CBS Cites Dire Litany, Asks: Is Iraq "Sliding Toward Civil War?" --5/20/2005
2. Williams Claims Filibuster to Block Judges "Used by Both Sides"
3. Moran: Media Have "Anti-Military Bias," 70% at WH Voted for Kerry
4. Carlson: "Bush's Policies," Not Newsweek, "Fuel Arab Anger"
5. Newspaper Union Boss Charges U.S. Military Targets Journalists
"It just keeps getting worse in Iraq," Bob Schieffer declared at the top of Thursday's CBS Evening News as he recited a litany of dire news which only CBS considered to be the lead story of the day: "The death toll is rising. Tension is growing between Shiites and Sunnis. Is the country sliding toward civil war?" From Baghdad, Mark Strassmann backed up Schieffer's thesis: "Tit-for-tat terror seems to be pushing Iraq towards civil war. This man says, 'We are heading toward a catastrophe.'" A frustrated Schieffer recalled how U.S. military leaders recently predicted that "it might be possible to start drawing down the American force there early next year sometime. Now you just hear one bad report after another. I'm beginning to wonder, 'Does anybody know what's going on there?'"
CBS's dire take may have been prompted by a front page story in Thursday's New York Times, "Generals Offer Sober Outlook on Iraqi War," but it delivered a more balanced overview of the challenges than did CBS. For the May 19 article: www.nytimes.com
Schieffer opened his newscast: "Since Iraq's first freely elected government took over late last month, not a day has passed without deadly bombings and other attacks. Hundreds have died, including at least a dozen Iraqis and two American soldiers today. Now there's been a surge of attacks on Shiite and Sunni Muslim clerics, and some fear that Iraq is sliding toward civil war with American forces caught in the middle. Here's Mark Strassmann in Baghdad."
Strassmann began, over video of burning cars, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "More than 500 people are dead in Iraq's recent bloodbath. Now U.S. officials are insisting that Syria tighten its border with Iraq to stop the flow of foreign fighters blamed for so many of the suicide attacks here. And U.S. commanders believe Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Iraq's most wanted terrorist, met in Syria recently with his lieutenants and ordered them to step up their attacks. They did. And that has reawakened animosity between Sunni and Shiite Arabs that goes back centuries.
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams on Wednesday evening falsely asserted that the "nuclear" option in the Senate would end "the use of the filibuster to block votes on judges used by both sides for years." In fact, Democratic use of the filibuster on multiple judicial nominees is unprecedented and Republicans have never employed it in a partisan effort to block a nominee who had majority support. The last time Republicans were in the same alignment as Democrats are now (minority in Senate with President in opposition party), in 1993 and 1994, they did not filibuster Clinton's nominees.
Some point to a filibuster in 1968 of President Johnson's nominee for Chief Justice, already-sitting Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas, but that lasted a matter of weeks, was bi-partisan and he didn't have majority support. In the current situation, Bush's nominees would earn majority support if they could get a vote and some have been blocked for going on four years.
The May 19 CyberAlert quoted this same claim by Williams, but focused on his characterization of a poll as showing how the public is opposed to blocking filibusters when the survey question gave respondents a choice between two options irrelevant to the current debate. On Thursday, the MRC's Rich Noyes pointed out to me Williams' other fallacy.
For the May 19 CyberAlert item: www.mediaresearch.org
ABC's Terry Moran, who at Tuesday's press briefing snapped at White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, "Who made you the editor of Newsweek?", on Wednesday told Los Angeles-based national radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt that "I, in fact, agree with the substance of what Scott McClellan was saying, that it would be a good thing for Newsweek to come out try to undo some of the damage that was done by its report." Moran also conceded: "There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong." Moran revealed that some "big fish" in the White House press corps "hate" President Bush and, pressed about what percent of the White House press corps voted for John Kerry, Moran pegged it as "upwards of 70, maybe higher."
As recounted in the May 18 CyberAlert, at the May 17 briefing Moran asked McClellan: "What else does the President want this American magazine to do?" When McClellan answered, Moran scolded him: "With respect, who made you the editor of Newsweek? Do you think it's appropriate for you, at that podium, speaking with the authority of the President of the United States, to tell an American magazine what they should print?"
For more, see the May 18 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
We've talked about the bogus Newsweek desecration story for several days now, and so has the White House press corps. Yesterday, in the White House Press Room, Scott McClellan took a question about Newsweek, and said, in essence, that Newsweek ought to do all it can to correct some of the damage they did with their bogus story. Terry Moran, White House correspondent for ABC News, replied, saying that it sounded to him like Scott was trying to be the editor of Newsweek. Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times later quipped, very sarcastically, that maybe Scott wanted her to do a story that said how great the military was. Hugh was pretty exercised, played the audio on the show, and asked me to try to reach both Moran and Bumiller. Terry, to his credit, returned the call, and agreed to come on for a segment. It was a heated exchange, and it turned into almost three segments. Without further adieu, here's the interview:
HH: We played the tape of your exchange with Scott McClellan yesterday in the White House. Are you anti-military, Terry?
TM: Not at all, no. Not at all.
HH: The interpretation I give to that end, and the one that followed, Elizabeth Bumiller, is that you were astounded that the White House might expect the American media to cover the American military in a favorable light.
TM: I disagree with that interpretation. What I, in fact, agree with the substance of what Scott McClellan was saying, that it would be a good thing for Newsweek to come out try to undo some of the damage that was done by its report. If you notice what I said was, do you think it's appropriate, from that podium, speaking for the president of the United States, to instruct an American magazine as to how to go about its business. And what I was trying to do was draw a line that Scott McClellan agreed with. If you notice later on that you're absolutely right. It's not my position to get into telling people what they can and cannot report. I was just trying to draw that line, that there may be things which are right for the media to do, but that I think that whether you are liberal or conservative, you don't want the government telling the media to do.
HH: Now, Terry, that's just silly. I teach Constitutional law, and I've been a professor doing this for ten years. And when the president's spokesperson suggests something, he's not instructing. He's not commanding. He's using the bully pulpit. And for you to react like he was is silly.
TM: And maybe, being a professor, you're teaching the law. I'm living it. I'm living the First Amendment, and let me explain to you that there is a difference between instructing someone to do someone, or telling somebody to do someone, and someone using the bully pulpit to essentially rally the president's political supporters to pressure the media to do something.
HH: Absolutely, and it's completely legitimate. Why should the media, about whom there is great contempt and distrust, and who just caused the death of sixteen innocent people, as well as the destruction of American interest abroad, be immune from criticism from the elected leader of the United States?
TM: I don't think the media should be immune from criticism. I think the elected leader of the United States has his or her hands full, and plenty of things for the elected leader of the United States to do. I think media criticism is a great thing. I think what you do is a great thing. I do not think it's a great thing for the president's spokesperson to begin instructing the media how to go about its business.
HH: He did not. Terry, he did not. That's trying to play a victim card here. You're not the victim. The victim's the American military. The victims are the dead people in Afghanistan.
HH: The victim are the American people generally.
TM: Agreed. I'm trying...what I'm trying to do is establish a principle here, and let me read you the transcript. We would encourage Newsweek to do all they can to help repair the damage. Pointing out what the policies and practices of the United States military are. And today, the president's spokesman said Newsweek should go on Al Jazeera, and other Arab television networks.
HH: Yes, they should. And there's nothing wrong...
TM: As a matter of fact, I agree with you.
HH: But there's nothing wrong with the president saying that. I'd like you to explain for me what is wrong with the president himself, not his spokesperson, but if the president came down to the press room and said, I think Newsweek ought to get on their knees in front of the American people and beg their forgiveness for causing deaths of innocent people, and injuring our position in the world. What would be wrong with that?
TM: That, in my judgment, would be demagoguery. ....
HH: Let me ask you something. Major K, a major in the Army who is reporting from Iraq on his blog all the time says, all this being said, it is no small wonder that a gulf has opened between journalists and the general public. I think even the most John Q. Sixpacks know when they are being fed a line of blank blank blank. My brother called me a journalist once during a conversation about this blog. I was offended. That is a general impression among the American military about the media, Terry. Where does that come from?
TM: It comes from, I think, a huge gulf of misunderstanding, for which I lay plenty of blame on the media itself. There is, Hugh, I agree with you, a deep anti-military bias in the media. One that begins from the premise that the military must be lying, and that American projection of power around the world must be wrong. I think that that is a hangover from Vietnam, and I think it's very dangerous. That's different from the media doing it's job of challenging the exercise of power without fear or favor. ....
HH: Are there members of the White House Press Corps, Terry, who actually hate Bush?
TM: I would say the answer to that is yes.
HH: And what percentage of them, do you think that amounts to?
TM: Uh, small, I would say, but some big fish.
HH: What's your guess about the percentage of the White House Press Corps that voted for Kerry?
TM: Oh, very high. Very, very high.
TM: No, I don't think that high. But I would certainly say, you know, it's hard for me, but I'd guess it's in...upwards of 70, maybe higher. You know, it's hard for me to say, but I would say very, very high....
END of Excerpt
For the transcript in full: www.radioblogger.com
For Hugh Hewitt's Web site: www.hughhewitt.com
For a picture of Hewitt, on Salem Radio Network's site: www.srnonline.com
For a picture and bio of Moran: www.abcmedianet.com
For Thursday's Los Angeles Times, Margaret Carlson of CNN and Time magazine penned a screed titled, "The Buck Doesn't Stop With Newsweek: It's Bush's policies, not a magazine article, that fuel Arab anger." She contended that "it's understandable that the administration might want to flush Newsweek down the toilet and pawn off the blame for its own mistakes. How cathartic it must be to have something other than those famous photos from Abu Ghraib to blame for rampant anti-Americanism." Carlson charged that "in its long adventure in the Arab world, the administration has hatched few strategies as hollow as holding a magazine responsible for its own failings."
An excerpt from Carlson's May 19 op-ed piece which was highlighted by Romenesko (www.poynter.org
The Buck Doesn't Stop With Newsweek It's Bush's policies, not a magazine article, that fuel Arab anger.
"I feel terrible." Period. Full stop.
So Newsweek Editor Mark Whitaker finally said last Monday after a retraction of the magazine's May 1 report, based on an unnamed source, that guards at Guantanamo Bay flushed a Koran down the toilet. In riots that ensued in the Muslim world, there were at least 14 deaths, for which the Bush administration blames Newsweek....
This is not one of those endless media navel-gazing controversies -- the excessive coverage of Michael Jackson or the runaway bride, for example. Lives were lost, and Newsweek has become a whipping boy for the White House and the Pentagon....
Newsweek moved the story forward with its unnamed source stating that the Pentagon would conclude in a forthcoming report that U.S. military interrogators had indeed flushed a Koran down the toilet to rattle suspects.
OK, so the retraction should have come quicker. But now the administration should stop trying to shift blame for the deadly protests to a magazine. It has yet to explain why the Defense Department passed up the chance to correct the source's assertion when the magazine took the unusual step of submitting the report for review prior to publication. The reporter took silence as confirmation.
Wrong in retrospect? Sure. Silence is always ambiguous. But the Pentagon has managed to dodge the inconvenient question of why it didn't raise a red flag when given the opportunity, or at least warn Newsweek of the potentially grave consequences of publishing.
The administration is also ignoring the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard B. Myers, who told of a senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan saying that the protests were "not at all tied to the article."
That didn't stop the White House from insisting the opposite. "The report had real consequences," spokesman Scott McClellan said. "People have lost their lives." Tuesday, when Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita was asked if, in light of Myers' statement, he still believed that people died because of the erroneous report, he said, "I do, I absolutely do."
It's understandable that the administration might want to flush Newsweek down the toilet and pawn off the blame for its own mistakes. How cathartic it must be to have something other than those famous photos from Abu Ghraib to blame for rampant anti-Americanism. How comforting, after Ahmad Chalabi, to have someone other than the CIA or White House publicly burned by a bad source.
No one excuses Newsweek. But in its long adventure in the Arab world, the administration has hatched few strategies as hollow as holding a magazine responsible for its own failings.
END of Excerpt
For Carlson's column in full, registered user can read it at: www.latimes.com
Time magazine's page for her, though it has been a long time since they've carried a column by her: www.time.com
At one time, Carlson served as Time magazine's Deputy Washington Bureau Chief.
The President of the Newspaper Guild, the union representing reporters at newspapers, last week declared her "outrage" at how "there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq." She charged that the U.S. military "target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries" and, in the case of Al-Jazeera, "they actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity." Linda Foley spewed her venom on May 14 at the far-left National Conference for Media Reform held in St. Louis. Mark Hyman of Sinclair Broadcasting on Wednesday first publicized her remarks, devoting a "The Point" commentary to them.
While Foley's remarks recall those of CNN executive Eason Jordan who made a similar charge earlier this year, and eventually resigned from CNN, he had editorial control over CNN content. Foley is a union chief without any direction over what a newspaper reports, but her remarks are probably indicative of the views of many newspaper reporters who have elected her as their union leader.
O'Reilly played a very dark video, from the online posting, of Foley charging: "What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. [applause followed by edit jump] They target and kill journalists from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al-, at news services like Al-Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity."
Hyman's March 18 commentary aired on the largely small market TV stations owned by Sinclair:
Words That Cause Grave Harm
Newsweek's unsubstantiated story last week that U.S. troops desecrated the Koran in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, led to deadly results. Dozens were killed and injured in Arab country protests. U.S. prestige suffered a tremendous blow in the Muslim world. Newsweek has retracted the story.
Top CNN executive Eason Jordan resigned earlier this year over remarks he reportedly made that the U.S. military targeted journalists in Iraq. No proof. Nothing to back up his claim. He just said it.
Now comes Linda Foley, International President of the Newspaper Guild, who made a similar claim in St. Louis last Friday.
"Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or ...ah, or... ah, politically. They are also being targeted for real, um...in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there's not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq."
"They target and kill journalists...uh, from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al-, like Arab news services like Al-Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity..."
These completely irresponsible remarks speak for themselves. Foley should immediately deliver evidence that supports her horrible allegations or she should immediately resign as Newspaper Guild president.
Unfortunately, the damage may have already been done. Her remarks could lead to further bloodshed, including against Americans.
The question is whether Newspaper Guild members will hold Foley accountable or will they give her a free pass in endangering American lives with inflammatory remarks without any proof?
And that's the Point.
I'm Mark Hyman.
END of Reprint
To watch it, via either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player: www.newscentral.tv
Joe Strupp of Editor&Publisher, who wrote a story on the controversy, appeared on FNC with Hyman. Strupp's story presented Foley's defense of her comments. An excerpt from his May 19 article:
Guild Chief Under Fire for Comments About Attacks on Journalists in Iraq
Linda Foley, national president of The Newspaper Guild, drew strong criticism today from some conservative groups for comments she made last Friday about the killing of journalists in Iraq. Foley said, among other things, that she was angry that there was "not more outrage about the number and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq. I think it's just a scandal."
The backlash became so severe Thursday that staffers at Guild headquarters in Washington, D.C., stopped answering the phone because of abusive phone calls and "people screaming at us," Foley said. Instead, callers were required to leave messages on voice mail and await a return call....
The calls were apparently in reaction to comments Foley made during a panel discussion at the National Conference for Media Reform in St. Louis on May 13. There she offered a lengthy commentary on corporate ownership of media, and she refuted certain criticism of journalists. During that session, she also briefly discussed deaths of journalists covering the war.
Foley's comments, which he says have been distorted, have already drawn the ire of several conservative news organizations, including NewsMax.com, The Washington Times, and Sinclair Broadcasting, charging that she accused the U.S. forces of deliberately targeting journalists....
Several critics immediately compared her criticism to the case of Eason Jordan, the former CNN executive who resigned after suggesting that U.S. military personnel may have targeted journalists in Iraq.
Last month, Foley sent a letter to President Bush criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq.
Foley told E&P Thursday that her words were taken out of context by critics and said her original intent was to discuss how journalists are often scapegoated for their coverage. "This was almost an aside," she said. "But it is true that hundreds of journalists are killed around the world, and many have been killed in Iraq."
When asked if she believed U.S. troops had targeted journalists in Iraq, she said, "I was careful of not saying troops, I said U.S. military. Could I have said it differently? There are 100 different ways of saying this, but I'm not sure they would have appeased the right."
She did point out that those who bombed the Al Jazeera studios in Baghdad in 2003 had the coordinates of the television station, "because Al Jazeera had given it to them and they bombed the hell out of the station. They bombed it knowing it was the Al Jazeera station. Absent any independent inquiry that tells the world otherwise, that is what I believe."
Her comments at the conference followed the letter she sent last month to President Bush criticizing the U.S. investigation into the deaths of journalists in Iraq, including several during an attack on the Palestine Hotel in 2003.
In that attack, two journalists -- one form Spain and the other from Ukraine -- were killed. She also noted the bombing of the Al Jazeera office the same day, in which a reporter died. "Neither of these attacks has been independently investigated nor have the deaths been properly explained to the satisfaction of the victims' families, their friends and their colleagues," the letter said, in part.
END of Excerpt
For the article in full: www.editorandpublisher.com
To listen to the 90 minute mp3 of the session, scroll down to "2pm Saturday" at: www.freepress.net
Home page for the Newspaper Guild, which is part of the larger Communications Workers of America union: www.newsguild.org
-- Brent Baker