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Army Officers Tell Jennings Media Have Mis-Reported Iraq Efforts --1/25/2005


1. Army Officers Tell Jennings Media Have Mis-Reported Iraq Efforts
Reporting from Iraq on Monday night where he traveled on a patrol with the 1st Cavalry, ABC's Peter Jennings noted that "the U.S. is spending millions of dollars here on sewer pipes, sewage treatment, landfills for garbage, available clean water." Jennings asked: "How does the U.S. get credit for this?" Well not from the news media, as Jennings acknowledged that "every U.S. officer encountered today said the media has missed or under-reported this part of the U.S. mission."

2. Miklaszewski Contrasts Spending on Iraq to 1/13th as Much on EPA
NBC Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski decided Monday night to compare the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with how much is spent by one of the favorite agencies of liberals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Relaying how the "administration is going to ask Congress tomorrow for about $80 billion more in emergency funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Miklaszewski explained "that brings the total to $105 billion" for the fiscal year. "By comparison," he emphasized, "that's 13 times the budget for the entire Environmental Protection Agency." The Iraq/Afghanistan spending is also one-fifth of the $510 billion set to be spent this year on Social Security and NASA spends twice as much as the EPA.

3. ABC's GMA Gives Time to Claim Iraq War Drove Marine to Murder
Another reason why the "A" in ABC could stand for Anti-War. Monday's Good Morning America found a surprising new casualty in the war in Iraq: Megan Holden, the abducted Texas Wal-Mart clerk shot to death last week. Diane Sawyer promoted an interview with the parents of the accused killer, Johnny Lee Williams, a discharged Marine, who said the Marines trained him to kill: "Did the Iraq War contribute to what happened? We'll be asking them." Though GMA substitute co-host Robin Roberts challenged the theory propounded by the parents, GMA gave credence to the anti-military agenda by giving it air time and allowing the parents to hurl their accusations.

4. NPR Frames Roe Story Around Fears of "Abortion Rights" Advocates
This past Friday, the day before the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade abortion decision, a story on National Public Radio's Morning Edition gave extremely short shrift to the pro-life side of the issue. The second half of the piece featured a virtual debate on how likely it is that the Court will reverse Roe -- a debate, that is, between two "abortion rights" advocates.


Army Officers Tell Jennings Media Have
Mis-Reported Iraq Efforts

ABC's Peter Jennings Reporting from Iraq on Monday night where he traveled on a patrol with the 1st Cavalry, ABC's Peter Jennings noted that "the U.S. is spending millions of dollars here on sewer pipes, sewage treatment, landfills for garbage, available clean water." Jennings asked: "How does the U.S. get credit for this?" Well not from the news media, as Jennings acknowledged that "every U.S. officer encountered today said the media has missed or under-reported this part of the U.S. mission."

ABC's Peter Jennings On the January 24 World News Tonight, over video of himself wearing a helmet as he walked alongside soldiers, Jennings recounted his trip through a mostly Shiite town, as checked against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
"In the town of Obaidy, we go on patrol with American soldiers. Captain Matthew Boddini says he feels completely comfortable on foot. The kids are everywhere [video of kids running around soldiers]. Some of the insurgents have turned out to be only slightly older. Americans are ready targets in many places, but there is no apparent antagonism here. The U.S. has fought running battles with Shiites elsewhere since last summer. But the Shiites are going to win power at the ballot box next Monday, so why fight the powerful Americans on the street today?
"The town looked pretty bad [video showed hollowed out buildings and big puddles on the street], made to seem worse by a dreary day and recent rain. The U.S. is spending millions of dollars here on sewer pipes, sewage treatment, landfills for garbage, available clean water. How does the U.S. get credit for this? Every U.S. officer encountered today said the media has missed or under-reported this part of the U.S. mission."
General Peter Chiarelli: "That's fair."
Jennings, in interview with him (back inside, not out on patrol): "Please be candid about it."
Chiarelli: "It's fair [apparently referring to the criticism of the media]. This is a different kind of war. For 32 years I've trained to fight a war where the bad guys are on one side and the good guys are on the other side. But in this city, there's good guys and a few bad guys just about every place you go. It is absolutely critical that security not be viewed as something that just comes out of the end of a gun. Security is a combination in this city and in this country of a number of things. An infrastructure improvement and what we do in that area is absolutely critical."

ABC never did show any video to illustrate the money spent on "sewer pipes, sewage treatment, landfills for garbage, available clean water."

Miklaszewski Contrasts Spending on Iraq
to 1/13th as Much on EPA

NBC on-screen image NBC Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski decided Monday night to compare the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with how much is spent by one of the favorite agencies of liberals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Relaying how the "administration is going to ask Congress tomorrow for about $80 billion more in emergency funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," Miklaszewski explained "that brings the total to $105 billion" for the fiscal year. "By comparison," he emphasized, "that's 13 times the budget for the entire Environmental Protection Agency." The Iraq/Afghanistan spending is also one-fifth of the $510 billion set to be spent this year on Social Security and NASA spends twice as much as the EPA.

True conservatives would argue that the $7.8 billion allocated annually for the EPA is about $7.8 billion too much.

Brian Williams teased at the top of the January 24 NBC Nightly News: "Cost of war: The Bush Administration asking Congress for a staggering $105 billion to press the fight in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Williams began the newscast: "Good evening. By this time next week, if all goes well, there will have been an election in Iraq, and with it, the Bush Administration hopes, the start of a new era where the fight to enforce democracy has been a costly one, especially for the United States, in terms of life and limb and dollars. Late tonight we learned of the latest price tag for continuing the war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it numbers in the tens of billions of dollars. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski starts us off this evening from inside the Pentagon. Jim, good evening."

Miklaszewski explained: "Brian, Pentagon officials tell us that tomorrow the Bush Administration is going to ask Congress tomorrow for about $80 billion more in emergency funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now added to the $25 billion already spent in emergency funding this fiscal year, that brings the total to $105 billion. By comparison, that's 13 times the budget for the entire Environmental Protection Agency, and there's no indication that those numbers are going to come down any time soon, Brian."

For current fiscal year federal budget numbers: www.whitehouse.gov

ABC's GMA Gives Time to Claim Iraq War
Drove Marine to Murder

Megan Holden Another reason why the "A" in ABC could stand for Anti-War. Monday's Good Morning America found a surprising new casualty in the war in Iraq: Megan Holden, the abducted Texas Wal-Mart clerk shot to death last week. Diane Sawyer promoted an interview with the parents of the accused killer, Johnny Lee Williams, a discharged Marine, who said the Marines trained him to kill: "Did the Iraq War contribute to what happened? We'll be asking them." Though GMA substitute co-host Robin Roberts challenged the theory propounded by the parents, GMA gave credence to the anti-military agenda by giving it air time and allowing the parents to hurl their accusations.

[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this article for CyberAlert.]

During the first minutes of the Janaury24 GMA, Diane Sawyer had this preview: "And this morning, only on Good Morning America, right out of the headlines, you have seen the video of the woman abducted in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Well, this morning we're going to speak with the parents of a Marine who has been accused of her murder. Did the Iraq War contribute to what happened? We'll be asking them."

At the top of the 7:30am half hour, Sawyer repeated: "And we're going to speak live to the parents of the Marine charged with abducting a woman in a Wal-Mart parking lot. As we know, we saw the chilling scenes caught on tape. And the parents said his time in Iraq played some part in his change of personality that they saw. And that's only on Good Morning America, coming up next."

ABC began the segment with a news report from Mike Von Fremd: "As she walked to her car, 19-year-old clerk Megan Holden had no idea that Wal-Mart security had been observing a man lurking around the store for hours....Charged with her death is 24-year-old Johnny Williams. The Pentagon says he's a decorated Marine who served one tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom."
Patricia Williams, mother: "They trained him to go to war and to kill. How many months went into getting him back to living in society?"
Von Fremd: "Twenty percent of servicemen and women returning from Iraq say they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and former Navy psychiatrist Paul Ragan says most are not getting adequate help."
Paul Ragan, Vanderbilt Medical Center: "The fact is that post-traumatic stress disorder is very real and Mother Nature is very cruel: pay me now or pay me later."

Von Fremd wrapped up with a distraught comment from a friend of the murdered woman.

ABC's Good Morning America After the report, with "Only on GMA" on screen throughout the segment, GMA went to Robin Roberts for live interview with the murderers' parents and sister. She asked the parents: "I know that you are saying that this is out of character for your son, that since coming back from the war he has been a different person and we saw in Mike Von Fremd's report that one in five servicemen and women come back with some kind of post-traumatic stress disorder of some sort, but yet they do not stand accused of stalking and killing a young woman, so Pastor, how do you explain your son's actions, alleged actions?"
Pastor John Williams: "It's different. It's just out of character, it's not the son that I knew. No, I was surprised. It was a shock just to see him."
Then Roberts vaguely suggested objections not covered in the von Fremd news piece: "But it was reported that even before he went to Iraq that he had trouble with the law -- criminal trespass was one, some drug violations. So there are a lot of people that are scratching their head this morning and saying how can you say it's just because or Iraq, Mrs. Williams, that this happened?"
Patricia Williams: "Our purpose for being here is to let the world know that there was a change in our son from growing up to be a happy-go-lucky person, was not a violent person, wanted to go to the Marines, excelled in whatever he attempted to do, pre-Iraq. When he came back, he was different. He was quiet, he was off to himself, he couldn't sleep, he slept in his clothes, had nightmares. We recently learned that he would ask friends to come over and just stay while he went to sleep because it changed him."

Reports were still sketchy Monday on the background and military career of the accused killer, but several CNN reports added detail that ABC did not. While von Fremd said only that Williams was a "decorated" Marine, he was also discharged for drug use:
"The U.S. Marine Corps said Williams was on leave, awaiting disciplinary action for using marijuana in February 2004. He was a logistics clerk who was last assigned to the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, in Twentynine Palms, California. He enlisted in 2001 and served in Iraq in 2003, the Marine Corps said. His outfit earned a Presidential Unit Citation for distinguishing itself in combat."

For that story in full: www.cnn.com

Apparently, the drug use continued upon his return home. CNN.com reported: "Police said Williams, a Marine and preacher's son, was arrested last month in Tyler on a cocaine possession charge. He was released the same day on $2,000 bond. Police said Williams also was involved in an armed robbery at a convenience store in Texas on Thursday." See: www.cnn.com

NPR Frames Roe Story Around Fears of
"Abortion Rights" Advocates

This past Friday, the day before the 32nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade abortion decision, a story on National Public Radio's Morning Edition gave extremely short shrift to the pro-life side of the issue. The second half of the piece featured a virtual debate on how likely it is that the Court will reverse Roe -- a debate, that is, between two "abortion rights" advocates.

[Tom Johnson, who monitors NPR for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]

Reporter Julie Rovner began: "One of the biggest misconceptions about Roe v. Wade is that if it is overturned, abortion would immediately become illegal." Rovner offered the story's one soundbite from a pro-lifer, Douglas Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee, who pointed out that in such circumstances, legislators would be "reempower[ed], but not require[d]...to protect innocent human life."

Rovner then turned to Nancy Northup, President of the Center for Reproductive Rights, and together they made the case that an overturn of Roe would have dire effects for pro-choicers:
Northup: "...In many states, the legal building blocks are already in place to criminalize abortion."
Rovner: "Those building blocks include eighteen states with abortion bans still on the books-"
Northup: "And those have been enjoined by courts in most states, but in some, not even that, and the attorney generals could go to court to try to get those injunctions lifted, and get those abortion bans right into being effective."
Rovner: "In other states without bans already in place, both the legislature and the governor oppose abortion rights, and would likely act quickly in the vacuum a Roe reversal would cause. Northup said [a CRR] study concluded-"
Northup: "About thirty states are at risk of losing the right to choose within the first year of a reversal of Roe...and twenty-one [are] likely to lose the right to abortion even sooner than that."
Rovner added that a recent NARAL Pro-Choice America study "found that only four states...have both governors and a majority of state legislators who support abortion rights."

Then Rovner wondered: "Would the Court actually throw out one of its most famous decisions?" Contending that it almost certainly will not do so was David Garrow, a professor at Emory University's law school, a contributor to the left-wing magazine the Nation, and the author of a book called Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade. Garrow, whom Rovner acknowledged is "a longtime abortion-rights supporter," remarked that "for the Justices to, in effect, repudiate the Court's own history would be the most radical possible decision of all." (The Court, of course, has repudiated its own history, notably when, in 1954's Brown decision, it did away with the "separate but equal" doctrine.)

Rovner kept Northup around for the counter-argument that it can't be assumed that President Bush, in his Court appointments, "will not act on what his core religious-right base believes to be the mandate of this election." Why Rovner didn't include Johnson or another pro-lifer in this part of the story isn't clear.

Garrow also commented on the possibility that one day, the Court might limit what Rovner calls "so-called partial-birth abortions," and again suggested that precedent is all-important, at least when it comes to abortion decisions. A partial-birth restriction, he asserted, "would not at all put the Court institutionally at risk in terms of its own stature and reputation, which is exactly what the threat would be if Roe itself were to be...overrruled."

Rovner concluded: "But while both abortion-rights advocates and opponents are gearing up for the next Supreme Court appointment battle, it's probably just a dry run. That's because the most likely opening will be that of Chief Justice Rehnquist, and since he's already against Roe v. Wade, his replacement is unlikely to change the precarious balance on the Court's most hot-button issue."

Normally, Rovner is NPR's "health policy correspondent." Conservatives tend not to be big fans of the network's usual Supreme Court reporter, Nina Totenberg; nonetheless, it's hard to imagine Totenberg delivering a story any more imbalanced.


-- Brent Baker