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CBS, CNN & NBC Skip Iraq Outreach to bin Laden Over Saudi Arabia --6/28/2004


1. CBS, CNN & NBC Skip Iraq Outreach to bin Laden Over Saudi Arabia
Spiked by CBS, CNN and NBC again. Exactly a week after the CBS Evening News, CNN's NewsNight and the NBC Nightly News ignored Russian President Vladimir Putin's disclosure that Russian intelligence warned the Bush administration after 9-11 that Saddam Hussein planned to attack inside the U.S., the very same newscasts managed to skip over a Friday front page New York Times story about how top operatives in Hussein's regime approached bin Laden in the mid-1990s about working together against the Saudi ruling family and foreigners in Saudi Arabia. Friday's CBS Evening News, however, had time for hyperventilation about how "partisan bickering in Washington" supposedly reached "a new low as the Vice President lets loose with...'the' four-letter word" and for a story blaming the war in Iraq for a polio outbreak in Nigeria.

2. CBS Evening News Too Right Wing for Michael Moore
Friday morning on CBS's Early Show, far-left filmmaker Michael Moore, who showed up to promote his anti-Bush "documentary" Fahrenheit 9-11, when asked if his film is "propaganda," declared: "I consider the CBS Evening News propaganda." Moore argued that the networks are too right wing: "We may not of even gone into this war had these networks done their job. I mean, it was a great disservice to the American people because we depend on people who work here and the other networks to go after those in power and say 'Hey, wait a minute. You want to send our kids off to war, we want to know where those weapons of mass destruction are. Let's see the proof. Let's see the proof that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.'"

3. Celebrities Come Out for Big Kerry Fundraiser in Los Angeles
John Kerry raised about $5 million for his campaign at a couple of events in Los Angeles on Thursday night, the second of which featured performances by Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Billy Crystal and Willie Nelson. Amongst those who contributed in order to attend: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Crystal "joked" about President Bush, according to multiple media accounts, "I realize that 9/11 is also his SAT scores." Streisand performed her famous song 'People,' but with parody lyrics: "Rumsfeld, we must get rid of Rumsfeld/He's the spookiest person in the world....This war we're lost in/Don't ask what it's costing/What's a trillion or two to rule the World?...When the White House Stationery/Reads President John Kerry/We'll Be the Luckiest People in the World!"

4. "Top Ten Questions Ralph Nader Asked Potential Running Mates"
Letterman's "Top Ten Questions Ralph Nader Asked Potential Running Mates."


CBS, CNN & NBC Skip Iraq Outreach to
bin Laden Over Saudi Arabia

Iraq-Bin Laden Contacts Spiked by CBS, CNN and NBC again. Exactly a week after the CBS Evening News, CNN's NewsNight and the NBC Nightly News ignored Russian President Vladimir Putin's disclosure that Russian intelligence warned the Bush administration after 9-11 that Saddam Hussein planned to attack inside the U.S., the very same newscasts managed to skip over a Friday front page New York Times story about how top operatives in Hussein's regime approached bin Laden in the mid-1990s about working together against the Saudi ruling family and foreigners in Saudi Arabia.

Friday's CBS Evening News, however, had time for hyperventilation about how, as anchor John Roberts put it, "partisan bickering in Washington" supposedly reached "a new low as the Vice President lets loose with...'the' four-letter word." Bob Orr concluded the subsequent story by lecturing: "But the Vice President's profanity, uttered on the same day the Senate passed a bill requiring broadcasters to clean up the public airwaves, clearly shows that a lot needs to be done to raise the tone here in Washington."

CBS also had time for a story blaming the war in Iraq for a polio outbreak in Nigeria. Roberts plugged that story: "Coming up next on tonight's CBS Evening News, polio, it's making a comeback, and the war in Iraq may have something to do with it." Reporter Gretchen Carlson related how "the local government stopped administering polio vaccines...in part, health officials say, out of distrust of the United States." A UNICEF spokeswoman claimed: "There was a concern that there was sterilization elements in it, some growing resistance and a concern that this was an effort to basically depopulate the Muslim population."

Carlson added: "According to UNICEF, the U.S.-led war in Iraq inadvertently inflamed a public health crisis." The spokeswoman elaborated: "We did some interviews with some community members who explicitly said, 'We've seen the news on Iraq, we've seen the news on the Middle East, we know what's going on. And we're supposed to take these vaccines?'"

As with the Putin story from a week earlier, only ABC's World News Tonight, of the broadcast networks, picked up on the latest revelation about the friendly working relationship between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. "ABC News has obtained a document which shows some contact between Iraq and bin Laden's al-Qaeda network back in the mid-1990s," anchor Elizabeth Vargas touted.

FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume reported the outreach to bin Laden and discussed it during a panel segment on Friday night.

The Saturday, June 19 CyberAlert recounted: At a press conference on Friday [June 18], Russian President Vladimir Putin disclosed that "after Sept. 11, 2001...the Russian Special Services" passed along to the U.S. how it had "received information that officials from Saddam's regime were preparing terrorist attacks in the United States..." Friday's CBS Evening News didn't mention Putin's revelation even though it devoted over two minutes to the debate over any Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship. Dan Rather found more newsworthy how Bill Clinton, in one of "the more compelling passages" in his new book, claimed to have warned President-elect Bush about Osama bin laden, but Bush didn't care. NBC Nighty News skipped Putin and instead dedicated a story to undermining President Bush's contention that Musab Abu al-Zarqawi's is linked to al-Qaeda. Of the broadcast networks on Friday night, only ABC found Putin newsworthy. On CNN, American Morning jumped on Putin's revelation, but by the evening CNN had moved on. CBS's Saturday Early Show skipped Putin and NBC's Today didn't get to Putin until the last news update, after audio clips from Clinton's book and how he warned an apathetic Bush about terrorism, and an interview session with Harry Thomason about The Hunting of the President, which Campbell Brown described as a film about "the case that there was a well-funded right-wing conspiracy to destroy the President and First Lady Hillary Clinton." See: www.mediaresearch.org

On Wednesday night, June 16, the networks eagerly hyped and distorted one paragraph in a report from the 9-11 Commission. On World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings had insisted the commission had "unequivocally" contradicted what the administration had maintained, on the CBS Evening News John Roberts asserted that the commission had "directly contradicted one of President Bush's justifications for going to war against Iraq" and on the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw characterized the commission as "sharply at odds with what leading members of the administration continue to claim."

For more about that coverage, see the June 17 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

The next night, after the Chairman and Vice Chairman made clear that the media had distorted their finding, CBS ignored the scolding while ABC and NBC buried it. See: www.mediaresearch.org

Back to Friday, June 25, the front page New York Times headline read: "Iraqis, Seeking Foes of Saudis, Contacted bin Laden, File Says." Thom Shanker reported how a Defense Department "task force concluded that the document 'appeared authentic,' and that it 'corroborates and expands on previous reporting' about contacts between Iraqi intelligence and Mr. bin Laden in Sudan, according to the task force's analysis....The document, which asserts that Mr. bin Laden 'was approached by our side,' states that Mr. bin Laden previously 'had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative,' but was now willing to meet in Sudan, and that 'presidential approval' was granted to the Iraqi security service to proceed."

For the New York Times article in full: www.nytimes.com

ABC's World News Tonight, unlike CBS and NBC, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth observed, picked up on the same subject explored by the New York Times article.

Anchor Elizabeth Vargas introduced the June 25 story: "In Washington today, the fight over the Bush administration's case for war in Iraq continues. The administration maintains that there was a strong connection between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Today, ABC News has obtained a document which shows some contact between Iraq and bin Laden's al-Qaeda network back in the mid-1990s. ABC's Martha Raddatz is at the Pentagon. Martha, just what does the document say?"

Raddatz explained: "Elizabeth, these are the documents obtained by ABC News. It's nine pages, all in Arabic, detailing these alleged contacts. This is one of millions of documents discovered in Iraq after the U.S. invasion. Defense and intelligence analysts say the document appears to be authentic and shows Saddam Hussein's efforts to cooperate with Saudi Arabian opposition groups, including Osama bin Laden and Hezbollah. The contacts allegedly occurred in Sudan where bin Laden lived at the time, and before he was widely known as an international terrorist. The document says the Iraqis requested the meeting with the approval of Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden, says the report, 'had some reservations about being labeled an Iraqi operative' but ultimately agreed to meet. According to the document, bin Laden requested that the Iraqis rebroadcast sermons by an anti-Saudi cleric, which was approved. Also requested, joint operations against foreign forces in Saudi Arabia. The document makes no indication that request was ever approved or carried out."
Michael O'Hanlon, Brookings Institution: "It makes sense at one level that Saddam would have wanted to explore options for collaboration with this new terrorist group that, for all he knew, could have been very useful to him and accomplished some of his goals."
Raddatz concluded by downplaying the significance: "Now, there are additional documents that the U.S. is trying to authenticate but nothing, Elizabeth, that shows any more recent contacts between bin Laden and Iraq."

CBS Evening News Too Right Wing for Michael
Moore

Friday morning on CBS's Early Show, far-left filmmaker Michael Moore, who showed up to promote his anti-Bush "documentary" Fahrenheit 9-11, when asked if his film is "propaganda," declared: "I consider the CBS Evening News propaganda." Moore argued that the networks are too right wing: "We may not of even gone into this war had these networks done their job. I mean, it was a great disservice to the American people because we depend on people who work here and the other networks to go after those in power and say 'Hey, wait a minute. You want to send our kids off to war, we want to know where those weapons of mass destruction are. Let's see the proof. Let's see the proof that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.'"

MRC analyst Brian Boyd took down the exchange, on the June 25 Early Show, between Moore and CBS's Hannah Storm:

Storm: "So this is satire and not documentary? We shouldn't see this as-"
Moore: "It's a satirical documentary."
Storm: "Some have said propaganda, do you buy that? Op-ed?"
Moore: "No, I consider the CBS Evening News propaganda. What I do is-"
Storm: "We'll move beyond on that."
Moore: "Why? Let's not move beyond that."
Storm: "You know what?"
Moore: "Seriously."
Storm: "No, let's talk about your movie."
Moore: "But why don't we talk about the Evening News on this network and the other networks that didn't do the job they should have done at the beginning of this war?"
Storm: "You know what?"
Moore: "Demanded the evidence, ask the hard questions-"
Storm: "Okay."
Moore: "-we may not of even gone into this war had these networks done their job. I mean, it was a great disservice to the American people because we depend on people who work here and the other networks to go after those in power and say 'Hey, wait a minute. You want to send our kids off to war, we want to know where those weapons of mass destruction are. Let's see the proof. Let's see the proof that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.'"
Storm: "But-"
Moore: "There was no proof and everybody just got embedded and everybody rolled over and everybody knows that now."
Storm: "Michael, the one thing that journalists try to do is to present both sides of the story. And it could be argued that you did not do that in this movie."
Moore: "I certainly didn't. I presented my side-"
Storm: "You presented your side of the story."
Moore: "Because my side, that's the side of millions of Americans, rarely gets told. And so, all I'm, look, this is just a humble plea on my behalf and not to you personally, Hannah. But I'm just saying to journalists in general that instead of working so hard to tell both sides of the story, why don't you just tell that one side, which is the administration, why don't you ask them the hard questions-"
Storm: "Which I think is something that we all try to do."
Moore: "Well, I think it was a lot of cheerleading going on at the beginning of this war-"
Storm: "Alright."
Moore: "A lot of cheerleading and it didn't do the public any good to have journalists standing in front of the camera going 'whoop-dee-do, let's all go to war'. And, and it's not their kids going to war. It's not the children of the news executives going to war-"
Storm: "Michael, why don't you do you next movie about networks news, okay? Because this movie-"
Moore: "I know, I think I should do that movie."
Storm: "-because this movie is an attack on the president and his policies."
Moore: "Well, and it also points out how the networks failed us at the beginning of this war and didn't do their job."

I don't think Moore and I were watching the same network newscasts in the Spring of 2003. They asked plenty of questions and gave a lot of time to opponents of going to war in Iraq.

Celebrities Come Out for Big Kerry Fundraiser
in Los Angeles

John Kerry raised about $5 million for his campaign at a couple of events in Los Angeles on Thursday night, the second of which featured performances by Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond, Billy Crystal and Willie Nelson. Amongst those who contributed in order to attend: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx, Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro. Crystal "joked" about President Bush, according to multiple media accounts, "I realize that 9/11 is also his SAT scores." The New York Times touted how "the much-heralded highlight was the Barbra Streisand-Neil Diamond reunion duet, 'You Don't Bring Me Flowers,' which they had not performed together since Jimmy Carter was in the White House."

Streisand also performed her famous song 'People,' but with parody lyrics: "Rumsfeld, we must get rid of Rumsfeld/He's the spookiest person in the world....This war we're lost in/Don't ask what it's costing/What's a trillion or two to rule the World?...When the White House Stationery/Reads President John Kerry/We'll Be the Luckiest People in the World!"

On her Web site, Streisand posted the full text of her "special" lyrics she performed at the Kerry fundraiser: ( www.barbrastreisand.com )

PEOPLE
I MEAN G - O - P - EOPLE -
WHO'D BELIEVE THERE'S SUCH PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD?
BUSH SEEZA
LOTTA CONDOLEEZA,
THEY'RE DIVIDING THE PLANET'S OIL
ACCORDING TO RICHARD "POIL"
AND THEY'RE ALL JUST TRAINEES
OF CHENEY'S.

RUMSFELD,
WE MUST GET RID OF RUMSFELD -
HE'S THE SPOOKIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD.
AS FOR POWELL -
HE'S NEITHER FISH NOR FOWL.
HE'S IN THE BACK OF THE ROOM,
WHILE THEY'RE ALL FIDDLING WITH DOOM.
NO ONE'S MINDING THE STORE.
WHAT'S MORE,
LET'S DISCUSS THIS WAR WE'RE LOST IN,
DON'T ASK WHAT IT'S COSTIN' -
WHAT'S A TRILLION OR TWO TO RULE THE WORLD?

(Second chorus)
THE SENATE
HOW I WANT THE SENATE!
ALL WE NEED IS TWO PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!
I SEEA ANTONIN SCALIA.
HOW I DREAD EV'RY TIME HE SITS -
SCARED OUT OF MY WOLFOWITZ.
TIME THOSE NEO-CON GUYS
WERE GONE GUYS.

THEY'RE LYING -
WHILE THE GLOBE IS FRYING -
AND THE FISHES ARE DYING IN THE WORLD.
THEIR SOLUTION
FOR ALL OF THE POLLUTION:
IS JUST TO BEAR IT AND GRIN,
AND PRACTICE NOT BREATHING IN.
BUT THINGS ARE GONNA BE GREAT.
JUST WAIT -
WHEN THE WHITE HOUSE STATIONERY,
READS PRESIDENT JOHN KERRY -
WE'LL BE THE LUCKIEST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD!

END reprint of parody lyrics

Since it appears that news cameras were not allowed to tape the event, we probably won't ever see Streisand's performance (if I see it anywhere I'll let you know), but in 2002 FNC showed video of her singing, at a September 29, 2002 fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a "special" version of 'Memories' from the movie The Way We Were:

"Scattered pictures/Of the House we left behind/Lovely Democratic mem'ries/Of the way we were.... "Unprecedented Growth in the Economy/The Dow was up, the deficit was down/As long as Democrats were the majority/I could sleep nights, not weep nights."

To see a RealPlayer clip of that, refer back to the MRC's DisHonors Awards of 2003 (Streisand is in the middle of the page): www.mediaresearch.org

Streisand has also posted the text of her remarks at the Kerry event: www.barbrastreisand.com

Excerpts from some stories about the Hollywood fundraising.

-- A June 25 Los Angeles Times story by Matea Gold and Geoff Boucher:

Sen. John F. Kerry scooped up $5 million for his presidential bid in a lavish gala in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night that featured an array of Hollywood heavy hitters who took center stage in calling for President Bush's defeat.

The Democratic presidential hopeful was feted by entertainers such as Barbra Streisand, Billy Crystal and Willie Nelson at a two-hour program before 2,000 donors at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Though Streisand and Nelson represent longtime liberal voices from the music industry, a parade of younger Hollywood celebrities was on hand as well, with Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Jamie Foxx and Ben Stiller lending their names and time to Kerry's candidacy.

At a pre-show dinner in an airy foyer of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where top donors dined on shrimp and filet mignon, Kerry embraced Streisand and glad-handed a roster of political and entertainment heavyweights: actor Robert De Niro, producer Harvey Weinstein, former California Gov. Gray Davis, City Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa and mayoral candidate Bob Hertzberg....

Affleck said he wasn't sure his efforts would sway any votes, but he believes the entertainment industry can help spark interest in the election.

"Really, the celebrities are the ones who have something to lose.... We like people from both sides of the aisle to come see our movies and concerts," he said. Still, he called Hollywood's heightened political interest "a healthy thing" and said it should not be discouraged.

When asked why he was backing Kerry's candidacy, the actor said he saved $1.5 million in federal income tax last year, thanks to Bush's tax cuts. Affleck asked, "Does anyone here think that's appropriate?"

Inside the hall, a partisan crowd cheered as Nelson performed classics like "On the Road Again" and Crystal cracked jokes. "I realize that 9/11 is also his SAT scores," the comedian said of Bush....

Streisand performed her 1964 hit People, but with new lyrics....

END of Excerpt

For the LA Times article in full: www.latimes.com

-- June 26, 2004 New York Times story, "Streisand Sings, Kerry Smiles," by Jodi Wilgoren:

It could have been Oscar night, what with Billy Crystal cracking wise about movies and politics, money and baseball -- just like in the old days when the Academy Awards ceremony was held across the street at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. But when Mr. Crystal tried a joke about former president Bill Clinton's forthcoming children's book -- "It's called 'The Little Engine That Could Because It Could'" -- it fell flat.

More business suit than ball gown, this audience of 2,000 Democratic donors at the Walt Disney Concert Hall had paid too much ($2,000 to $25,000) on Thursday night to laugh at itself.

Fun was to be had, sure, but at the Republicans' expense.

So Mr. Crystal fared much better when he recalled having met President Bush at Yankee Stadium during the third game of the World Series in 2001 and realizing, "911 is also his SAT scores." And when, invoking the "Godfather" trilogy, he mused, "I get the feeling he is the Fredo of the Bush family."...

The much-heralded highlight was the Barbra Streisand-Neil Diamond reunion duet, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," which they had not performed together since Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Ms. Streisand crooned at center stage, where a stool, table, vase with red roses, teapot and cup had been placed for her performance, while Mr. Diamond sang from remote stage right, walking into the spotlight only for the final chorus, and the tender kiss the two shared afterwards.

Then Ms. Streisand, in a lacy black gown with a plunging V-neck and greenish fringe hanging off the back, upstaged herself with a political parody of "People" that made Mr. Crystal's material sound almost centrist.

"Now Rumsfeld/ We must get rid of Rumsfeld/ He's the spookiest person in the world," she sang to the audience's delight. "Let's discuss this war we're lost in/ Don't ask what it's costin'/ What's a trillion or two to rule the world?"

Throughout the night, though, the performers strained to say that they were not just anti-Bush, but pro-Kerry. Ben Affleck, who grew up in Massachusetts, Mr. Kerry's home state, declared, "I know the man." Leonardo DiCaprio called him "a lifelong champion of the environment," and Mr. Crystal, speaking about the Vietnam War, said, "John Kerry was an actual action hero."...

Thursday's concert was preceded by a dinner of filet mignon and shrimp at the Chandler Pavilion for those couples forking over $25,000 ("I know people who don't make $25,000 in a day!" Mr. Crystal cracked). Postponed from earlier this month because of Ronald Reagan's death, the concert was the first of a pair; Jon Bon Jovi and the Dave Matthews Band are to lead the bill at Radio City Music Hall on July 8.

Kerry campaign aides said the performers had agreed to appear on the condition that cameras and recorders be barred. The press, too, was originally prohibited from covering the concert, save for one journalist sent to record Mr. Kerry's remarks. But Thursday afternoon, the campaign announced that its traveling press corps would get an audio feed, and then, an hour before the curtain, tickets were handed out.

The show kicked off with Leah Hansen, an 8-year-old cellist in a sleeveless lavender dress with matching bow, who brought the crowd to its feet with a soulful "God Bless America." Willie Nelson, his gray braid hanging to his belt, did three classics, and Angie Stone, who had flown in from Amsterdam, where she was on tour, offered a two-pack, including Marvin Gaye's antiwar anthem, "What's Going On."

The comedian Jamie Foxx, who is black, pointed to Senator Kerry, who was seated with his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, in the front row of the second of five tiers, and asked: "You find somebody to run with you yet? I'll give you my cell number. We need some color in the White House." Ben Stiller introduced Mr. Diamond as "the man who helped me get to second base for the first time in my life," recalling taking a date to see "The Jazz Singer" in 1982, and "my personal savior in a very rocky adolescence."

Mr. Diamond, in a black smock with triangles of red sequins dripping from the shoulders, started with "Forever in Bluejeans" and got the crowd swinging -- and Mrs. Kerry swaying -- with "Sweet Caroline," and finished with "America."

Ms. Streisand, who entered and exited from stage left, the opposite side from everyone else, did the longest set, interrupting her songs with political riffs....

END of Excerpt

For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com

"Top Ten Questions Ralph Nader Asked
Potential Running Mates"

From the June 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Questions Ralph Nader Asked Potential Running Mates." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Are you here because you lost a bet?

9. If I pick you, do you promise to vote for us?

8. In case anybody asks, can you think of a reason I'm running?

7. Are you sure you won't be intimidated by my dazzling charisma?

6. Wanna drop out of the race and go to Massachusetts to get hitched?

5. Is it okay if I pay you in grocery coupons?

4. Isn't this a step down for you, Mr. Gore?

3. Do you get nervous speaking in front of groups of 8 to 12 people?

2. Are you comfortable being the answer to a trivial pursuit question?

1. What's it like to be with a woman?

-- Brent Baker