2. Miklaszewski: Saddam's Walk in Baghdad Occurred Before War
3. Brit Hume's "Favorite Journalist Question of the War So Far"
4. Eleanor Clift on Peter Arnett: "He's a Good Reporter"
5. U.S. Policies and Procedures in Iraq Disgust "Scud Stud"
6. Jennings Squeezes in Mention of New Cuban Political Crackdown
7. ABC Demands to Know Why Women Can Fight But Can't Join Augusta
Correction: The April 5 CyberAlert misidentified a reporter. The CyberAlert stated: "But ABC reporters aren't the only ones reluctant to assume Iraqi cheers are genuine. On Friday's Early Show...embedded CBS reporter David Martin expressed his suspicions..." That was not David Martin, who is at the Pentagon, but John Roberts.
Standing in front of the rubble which remained of a building U.S. forces destroyed because they suspected Saddam Hussein and his sons were inside, but before the U.S. had let known its suspicions, CBS News reporter Lara Logan in Baghdad portrayed an unwarranted attack on innocent civilians, as did ABC, NBC and CNN, though they refrained, unlike Logan, from featuring a man screaming that Bush "is a liar."
This morning, after she learned that Saddam Hussein was the target, Logan still lectured on The Early Show about how the U.S. bombing in civilians areas is "making it very difficult for the United States to really win hearts and minds of the Iraqi people."
"This crater is all that remains of four families and their homes, obliterated by a massive bomb that dropped from the sky without warning in the middle of the afternoon," Logan decried on Monday night's CBS Evening News over video of a big pile of rubble on top of some cars with a concrete wall still standing in the background.
Logan focused on the anger of supposed residents, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Emotions of people here at the scene of this bombing are running extremely high. They tell me they don't understand why there's been a strike in a residential neighborhood. I'm told four families were living in this area behind me that has been completely obliterated. They also say there are still nine bodies buried beneath the rubble."
Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Baghdad-based Richard Engel referred, over video of the rubble with two men hugging as one wailed, to "one of the heaviest bombardments against the center of Baghdad since the first few days of the war. For some Iraqis from the middle class al-Mansur neighborhood it was too much to handle."
John Irvine of Britain's ITN noted the event in a story picked up by the April 7 NBC Nightly News: "This was the aftermath of a bombing this evening. The explosion left a vast crater in a residential area and there are reports of civilians deaths."
For much of the day, CNN highlighted how the bombing killed members of a family. For instance, at 4pm EST on Monday Fredricka Whitfield announced: "At least nine people from two families were killed and more than a dozen others were injured today when a blast rocked a Baghdad neighborhood. That word from CNN sources who went to the scene. People who live in the neighborhood say they believe coalition air raids were to blame."
This morning, after she learned that Saddam Hussein was the target, Logan still fretted on The Early Show: "What is happening to civilians here, combined with the explosions yesterday in the neighborhood where it was believed, you know, the U.S. had a legitimate target, all of this is contributing to making it very difficult for the United States to really win hearts and minds of the Iraqi people."
Saddam Hussein alive and well greeting cheering Iraqis on the streets of Baghdad last week? Never mind. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reported on Monday night that "U.S. intelligence analysts say" that they have concluded the widely-shown scene, which was released on Friday, actually took place in early March, "well before the war started."
Pentagon reporter Miklaszewski concluded his April 7 NBC Nightly News summary of the events of the day: "As for last week's videotape of Saddam Hussein's walk through Baghdad, U.S. intelligence analysts say given weather conditions and other factors, it appears the tape was shot in early March, well before the war started."
FNC's Brit Hume on Monday night re-played for viewers of his FNC show his "favorite journalist question of the war so far," a question at the British briefing in Qatar from Geoff Meade of FNC's sister network, Sky News: "If Iraq was so unable to defend itself, was it really the threat to the world on which this whole war was predicated?"
After NPR's Mara Liasson defended the question and the FNC panel noted how journalists who days earlier were concerned the war wasn't going well for the coalition always manage to find something to complain about, Hume observed: "That's why it's so great to be a journalist. You don't have to adhere to any fixed principles of any kind."
Hume brought up Meade's question during the panel segment on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "I want you to see now what is my favorite journalist question of the war so far. It comes alas from one of our Fox News colleagues, Geoff Meade, who was reacting to the weekend events, and he got up and asked this question at this morning's Centcom briefing."
Meade's April 7 question was posed at the British briefing conducted by Air Marshall Brian Burridge, commander of British forces. The question, in full: "I think many in Britain will share your pride in the achievements of the armed forces, but many may also have this misgiving: If Iraq was so unable to defend itself, was it really the threat to the world on which this whole war was predicated?"
Burridge replied that the war was predicated on removing weapons of mass destruction.
For your future reference, transcripts of CENTCOM briefings are online.
Read the British briefings posted online.
Though I'd note that as of late Monday night, the 9am EDT British briefing, at which Meade posed his question, was not yet online, requiring me to find a tape of it.
While she conceded Peter Arnett made an "error in judgment," on the McLaughlin Group Newsweek's Eleanor Clift wished "NBC could have been big enough to accept the apology and let him continue working" since "we shouldn't be afraid of different voices" and, she insisted, "he's a good reporter."
Plus, a sampling of Arnett's work for London's Daily Mirror where he provides a daily chronicling of civilian victims of U.S. bombing.
On the McLaughlin Group aired over the weekend, host John McLaughlin queried: "Question: Was it appalling censorship for NBC to fire Arnett? Eleanor Clift?"
Later, when McLaughlin wondered if Arnett would improve or lower the quality of reporting by one of his new employers, the Daily Mirror in London, Clift saw Arnett as an asset: "It's a tabloid publication. Peter Arnett won a Pulitzer for his coverage, his written coverage as an AP reporter in Vietnam. He's going to improve that paper."
A sampling Arnett's "good" reporting, an excerpt from his story in the April 7 Mirror headlined, "DESPAIR OF A VILLAGE AT DEVASTATION"
Baker Nagill Sacanda Mohammed holds a blackened flatbread in his outstretched arms and begs for answers nobody can give.
Behind him are the smouldering remains of his bakery, the hub of this quiet Shi'ite community until the war finally caught up with it 45 minutes ago.
A few feet away, under sheets of bloodstained newspaper on the pavement, are the remains of his 12-year-old son Abu.
As the wind leafs through the pages then picks them up and blows them down the street, exposing the grisly stain they were laid down to hide, Nagill surveys the wreckage, and asks simply: "Why? Why?"...
"Look what they have done to me," he cries, looking at his bread in disbelief. "My son has been taken. My business has been taken. Why does the war come here?"
Looking around, I can only presume war came to al Salan by mistake.
There are no obvious military targets here, just row after row of mud-walled houses, nestled in the crook of a deserted main road leading to Jordan, 15 minutes out of Baghdad city centre.
The village of about 15,000 Shiites survived the first Gulf War unscathed and would have been the type of neighbourhood the US military would have liked to count upon as potential friends against Saddam.
Now the cloud of cordite hanging in the air above a neat row of smoking craters has turned it into another hostile environment for American marines....
I was surrounded by angry locals, pointing their fingers at me and then at the bloody mess on the pavement, asking me what had they done, why did they deserve this.
Looking around, I imagined with despair just how many times this scene would have to be repeated in the coming days and weeks. Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Information had taken us to see the devastating results of US raids in the South East.
In a carefully stage-managed show, 30 Iraqi soldiers sang anti-American slogans and danced on a US Abrams tank....
Word and fear are spreading among these ordinary people. What remains to be seen is whether they will respond with armed resistance or acquiescence.
END of Excerpt
Read Arnett's dispatch in full posted on www.mirror.co.uk.
"Scud Stud" disgusted by America. Days before the U.S. won the Gulf War, then-NBC News reporter Arthur Kent, aka the "Scud Stud," contended on an NBC News special that Saddam Hussein has "shown us a capable military mind and he still seems to know exactly what he's doing."
Kent is long gone from NBC, but CNN viewers could not escape him on Saturday night when he was invited onto Larry King Live. The MRC's Rich Noyes noticed that the Canadian Kent, who now narrates the History Undercover series for the History Channel, displayed a great deal of hostility toward the United States.
Kent contended that "the fact of the matter is that the Unites States has got itself in a terrible bind here without regional allies" and suggested that "without UN legitimacy -- forget it, never work, Vietnam quagmire next stop."
"The Russians and the French," he argued, "happen to be a lot more popular in Iraq than is the United States of America" because Arabs and the Iraqi "people just do not buy the whole label Operation Iraqi Freedom. They know this is about building U.S. bases, a long term occupation." Kent decried how "there is too much civilian death going on here and the U.S. military flunked, flunked the test of devising a way to have an inside-out removal of this regime instead of setting up these almost medieval siege situations."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd checked the tape against the transcript and provided these highlights of Kent's comments on the April 5 Larry King Live where he appeared with Winston Churchill and retired Army General John Wickham.
Kent: "You know I listened with fascination and respect of course, and I could agree with everything that Winston Churchill said if this was only about the United States and Saddam Hussein.
But unfortunately, we have a big, wide world out there. We have 1.5 million Muslims, the fastest growing religion on earth. We have Arab states surrounding, 75 percent of their population below the age of 25 years of age. I mean the fact of the matter is that the Unites States has got itself in a terrible bind here without regional allies.
King soon wondered: "Arthur, how do you know that the post war developments will be poor? How do you know that the coalition may not handle this very well, install an Iraqi government popular with the people? How do you know that's not going to happen?"
Kent conceded: "I agree. I think -- absolutely, there will be a period of rejoicing. The Iraqi people will be, will love to the see the end of Saddam Hussein, the back of his regime. But the fact of the matter is, and I hate to bring this up, but Mr. Churchill, the Russians and the French happen to be a lot more popular in Iraq than is the United States of America.
Wickham suggested that "the effect of that humanitarian effort, like the Marshall Plan in Europe, could be profound, could change the whole course of history in the Middle East, and we ought not to be a Cassandra and say we've got all this irritation and it's just going to blow in our face. I think the victory that we're going to bring to bear and the follow-on humanitarian effort that we're going to bring to bear could have profound influences for the future."
King prompted Kent: "Arthur, you wanted to ask the General something or respond."
Wickham retorted: "Well, I respect your opinion but I think it's outdated. You can't expect any military in the world to undertake miracles. What we have to do now is what we have been doing, and as Colonel Hackworth indicated in a superb way, is destroy the ability of the Iraqi regime, which is repressive, to continue to repress its people and we are taking them out. And, eventually we're going to bring to bear some extraordinary humanitarian efforts which I think are going to turn around the attitudes in the Middle East. You know, Arthur, you ought to give the United States and Britain a chance to prove that what they are committed to is going to work, rather than to naysay it right from the get-go."
See a picture of Kent posted online at www.aeispeakers.com.
Back in 1991, the MRC's Notable Quotables featured this exchange between Kent and Faith Daniels (remember her?) on a January 27, 1991 NBC News Special, 'America: The Realities of War':
Kent: "Saddam Hussein is a cunning man and nowhere does he show that more clearly than on a battlefield when he's under attack."
A month later, at a February 27 news conference, the Allied commander, General Norman Schwarzkopf, mocked Kent's contention: "As far as Saddam Hussein being a great military strategist, he is neither a strategist, nor is he schooled in the operational art, nor is he a tactician, nor is he a general, nor is he a soldier. Other than that, he's a great military man."
Kudos to ABC's Peter Jennings for managing to squeeze in a mention of reinvigorated Cuban oppression, a subject I've not seen noted on other networks. On the April 7 World News Tonight, Jennings reported:
The strategy is working.
Add ABC News as an ally in the campaign of one women's group to force the private Augusta National Golf Club to accept women as members.
Monday's World News Tonight and Tuesday's Good Morning America featured this plug for stories upcoming this week on World News Tonight: "Tomorrow: Taking control of Baghdad. What comes next? Plus, this week: Women can fight in Iraq, so why can't they play golf at the club where they hold the Masters? On World News Tonight."
Over the second half of that viewers saw video of a uniformed woman fiddling with the side of a jet fighter followed by a man hitting golf ball and a zoom in on an Augusta National sign.
Just how many of the female teenagers and twentysomethings deployed to the Iraq region can afford the $250,000 or so entry fee to join Augusta?
A promo I'd like to see: "Plus, this week: Women can fight in Iraq, so why can't they anchor the news on ABC's World News Tonight?"
-- Brent Baker