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ABC Hypes Anti-Bush Protest and Media Question in South Africa --7/10/2003


1. ABC Hypes Anti-Bush Protest and Media Question in South Africa
As if the average African or even African leader were peppering President Bush with questions about his evidence for going to war with Iraq, ABC's Peter Jennings opened his Wednesday broadcast by trumpeting how "the Bush administration is obliged again to defend its case for war in Iraq -- from Africa to Capitol Hill." In fact, it was a U.S. reporter who brought up the subject in Pretoria. ABC also showcased what CBS and NBC ignored, a mere thousand protesters. ABC displayed a poster with Bush sporting a Hitler mustache, before running a soundbite from a protester who proclaimed: "We believe that George Bush is a threat to humanity and the planet."

2. CNN's Brown Forwards Rumor Bush Knew in Advance Evidence False
Like ABC, CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown led with attacks on the administration's credibility, but Brown stretched his own credibility by picking up on a rumor, "a story that's been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus." Brown's raising of such an uncorroborated story befuddled CNN reporter David Ensor, who speaking slowly as he fumbled for words, told Brown: "I have no way to confirm that story and it is somewhat suspect I would say..."

3. CBS's Roberts Claims New Food Label "Could Help Save Your Life"
How would we survive without federal regulators to protect us? Introducing a story on a new federal regulation mandating that the amount of trans fats be listed on food nutritional labels, CBS anchor John Roberts dispassionately described it as "a new food labeling regulation that could help save your life."

4. Jennings and Reynolds Belittle Meagerness of Tax Cut
ABC's Peter Jennings belittled the tax cut on Tuesday night, asking: "Will three extra dollars stimulate the national economy?" Dean Reynolds talked to a couple who appreciated their $15 more a week and a woman who dismissed as "nothing" the $3 more she will now be able to keep every two weeks. Dean quoted experts on both sides of the argument about whether the tax cut will boost the economy, but he ended his piece by ridiculing the amount of the tax cut. Referring to the husband in the couple getting $15 per week, Reynolds snidely observed: "He may use some of his windfall to restore that '57 Chevy in his garage. And at 15 bucks a week, he figures the job would be done in about 20 years."

5. CBS Sees "Hunger in the Heartland" with Car Lines for Food
Exactly a week after the CBS Evening News trumpeted the return of homelessness to America on a scale never seen before, the program will feature a story on how in George Bush's America there's "hunger in the heartland" with huge numbers of people "waiting in line for free food."


ABC Hypes Anti-Bush Protest and Media
Question in South Africa

As if the average African or even African leader were peppering President Bush with questions about his evidence for going to war with Iraq, ABC's Peter Jennings opened his Wednesday broadcast: "On World News Tonight, the Bush administration is obliged again to defend its case for war in Iraq -- from Africa to Capitol Hill." In fact, Jennings was hyping a self-fulfilling media story since it was a U.S. reporter for the British Reuters service which brought up the subject in Pretoria.

Jennings soon insisted that in Africa Bush "faces a skeptical population, in part, because of the war in Iraq." His support for that claim: A mere thousand far-left and communist protesters whom CBS and NBC ignored, but ABC showcased, running video of protest signs with a Bush "Wanted" poster and with Bush sporting a Hitler mustache, all before featuring a soundbite from a protester who proclaimed: "We believe that George Bush is a threat to humanity and the planet."

After the above-quoted tease, Jennings began the July 9 World News Tonight, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Good evening, everyone. We begin tonight with the Bush administration's credibility. Today in Europe and Africa and in the Congress, the administration is being pressed to defend its public justification for going to war in Iraq. Today the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said this about Iraq and nuclear weapons:"
Donald Rumsfeld before Senate Armed Services Committee: "The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit of weapons of mass murder."
Jennings: "This was not the message about Saddam Hussein a month and a half before the war."
Rumsfeld at a January 29 Pentagon briefing: "His regime has the design for a nuclear weapon, was working on several different methods of enriching uranium, and recently was discovered seeking significant quantities of uranium from Africa."
Jennings: "In London tonight, the British Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that senior British government officials say privately they no longer believe that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq. So what does the Bush administration believe? We're going to go to Washington straight away and ABC's Martha Raddatz. Martha?"

Raddatz checked in: "Peter, the administration faced a lot of tough questions today, especially about those Niger documents that have found to be, that have been found to be a fraud. But the administration did not have a lot of answers. In South Africa today, the President would not directly respond to questions about the bogus statement in his State of the Union. Instead, he defended his decision to go to war with Saddam Hussein."
George W. Bush, at press conference in Pretoria, South Africa: "There's no doubt in my mind the United States, along with allies and friends, did the right thing in removing him from power."
Raddatz: "On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said he only found out in recent days that the information was bogus. The Secretary was asked why the suspicions about the Niger documents did not reach senior officials as the administration has claimed."
Rumsfeld: "Well, I can't give you a good answer. I can try to get an answer."
Raddatz: "A former State Department intelligence analyst said today that senior officials misused the information they were provided."
Greg Thielmann, former State Department analyst: "This administration has had a faith-based intelligence attitude. It's 'top down' use of intelligence. We know the answers. Give us the intelligence to support those answers."
Raddatz: "The administration today cited the additional evidence that Colin Powell used in his UN speech to show that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. But analysts say none of that has panned out, either."
Joseph Cirincione, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: "None of the evidence that the administration presented in support of a reconstituted nuclear weapons program has proven to be true. It just wasn't there. There was no reconstituted program."
Raddatz: "Today the White House said it stands by Secretary Powell's statements at the UN. Of course, Secretary Powell did not use the Niger document, and today he told the British Broadcasting Company, 'by then, there was such controversy about it, it did not seem to be the kind of claim that I should take into the UN.' Peter, as you know, Secretary Powell's speech came just a week after the State of the Union."

Jennings picked up: "Now, as you all know, the President is in South Africa. He's gone there with big promises of help on a number of issues which are deeply important to Africa, but he faces a skeptical population, in part, because of the war in Iraq. ABC's John Cochran is traveling with him."

Over video of protesters with posters of Bush with a Hitler mustache, Bush Wanted posters and one which proclaimed, "Bush: You are an empty Warhead!", Cochran relayed: "'Bush is a warmonger, a butcher.' That from about a thousand demonstrators in Pretoria. Mostly young people and older socialists, long suspicious of American motives and protesting the war in Iraq."
Saliem Valley, anti-war coalition spokesman: "We believe that George Bush is a threat to humanity and the planet."
Cochran moved on: "South Africa's President Mbeki also opposed the war, but now he wants American troops to help stop the civil war in Liberia..."

That question posed to Bush about the Niger uranium story, the answer to which was highlighted by every network, came from a reporter whom Bush identified as "Randy." I'm guessing it was Randall Mikkelsen of Reuters. He asked, at just past 6am EDT (a bit past noon in South Africa):
"Do you regret that your State of the Union accusation that Iraq was trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa is now fueling charges that you and Prime Minister Blair misled the public? And then, secondly, following up on Zimbabwe, are you willing to have a representative meet with a representative of the Zimbabwe opposition leader, who sent a delegation here, and complained that he did not think Mr. Mbeki could be an honest broker in the process?"

For Mikkelsen's story: story.news.yahoo.com

CNN's Brown Forwards Rumor Bush Knew
in Advance Evidence False

Aaron Brown Like ABC, CNN's NewsNight with Aaron Brown led with attacks on the administration's credibility, but Brown stretched his own credibility by picking up on a rumor, "a story that's been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus." Brown's raising of such an uncorroborated story befuddled CNN reporter David Ensor, who speaking slowly as he fumbled for words, told Brown: "I have no way to confirm that story and it is somewhat suspect, I would say..."


In a cursory check of a bunch of Web sites and news sources online, I could not find a reference to any such allegation. But then I'm not on the left-wing mailing lists which CNN must peruse.

Brown launched his July 9 program: "We begin with the question of credibility now dogging the White House even half a world away on President Bush's trip to Africa. Today, a State Department intelligence official who retired during the run up to the war accused the Bush administration of practicing 'faith based intelligence when it comes to Iraq.'"

Following the lead story from David Ensor about the day's developments on the Niger story front and questions about how President Bush could have conveyed such a bogus claim, Brown confronted Ensor with an unsubstantiated rumor of his own:
"A couple things, David. There is, as you know, a story that's been circulating on the Web today that there was at some point a conversation between the President and a CIA consultant where the consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus. Do you have any reporting that supports the idea that the President was directly told it was fake before he included it in the State of the Union speech?"
A clearly flummoxed Ensor, speaking slowly as he fumbled for words, struggled for a reply now that he was on the spot and probably afraid of upsetting Brown if he condemned such rumor-mongering: "I have no way to confirm that story and it is somewhat suspect I would say but we'll have to check it."
Brown pressed again: "Alright, and any other information that would suggest the President knew in advance this was bogus?"
Ensor: "None at this point, no."
Brown: "Thank you, David, David Ensor in Washington."

Brown stayed on point: "David Sanger has been reporting on the case against Iraq and the political tussle over it for the New York Times. Mr. Sanger joins us from Washington, good to see you David, thank you. Same question, do you have any have you in your reporting seen anything that suggests that at any point the President before the speech was told this information was phony?"
Sanger: "No, we've not found anything along those lines. If one read into the footnotes of some of the earlier intelligence reports, which there's no reason to expect the President or even many of his top aides do, there were just hints that there were doubts about it."

There goes a great conspiracy theory.

[Web Update: When castigating George Bush for passing on bogus information about uranium from Niger, Aaron Brown passed along a one-source Web story he should have known was false since it had been retracted four hours earlier. See the July 10 CyberAlert Extra]

CBS's Roberts Claims New Food Label "Could
Help Save Your Life"

How would we survive without federal regulators to protect us? Introducing a story on a new federal regulation mandating that the amount of trans fats be listed on food nutritional labels, CBS anchor John Roberts dispassionately described it as "a new food labeling regulation that could help save your life."

Talk about over-hyping a minor event. The regulation is not now in place, so how are we managing to stay alive?

Setting up a July 9 CBS Evening News story on the new FDA regulation which gives food-makers until 2006 to add the information, Roberts heralded the new rule: "Federal health officials hope action they took today will cut health care costs related to obesity. Elizabeth Kaledin reports on a new food labeling regulation that could help save your life."

Jennings and Reynolds Belittle Meagerness
of Tax Cut

ABC's Peter Jennings belittled the tax cut on Tuesday night, announcing at the top of World News Tonight: "The President's tax cut is beginning to show up. Will three extra dollars stimulate the national economy?"

In the subsequent story, tied to the tax cut showing up in paychecks as of July 1, Dean Reynolds talked to a couple who appreciated their $15 more a week and a woman who dismissed as "nothing" the $3 more she will now be able to keep every two weeks. (Reynolds didn't add up his breakdown numbers to point out how the couple was getting a healthy $780 a year and the woman, who makes $35,000, about $78 more a year, a lump sums it's doubtful anyone would reject.)

Dean quoted experts on both sides of the argument about whether the tax cut will boost the economy, but he ended his piece by ridiculing the amount of the tax cut. Referring to the husband in the couple getting $15 per week, Reynolds snidely observed: "He may use some of his windfall to restore that '57 Chevy in his garage. And at 15 bucks a week, he figures the job would be done in about 20 years."

I thought the tax cut was too big and irresponsible. Now it's too small.

Jennings set up the story which wrapped up his July 8 show: "Finally this evening, spending 'Your Money.' The first step of the President's multi-million tax cut plan has begun to mean money reaching people around this country at this particular moment. They're now supposed to turn around and put it into the general economy, which, of course, will be up to them. Here's ABC's Dean Reynolds."


Reynolds: "It's not much, but Michelle and Scott Linnborn of Austin, Texas, are happy to have it."
Michelle Linnborn: "It's nice. Definitely, it's nice."
Reynolds: "The Linnborns, who make about $90,000 a year, are now getting $15 more in take home pay every week. And they plan to spend it."
Linnborn: "Take my husband to lunch."
Reynolds: "In theory at least, that decision is supposed to kick start the economy."
Mark Zandi, Economy.com: "This isn't a whole lot of money. But if every taxpayer spent the money they did receive in lower tax payments, that would add up to a lot of dollars."
Reynolds: "About $40 billion, actually, when combined with the larger child tax credit still to come. And yet, a recent Gallup poll says only 22 percent of taxpayers will spend the extra money in their pay envelope. The rest will save it, or use it to pay off bills. That could deprive the economy of the cash injection it needs to grow and further erode consumer confidence that it can."
Doug Stives, Certified Public Accountant: "I don't think there's anybody out there that says, 'Oh, great. Bush put more money into my paychecks. So everything else is gonna just be rosy going forward.'"
Lisa Burke: "It's nothing. I didn't even notice it at first."
Reynolds: "Lisa Burke, a law librarian from California, who makes $35,000 a year, is getting just $3 more every two weeks. A single mother of two, she says the $3 will be used to pay off bills."
Burke: "It's not like I'll be able to take a vacation."
Reynolds: "Still, many economists believe it's unlikely people will actually set aside such small amounts for debts and will probably wind up spending the money without really thinking much about it."
Zandi: "If each household even spends a buck, that's real dollars to the economy and real stimulus."
Reynolds concluded: "Scott Linnborn is doing his part. Lunch with his wife, is nice, he says. But he may use some of his windfall to restore that '57 Chevy in his garage. And at 15 bucks a week, he figures the job would be done in about 20 years. Dean Reynolds, ABC News, Chicago."

Not such a bad story until Reynolds concluded with such a dismissive anecdote.

CBS Sees "Hunger in the Heartland" with
Car Lines for Food

Exactly a week after the CBS Evening News trumpeted the return of homelessness to America on a scale never seen before, the program will feature a story on how in George Bush's America there's "hunger in the heartland" with huge numbers of people "waiting in line for free food."


"There are now more homeless families on the street than ever before," reporter Lee Cowan declared in a Thursday, July 3 CBS Evening News story. Cowan also hyperbolically claimed: "There are more homeless families now in Manhattan than since the Great Depression." For much more: www.mediaresearch.org

Wednesday's CBS Evening News carried this promo for Thursday night's broadcast:
"Hunger in the heartland. These Americans are waiting in line for free food. So what went wrong for them? Our month-long series 'Making Ends Meets' continues."

As the announcer spoke CBS's spot showed video of a long line of cars and SUVs, none of them looking too shabby.

In America, our supposedly hungry can drive a multi-thousand dollar vehicle to pick up their free food.

-- Brent Baker