CBS Avoids Kerry's Atrocities Claims, Paint Him as a Victim --4/23/2004
2. Unlike with Bush/Guard, Morning Shows Limit Kerry to One Story
3. CNN's Brown Emotionally Moved by Anti-Iraq War Comic Strip Plot
4. Jennings Frets More About Plight of Those Held at Guantanamo
5. In a Tribute to Mary McGrory, Jennings Ignores Her Liberal Views
CBS on Thursday night caught up with the Kerry campaign's release of his Vietnam military service records, but reporter Jim Stewart filed a full story which managed to avoid the very allegation from Kerry's former commander -- that he really didn't suffer a combat wound for which he was awarded his first Purple Heart -- the charge that fueled the document release. Instead, anchor Dan Rather stressed how the records "show glowing evaluations of him during combat in the Vietnam War."
Stewart reminded viewers of Kerry's Senate testimony 30 years ago and noted how "a lot of veterans got mad at Kerry," but avoided citing Kerry's most incendiary claims which so angered his comrades, that Americans regularly committed atrocities in Vietnam, as he asserted that Kerry is "still trying to explain the path that led him from war hero to anti-war activist." Stewart even painted Kerry as a victim, recalling how "Kerry suspected there would be a price" to pay for his anti-war activism.
As noted in the April 22 CyberAlert, ABC and NBC on Wednesday night, but not CBS, ran stories tied to the release of Kerry's Vietnam records.
Rather introduced the April 22 CBS Evening News story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Stewart began: "If there are defining moments in a man's life, this was certainly John Kerry's -- 33 years ago today, in a Senate hearing room, he cursed the war he fought in and the men who sent him there."
From what Stewart presented, it would seem that Vietnam vets were mad at Kerry for simply opposing the war. But, in fact, at the very same April 22, 1971 Senate hearing from which Stewart drew a clip, Kerry made some very serious charges against U.S. servicemen. As James Taranto relayed in his March 1 "Best of the Web" report for OpinionJournal.com:
Human Events has posted a PDF of a transcript of Kerry's portion of that April 22, 1971 hearing: www.humaneventsonline.com
The broadcast network morning shows on Thursday each aired a single story on Kerry's military records, each featuring a unique interview with Kerry, but none of them included a single Republican soundbite, though ABC featured one old soundbite from a 1971 debate opponent. Unlike the Bush National Guard controversy, there were no story-underlining interviews with journalists or political pundits. ABC's Dan Harris let Kerry suggest there was no Republican pressure for the release, but then insisted "some veterans and conservatives have begun something of a cottage industry criticizing Kerry's anti-war activism." CBS's Jim Stewart could only ask why Kerry delayed the records release, and Kerry denied there was any delay. NBC's Carl Quintanilla made no reference to Kerry's Vietnam records, changing the subject from his 1971 Senate testimony to present-day Iraq. But he asked: "How can Americans trust your resolve on any war issue?"
ABC's Harris at least, unlike Stewart or Quintanilla, actually aired a clip of Kerry making his most incendiary claims in 1971 about U.S. soldiers cutting off limbs and randomly shooting civilians "in the fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan."
[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
-- ABC's Good Morning America. On February 11, GMA devoted a news story and three interview segments highlighting the Democratic spin that George W. Bush was "AWOL" from the Texas Air National Guard. They interviewed Boston Globe reporter Walter Robinson, national security adviser Condi Rice, and ABC political analyst George Stephanopoulos. Viewers saw the words "Was Bush AWOL?" in big letters on the screen. Charles Gibson asked: "Was he AWOL, as critics charge?...The questions about the President's National Guard service just won't stop."
On April 22, Gibson began by saying "some questions have been raised about what was supposed to be his strong suit, namely his military service in the Vietnam War. Now, the Senator has taken the step of making all his military records public." Gibson and reporter Dan Harris made Kerry's release sound satisfactory, as Harris asserted as transcribed by the MRC's Jessica Anderson: "As you say, for the first time on camera Senator Kerry, surrounded by fellow veterans, talked about why he released all his military records, more than a hundred pages. He denied doing so under any political pressure from the Republicans, who had been accusing him of dragging his feet. Praise for young Lieutenant Kerry's calmness, professionalism and great personal courage under fire can be found in the newly-released military records."
That's different from his answer on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, when Kerry acknowledged that his rhetoric was "honest" but "a little bit excessive" and "over the top." He even admitted: "Have some [Vietnam atrocity claims] been discredited? Sure, they have, Tim."
Harris concluded: "Now as a U.S. Senator, Senator Kerry is critical of another war, the war in Iraq, although he did vote to authorize it. In our interview, he was critical of the President for not saying exactly how much operations in Iraq will cost the United States taxpayers going forward. Kerry said the enduring lesson of Vietnam is tell the truth."
-- CBS's The Early Show. On the February 11 edition of The Early Show, reporter Bill Plante insisted Bush's proof was missing: "The problem for the White House is that these documents don't actually prove Mr. Bush showed up on the dates for which he was paid. And so far no one has come forward to say that they served with him, leaving the President on the defensive." Like ABC, CBS's Harry Smith asked "AWOL" questions to National Security Adviser Condi Rice.
On the April 22 Early Show, CBS reporter Jim Stewart underlined Kerry's cooperation, as taken down by MRC analyst Brian Boyd: "Stung by Republican suggestions that he had something to hide, Senator John Kerry continued a massive paper release of his Vietnam War era records last night, promising to include even summaries of his medical treatments as well. Thus far, Kerry has turned over 120 pages of military records including his Silver Star and Bronze Star citations, officer efficiency reports from his days aboard the destroyer Gridley and his training days for a swift boat duty in Vietnam. In an interview with CBS News, Kerry said he had personally reviewed all of the documents and was proud of what they reflected."
Like Harris, Stewart made no reference to the Kerry campaign rebuffing requests from reporters, but he did press Kerry on the slow release:
Stewart: "Why did you wait so long?"
Stewart didn't acknowledge the obvious: Why should Kerry rush out to release his records when few in the media demanded them? Kerry used his Vietnam-veteran status to win the Iowa caucuses in January, and no one asked Kerry for records. Reporters hounded Bush for records all through the first half of February, and no one asked Kerry for records. Now, Stewart didn't even acknowledge the networks' inaction.
Stewart concluded vaguely: "The only item missing was a document describing the action that led to the first of three Purple Hearts for wounds Kerry received in action. A medical report of the incident, however, stated Kerry was treated for a shrapnel wound in his arm."
Like Harris, Stewart made no mention of the questions from Kerry's commanding officer in Vietnam.
-- NBC's Today. On February 11, NBC featured a story on Bush's service records and devoted parts of two interviews, with Condi Rice and NBC political analyst Tim Russert, to the subject. Katie Couric even suggested that Bush's speech on nuclear proliferation was just arranged to distract attention from his Guard duty. The MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed that Couric told Rice: "How do you respond to critics, Dr. Rice, who suggest this is an effort by the White House to deflect attention away from the President's National Guard service?"
On the April 11 Today, Carl Quintanilla had the more glowing report about Kerry's personal history. Matt Lauer began: "The John Kerry campaign has just released his military records after critics raised some questions. NBC's Carl Quintanilla is in New Orleans with the Kerry campaign. Carl, good morning to you."
Quintanilla began: "Those records are out on the 33rd anniversary of a speech Kerry gave to Congress protesting the Vietnam War. It's a testimony that made his career and some say is still affecting his run for the White House. Before the campaigns, before his hair turned Senate gray, there was the speech. A 27-year-old Navy skipper who'd spent four months patrolling the Mekong Delta in Vietnam here to convince Americans the war was wrong."
Kerry in 1971: "We learned the meaning of free-fire zones. Shoot anything that moves."
NBC edited out the first part of the quote where Kerry named Vice President Cheney and top Bush adviser Karl Rove as avoiding the military.
Quintanilla to Kerry: "Do you need to serve in order to tell others to go to war?"
On the February 11 Today, Russert promised a fair and balanced and thorough approach to Bush: "I think it is important for the White House to put this issue to rest because it keeps, continues to play out. I think we're gonna have to do a lot more study of the Guard back then. What was it like, what were the rules? Become much more familiar with the protocols, if you will, in order to continue to report this story and in a fair and accurate way."
Today has not followed this approach with the Kerry controversies -- either the justification for his Purple Heart or the accuracy of his allegations about the conduct of U.S. servicemen in Vietnam.
For the April 20 Boston Globe story on how Kerry originally refused to release his records as promised: www.boston.com
Taking the left-wing Doonesbury comic strip seriously, at the end of Wednesday's NewsNight, CNN anchor Aaron Brown asserted "the war has crossed another kind of line back home" since in the comic strip this week a character, serving in the military in Iraq, lost his leg. Brown deplored how "we used to be able to make it through the funny pages unmoved, but not anymore."
With "Not So Funny Pages" as the on-screen graphic, at the very end of the April 21 NewsNight, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, Brown opined:
Brown showed frames of the April 21 strip in which the fictitious soldier learns his leg was amputated. To see it: www.doonesbury.com
Peter Jennings remains obsessed with the plight of those detained at Guantanamo Bay. The day after he led World News Tonight with a sympathetic look at an appeal to the Supreme Court on their behalf, he took a night off from his anchoring duties so he could travel to Guantanamo Bay for a first hand look and on Thursday night checked in with his findings.
Over video of the facilities, Jennings conceded that the hospital provides "better care than where they came from," but he fretted about how "at any time of the day or night, the detainees may be interrogated, a subject of enormous controversy in itself." He lamented: "There is no thought here of rehabilitation. Some of these men may be here for years, and as of now, they have no appeal."
Back on camera on the World News Tonight studio, Jennings seemed to be speaking for himself as he maintained: "Hard place to photograph. Harder place for many people to understand."
Jennings plugged the upcoming story on his April 22 broadcast: "When we come back this evening, a visit to Guantanamo Bay where they keep the suspects in the war on terrorism. Isolated and without appeal."
Jennings set up his piece, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Finally this evening, Guantanamo Bay. We were away from the broadcast last night in order to visit Camp Delta at Guantanamo for a later program we're doing on national security and civil liberty. As you know, the Supreme Court has just taken several cases which challenge the Bush administration's decision to hold almost 600 prisoners taken in the war against terrorism at Guantanamo without any way to appeal their imprisonment."
Over video of the facilities, without people, Jennings narrated his pictures: "Just yesterday, we were the first reporters to see the latest facility, which is a super-maximum building to hold 100 men. [video of Jennings walking around with military commander inside barren-looking hallways and clean cells] With far fewer military needed to guard them, any prisoner in here, said Colonel Cannon, knows that he is not going home. There is an incentive to stay out of here. Camp Delta as a whole is incentive-based. Behave yourself and answer questions and you may have a chance of somewhat better conditions. The restrictions on us are very rigid. We can see virtually all the facilities as long as there are no detainees present. The detention units are small. [video of prayer run in big room, arrow painted on floor next to it] An arrow points toward Mecca so as to facilitate Muslim prayer. A prisoner who cooperates may be allowed a box of checkers or a chess set or bottled water -- 'comfort items,' they are called. [video of fences] Men are permitted to talk to each other through the heavy metal mesh.
Back on the studio camera, Jennings concluded: "Hard place to photograph. Harder place for many people to understand."
The April 21 CyberAlert recounted how all the networks on Tuesday ran full stories about the Supreme Court hearing a case asking them to rule that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay should have access to U.S. federal courts, but only ABC's Peter Jennings considered it the most important news of the day as he traveled to Washington, DC to cover the hearing, framed his lead story around how "the lawyers for more than a dozen prisoners say the President is violating the American commitment to the rule of law" and followed up, with a story he narrated himself, about the anti-Bush protesters outside the court, which prompted him to raise the mistreatment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Jennings gave three soundbites to the protesters, with none on the other side, as he relayed how "these petitioners believe that holding nearly 600 men from 42 countries without even charging them violates the International Geneva Conventions for prisoners."
For that CyberAlert item, which also features summaries and links to earlier items documenting Jennings' obsession with the topic over the past couple of years: www.mediaresearch.org
ABC's Peter Jennings had plenty of generous things to say Thursday night about left-wing columnist Mary McGrory, who passed away on Wednesday, but he managed to not identify her ideology as he relayed how the Washington Post "correctly described her today as a major figure in 20th century journalism, a writer of lasting influence who had a contempt for phonies" and, he added, "she loved her country deeply." NBC's Tom Brokaw and CNN's Aaron Brown were even more effusive in their praise (Brokaw: "She was a cherished companion for generations of journalists who relished her wit, her insights and her fearless style"; Brown: She "crystalized" news events "in acutely observed, beautifully-written columns that were both diamond-hard and diamond-sharp"), but they also acknowledged her liberal perspective.
Thursday's CBS Evening News with Dan Rather didn't mention her passing.
Jennings announced on the April 22 World News Tonight:
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw stated: "And we have word tonight that one of America's leading newspaper columnists has died. Mary McGrory, an unapologetic liberal voice in Boston and Washington newspapers for half a century, died today at the age of 85. She won a Pulitzer for her commentaries on Watergate, and she was a cherished companion for generations of journalists who relished her wit, her insights and her fearless style."
With "A Reporter's Reporter" on screen, CNN NewsNight anchor Aaron Brown recalled: "From the Army-McCarthy hearings in the late '40s, to Iraq in another century altogether, Mary McGrory did something more than just cover the news, she crystalized them in acutely observed, beautifully-written columns that were both diamond-hard and diamond-sharp. Most of the great newspaper writers of her age, whether they agreed with her liberal views or not, nonetheless agreed on this: No one was better..."
A flavor of McGrory, from her September 13, 2001 column written the day after 9/11: "George W. Bush could not find the beat. He jarringly referred to the terrorists as 'folks' in his first public comments, during which he looked more apprehensive than resolute. He allowed himself to be hauled about the country like a fugitive to bunkers at air bases in Louisiana and Nebraska....The capital of the free world was a ghost town in a desperate hour. Bush said the attack was a 'test' for the country. It was also one for him. He flunked."
For the Washington Post's news story on her life: www.washingtonpost.com
-- Brent Baker