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CBS Uses Dix Case to Contend Terrorist Arrests Over-Hyped --5/9/2007


1. CBS Uses Dix Case to Contend Terrorist Arrests Over-Hyped
On Tuesday night, following a week in which the CBS Evening News attracted the fewest viewers in decades, the producers decided the Katie Couric-anchored newscast needed an injection of an Olbermann-esque twist: The arrests of six Islamists, for plotting to use automatic weapons to murder troops at Fort Dix, matches the hype around previous captures which fizzled. Armen Keteyian framed his story around how since 9/11 "more than 400,000 names have come under one form of government surveillance or another -- from watch lists to wiretaps. But only a handful of terrorists have been convicted in cases with concrete ties to al-Qaeda." Keteyian highlighted how cases that "start out as larger, bolder terrorism cases, turn into lesser offenses. According to a study by the NYU Center on Law and Security, of the 550 terrorism cases since 9/11, only 163 individuals have been prosecuted on terrorism charges." The group's Karen Greenburg then asserted: "The conclusion would be that we've made a lot of hoopla about a number of cases on the grounds of terrorism at the beginning, and they haven't panned out to be terrorism cases."

2. GMA's Sawyer Compares Slight Stock Run Up to Pre-1929 Crash
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer made an absurd comparison when she linked the current rising stock markets with the period of time before the historic 1929 market crash. The GMA host, talking to ABC analyst Mellody Hobson, fearfully wondered: "Did you know that the stock market has hit a milestone reminiscent of what happened before the big crash?"

3. Time's Top 100 Includes Staff Puff Pieces on Obama and Hillary
Time magazine's list of "The Most Influential People in the World," or the Time 100, has already earned controversy for implausibly leaving President Bush off the list. But in a magazine stuffed with valentines to important people written by their friends, admirers, and family members, Time's staff writers promoted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as not only influential, but naturally moderate. Karen Tumulty claimed Hillary "has always been a more moderate and pragmatic politician than either her admirers or her detractors believed." Joe Klein praised Obama for "conservative boldness," but he really meant that Obama's tone was cautious and reserved, devoid of red meat, since Klein also noted Obama "swims contentedly in the Democratic Party's mainstream" -- which everyone knows is not conservative.


CBS Uses Dix Case to Contend Terrorist
Arrests Over-Hyped

On Tuesday night, following a week in which the CBS Evening News attracted the fewest viewers in decades, the producers decided the Katie Couric-anchored newscast needed an injection of an Olbermann-esque twist: The arrests of six Islamists, for plotting to use automatic weapons to murder troops at Fort Dix, matches the hype around previous captures which fizzled. Armen Keteyian framed his story around how since 9/11 "more than 400,000 names have come under one form of government surveillance or another -- from watch lists to wiretaps. But only a handful of terrorists have been convicted in cases with concrete ties to al-Qaeda." Keteyian highlighted how cases that "start out as larger, bolder terrorism cases, turn into lesser offenses. According to a study by the NYU Center on Law and Security, of the 550 terrorism cases since 9/11, only 163 individuals have been prosecuted on terrorism charges." The group's Karen Greenburg then asserted: "The conclusion would be that we've made a lot of hoopla about a number of cases on the grounds of terrorism at the beginning, and they haven't panned out to be terrorism cases."

But Keteyian didn't bother to alert viewers to the Center for Law and Security's agenda. Greenberg, the Executive Director featured in a soundbite, is "co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib" and "she is a former Vice President of the Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute," according to her online bio: www.lawandsecurity.org

Amongst the Fellows at the organization: infamous Clinton sycophant and conservative-basher Sidney Blumenthal: www.lawandsecurity.org

And on the Board of Advisers: Dana Priest, the Washington Post reporter who exposed the secret overseas CIA sites to interrogate terrorists: www.lawandsecurity.org

The topic of the group's most recent forum, "The Hidden Roots of War: Christian Zionism and the Neocon Fundamentalist Alliance in America." See: www.lawandsecurity.org

[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Keith Olbermann dutifully echoed the CBS spin, only with more of an edge as he derided the "extensive and entirely credulous coverage" and dismissed the capture: "The FBI has arrested six morons." On Tuesday's Countdown on MSNBC, he charged:
"The flaw, though, in the breathless reporting of the purported terror cell: The Bureau [FBI] infiltrated the six person group after its members took video of themselves, practicing with assault weapons, brought the tape to a photo store and had it transferred to DVD. The details of the supposed plot don't seem to hold together that well either, though that did not stop extensive and entirely credulous coverage on TV, the Internet, in print today. The men supposedly had plans to gain access to the base disguised as pizza delivery guys, then cut the power somehow, then quote, 'hit four, five or six Humveees and light the whole place and retreat without any losses.' And take the tape of yourselves practicing and have it copied at FotoMat. In other words, the FBI has arrested six morons."

Olbermann's dismissal of terrorist arrests as irrelevant -- or as an effort to distract from bad political news for Bush -- is nothing new, as documented in past CyberAlerts. From last August: www.mrc.org

And from October of 2005: www.mrc.org

Couric's plummeting ratings: TVNewser reported Tuesday, "Last week's CBS Evening News viewership was the lowest it has been since at least 1987, which is as far back as Nielsen records date. It's accurate to call it the smallest audience for the Evening News in decades." Only 6,050,000 watched Couric, compared to 8,100,000 who tuned into ABC's World News and 7,490,000 who watched the NBC Nightly News. See: www.mediabistro.com

The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video to provide a transcript of the May 8 CBS Evening News story which followed Bob Orr's lead piece summarizing the case:

Armen Keteyian: "This is Armen Keteyian. It's here in the heart of the National Counter-terrorism Center where the tips are tracked, the seeds of homegrown plots like today's at Fort Dix are hopefully prevented. The founder of the Center is John Brennan."
John Brennan, CBS News terrorism analyst and former Director of the National Counter-terrorism Center: "There are other groups like this that are developing the types of materiel and operational planning that's necessary."
Keteyian: "In the wake of 9/11, more than 400,000 names have come under one form of government surveillance or another -- from watch lists to wiretaps. But only a handful of terrorists have been convicted in cases with concrete ties to al-Qaeda -- most notably, shoe bomber Richard Reid and Iyman Faris, sent here to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge. Instead, in the last six years, the Justice Department has turned its attention to what it calls 'preventative prosecutions,' in part because what often start out as larger, bolder terrorism cases, turn into lesser offenses. According to a study by the NYU Center on Law and Security, of the 550 terrorism cases since 9/11, only 163 individuals have been prosecuted on terrorism charges, 387 were charged with lesser crimes like fraud and immigration violations."
Karen Greenburg, NYU Center on Law and Security: "The conclusion would be that we've made a lot of hoopla about a number of cases on the grounds of terrorism at the beginning, and they haven't panned out to be terrorism cases."
Unidentified man: "This is the model for the post-September 11th era."
Keteyian: "Many form a familiar pattern -- lots of fanfare, supposedly inspired by al-Qaeda, and built around undercover informants -- plots like the Miami Seven accused of eyeing the Sears Tower and federal buildings in Florida, and one man fixated on bombing a suburban shopping mall outside Chicago. It's far too early to tell into which category today's case will fall, but there's little doubt in today's world dangerous words and questionable actions bring a big government response, Katie."

GMA's Sawyer Compares Slight Stock Run
Up to Pre-1929 Crash

On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer made an absurd comparison when she linked the current rising stock markets with the period of time before the historic 1929 market crash. The GMA host, talking to ABC analyst Mellody Hobson, fearfully wondered: "Did you know that the stock market has hit a milestone reminiscent of what happened before the big crash?"

Except, it's not at all reminiscent of the "big crash." From 2000 through 2007, the Dow rose from 10,577 to 13,312. That's an average annual increase of 3.7 percent. In the seven years prior to the 1929 crash, the market spiked from 100 to 381, growing over 40 percent yearly. See: djindexes.com

So, the rate of increase is over 10 times more than the current levels. So, when Sawyer concluded that "1929 was the big crash and this is reminiscent of what happened before that," her comparison isn't just wrong, it's also nonsensical.

[This item, by Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Viewers shouldn't be surprised over the negativity of Diane Sawyer. In April, GMA featured another segment with Ms. Hobson. During their conversation, an ABC graphic fretted, "Will Dow Hit 13,000 Today? Is Unstoppable Market Good or Bad?" See: www.mrc.org

Time's Top 100 Includes Staff Puff Pieces
on Obama and Hillary

Time magazine's list of "The Most Influential People in the World," or the Time 100, has already earned controversy for implausibly leaving President Bush off the list. But in a magazine stuffed with valentines to important people written by their friends, admirers, and family members, Time's staff writers promoted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as not only influential, but naturally moderate. Karen Tumulty claimed Hillary "has always been a more moderate and pragmatic politician than either her admirers or her detractors believed." Joe Klein praised Obama for "conservative boldness," but he really meant that Obama's tone was cautious and reserved, devoid of red meat, since Klein also noted Obama "swims contentedly in the Democratic Party's mainstream" -- which everyone knows is not conservative.

(The May 3 CyberAlert recounted: Time magazine's annual "100 People Who Shape Our World" list, the cover story of the May 14 edition out today (Friday), included Raul Castro among the "Leaders and Revolutionaries," George Clooney in the "Heroes and Pioneers" section, Rosie O'Donnell in the "Artists and Entertainers" list and, at the top of the "Scientists and Thinkers" section, Al Gore whom the magazine touted: "Al Gore understands the science of global warming better than anyone else in the world of politics." James Hansen, a leading global warming fanatic, wrote the piece. But left all the lists making up the 100 most influential: The President of the United States, who still has some influence, as seen just this week in his veto of congressional efforts to set withdrawal deadlines from Iraq. Time, however, put Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the "Leaders and Revolutionaries" list. Go to: www.mrc.org )

Klein's Obama tribute carried the headline: "A young yet audaciously thoughtful U.S. Senator makes his run at history." This gooey article led the "Leaders and Revolutionaries" section. Obama "has attached himself to the notion of audacity....The whoosh of his candidacy, in the polls and in the amount of money raised, has been audacious as well."

Then he started twisting words. "But Obama's is a determinedly conservative boldness. He is a lovely speaker, yet his tone is more conversational than oratorical. He offers little in the way of red-meat rhetoric to his audiences, some of whom are surprised, and disappointed, by his persistent judiciousness. He is solid on the essentials of most issues but daring on none'€"he swims contentedly in the Democratic Party's mainstream, unwilling to lose any potential voters with, well, the audacity of his proposals."

Obama's gamble is "that in a time of rancid partisanship, after six years of a presidency dedicated to bullying its domestic adversaries and international allies, an Obama candidacy will prosper by offering the exact opposite: flagrant, thoughtful consensus seeking. Which is very audacious, indeed."

For Klein's tribute to Obama: www.time.com

[This item, by Tim Graham, was posted Wednesday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Tumulty's Hillary article contains the apparently required (if implausible) Hillary line that "I may be the most famous woman you don't really know." Tumulty's overall tone wasn't nearly as adoring as Klein's (she's not winning the Time primary, at least on paper), but painting her into the center is still dutifully performed:
"As a First Lady and then as a Senator from New York, she has always been a more moderate and pragmatic politician than either her admirers or her detractors believed. Her 2008 campaign strategy is a reverse image of the liberal stereotype, one that has its eye on the November election. But in retooling her image so she can be acceptable to moderate voters in swing states, she risks finding herself at odds with an angry Democratic primary electorate that has not forgiven her vote on Iraq."

For Tumulty's piece: www.time.com

Liberal Republicans were also honored. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was recruited to tout the green credentials of his in-law, Arnold Schwarzenegger: "In an era when Republicans across the nation seem intent on tearing the 'conserve' out of conservatism, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 59, is a national leader for his efforts to restore Teddy Roosevelt's conservation tradition to the GOP...A true fiscal conservative with a deep commitment to California's future, the Governor regards environmental injury as deficit spending'€"loading the cost of this generation's prosperity onto the backs of our children. Schwarzenegger believes that good economic policy, over the long term, is always the same as good environmental policy."

Katie Couric's puff piece on Michael Bloomberg, the RINO Mayor of New York City, suggested she has a taste for liberal government action: "From the ashes of 9/11, Mayor Bloomberg, 65, rebuilt New York City as only a nonpolitician could. He has cut the murder rate, banned smoking and trans fats in restaurants, centralized the public school system, created a coalition of mayors to keep illegal guns off the streets and developed an extensive plan to make the city more environmentally friendly before the end of his term. He recently said he was banning all desserts and sweets. Unfortunately for my diet, he was kidding."

The other American leaders honored (and their authors) were:

-- Condoleezza Rice by Donna Brazile. All positive.

-- John Roberts by Alan Dershowitz: "Rarely in our history has a more qualified lawyer than John Roberts been appointed Chief Justice of the US." Dershowitz explores somewhat neutrally how Roberts will use "standing" to achieve substantive results without looking activist.

-- Nancy Pelosi by Newt Gingrich. Whacked at her Syria trip, but hailed how she earned her job by being "a hardworking, smart, and disciplined professional."

-- Brent Baker