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Couric Touts Opposition to Funding Surge, Not Split on Resolution --2/13/2007


1. Couric Touts Opposition to Funding Surge, Not Split on Resolution
A new CBS News poll, released Monday night, determined that Americans are almost exactly evenly split on whether Congress should "pass a non-binding resolution against sending additional troops to Iraq" with 44 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. But in highlighting how the Senate on Tuesday "will begin a three-day debate on a non-binding, symbolic resolution stating its disapproval of President Bush's Iraq troop build-up," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric ignored that finding of an evenly-divided nation. Instead, she focused on how "a total of 53 percent say Congress ought to block funding for additional troops or for the war entirely." In offering up that number, which combined two answers, she obscured the poll question's real news: A piddling 8 percent wish to "block all funding" for the war in Iraq. As an on-screen graphic showed, to get to 53 percent Couric and CBS producers combined the 8 percent with the 45 percent who want to "block funding for more troops" -- a percent only slightly higher than, and within the three-point margin of error, the 42 percent who want to "allow all funding."

2. Cafferty Draws Moral Equivalence Between Iran and United States
During the Monday edition of CNN's Situation Room, Jack Cafferty discussed U.S. allegations that Iraqi militants are killing American soldiers with weapons provided by Iran. At the conclusion of the "Cafferty File" segment, the CNN host engaged in the always reliable media tradition of moral equivalence, comparing Iran's action to U.S. support of Afghan rebels in the 1980s. Apparently, the fact that America was opposing the brutal Russian regime, whereas, in this case, Iran is the oppressive entity, makes no difference. Cafferty asserted: "Reminiscent, Wolf, of the war in Afghanistan, when Russia invaded. It seems to me we were, the United States was supplying weapons and intelligence and things like that to the Afghan rebels." Blitzer then recalled: "The Mujahideen, a lot. Through the CIA, through the Saudis, Those shoulder-fired missiles which brought down a lot of Soviet helicopters." Cafferty saw no difference with what the U.S. did: "So, that was okay but it's not okay if Iran -- I'm, I'm confused, Wolf." AUDIO&VIDEO See & Hear the Bias - Audio & Video Clip Archive

3. Sawyer Paints Dictatorial Syria as a Pro-Family Welfare Paradise
Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer last Thursday finished her trip to Syria by interviewing women of that country and portraying the brutal dictatorship as a pro-family paradise. Included in this group of females was the top woman in Syrian President Bashar Assad's cabinet. Rather then ask her about the country's repression of human rights, Parade Magazine on Sunday ranked Assad the world's tenth worst dictator, Sawyer chose to highlight the country's low pregnancy rate and how "they say we have so many opportunities, yet they'd give us something from Syria, safety on the streets, family to help with children, and the government helping too."

4. Kudos to ABC's Tapper: Shows Hillary Clinton's Flip-Flop on Iraq
In Monday stories on World News and Nightline, ABC's Jake Tapper broached a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Senator Hillary Clinton's current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002. In the World News version of his story, Tapper pointed out how "a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:" Viewers then heard Clinton on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security." But, Tapper noted, "Now, she says this:" He ran a clip of her in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."


Couric Touts Opposition to Funding Surge,
Not Split on Resolution

A new CBS News poll, released Monday night, determined that Americans are almost exactly evenly split on whether Congress should "pass a non-binding resolution against sending additional troops to Iraq" with 44 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. But in highlighting how the Senate on Tuesday "will begin a three-day debate on a non-binding, symbolic resolution stating its disapproval of President Bush's Iraq troop build-up," CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric ignored that finding of an evenly-divided nation. Instead, she focused on how "a total of 53 percent say Congress ought to block funding for additional troops or for the war entirely."

In offering up that number, which combined two answers, she obscured the poll question's real news: A piddling 8 percent wish to "block all funding" for the war in Iraq. As an on-screen graphic showed, to get to 53 percent Couric and CBS producers combined the 8 percent with the 45 percent who want to "block funding for more troops" -- a percent only slightly higher than, and within the three-point margin of error, the 42 percent who want to "allow all funding." CBS's graphic did not include the 42 percent result.

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

Couric read this short item on the February 12 CBS Evening News: "Tomorrow the House will begin a three-day debate on a non-binding, symbolic resolution stating its disapproval of President Bush's Iraq troop build up. But our new CBS News poll shows a majority of Americans wants Congress to go even further. A total of 53 percent say Congress ought to block funding for additional troops or for the war entirely."

The PDF of the CBS News poll, conducted February 8-11, reported:

The war in Iraq continues to take a toll on opinions of the President, but when it comes to what Congress ought to do about the war in Iraq, the public remains divided, much as it was last month. A slight majority thinks Congress ought to either block funding for more troops or block funding for the war entirely.

WHAT SHOULD CONGRESS DO ABOUT FUNDING FOR WAR?

Block all funding: 8%

Block funding for more troops: 45

Allow all funding: 42

77% of Democrats want Congress to block funding for additional troops or for the war entirely, while 69% of Republicans think Congress should allow all funding for the war.

44% would like to see Congress pass a non-binding resolution against sending additional troops to Iraq. Nearly the same percentage -- 45% -- oppose the resolution.

These views are highly correlated with partisanship. 57% of Democrats think Congress should pass a non-binding resolution against sending more troops to Iraq, while 65% of Republicans think they should not do so. Independents are divided.

END of Excerpt

For the CBSNews.com-posted poll rundown, a PDF: www.cbsnews.com

Cafferty Draws Moral Equivalence Between
Iran and United States

During the Monday edition of CNN's Situation Room, Jack Cafferty discussed U.S. allegations that Iraqi militants are killing American soldiers with weapons provided by Iran. At the conclusion of the "Cafferty File" segment, the CNN host engaged in the always reliable media tradition of moral equivalence, comparing Iran's action to U.S. support of Afghan rebels in the 1980s. Apparently, the fact that America was opposing the brutal Russian regime, whereas, in this case, Iran is the oppressive entity, makes no difference.


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More See & Hear the Bias

Cafferty asserted: "Reminiscent, Wolf, of the war in Afghanistan, when Russia invaded. It seems to me we were, the United States was supplying weapons and intelligence and things like that to the Afghan rebels." Blitzer then recalled: "The Mujahideen, a lot. Through the CIA, through the Saudis, Those shoulder-fired missiles which brought down a lot of Soviet helicopters." Cafferty saw no difference with what the U.S. did: "So, that was okay but it's not okay if Iran -- I'm, I'm confused, Wolf."

[This item is adopted from a posting by Scott Whitlock, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org
A transcript of the February 12 segment, which aired at 4:08pm EST:

Jack Cafferty: "A war of words, Wolf, heating up between the United States and Iran. U.S. officials yesterday showing off what they call a growing body of evidence that Iranian weapons are being used to kill coalition soldiers in Iraq. They say that Iran is making the violence worse there by providing Shiite groups with technology, money, and training. The officials are focused on something called EFPs or explosively formed penetrators that can punch through heavily armored vehicles. The U.S. says these weapons can be traced back to Iran and have killed 170 coalition forces. An Iranian official calls the U.S. allegations all lies saying the administration has made mistakes in Iraq and they want to use Iran as a scapegoat. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also denied that his country is supplying weapons to Iraqi militants. He said there will only be peace in Iraq when foreign forces leave there.
"So here is the question: 'When it comes to Iran's alleged involvement in Iraq, who do you believe?' E-mail your thoughts to Caffertyfile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/Caffertyfile. Reminiscent, Wolf, of the war in Afghanistan, when Russia invaded. It seems to me we were, the United States was supplying weapons and intelligence and things like that to the Afghan rebels."
Wolf Blitzer: "The Mujahideen, a lot. Through the CIA, through the Saudis, Those shoulder-fired missiles which brought down a lot of Soviet helicopters."
Cafferty: "So, that was okay but it's not okay if Iran -- I'm, I'm confused, Wolf."
Wolf Blitzer: "Well, you know, later we will talk to Michael Ware about the timing, why the U.S. is releasing all this information right now since it's been out there at least for a year, maybe two."
Cafferty: "And Iran, arguably, is probably not the only country with vested interest in what's going on going inside Iraq. All of the nations around in immediate area, including Saudi Arabia, have a very vested interest in the outcome of what is happening in that country."
Blitzer: "A lot of people do. All right, Jack. Thanks very much."

Sawyer Paints Dictatorial Syria as a
Pro-Family Welfare Paradise

Good Morning America's Diane Sawyer last Thursday finished her trip to Syria by interviewing women of that country and portraying the brutal dictatorship as a pro-family paradise. Included in this group of females was the top woman in Syrian President Bashar Assad's cabinet. Rather then ask her about the country's repression of human rights, Parade Magazine on Sunday ranked Assad the world's tenth worst dictator, Sawyer chose to highlight the country's low pregnancy rate and how "they say we have so many opportunities, yet they'd give us something from Syria, safety on the streets, family to help with children, and the government helping too."

The February 11 Parade cover story: www.parade.com

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

During the February 8 segment, the veteran ABC journalist repeatedly found America lacking in comparison to what seems to be a socialist paradise. Sawyer began by asking the collected group of Syrian females about their opinion of American women:

Diane Sawyer: "What do they think of American women? They say we have so many opportunities, yet they'd give us something from Syria, safety on the streets, family to help with children, and the government helping too."
Bouthaina Shaaban, top ranking female in President's cabinet: "They could be a lot better, family and professionally-wise in making family life in balance with the profession. I feel the U.S., as a very rich and strong country, could have offered a lot more for working women."
Dana Dbbous, violinist, Syrian Natl. Symphony Orchestra: "I think relationships here are much better, like family-wise. The children stays (sic) at their parents' home 'til they get married. So this is really a very, very different point, like, it's not like in the United States."
Shaaban: "We have a, a very cheap and much better kindergarten and nursery. I put my children in nursery since they were two-month old, and that's how I was able to keep my career and have a family. It's much easier for me to, to be a career woman with a family in Syria than it is in the U.S."
Sawyer: "What about marriage? These women say family influences your choice, but if there's someone you love, there's always a way."
Shaaban: "I think, Diane, if you want to find someone who love somebody in Syria and wasn't able to marry him because of family pressure, you wouldn't find any. There are always ways. You - you talk to your uncle and to your aunt and to grandmother and the father, and the uncle interferes. You know, I loved an Iraqi, you know, I came from Britain. I loved him in Britain. And I came here and managed to marry him."

Would it be too much for Sawyer, in the midst of all the America bashing, to point out that while Syria may have a fine kindergarten system, women of that country, according to Human Rights Watch, "have little means for redress against sexual abuse or domestic violence"? See: hrw.org

The Good Morning America anchor quickly shifted into a discussion of talking up Syria's pro-family atmosphere, including a low pregnancy rate. She also encouraged the women to take American television to task for its excessive display of sex:

Sawyer: "Too much talk about sex on American television?"
Dbbous: "I don't think so, basically."
Shaaban: "Too much talk about sex?"
Dbbous: "No."
Amal Mouradi, homemaker and translator: "In a way."
Shaaban: "Yes, I think so. Yes, I think so. And I think it, it has to be done properly and to be put in perspective."
Sawyer: "Contrast that to Syria, they say, where there's far less teen pregnancy, possibly because a young man knows he's facing not just her but the whole family. Is it that Syrian men are more respectful?"
Shaaban: "Yeah. Yeah."
Sawyer: "They don't try anything?"
Dbbous: "Not that they don't. They do, but I mean, they respect the -- the ladies and everything because they know it might bring some problems."
Sawyer: "With the families?"
Dbbous: "With the family."
Sawyer: "I can hear right now American parents saying what is the secret of these families that you don't have teenager rebellion?"
Dbbous: "No."
Sawyer: "You don't have teenagers storming off and saying, 'I never want to see you again?'"
Khair: "No. And let me tell you, no. I'll tell you something. Rebellion is something every generation goes through. It all depends on the level of rebellion. It could be expressed in so many different ways. It could be, I mean, there are levels of rebellion."

Sawyer closed the interview by telling her GMA colleagues just how much these women prefer Syrian family values to that of America's: "Again, I can't stress enough how they kept saying, 'We, we look at your culture and you don't, you can't keep the family together just geographically.' And it makes such a difference that everyone lives at home. Men and women into their 20's, until they get married. So the family stays intact. And, again, you've got to answer to the whole family, I say, for whatever you do out on the town."
Robin Roberts: "What did you take away from being around these women?"
Sawyer: "Well, you know, they are remarkable. And I do take from them the -- First of all, they know everything about us. Everything. They see American television. There was a Paris Hilton picture on the cover of the Syrian newspaper when I was there. We know virtually nothing about them."
Sam Champion: "Nothing. And that, when I was watching your interviews, your things that you are bringing us, I'm sitting here thinking, we're so surrounded by American culture. We forget everyone's dealing with the same issues, keeping the family together, is there too much sex, conversation, how do you educate? We're all dealing with the same things. Your interviews point that out."

Sawyer's right in one sense. Thanks to her report, Good Morning America viewers learned "virtually nothing" about Syrian oppression of women. Human Rights Watch's 2006 report summed it up this way:
"Discrimination against Women: Syria's constitution guarantees gender equality, and many women are active in public life, but personal status laws as well as the penal code contain provisions that discriminate against women and girls. The penal code allows a judge to suspend punishment for a rapist if the rapist chooses to marry his victim, and provides leniency for so-called 'honor' crimes, such as assault or killing of women and girls by male relatives for alleged sexual misconduct. Wives require the permission of their husbands to travel abroad, and divorce laws remain discriminatory." See: hrw.org

So, while Sawyer chose to laud Syrian family values and safe streets, she didn't seem interested in the honor killings and leniency for rapists.

Kudos to ABC's Tapper: Shows Hillary
Clinton's Flip-Flop on Iraq

In Monday stories on World News and Nightline, ABC's Jake Tapper broached a subject few, if any, mainstream journalists have dared: How Senator Hillary Clinton's current claims that her 2002 vote on the Iraq resolution was not an endorsement of war do not match what she said in 2002. In the World News version of his story, Tapper pointed out how "a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:" Viewers then heard Clinton on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security." But, Tapper noted, "Now, she says this:" He ran a clip of her in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."

Tapper also recounted an incendiary comment from Senator Barack Obama, a remark not mentioned on Monday's CBS Evening News or NBC Nightly News:
"Obama, new to presidential politics, stumbled, saying troops killed in Iraq died in vain."
Obama, at an event in Ames, Iowa: "Over three thousand lives of the bravest young Americans wasted."
Tapper: "He later expressed regret for that remark."

Tapper's February 11 World News story looked at how Clinton and Obama are handling the Iraq war issue and attacks on their positions. After a clip of anti-war protesters interrupting Obama at a Chicago speech, Tapper pointed out Clinton's contradiction:
Tapper: "Senator Hillary Clinton, too, faced tough questions about Iraq during her first campaign visit to New Hampshire. After all, a month before her vote on the Iraq War, she said this:"
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), on the September 15, 2002 Meet the Press: "I can support the President. I can support an action against Saddam Hussein because I think it's in the long-term interests of our national security."
Tapper: "Now, she says this:"
Clinton in Berlin, New Hampshire on Saturday: "I gave him authority to send inspectors back in to determine the truth, and I said this is not a vote to authorize preemptive war."
Man in audience: "I want to know if right here, right now, you can say that that war authorization vote was a mistake?"
Clinton: "I have taken responsibility for my vote. The mistakes were made by this President."

-- Brent Baker