Bad Timing: NY Times Asks Why Is Cheney's Trip So Secretive? --2/28/2007
2. Unlike NBC, Other Media Skeptical and Mock 'Jesus Tomb' Claims
3. Moran Interviews Edwards But Skips Blog Scandal He Helped Expose
4. Couric Worries Oscar for Al Gore Will Cause Right-Wing Backlash
Everyone woke up to the news Tuesday that a likely attempt to assassinate Vice President Dick Cheney had occurred via suicide bombing in Afghanistan. But New York Times readers also awoke to a story focused on why is Dick Cheney so secretive? The bomber who blew himself up outside the gate of the U.S. military base where Cheney made an unscheduled overnight stay due to weather conditions delaying his flight, seemed to answer the question. Yet in Tuesday morning's paper, in a story written before the bombing, intelligence reporter David Sanger had his doubts. In his February 27 piece datelined from Washington, DC, "Cheney Warns Pakistan to Act Against Terrorists," Sanger devoted a great deal of space to the "unusual secrecy" surrounding Cheney's trip to Pakistan and then Afghanistan as he fretted about how "Cheney's traveling press pool was sworn to secrecy, and allowed to report only the barest details just before he left" and that "American officials did not explain the extraordinary secrecy surrounding Mr. Cheney's visit to Pakistan..."
[This item is adopted from a Tuesday posting by Clay Waters on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org
For Sanger's story: www.nytimes.com
Excerpts from Sanger's article:
Mr. Cheney's trip to Pakistan was shrouded in unusual secrecy. In trips to Pakistan last year, President Bush and Secretary State Condoleezza Rice announced their plans days in advance, and reporters filed articles on their visits as soon as they landed. But Mr. Cheney's traveling press pool was sworn to secrecy, and allowed to report only the barest details just before he left.
News organizations that knew of Mr. Cheney's travels, including The New York Times, were asked to withhold any mention of the trip until he had left Pakistan. That appeared to be a reflection of growing concern about the strength of Qaeda and Taliban forces in the area, and continuing questions about the loyalties of Mr. Musharraf's own intelligence services....
American officials did not explain the extraordinary secrecy surrounding Mr. Cheney's visit to Pakistan, a country the administration has cast as a stable nation moving gradually toward democracy. Mr. Cheney's aides told The Times and other news organizations that the Secret Service had imposed the requirement that there be no mention of his trip until he had left Pakistan."
END of Excerpt
The lead sentence to the story on the Times Web site Tuesday morning: "A suicide bomber blew himself up this morning outside the main gate of the United States military base at Bagram while Vice President Dick Cheney was inside the base. Mr. Cheney was not hurt in the attack." See: www.nytimes.com
Andy McCarthy at National Review Online wrote: "One sobering result of the Taliban's attempt to murder Vice President Cheney in Afghanistan is that the New York Times has tamped down -- at least for a day -- its standard caricature of the dark, secretive Veep." See: corner.nationalreview.com
On Monday, NBC's Today show breathlessly reported the claims, articulated by filmmaker James Cameron in a new Discovery Channel documentary set to air Sunday, that the tomb of Jesus, with Christ buried inside with his wife and son, has been located. Co-anchor Matt Lauer hyped the network's exclusive interview with Cameron by credulously repeating the documentary's assertions and stating the film could "rock Christianity to its core."
In contrast, the other networks provided a more skeptical interpretation, to put it mildly, Monday night and Tuesday morning. On ABC's World News, Wilf Dinnick "tracked down the archeologist who first discovered the tomb 27 years ago" who "says there's nothing special about it. All the names were very popular at the time, especially Jesus." Dinnick also noted how "some Christians say this attacks the very core of their faith and is part of a growing industry of movies and books about Jesus and his family." Dinnick concluded by conveying the view the cable show will be "cashing in on one of the greatest stories of all time."
Over on Monday's CBS Evening News, Katie Couric cited the "flap tonight over claims that the final resting place of Jesus Christ and his family has been discovered, a revelation that has both theologians and archaeologists shaking their heads. Is it history or is it hype?" London-based reporter Mark Phillips mockingly asserted that "this is a tale from The Da Vinci Code via the Indiana Jones school of archeology." He concluded with a direct shot at the credibility of the Discovery Channel: "Once before, the Discovery Channel tried to sell audiences a story about another ancient box of bones with the Jesus connection. The man at the center of that claim is now facing trial for fraud."
Nightline also aired a version of Dinnick's story and Tuesday on CBS's Early Show," after an airing of a slightly different version of the Phillips story, anchor Hannah Storm interviewed a skeptic as she also peppered the film's director, Simcha Jacobovici, with a number of tough questions, such as: "What about people who say this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, Simcha?"
Diane Sawyer set up a Tuesday story on Good Morning America: "Well this morning, scientists and theologians are rejecting controversial claims in a new documentary that strike at some of the basic tenets of Christianity." Reporter Dan Harris outlined the framework of the documentary and relayed how "scientists and theologians are widely and roundly rejecting these claims."
"'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt: Archaeologists Decry TV Film,"
declared the headline over a story in Wednesday's Washington Post. Reporter Alan
Cooperman led his February 28 article:
The February 27 CyberAlert recounted:
Brought to you by the same people who couldn't get enough of Ron Howard's Christian-bashing The Da Vinci Code, comes another promotional effort of yet another Hollywood director's take on Jesus Christ conspiracy theories aimed to Discredit Christianity. At the top of NBC's Today on Monday, host Matt Lauer greeted viewers with the following tease about James Cameron's new documentary set to air Sunday on the Discovery channel: "A shocking new claim that an ancient burial place may have housed the bones of Christ and a son. This morning a Today exclusive that could rock Christianity to its core." Today co-host Meredith Vieira conducted the interview and promoted the discovery this way: "There are so few 'wow' stories out there, this is one of them." While Today did note some doubts about the credibility of the claims, for the most part the entire segment ran as a full blown infomercial for Cameron's documentary.
The "Lost Tomb of Jesus" is scheduled to air Sunday night at 9pm EST/PST on Discovery: dsc.discovery.com
For more on the hype on the Today show: www.mediaresearch.org
Wilf Dinnick: "It is Christianity's holiest site, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City of Jerusalem, where the faithful believe Jesus died and his body rose to heaven. But Hollywood producer, James Cameron, with his team of biblical experts and archeologists, claimed his body may have stayed firmly on earth."
James Cameron, producer: "I think we have made a very, very compelling case for what we're saying, that this is the tomb of the Jesus family."
Mark Phillips: "Lots of people claim to have found Jesus. The producers of this show claim to have found him literally -- found his bones, buried in a 2,000 year old tomb in Jerusalem. This is a tale from The Da Vinci Code via the Indiana Jones school of archeology. The producers claim these boxes called ossuaries held the most exalted bones in history."
# Nightline, February 26. Anchor Terry Moran: "Good evening, I'm Terry Moran. Today there is news that has archaeologists, skeptical, and many Christians up in arms. The director, James Cameron, he won an Oscar for Titanic, says he's now found evidence of the burial place of Jesus Christ. And Cameron claims Christ's family was buried there, too. So did the man who called himself king of the world really find the tomb of the king of kings? There are certainly skeptics. ABC's Wilf Dinnick has the latest installment of our series, 'Faith Matters," from Jerusalem."
Wilf Dinnick: "It is the very heart of the Christian faith, the church of the Holy Sepulcher, the place where most Christians believe Jesus died, was buried, and resurrected. For the faithful, a story that is very real. Hollywood producer and director, James Cameron, the man who brought you the blockbuster movie, 'Titanic,' claims to have uncovered evidence proving the body of Jesus never rose to heaven, but instead, was buried here several miles from the Holy Sepulcher. And this is it, where the filmmaker say Jesus and his family were buried. Today, it's on the outskirts of Jerusalem in an apartment complex. The filmmaker has claimed the tomb, uncovered in 1980, actually held the bodies of Jesus and his family."
Dan Harris: "Diane, good morning. If the claims in this new documentary are true, and many people doubt that they are, they would challenge some of Christianity's central articles of faith, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The documentary, called The Lost Tomb of Christ [really Jesus], airing on the Discovery Channel this weekend, reexamines the contents of this tomb, first found in 1980 on the outskirts of Jerusalem. The film argues that stone caskets, also called ossuaries, found here, may have held the remains of Jesus and his family. Executive producer James Cameron of Titanic and Terminator fame unraveled the ossuaries in New York with experts and fellow film makers."
ABC hasn't always been so skeptical of anti-Christian claims. As noted in an MRC special report, this is the same network that devoted an entire hour to the legend of "Pope Joan":
ABC aired an entire 60-minute PrimeTime special last December 29 spreading the anti-Catholic legend of "Pope Joan," a supposed female Pope slaughtered by the faithful when she when into labor pains. Host Diane Sawyer, the same one who demanded facts from Mel Gibson, was clearly enamored by this feminist-pleasing tale: "Amid the clues, the controversy, denials, and from scholars, ridicule...But something whispers across the years. If it is myth is there a meaning?...Legend, fact, fantasy. Tonight, the astonishing tale ripped from a dark-age headline, the woman said to have become the Holy Father, the mystery of Pope Joan."
For more: www.mediaresearch.org
Hannah Storm: "Simcha Jacobovici is director of 'The Lost Tomb of Jesus' and co-author of the companion book, 'The Jesus Family Tomb,' and Bruce Feiler is a best-selling author and adventurer who has explored many places in the Bible for his latest book 'Where God Was Born.' Good morning to both of you."
A few minutes later, Ms. Storm closed the interview with this blunt question: "What about people who say this is nothing more than a publicity stunt, Simcha?"
ABC Nightline co-host Terry Moran helped expose the anti-Christian prejudice of John Edwards' official campaign bloggers (who've since quit the campaign), asking three weeks ago on his ABCNews.com blog whether Edwards condoned "hate speech" by refusing to fire the pair. But Moran himself failed to mention the controversy in a two-segment profile of Edwards on Monday's Nightline.
Back on February 6, Moran listed some examples of the hostile anti-Christian views espoused by Edwards' campaign blogger Amanda Marcotte on her own personal site and suggested the issue reflected poorly on Edwards himself:
Questions: What, if anything, does it tell us about Edwards that he's joined up with this blogger? Is Edwards' association with a person who has written these things a legitimate issue for voters, as they wonder -- among other things -- whom he might appoint to high office if he's elected? If a Republican candidate teamed up with a right-wing blogger who spewed this kind of venom, how would people react? Is the mere raising of this issue a kind of underhanded censorship, a way of ruling out of bounds some kinds of opinion? Are we all just going to have to get used to a more rough-and-tumble, profane, and even hate-filled public arena in the age of the blogosphere?
Edwards issued a statement standing by Marcotte and another blogger, Melissa McEwan, arguing that "they have both assured me it was never their intention to malign anyone's faith, and I take them at their word." Edwards wouldn't fire the pair, perhaps worried about offending other hard-core liberal bloggers, but the two eventually quit the campaign anyway. See: blog.johnedwards.com
For an example of Marcotte's bile -- judge for yourself whether it's credible to think she "never intended to malign anyone's faith" -- go to: pandagon.net
Moran did, however, make it clear that this time Edwards is not running as the "cheerful moderate populist" of 2004, but is "much farther to the left" on an array of issues important to liberal primary voters, even proposing "an ambitious and expensive universal health program....funded by tax increases." Excerpts:
Terry Moran: "He's different this time around. In 2004, when he was a relative unknown, Edwards was a cheerful moderate populist. Now, in what some critics call a convenient conversion to woo liberal Democrats, Edwards is tougher, staking out positions on health care, national security and the environment much farther to the left than he advocated in 2004."
Later, after recounting Elizabeth Edwards' successful battle against breast cancer, Moran outlined Edwards' left-wing health care plan:
On "Couric & Co.," her CBSNews.com blog, Katie Couric warned Monday that while Gore was greeted "as a secular saint" for his Oscar win, she worried about a backlash from the Bush team or conservatives or those rare scientists -- "many on the payrolls of big companies" -- who disagree with Gore's global warming alarmism. Couric said the social consensus is here, and "my fervent hope is that Hollywood's embrace of Al Gore doesn't give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort -- and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that's really important."
[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]
Right after pronouncing her opinion that movie star Penelope Cruz was best-dressed at the Oscars, Couric proclaimed:
But as the throngs of celebrities greeted Al Gore as a secular saint, I wondered if this might usher in a backlash against environmentalists. It wasn't too long ago, afterall, that environmentalists were decried as tree-huggers, and former President Bush railed against them -- trying to say it was the spotted owl against logging interests and jobs in the West.
Gore has repeatedly said the environment is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it's a moral issue. But now that Hollywood has so completely embraced the former vice president, one wonders if this issue will be associated only with liberal causes. The Oscars may give Gore's critics ammunition to reject a school of thought that's been validated by countless scientists worldwide. Some people I know latched on to a recent Gore global warming conference that was cancelled because of a snowstorm.
And yet, after a period of time of not conceding global warming even exists, President Bush used the term "climate change" for the first time and has talked about a way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. It seems like we're reaching critical mass when it comes to this issue. And all the experts agree. Well, almost every expert. (There are a handful of scientists -- many of them on the payroll of big oil companies -- who wonder if global warming is a reality.)
But my fervent hope is that Hollywood's embrace of Al Gore doesn't give people an excuse to condemn and mock the effort -- and oppose taking steps that we as a society need to take to deal with the issue of climate change. Some people find anything trendy repugnant, but this is a trend that's really important.
Senator Barbara Boxer, the new chairman of the Environment Committee, told us that "global warming is not just a warm day in January, it is a threat to the delicate balance of the planet." And many conservatives, too, share this view. Conservatives like Brent Scowcroft, the former Bush national security adviser, Lee Thomas, Ronald Reagan's EPA Administrator, and Theodore Roosevelt IV. All of them -- and many others -- would say exactly what Gore says.
END of Excerpt
For Couric's posting online: www.cbsnews.com
On October 19, 1992, in the third debate, President Bush did poke at Bill Clinton trying to take all sides: "There's a pattern here of appealing to the auto workers and then trying to appeal to the spotted-owl crowd or the extremes in the environmental movement. You can't do it as president. You can't have a pattern of one side of the issue one day and on another the next."
On September 15, 1992, there was this story from Randall Pinkston: "With polls showing Democrat Bill Clinton leading in Washington and Oregon, President Bush campaigned in Pacific Northwest timber country, accusing his opponents of caring more about the spotted owl than people."
That sounds firmly contrary to the environmentalist gospel, but it doesn't sound like a personal attack on greens. Perhaps Couric was mistaking Bush for Charles Kuralt, who cartooned the Republican description of Clinton kicking off Republican convention coverage on August 20, 1992: "Bill Clinton is Slick Willie married to a feminist who wants to let children sue their parents, promoting a radical plan to destroy the traditional family, favors abortion on demand, women in combat, single-sex marriages, did inhale. Would appoint Mario Cuomo to the Supreme Court, redistribute wealth and raise taxes. Wants to save the spotted owl but put American workers on the endangered species list. Can't be trusted, welfare state, Democrat Congress, liberal media elite. That's it. The convention in 30 seconds and probably, Dan, a preview of the 1992 Republican campaign."
-- Brent Baker