ABC Sees Coalition Forces as Threat to Iraqis, CBS as Helpers -- 03/25/2003 CyberAlert
2. ABC Passes Along Claim Copter Shot Down by Farmer with Rifle
3. Dan Rather Upbeat on War Progress, Jennings and Brokaw Not
4. Koppel Hopes Public "Can Handle the Truth" About War Setbacks
5. Bush "Cavalier" About Treaties But Expects Saddam to Adhere
6. CNN Producer: Iraq Just Like U.S. in Wanting to Control Media
7. Brokaw Editorializes About Railing "Against Immigrants"
8. Shipman Rues Daschle "Tarred & Feathered" for Criticizing Bush
9. CBS Corrects Moore's Claim that Most Oppose Bush on Iraq
10. CNN's Hinojosa: Protesters Indoors to Deal with Shock of War
11. Edmonton Fans Cheer U.S. National Anthem
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While ABC on Monday night couldn't figure out if Iraqis were pleased to see U.S. troops or just wanted food and focused on how the American arrival is threatening a "humanitarian disaster," CBS showed a U.S. Army soldier cradling an Iraqi child as his colleagues rendered medical aid to the family which had sought out the assistance of the U.S. forces. Plus, Jennings wanted to know why Iraqis are not cheering and why bio-chem weapons have not been found.
Bob Woodruff, embedded with the Marines, wondered, in what Peter Jennings considered "an interesting thought," whether Iraqis along the side of the road are smiling and waving because "they are welcoming the U.S. military or whether we are simply a curiosity, maybe a source of food." World News Tonight also re-ran (see March 23 CyberAlert) video of John Donvan's trip to Safwan "where we were besieged by people demanding food and water, angry that the U.S. was not providing it." Donvan warned that if humanitarian aid does not arrive soon, "the case that this war has made Iraqis' lives better gets much harder to make."
Jennings set up the short report from Bob Woodruff riding atop a troop transport vehicle with the 1st Marine Division inside Iraq: "Here's a quick glimpse of ABC's Bob Woodruff in southern Iraq with the Marines. He had an interesting thought as they were rolling along."
Later, ABC devoted a full story to subject just mentioned in passing by CBS and NBC: The lack of water and food in the Basra area. Jennings intoned: "We're going to take 'A Closer Look' tonight at one of the issues that's been a huge question mark ever since it was clear this war was going to be waged. The UN Secretary-General said today he's already worried there will be a humanitarian disaster in Iraq's second largest city, Basra, which may be running out of drinking water. The President, President Bush said yesterday relief would be heading to Iraq within 36 hours. And ABC's John Donvan reports tonight that in the south, the people are anxious for help and wonder where it is."
Nightline carried a similar piece from Donvan.
Now contrast that 'the United States and British can do nothing correctly' attitude with how CBS highlighted an instance of the U.S. Army coming to the aid of Iraqi civilians. Phil Ittner, embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, filed a story, with night vision via a video phone, about the squad's overnight activities. Ittner explained over the blurry green video of one soldier cradling a little girl as his colleagues provided medical aid to her family:
During ABC's prime time special on the war with Iraq, at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST, Jennings wanted Richard Perle to explain the supposed lack of enthusiasm for U.S. forces by Iraqi citizens and why no biological or chemical weapons have yet been located. Two of the questions Jennings posed to Perle:
-- "For months the administration has predicted -- or seemed to predict, to be fair -- that cheering Iraqis would be greeting Americans in the streets and it doesn't appear to have happened so far. Maybe we just haven't seen it. What do you think has happened?"
-- "Five days into the war and with U.S. forces 50, 60 miles from Baghdad, there does not appear to be any apparent sign of chemical weapons. Again, does that surprise you? Was the intelligence perhaps not as good or is the timing too early?"
Without any incredulity, ABC's freelance reporter in Baghdad, Richard Engel, passed along how an Iraqi official "told ABC News" that a "poor farmer" shot down an Apache helicopter "with his own rifle." Engel proceeded to relay video of injured Iraqi adults and children in a hospital, and Iraq's wounded and killed claims, a bit of Iraqi propaganda both CBS and NBC decided to pass up.
During the day I saw analysts on all the cable networks dismissing as ludicrous the farmer with a rifle claim and neither CBS or NBC on Monday night found it worth the air time to mention.
After showing video of the downed U.S. helicopter and brief video clips of the two pilots in Iraqi captivity, Engel asserted on the March 24 World News Tonight: "Iraq's Foreign Minister told ABC News that the helicopter was shot down by a poor Iraqi farmer. Iraq says he did it with his own rifle."
Engel soon added, over matching video of adults and kids in bandages: "There's no way for journalists to independently verify exactly what is being destroyed. Iraq says U.S. and British fighters are targeting civilian areas, and today took reporters to see a university damaged by the bombing. Iraqi officials also claim that 62 civilians have been killed throughout Iraq, and 500 wounded in the past 24 hours. They've released no figures for the number of soldiers killed in the fighting."
How the three broadcast network anchors opened their newscasts on Monday night provided an insight into their attitudes toward the war effort. Dan Rather delivered an upbeat, Americans will be victorious view as he saw Americans "barreling toward Baghdad" while ABC's Peter Jennings stressed hesitation and doubt as he perceived that "the drive on Baghdad is cautious." And NBC's Tom Brokaw emphasized the negative, painting a war going badly with "high-profile allied blunders" and two new POWS adding "to a growing list of POWs and deaths the coalition has experienced so far."
-- Rather teased the March 24 CBS Evening News: "America at War: Barreling toward Baghdad. Fast moving U.S. ground forces fight their way to within miles of the capital. Up above, air raids try to cut up and cut off Iraqi divisions. Iraq insists Saddam is alive, well and in control. Was Saddam hiding chemical weapons here? [video of gas mask on a bunk] Captured Iraqi soldiers were prepared for chemical warfare."
-- ABC's Peter Jennings seemed to be talking about a different war, as he teased his broadcast: "On World News Tonight, the U.S. attacks all over Iraq, the drive on Baghdad is cautious. There is opposition and there is weather. The Iraqi leader is alive and on television. Who knows how well he is. The U.S. believes he is still in control. Two more Americans are captured, their helicopter shot down. So many others are coming back full of bullet holes. And the pictures of the POWs. So public now, such pain for the families."
-- Tom Brokaw opened the NBC Nightly News on a down beat note:
Obviously, any coalition deaths, injuries and captures are tragic, but relative to the number of personnel in country they are fairly small, yet they are amplified by the media's focus on individual victims.
Suggesting success in Iraq "will come as a significant cost" in U.S. lives, Ted Koppel promised at the end of Monday's Nightline to do his best "to give you the truth." But, picking up on the Jack Nicholson line, "you can't handle the truth," Koppel expressed "the hope that you can handle it."
Wearing a camouflaged jacket and with tanks in the background, Koppel, who is embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, offered a lecture at the end of the hour-long Nightline: "The U.S. military is approaching a new and tougher phase of its mission, and so are the journalists traveling with them," Koppel began before contending that U.S. superiority in the air and in armored ground units is no insurance against casualties. Koppel contrasted the current tough fight with earlier, easier battles in Panama, Haiti and Bosnia.
Koppel contended: "The U.S. military has only just begun to engage the first of the enemy's strongest and most capable divisions. There is no reason to believe that ultimately, perhaps even in the next week or two, U.S. forces will not prevail. But success will come at a significant cost. Forget the easy victories of the last twenty years; this war is more like the ones we knew before. The President has determined that U.S. security and national interests are at stake. Such determinations always carry with them a high cost in blood and treasure. Watching that unfold on your television screens, sometimes watching it live, as it's happening, will not be easy for you. Telling you if and when things are going badly for U.S. troops, enabling you to bear witness to the high cost of war, is the hard part of our job. In a famous couple of lines from the movie A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson, playing a Marine Colonel, snarls: 'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.' Well, this is no movie. We'll do our very best to give you the truth in the hope and the belief that you can handle it."
So was Koppel giving us "the truth" when he insisted last Thursday night how "we ought to take note of the significance of what is happening here" because the U.S. "invasion...was not prompted by any invasion of the United States"? He also complained that "members of the administration have been creating a tenuous linkage between al-Qaeda and the Iraqis so that there is that linkage between 9-11 and what's happening here now." See:
Given his record, President Bush doesn't have the right to demand that Iraq follow the Geneva Conventions. On Monday's The Early Show, CBS News reporter Bob Simon, who was held captive by Iraq for 40 days in 1991, snidely charged that "the most remarkable achievement of the Bush administration so far has been creating quite a bit of worldwide sympathy for Saddam Hussein."
MRC analyst Brian Boyd caught Simon's denigration of the Bush administration, and stretch to equate Hussein's lack of regard for human rights with Bush's disagreement about global warming regulation, during the March 24 interview with Early Show quad-host Harry Smith about Simon's POW experience.
Simon argued: "I don't think Saddam has any interest in killing these prisoners. Saddam has done remarkably well right now, in fact, the most remarkable achievement of the Bush administration so far has been creating quite a bit of worldwide sympathy for Saddam Hussein who was until this war began perceived all over the world including the Middle East as just one horrible thug. Well, he's gotten quite a bit of sympathy and I suspect he wants to keep that sympathy and I don't think he will be in the business of killing POWs."
For a photo and bio of Simon, who is on the 60 Minutes II team: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/1999/01/04/60II/main26916.shtml
The Saddam Hussein regime is no different than the U.S. government in its quest to "control the media," CNN Baghdad producer Ingrid Formanek claimed last week on CNN in recounting why Iraq kicked out CNN. Formanek, whom Helena Bonham Carter played in HBO's Live from Baghdad movie last year about the days before the 1991 war, charged: "All sides want to control the media as much as possible and that goes for the Iraqis, as well as the Americans."
On Saturday morning, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd noticed, Formanek suggested why Iraq kicked CNN out of Baghdad. Formanek, in Amman, told Paula Zahn: "Well, obviously, the situation had grown more tense in Iraq in recent days due to the bombing and the [Iraqi] officials were feeling the pressure. It's been a great propaganda campaign. I mean, all sides want to control the media as much as possible and that goes for the Iraqis, as well as the Americans. And their concern was that they were getting their message out. They're increasing tense as the bombing went on. And they just got very much more difficult to work in the days during the bombing. We were not allowed to use our satellite phones from the rooms in our hotel, which made it more difficult to be able to report..."
A bit of editorializing from NBC anchor Tom Brokaw. After a story about an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who became an U.S. Marine, but was killed in action in Iraq, Brokaw chided viewers: "A story to remember the next time you're tempted to rail against the immigrants coming into this country."
Near the end of the hour-long March 24 NBC Nightly News, reporter Roger O'Neill looked at the case of 22-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, who came to U.S. from Guatemala six years ago, later became legal and was killed in action in Iraq.
Following the piece, Brokaw snuck in his personal opinion: "A story to remember the next time you're tempted to rail against the immigrants coming into this country."
A sad story about a commendable man and if more illegal immigrants followed his path a lot fewer people would be upset about the flow of illegals across the border.
"There were two Washingtons today: the public one speaking with one voice during wartime and the private one full of doubts and complaints about White House candor as to the many costs of war." So ABC's Claire Shipman charged before asking, on ABC's Monday night prime time special about Iraq: "Why hasn't there been more public dissent?" She suggested "it is a tricky business to criticize a President during wartime," citing how Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle did it recently, but "was practically tarred and feathered."
In once again painting Daschle as the victim, she naturally failed to tell viewers how Daschle had alleged that President Bush's policies would lead to Americans dying in war unnecessarily. Daschle spewed in his March 17 speech in question: "I'm saddened we have to give up one life because this President couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical to our country."
Anchor Peter Jennings framed the March 24 story around how some are afraid to tell how they disagree with Bush's war numbers: "President Bush has asked the Congress today for $75 billion to help pay for the initial cost of war in Iraq. We're told that the figure is based on a war that lasts 30 days. Let's go to Washington now because Claire Shipman reports tonight on what some people in Washington are saying about the war in private."
It certainly would have given the hostile Washington press corps ammunition to use against Bush.
CBS News corrected Michael Moore's spurious contention that "a majority of Americans oppose what Bush stands for" on Iraq. "Not according to the latest CBS News/New York Times poll," countered CBS's Sandra Hughes.
Accepting the Academy Award on Sunday night for best documentary feature, for his left wing screed, Bowling for Columbine, Moore obnoxiously yelled from the stage: "We like nonfiction and we live in fictitious times -- a time when we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious President -- a time when a man is sending us to war for fictitious reasons."
On the March 24 CBS Evening News, Hughes selected another portion of Moore's rant: "We are against this war Mr. Bush. Shame on you Mr. Bush, shame on you."
Hughes soon noted: "But after the ceremony Michael Moore wouldn't back down."
Let's hope so.
Oscar host Steve Martin had the best line seconds later on the ABC broadcast: "The Teamsters are helping Michael Moore into the trunk of his limo."
For a rundown of the inaccuracies in Moore's "documentary" as well as a look at the movie's anti-U.S. foreign policy rant, see:
CNN reporter Maria Hinojosa's bizarre comment of the day. Late Sunday afternoon, Hinojosa, whose beat is anti-war marches, suggested there "may be just a few days now when people decide they have to stay indoors to learn how to deal with their own shock as the reality of this war becomes more and more prevalent."
Hinojosa's remark came at about 5:40pm EST on March 23 after she summarized the pro and anti-war rallies of the day and ran pro and anti soundbites. She observed that the day brought "images this Sunday that are painfully real. Civilians injured in wartime conflict, real injuries in a real war. The bodies of American troops on display on al Jazeera television."
After her taped piece ended, she extemporized live from Manhattan to anchor Wolf Blitzer: "As the war moves into the coming weeks, both anti-war and pro-war organizations are trying to figure out what to do to continue to get their constituents out onto the street. But Wolf there may be just a few days now when people decide they have to stay indoors to learn how to deal with their own shock as the reality of this war becomes more and more prevalent."
If only Hinojosa would stay indoors for a few days we could escape her promotion of the anti-war cause.
The latest example: On Saturday, Hinojosa championed the diversity and size of an anti-war, anti-Bush march. Hinojosa saw "a very diverse group of people" with "a lot of family members," a "children's contingent" and a "religious contingent." Though the number of protesters was much smaller, Hinojosa passed along protest hype as she relayed how "I have heard a lot of people coming up and saying that they have heard a million" attended.
Back in February, Hinojosa trumpeted a protest: "Like New York, it's an extraordinarily diverse crowd. I have seen elderly men and women with mink coats carrying their posters..." See:
For a picture of NPR-veteran Hinojosa:
A few nights later, the Washington Capitals came out on the losing end of a game in Edmonton versus the Oilers but, the Washington Post reported, the fans in Edmonton cheered the U.S. anthem. Jason La Canfora pointed out in his March 23 Post story on the game:
The key difference: Edmonton is in the western province of Alberta. Montreal is on Quebec, home of French Canadiens where French is the primary language.
A resident of Canada is a Canadian. A French Canadian is a Canadien. -- Brent Baker