-American haters, see: unitedforpeace.org

To read the Nieves article in full: www.washingtonpost.com

Previous CyberAlert items on stories by Nieves promoting the anti-war cause:

-- A Post story datelined San Francisco, by Nieves, carried the upbeat headline: "Antiwar Sentiment Galvanizes Thousands." The agreeable subhead: "Groups See Numbers Rise as They Reach Out to Supporters Via Internet, E-Mail."

Reporter Evelyn Nieves admired the diversity of those who supported the marches: "The rallies organized by A.N.S.W.E.R. here and in Washington, D.C., were promoted through Internet networks. Demonstrating just how effective the Internet has become in expanding and diversifying the antiwar movement since the last big rallies in October, contingents carrying banners in San Francisco included 'Labor Against War,' 'Environmentalists Against the War' and 'Students Against the War' -- national groups that didn't formally exist two months ago." See: www.mrc.org

-- Stop the presses: Left wing groups promote a left wing cause. In a front page story on Monday, the Washington Post trumpeted "the extraordinary array of groups questioning the Bush administration's rationale for an invasion of Iraq." Always "growing" opposition to Bush's Iraq policy is the only subject reporter Evelyn Nieves has written about for the Post since leaving the New York Times just after one of her stories featured an inaccurate swipe at Dick Cheney's praise of the tax cut. See: www.mrc.org

-- Plus, Nieves has touted the candidacy of the un-liberal Howard Dean. The word "liberal" did not appear until three-fourths the way into a Washington Post profile of Dean by reporter Evelyn Nieves, and then only in a quote from an expert denying he is one: "'His being called a liberal is one of the great white lies of the campaign,' said Tom Salmon, a fellow Democrat and governor of Vermont for two terms during the Nixon-Ford era. 'He's a rock-solid fiscal conservative.'" See: www.mrc.org

Dennis Miller on Tonight Show, Weekly Standard Recites His Jokes

Dennis Miller is scheduled to make another appearance Wednesday night on a new edition of NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno. This week's Weekly Standard magazine carries a piece reviewing Miller's move to the right and recounting some of his latest material, lines you may have caught in his new pre-taped segments for FNC run Friday night on Hannity & Colmes and Saturday afternoon on Weekend Live with Tony Snow.

An excerpt from, "Miller's Crossing...to the right side of the political street," by Eric Pfeiffer in the July 28 Weekly Standard:

Dennis Miller insists he's not an across-the-board conservative, which may technically be true. Still, there's no doubt America's most sophisticated and most political comedian has been coming out of the conservative closet in a very big way. He hung out with President Bush and campaigned for him earlier this month on a weekend fundraising trip through California. And, on late night talk shows, Miller has applauded President Bush's leadership and cheered the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Moreover, Miller has lately been pounding the Democratic leadership, the abortion lobby, the French, and big-time lefties like Norman Mailer and Michael Moore. And recently Miller took the final, defining step to becoming a big-time public conservative, by signing up for a regular gig at Fox....

But back to the whole political identity business: "I don't think of myself as a classic conservative," says Miller. "I think of myself as a pragmatist. And these days, pragmatism falls into the conservative camp. We have to depend on ourselves in this country right now because we can't depend on anyone else. We are simultaneously the most loved, hated, feared, and respected nation on this planet. In short, we're Frank Sinatra. And Sinatra didn't become Sinatra playing down for punks outside the Fontainebleau [Hotel]."

September 11 marked the turning point of Miller's voyage to the right, but as far back as 1996 he was referring to himself as a conservative libertarian. Increasingly, Miller couldn't stomach the left's many attempts to demonize politicians like Rudy Giuliani and, later, Attorney General John Ashcroft. "With Giuliani, I was preconditioned to think he was heavy-handed. When actually examining him for myself, I said, 'Wow, New York seems to be running so well.' The guy has a good sense of humor when he talks. I dug him. And then obviously everything was borne out after 9/11 what a great man he is. And with John Ashcroft, the main civil liberty I'm looking to protect is the 'me not getting blown up' one. I don't know if it's written down anywhere in Tom Paine's crib sheets, but that's my big one."

Miller's not shy about military action. Against Syria, he supports it. Also in Iran, where he says regime change will be an "easier overthrow" than in Iraq....

While he waits for freedom to spread through the Middle East, Miller's ready to see democracy in action in his home state of California. "We've got a $38 billion deficit. I look at the California budget, and I see that we're paying to remove tattoos. It's the petri dish for untethered liberalism. I'm telling you, this place is turning into Sweden. Except, at least there the blondes are authentic."...

Sizing up the [Democratic] party's presidential candidates, he says, "I knew Kerry was going to have to run for president because his features are so chiseled, his actual skull could be on Mt. Rushmore. The guy looks like an Easter Island statue in a power tie. Howard Dean can roll up his sleeves in public all he wants, but as long as you can see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearm, he's never going to get off the pad. I hope they send Howard Dean out to do battle with Bush because he'll get his ass handed to him quicker than someone who just got out of liposuction surgery."

And it's not just leading Democrats who rile Miller, but the party as well, beginning with DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe: "You know, people are looking to buy a way of life here, and McAuliffe looks like he's trying to sell them a used Z28. I think you're talking about 7 out of 10 people are thinking what I'm thinking. They want to be protected. It's fine to talk about health care, but I think most people are thinking they don't want to have to use their health care to get stitched up after they're blown up in a bomb blast by a nut case. They want the nut case killed before that happens. So, in that case, it becomes preemptive health care. As I get older, it seems unsafe to me to be anything but a conservative."

END of Excerpt

For the article in its entirety: www.weeklystandard.com

# Another plug for tonight, Wednesday: CBS News reporter Lesley Stahl is scheduled to appear on CBS's Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn.

-- Brent Baker