2. CBS: "Hussein Gave Iraqis Dignity and Pride," But Also "Tyranny"
3. ABC Still Won't Report Hike in Bush Approval Level, But CBS Does
4. Bernard Goldberg Highlights Jennings' "Oppressive Pessimism"
5. "Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam Hussein's Papers"
ABC's Barbara Walters has come out against executing Saddam Hussein, arguing on the ABC daytime show The View on Tuesday that "we condemn the suicide bombers, we condemn those who have no regard for life, and Lord knows this man deserves, you know, the greatest punishment, but I just sort of feel this would be a chance for us to show the regard for life that this man didn't have." Another host, former ABC and CBS reporter Meredith Vieira, agreed with Walters.
The MRC's Jessica Anderson transcribed the discussion which took place during the "Hot Topics" segment on the December 16 edition of the show.
Elisabeth Hasselbeck, the new 20-something quad-host of the show: "I really believe that, you know, Saddam should be tried in a close, close room with those that he affected all of these years, and if their system, with the Baghdad-based trial that's going to occur, if that will enable him to be executed for what he's done, I think that's justice, I think justice is done. There will be other nations represented there on that panel and if that's what they decide, he should be executed."
ABC's page for The View, with pictures and bios of all the hosts: abc.go.com
All the networks on Tuesday night ran stories on how some pro-Saddam Iraqis rioted in protest of his capture, with CBS's Kimberly Dozier reporting that "even many who suffered under Saddam have mixed feelings. His fall has brought American occupation and an uncertain future. And also, a measure of shame. Few can fathom that the man who terrified them for so long now seems so small." She contended that "Saddam Hussein also gave Iraqis dignity and pride. He became a symbol of defiance across the Arab world."
The CBS Evening News, however, followed up with a piece from Thalia Assuras about a man thrilled with Hussein's capture who had, on the day U.S. forces took control of Baghdad, shouted "this is freedom!" as "he beat a poster of Saddam Hussein with the sole of his sandal." Assuras noted that some Iraqi-Americans are hoping to bring him to the U.S. and "if he comes, he'll bring along his sandal, a symbol of a man and a people liberated from the tyranny of Saddam."
Dan Rather introduced the first of the back-to-back stories on the December 16 CBS Evening News, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Even though Saddam Hussein was found cowering in a hole in the ground with weapons, even though he gave up without a fight, the former dictator still has many supporters, especially among Iraq's Sunni Islamic Arabs. And today, throughout Saddam's home region, CBS's Kimberly Dozier reports there were angry, often violent, protests."
Rather set up the second story, with a more inspiring look at an Iraqi with great hope for the future now that Saddam Hussein is definitely out of power: "Of course, many Iraqis in many parts of the country rejoiced at Saddam's capture. CBS's Thalia Assuras found one such Iraqi in Baghdad, a man with the courage to make his feelings clear in dramatic fashion months ago when the Iraqi capital fell."
Assuras explained: "Zhwad Gaddim has been seen all over the world, but not like this. Like this: On April 9th when coalition forces took Baghdad. Shouting, 'This is freedom!' he beat a poster of Saddam Hussein with the sole of his sandal. There is no greater insult in the Arab world. This is the first time Zhwad Gaddim has returned to the spot since that day. Why? Why did you do that? 'Because he destroyed us and destroyed our people, destroyed everything,' he says. 'When I hit Saddam's picture, it was as if I was hitting Saddam himself.' He claims he's been offered thousands of dollars for the sandal, which his wife keeps hidden for safekeeping. But he says it belongs to the Iraqi people and should perhaps be kept in a museum.
ABC's World News Tonight still hasn't reported how, in the wake of the capture of Saddam Hussein, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found that President Bush's approval level overall rose four points with a ten point jump in approval for how he's handling the situation in Iraq, but on Tuesday night Dan Rather found a few seconds to relay how a new CBS News/New York Times poll discovered a six point hike in Bush's approval level.
Rather reported, over matching graphics listing the numbers: "The capture of Saddam has also changed U.S. public opinion about Iraq and President Bush. In a CBS News/New York Times poll out tonight, 65 percent of Americans say U.S. efforts to bring stability to Iraq are going well -- 47 percent thought so before Saddam's capture. You may want to note, though, that only one in four Americans believes there will be fewer attacks on U.S. troops now. As for President Bush, his job approval rating has gone up six points since the capture of Saddam. It now stands at 58 percent in our poll."
For CBS's rundown of the poll results: www.cbsnews.com
But though Monday's Washington Post featured the results of the ABC News/Washington Post survey conducted on Sunday afternoon and evening, Peter Jennings didn't utter a word about it on Monday night and he didn't catch up on Tuesday.
The only hint as to the good news for Bush in the ABC poll came in a small graphic on screen for a few seconds on Monday's Good Morning America as Claire Shipman tried to diminish the impact of catching Hussein. She highlighted how "ABC News has a new poll out today that shows most Americans don't believe Saddam's capture means the job is done there" as she warned that if "if the situation isn't stabilized," the capture of Hussein "is not going to seem decisive for this administration."
As she was saying that, GMA put up a picture of a bearded Hussein which filled three-fourths the screen with the left-hand fourth showing a graphic citing a single poll number from an "ABC News/Washington Post poll" on "President Bush's Approval Rating," listing it at 58 percent after Saddam's capture compared with 48 percent in mid-November. In fact, the numbers were for approval of how Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.
The December 16 CyberAlert also noted that "as of late Monday night, I could not find any story on the ABC News Web site" about the poll. At some point on Tuesday, the Web site corrected that with a piece by Gary Langer, "A Sober Response: After Saddam's Capture, Most Say Difficult Challenges Remain," which carries a December 15 date.
Langer, the in-house polling expert for ABC News, wasn't too impressed with the bump up for Bush, which may explain why the result never made it onto the air:
But Langer acknowledged: "Still, the number who 'strongly' approve of Bush's work, 37 percent, is now its highest since August, up seven points from its post-Sept. 11, 2001, low in late October."
[Web Update, December 23: The following week, on Monday night December 22, with Peter Jennings on vacation, World News Tonight acknowledged a new ABC News/Washington Post survey which found a rise in Bush's approval rating.
Substitute anchor Elizabeth Vargas announced on the December 22 World News Tonight: "A new ABC News/Washington Post poll today has some very positive news for President Bush. His overall approval rating is 59 percent, the highest it's been since the summer."
From the White House, Terry Moran reported: "Some good news for the President in our poll. For first time since April, our poll finds more Americans approve than disapprove of President Bush's handling of the economy, by a margin of 51 to 44 percent." But, Moran added, Bush got a "poor grade" on the deficit with a 52 percent disapproval to 44 percent approval rating on that topic.
Vargas then noted how "63 percent of those polled said it doesn't matter if the U.S. ever finds weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. That's good news for the President since the search there continues to come up empty." Moran proceeded to run through how 59 percent expressed the view the war in Iraq was worth fighting, up 7 percent from November, and 62 percent believe the war has contributed to U.S. long-term security. Moran wrapped up by pointing out that though Democratic presidential candidates are feeding off anger at Bush, only 12 percent in the poll said they are "angry" at Bush.
For the ABCNews.com summary of the poll conducted Dec. 18-21: abcnews.go.com
For the Tuesday Washington Post story: www.washingtonpost.com]
You read it here first. A Peter Jennings quote cited in Monday's CyberAlert is getting around, with Brit Hume Monday night on FNC and Bernard Goldberg, during a Tuesday night appearance on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, highlighting how on Sunday night, less than 12 hours after the announcement that Saddam Hussein had been captured, Jennings asserted in a prime time special: "There's not a good deal for Iraqis to be happy about at the moment. Life is still very chaotic, beset by violence in many cases, huge shortages. In some respects, Iraqis keep telling us life is not as stable for them as it was when Saddam Hussein was in power. Is that a factor today?"
Jennings made his comment to reporter Martin Seemungal in Baghdad as Jennings suggested a reason for the muted celebrations observed by Seemungal.
For the December 15 CyberAlert item with the full exchange: www.mediaresearch.org
Goldberg pointed out how Hitler offered stability in Germany, but that was nothing to admire.
Goldberg's new book on the news media is titled, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite. In it, you'll find a lot of familiar evidence culled from the pages of CyberAlerts and Goldberg effuses about the Media Research Center: "With apologies to Harry Truman: The MRC folks don't give the media hell; they just tell the truth and the media think it's hell."
For the Warner Books page on the book: www.twbookmark.com
From the December 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Secrets Learned from Saddam Hussein's Papers." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "Saddam" is Kurdish for "Duane"
9. Had just acquired a New York City cabdriver's license
8. Surprisingly, dots his "I"s with hearts
7. You won't find a bigger Clay Aiken fan
6. Four of clubs? Gay
5. His "divine plan for world domination" was written on back of Blimpie's coupon
4. Continued to name himself "Iraqi of the Month" right through November
3. Was working on a book of "You Might Be a Dictator If..." jokes
2. Funneled money to ABC to throw Trista and Ryan a fabulous wedding
1. He wrote letters to "Penthouse" under name "Sexy in Spider Hole"
# Now up on the MRC home page: "The Best Notable Quotables of 2003: The Sixteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting." Much more on this in the next CyberAlert, but to see it now: www.mediaresearch.org
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-- Brent Baker