2. Zakaria: W Less
Rational Ayatollah, Stewart: Afraid Bush Right
3. Richard Gere: "Saddam Hussein and Us, We Are Not Separate"
4. Couric Pleads for AG to Take on
SUVs Which Could "Squash" Her
ABC's George Stephanopoulos opened Monday's Nightline by contending that "you don't have to be a cynic to wonder if the current Iraqi Prime Minister got just a little ahead of himself when he declared today that the terrorists now know they cannot win." With a vintage 1967 New York Times headline on screen, "U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote: Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror," Stephanopoulos asserted that "it wouldn't be the first time that the promise of elections went unfulfilled." After reading the Vietnam headline, Stephanopoulos pointed out how "our troops were there for six more years."
The remainder of the show, which looked at the successful security measures employed on election day in Iraq, refrained from Vietnam analogies, observed the MRC's Jessica Barnes.
Stephanopoulos led the January 31 Nightline: "It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by those scenes from yesterday: millions of Iraqis literally taking their lives in their hands, defying death by dipping their finger in ink and voting. But you don't have to be a cynic to wonder if the current Iraqi Prime Minister got just a little ahead of himself when he declared today that the terrorists now know they cannot win. It wouldn't be the first time that the promise of elections went unfulfilled. Take a look at this headline from the New York Times. The date was September 3rd, 1967. The place was Vietnam. The turnout was 83 percent and the U.S. was 'encouraged,' but our troops were there for six more years. Iraq is not Vietnam. History rarely repeats itself in exactly the same way..."
Prompting cheers from the audience, on Monday's Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central, Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria passed along how an Iraqi politician told him that "there are two Grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Bush and Sistani -- and Sistani seems the more rational." Stewart, a Bush-bashing opponent of the war who has called John Kerry "my guy," admitted that his "great fear" is that if Bush "has been right about this all along I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may...implode." Stewart soon sarcastically suggested that the Bush team has "convinced themselves that the whole reason we went to Iraq was for the election, I don't think they even remember that there was a whole weapons thing." But Stewart also took a shot at Ted Kennedy: "He doesn't have great timing... Literally the night before the election he was like, [mimicking Kennedy] 'This will never work.'"
The MRC's Brian Boyd took down parts of the January 31 interview:
Stewart: "The Shia will be in control, the Kurds will be in second and the Sunni were in control when Saddam was there."
A couple of minutes later, in a discussion about how the Shia have refrained from attacking Sunnis, Stewart described Ayatollah Sistani as "seemingly a very reasonable man."
That cued Zakaria, a regular panelist on ABC's This Week, to recall: "He seems to be a very reasonable guy. There's an Iraqi politician who said to me, I quote him in last week's column, he said 'there are two grand Ayatollahs running Iraq: Bush and Sistani and Sistani seems the more rational.'"
Following audience cheers, Stewart expressed his concern: "I've watched this thing unfold from the start and here's the great fear that I have: What if Bush, the President, ours, has been right about this all along? I feel like my world view will not sustain itself and I may, and again I don't know if I can physically do this, implode. This whole idea that first of all they, I think, have convinced themselves that the whole reason we went to Iraq was for the election, I don't think they even remember that there was a whole weapons thing. But, what if this whole idea that freedom really is this flower that once planted in Iraq, spreads through the Middle East and the world is suddenly buying, you know, each other Cokes and the whole thing is, how do we then, in our minds thinking that was so naive, rationalize that?"
For a picture of Zakaria: www.fareedzakaria.com
He did indeed conclude an article, in the January 24 Newsweek, with the same anecdote he recounted on the Daily Show:
Asked on CBS's Early Show to explain "Healing the Divide," actor Richard Gere bafflingly replied that "the world is a symbolic representation." Gere incomprehensibly elaborated about the group he supports: "You and I are not separate. The Iraqis and us are not separate. Even Saddam Hussein and us, we are not separate. We're all in this together. All deeply connected. And when we can start bridging that divide -- the primitive, ignorant divide of that -- then wars go away. All wars go away."
No mention of bringing democracies to nations, a proven way to avoid wars.
In a graphic, Tuesday's Early Show helpfully directed viewers to CBSNews.com in order to "learn more about" the group.
CBS used its taped session with Gere to kick off a new series in conjunction with the AARP, "The Big 5-0," as in 50 years-old or, in Gere's case, older. Harry Smith touted Gere as a "leading voice for the people of Tibet" and "the driving force behind Healing the Divide, a group with a mission to erase the barriers that can lead to conflict."
The MRC's Brian Boyd caught this from the interview aired at the end of the 8:30am half hour on the February 1 program:
Smith: "So if I was sitting on an airplane with you and we're going down and I said, 'So explain Heal the Divide to me' how would you do it? Succinctly."
For CBS's posted version of Smith's interview with Gere: www.cbsnews.com
The group's home page: www.healingthedivide.org
Anti-SUV efforts not anti-SUV enough for NBC's Katie Couric. In a Tuesday Today segment about an SUV safety advertising campaign, Couric, who admitted that SUVs "scare me a little bit because I feel like they could squash me like a bug," demanded of Connecticut's liberal crusading Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal: "What about the environmental impact of these cars? They're huge gas guzzlers, they're not particularly good for the environment. How come you're not emphasizing that as well?" Couric interviewed Blumenthal outside as the two stood in a front of the huge mascot for the campaign, ESUVEE, which the AP described as "a monster...that resembles a woolly mammoth with headlights."
(See the posted version of this item for a still shot of Couric, Blumenthal and the monster which is much bigger than either of them.)
Today invited Blumenthal aboard to promote the advertising campaign, aimed at young SUV drivers, which is being paid for by a settlement by state attorneys general with Ford, which supposedly made false safety claims about its SUVs.
For an AP story on the campaign, "New Ad Campaign Urges Safe SUV Driving," go to: news.yahoo.com
At the very end of segment, after running through the safety tips promoted by the campaign, Couric, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, inserted some blatant politics:
A campaign which NBC surely will eagerly publicize.
For the campaign's home page: esuvee.com
For a picture of ESUVEE, the mascot: esuvee.com