2. Networks Give Cheney Short Shrift, Undermine His Credibility
3. Reuters Changes Reporter's Story to Match Liberal Spin
4. More Fretting About Unfairness of Who Gets Child Credit Hike
Correction: John Denver not song's author. The July 23 CyberAlert stated that "John Denver's lyrics nearly moved Dan Rather to tears" and quoted how Rather said Jessica Lynch's homecoming reminded him of "the song written by John Denver, 'Take Me Home Country Roads.'" As alert CyberAlert reader John Plunket alerted me, 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
U.S. hypocrisy on photos? ABC's Martha Raddatz on Thursday night gave legitimacy to the charge that it's hypocritical for the U.S. to release photos of the dead bodies of Uday and Qusay Hussein when the U.S. commander in Iraq had "scolded Al-Jazeera television for airing pictures of dead American servicemen."
Such as claim would have more resonance if the U.S. put out photos of dead Iraqis who were just average Iraqi soldiers, the equivalent of the U.S. soldiers whose photos Iraq publicized, not top leaders of the enemy regime.
On the July 24 World News Tonight, Raddatz pointed out: "The rules of war say that you cannot violate the dignity of the body of a dead person. But Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said today those rules have been respected."
Short, dismissive shrift to Cheney. CNN's NewsNight, which two weeks ago relayed a false Internet story about how a CIA "consultant directly told the President that this African uranium deal was bogus," a fraudulent tale the show has yet to correct, on Thursday night skipped Vice President Cheney's address about how the pre-war National Intelligence Estimate warned that "if left unchecked, it [Iraq] probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." But anchor Anderson Cooper did make time for a look at how Times Square now has a Red Lobster restaurant.
ABC, CBS and NBC all reported on Cheney's July 24 address to a group at the American Enterprise Institute in which he outlined how the consensus of the intelligence community was that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, but all three denigrated and dismissed Cheney's assessment of the late 2002 intelligence report.
CBS's John Roberts, for instance, gave Cheney a sentence before contending that "Cheney avoided other intelligence in that same paper, the now discredited reference to Iraq's desires for uranium." Roberts added that former CIA Director John Deutch "said the entire case about Iraq's weapons is beginning to look like a 'massive intelligence failure.'"
Over on the NBC Nightly News, David Gregory scolded the Vice President: "But Cheney failed to mention doubts within the intelligence community about" claims Iraq was pursuing nuclear weapons, noting how the State Department "dissented." But, Gregory did not note, that dissent only appeared in an appendix.
ABC's Peter Jennings didn't even give Cheney a syllable of a soundbite, holding World News Tonight coverage to this short item in which Jennings undermined Cheney's credibility by highlighting how he "has been accused" of "pressuring agencies to come up with information that would justify an attack on Iraq." Jennings' complete story:
Now what CBS and NBC did in full on July 24, as well as a look back at CNN's fraudulent reporting:
-- CBS Evening News. John Roberts: "It was the Vice President who leapt to his boss's defense today, quoting from an October intelligence report that concluded 'there was high confidence Iraq was pursuing weapons of mass destruction.'"
-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw announced: "In Washington today, Vice President Cheney gave a combative speech in which vigorously defended the administration's decision to go to war against Iraq as there are continuing questions about the credibility of many of the intelligence claims on which that decision was based."
David Gregory began: "With the President on the road today talking about the economy, Vice President Cheney ramped up the administration's counter-offense on Iraq. He said this to those now questioning the war:"
As for the State Department's INR division's dissent, why shouldn't a President go with the consensus? And that dissent, the July 19 Washington Post noted, wasn't in the main text but in an appendix: "The State Department's intelligence arm (INR) also offered a caustic criticism of the controversial claim, raised by Bush in his State of the Union address, that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Africa. '(T)he claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.' The objection was included in an annex to the report. The White House did not release the full text of the objection. The allegation that Iraq sought uranium in Africa was in the main portion of the report but was not one of the report's 'key judgments.'"
-- CNN's NewsNight. As noted above, aired not a syllable Thursday night about Cheney's address, yet anchor Anderson Cooper made time for the lampooning of how the Red Lobster chain has opened a restaurant in Times Square.
Brown didn't cite his source, but he was quoting from a posting on CapitolHillBlue.com. But they, it turns out, retracted their one-source story at about 6pm EDT, four hours before Brown went on the air. CapitolHillBlue.com Publisher Doug Thompson discovered that his source, one Terrance Wilkinson, who identified himself as a CIA and FBI consultant, was a fraud.
For a full rundown on the Brown/Ensor exchange and an excerpt of CapitolHillBlue.com's correction, go to: www.mediaresearch.org
-- Cheney's speech. FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume ran an excerpt from Cheney's address, but ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC gave it short shrift, so here's a hunk of it, the key part about what the intelligence agencies had concluded last fall:
....Last October, the Director of Central Intelligence issued a National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's Continuing Programs of Weapons of Mass Destruction. That document contained the consensus judgments of the intelligence community, based upon the best information available about the Iraqi threat. The NIE declared -- quote: "We judge that Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of UN Resolutions and restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological weapons, as well as missiles with ranges in excess of UN restrictions. If left unchecked, it probably will have a nuclear weapon during this decade." End quote.
Those charged with the security of this nation could not read such an assessment and pretend that it did not exist. Ignoring such information, or trying to wish it away, would be irresponsible in the extreme. And our President did not ignore that information - he faced it. He sought to eliminate the threat by peaceful, diplomatic means and, when all else failed, he acted forcefully to remove the danger.
Consider another passage from last October's National Intelligence Estimate; it reported -- quote: "all key aspects - the R&D, production, and weaponization - of Iraq's offensive [biological weapons] program are active and that most elements are larger and more advanced than they were before the Gulf War." End quote.
Remember, we were dealing here with a regime that had already killed thousands of people with chemical weapons. Against this background, to disregard the NIE's warnings would have been irresponsible in the extreme. And our President did not ignore that information - he faced it, and acted to remove the danger.
Take a third example. The NIE cautioned that quote: "Since inspections ended in 1998, Iraq has maintained its chemical weapons effort, energized its missile program, and invested more heavily in biological weapons; in the view of most agencies, Baghdad is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program." End quote.
Here again, this warning could hardly be more blunt, or disturbing. To shrug off such a warning would have been irresponsible in the extreme. And so President Bush faced that information, and acted to remove the danger.
A fourth and final example. The National Intelligence Estimate contains a section that specifies the level of confidence that the intelligence community has in the various judgments included in the report. In the NIE on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the community had "high confidence" in the conclusion that "Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding, its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to U.N. Resolutions." The Intelligence Community also had high confidence in the judgment that - and I quote: "Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons-grade fissile material." End quote.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is some of what we knew. Knowing these things, how could we, I ask, have allowed that threat to stand?...
END of Excerpt
For the text of the entire July 24 Cheney speech: www.whitehouse.gov
Reuters apparently decided a contributor's story wasn't hostile enough to the U.S. military and condemnatory of how the Jessica Lynch rescue was turned into a Pentagon "propaganda" offensive, so someone at Reuters just added the opinionated language -- all to the consternation of the reporter who got blamed for it because her byline was on the story.
A July 22 Reuters story, datelined Palestine, West Virginia, and which carried the byline of Deanna Wrenn, began: "Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday....Media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters."
The first half of that is opinionated and doesn't belong as the lead to a news story, but is basically accurate, though ABC News provided a possible explanation for the Pentagon's false reports about Lynch firing back (see more later in this item). The second claim, however, about the rescue being a faked action reality series for film is right out of the anti-American play book of the BBC and has been discredited.
Thursday's Charleston Daily Mail newspaper carried a piece by Wrenn, whose full time job is as a reporter for the newspaper, about how Reuters altered her original submission and then refused to remove her byline when she requested that be done. (Thursday's Romenesko, OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" and FNC's Brit Hume all picked up on Wrenn's article distancing herself from Reuters.)
An excerpt from Deanna Wrenn's July 24 opinion page piece, "Dear Elizabeth: I didn't do it," picking up after she recited the lead, quoted above, which Reuters inserted:
....Got problems with that?
I do, especially since I didn't write it.
Here's what I sent last week to Reuters, a British news agency that compiles news reports from all over the world:
"ELIZABETH -- In this small county seat with just 995 residents, the girl everyone calls Jessi is a true heroine -- even if reports vary about Pfc. Jessica Lynch and her ordeal in Iraq.
"'I think there's a lot of false information about her story,' said Amber Spencer, a clerk at the town's convenience store.
"Palestine resident J.T. O'Rock was hanging an American flag and yellow ribbon on his storefront in Elizabeth in preparation for Lynch's return.
"Like many residents here, he considers Lynch a heroine, even if newspaper and TV reports say her story wasn't the same one that originally attracted movie and book deals."
What I typed and filed for Reuters last week goes on in that vein. They asked me if they could use my byline, which I had typed at the beginning of the story I sent, and I said that would be no problem.
When I got to work Wednesday, e-mail messages were flooding my inbox calling me everything but Peter Arnett....
I hope the people of Wirt County have been too busy to notice the Reuters story, the beginning of which takes a tone I never would have used.
I'm not sure what reporter or editor actually wrote the story that has my byline attached....
I understand that news wire services often edit, add, remove or write new leads for stories. What amazed me was that a story could have my byline on it when I contributed only a few sentences at the end -- and in later versions I didn't contribute anything at all.
The stories contained apparently fresh material attributed to sources I did not interview.
Maybe that's the way that wire service works.
I would like to make it abundantly clear that somebody at Reuters wrote the story, not me.
I may not be a member of the world's largest multi-media news agency, but I learned at West Virginia University how to report fairly, which is what I thought I was doing for Reuters last week.
Apparently, when Reuters asked me last week if they could use my byline, they weren't talking about the story I wrote for them last week. They were talking about a story I never wrote.
That was the misunderstanding.
By the way, I asked Reuters to remove my byline. They didn't....
END of Excerpt
For Wrenn's rendition in full: www.dailymail.com
The original Reuters story on July 22 included even more about the Pentagon's false "propaganda." An excerpt from the 7:45am EDT story, as posted by Yahoo:
Jessica Lynch Due Home After Media Hype on Heroism
By Deanna Wrenn
PALESTINE, W.Va. (Reuters) - Jessica Lynch, the wounded Army private whose ordeal in Iraq was hyped into a media fiction of U.S. heroism, was set for an emotional homecoming on Tuesday in a rural West Virginia community bristling with flags, yellow ribbons and TV news trucks.
But when the 20-year-old supply clerk arrives by Blackhawk helicopter to the embrace of family and friends, media critics say the TV cameras will not show the return of an injured soldier so much as a reality-TV drama co-produced by U.S. government propaganda and credulous reporters.
"It no longer matters in America whether something is true or false. The population has been conditioned to accept anything: sentimental stories, lies, atomic bomb threats," said John MacArthur, the publisher of Harper's magazine....
Lynch became a national hero after media reports quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying she fought fiercely before being captured, firing on Iraqi forces despite sustaining multiple gunshot and stab wounds.
In the end, Army investigators concluded that Lynch was injured when her Humvee crashed into another vehicle in the convoy after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
Far from a scene of battlefield heroism, the Army said the convoy blundered into the ambush after getting lost and many of the unit's weapons malfunctioned during the battle.
The U.S. military also released video taken during an apparently daring rescue by American special forces who raided the Iraqi hospital where she was being treated.
Iraqi doctors at the hospital said later the U.S. rescuers had faced no resistance and the operation had been over-dramatized....
This seems to be the only part actually written by Wrenn, the last three paragraphs of the story:
In Palestine, a rural neighborhood 225 miles west of Washington, residents were more concerned with protecting Lynch from the reporters who have flooded into the community for her homecoming.
"She's a hometown hero, no doubt about that," said shopkeeper J.T. O'Rock as he hung a flag and a yellow ribbon on his storefront.
"That poor little girl will have to hide just to get any peace and quiet," he added.
END of Excerpt
For the entire Reuters article: story.news.yahoo.com
Reuters defended its coverage yesterday after Ms. Wrenn's account appeared on the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal Web site.
"We always reserve the right to temper a story with copy from both sides of an issue to better service our global readership," Reuters said. "The advance story focused on the media controversy that has ensued since the rescue first took place....We feel strongly that our coverage of Private Lynch's return presents both sides of the issue fairly."
Reuters also said that "the controversy surrounding Private Jessica Lynch's capture and rescue is a story of global importance."
"The overnight advance story we carried was based on copy sent to us by Ms. Wrenn, who was working as a free-lancer for us at the time, and was supplemented by additional copy and editing from others Reuters staffers."
END of Excerpt
The July 25 Washhington Times story on Reuters' byline misuse: www.washingtontimes.com
In a story tracked down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, on Tuesday's World News Tonight ABC reporter Jim Wooten highlighted the overlooked Sergeant Donald Walters, the man in Lynch's group of trucks who really fought back and was killed in the process. Wooten explained that the Pentagon got its information about the capture from intercepted phone calls:
Wooten added that a Fort Bliss General told Walters' mother that "the phone intercepts and interviews with Iraqi prisoners convinced him that Sergeant Walters, her only son, was the soldier first thought to be Private Lynch. Autopsies of those killed show he was the only one who was stabbed. Still, the Army has said nothing publicly."
President Bush touting the implementation on Thursday of the $400 increase in the child credit for all income taxpayers led CNN and ABC to deliver yet another round of stories promoting and supporting the liberal agenda about how the poor are unfairly left out, complete with anecdotes from supposed victims.
CNN's Candy Crowley fretted: "Tomorrow that child tax credit check goes in the mail. But more than six million lower-income families won't be getting one." Reporter Kathleen Koch soon showcased "single mother Ayyisha Turner, who makes $17,000 a year helping run a non-profit child care program in Washington, D.C.," and who was "so confident" that "the money was coming, that she already spent it." Not too smart, but hard to blame her for being so ill-informed if she's relied on the distorted reporting on this subject over the past few month.
Koch's Inside Politics story never explicitly pointed out that people like Turner already live income tax free, but she did let Tom DeLay note that low income people already got a huge tax cut and another expert describe what liberals and Bush want to do as "welfare."
Later, ABC's World News Tonight pegged a story to how, as anchor Peter Jennings put it, "Mr. Bush has been criticized by Democrats and others for not extending more assistance to some of the poorest families."
Terry Moran also found a victim, Cynthia Foster, who pleaded: "Be fair with everybody is what I'm saying. Okay, I know I'm a little guy, but be fair with me." Moran did note how she doesn't pay income taxes, but then he made a misleading claim about how "wealthier families" get the tax credit: "Foster is a 41-year-old single mother of four who earns just over $20,000 a year. Like millions of other low-income workers, she pays no federal income taxes, and thus will not receive the tax credit. But Democrats on Capitol Hill and their allies have launched a campaign to extend the new child tax benefit, which wealthier families will receive, to low-income families like Foster in the form of a direct federal payment."
In fact, in a provision which has yet to draw any media concern about its lack of fairness, once a single parent hits $75,000 in annual income or a two-parent family with two kids makes $110,000, the increased child credit phases out and is gone for virtually all by about $150,000 -- which is not an uncommon income level for the average family in much of suburban America around big cities.
A report on the IRS Web site states: "The Child Tax Credit begins to phase out for taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income above:
"For every $1,000 or portion thereof above these thresholds, the total credit amount is reduced by $50. Thus, in 2002 a taxpayer with two children (who would otherwise have a $1,200 credit) had the Child Tax Credit completely phase out if his/her AGI was more than $23,000 above the threshold. The higher per child credit amount for 2003 will mean that a taxpayer with two children will not have the $2,000 credit amount completely phase out unless his/her AGI is more than $39,000 above the threshold."
That's online at: www.irs.gov
(I came across this Tax Foundation page which has some informative tables on the new round of tax cuts: www.taxfoundation.org )
Now the July 24 CNN and ABC stories in full:
-- CNN's Inside Politics. Anchor Candy Crowley in Sacramento set up the story: "Tomorrow that child tax credit check goes in the mail. But more than six million lower-income families won't be getting one. Congress is deadlocked over whether that change that. And the stalemate is triggering sharp words from the White House. We have that story from CNN's Kathleen Koch."
Koch began: "As the $400 rebate checks rolled off the presses, President Bush prodded lawmakers."
The on-screen graphic during most of the story: "Capitol Hill Gridlock."
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings announced, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "President Bush was on the road today promoting his multi-billion dollar tax cut, which he says will invigorate the economy. Mr. Bush has been criticized by Democrats and others for not extending more assistance to some of the poorest families. Here's our White House correspondent Terry Moran."
Moran began: "At a federal check processing center in Philadelphia, President Bush boasted about the $400 tax credit for families with children, part of the latest tax cut, that will go out beginning tomorrow."
And neither is the Washington press corps.
-- Brent Baker