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CyberAlert -- 01/25/2002 -- "Blacklist" of Lindh & Arabs?

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"Blacklist" of Lindh & Arabs?; So Much for CNN's Conservative Outreach; Somalian Victims; Thomas Rebuked; ABC News Banned C-SPAN

1) CNN's Keith Olbermann: "Are we in more danger from Americans who have fought with the Taliban...or from people who criticize attorneys for defending them?" Plus: "In the '50s we had a blacklist against many on the left....Are you worried that we might be entering that kind of period of time again in the case of Walker Lindh and...the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, even the ones in American jails of Arab descent?"

2) So much for CNN's outreach to conservatives. After announcing the hiring of Connie Chung on Wednesday, CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson declared: "This puts the last, major piece of the puzzle in place."

3) "There were victims on both sides in what happened there back in 1993," CNN's Aaron Brown declared of Somalia as portrayed in Blackhawk Down. Those watching the film in Somalia, a CNN reporter asserted, see it "as a painful re-enactment of their past."

4) A heartened Tom Brokaw noted: "Spurred on by the Enron scandal, supporters of campaign finance reform legislation in the House gathered enough signatures today to force a vote."

5) President Bush's revelation that his mother-in-law lost money in Enron stock, "served as a convenient device for him to distance himself from the Enron debacle and to appear more empathetic to its investors and employees," New York Times reporter Richard Berke asserted.

6) Countering interjections from Helen Thomas at the White House press briefing, Ari Fleischer properly accused her of arguing "in support of terrorism."

7) Could the CyberAlert-spurred publicity for ABC News President David Westin's reticence to comment on whether the Pentagon was a "legitimate" target, an appearance aired on C-SPAN, be behind the decision of ABC News to bar C-SPAN coverage of remarks by Peter Jennings?

8) With C-SPAN set to air the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001" (see times below), an excerpt from the Washington Times story on it.

9) A hyperbolic ABC News promo: "How safe are your kids on their school bus? Could what happened today happen to them?"


>>> Tomorrow night C-SPAN is scheduled to air the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001." It should air twice on Saturday night, January 26: 8pm EST (7pm CST, 6pm MST, 5pm PST) and again at around 11pm EST (10pm CST, 9pm MST, 8pm PST). The event, which took place on January 17 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, lasts about two hours. To check the C-SPAN schedule for January 26 as it's adjusted, go to:
http://inside.c-spanarchives.org:8080/cspan/fullschedule.csp?timeid=211878804558 <<<

1

Keith Olbermann is back in fine form at CNN, suggesting America faces a "greater danger" from the "backlash" against lawyers for Al Qaeda operatives than from the terrorists themselves and analogizing the attitude toward those being held in Guantanamo Bay to the "blacklist" against the left in the 1950s.

Olbermann, who on MSNBC in 1998 suggested Ken Starr was acting like a "persecutor" and reminded him "facially" of Heinrich Himmler, is filling in this week as host of CNN's The Point aired at 8:30pm EST. Stanley Cohen, Gerry Spence and Robert Shapiro, lawyers who have defended unpopular criminals, were Olbermann's guests in his first segment on Thursday night, January 24.

After Cohen said he would represent John Walker Lindh, Shapiro insisted he would not and Spence explained he only would if he believed he could give his client his best effort, Olbermann presented this convoluted premise to Spence:
"Mr. Spence, let me bring this to the question of representation. There was a column in what we might call a New York newspaper that today trashed the former Attorney General Ramsey Clark for getting involved in that issue of how the detainees in Guantanamo Bay are being treated. Are we in greater danger from the John Walker Lindhs of this world or from the backlash against them and towards those who would serve as their attorneys?"

Olbermann's logic bewildered Spence: "Well, I don't understand quite the question. You're, you ought to, could you give it a little more simple so, simpler so that both this poor country lawyer and your audience could understand what you want me the talk about?"

Olbermann tried again with the same liberal premise about intolerance of lawyers being more dangerous than mass murdering terrorists: "Are we in more danger from Americans who have fought with the Taliban or allegedly have done so, or from people who criticize attorneys for defending them?"

Next, Olbermann delivered a tribute to the "courage" of lawyers who take on unpopular clients: "Mr. Shapiro, based on your own experience in the controversy that surrounded your handling of the O.J. Simpson case and your representation of Mr. Simpson, does it take a courage above and beyond to step into a situation like this where the client has so much stacked against him going in just from the media and from the supposed public perception?"

Returning to his theme of high-profile lawyers as the victims, Olbermann inquired, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Mr. Cohen, I guess same, similar kind of question as I just asked Mr. Shapiro, recalling your time with the Hamas leader, is it going to be personally scary for those who represent John Walker Lindh at this point because of the potential for public vilification of them, let alone him?"

Olbermann soon served up this compact compilation of liberal hysteria: "Mr. Shapiro, in the '50s we had a blacklist against many on the left politically. In the '40s, we had Americans of Japanese descent interned at race tracks in California. In the '20s, we had the Palmer Raids. You can go all the way back to the Alien and Sedition Act in 1800. Are you worried that we might be entering that kind of period of time again in the case of Walker Lindh and the case of the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, even the ones in American jails of Arab descent, at this moment?"

Yes, the United States has been a dangerous place in which to live since 1800. Wonder if it was okay with Olbermann in the 1790s?

In 1999 Olbermann was a finalist in the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" category of the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: The Decade's Most Outrageous Liberal Media Bias," for this question to then-Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau Chief James Warren on the August 18, 1998 Big Show with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC:
"Can Ken Starr ignore the apparent breadth of the sympathetic response to the President's speech? Facially, it finally dawned on me that the person Ken Starr has reminded me of facially all this time was Heinrich Himmler, including the glasses. If he now pursues the President of the United States, who, however flawed his apology was, came out and invoked God, family, his daughter, a political conspiracy and everything but the kitchen sink, would not there be some sort of comparison to a persecutor as opposed to a prosecutor for Mr. Starr?"

To view a RealPlayer clip of that "question," go to:
http://www.mrc.org/news/nq/dishonor1999/dishonor_videos.html#7

CNN's 8:30pm EST The point may soon go away with Connie Chung taking over the entire 8pm hour, but we'll still have to endure Olbermann. CNN has signed him to provide commentary on the 10pm EST/PST NewsNight with Aaron Brown.

2

So much for CNN's outreach to conservatives. The New York Daily News reported on Thursday that after announcing the hiring of Connie Chung on Wednesday, CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson declared: "This puts the last, major piece of the puzzle in place."

Last August Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, had reported: "In an effort to improve his network's image with conservative leaders, new CNN chief Walter Isaacson huddled with House and Senate GOP leaders last week to seek advice on how to attract more right-leaning viewers to the sagging network."

Who would have guessed that Isaacson's strategy to attract conservatives away from FNC and back to CNN would have meant giving prime time hours to Connie Chung and Aaron Brown before and after Larry King while bringing aboard Keith Olbermann, a man best-known at MSNBC for comparing Ken Starr to Heinrich Himmler (see item #1 above), as a fill-in host and commentator?

Eight months after Isaacson's outreach to conservatives the hope of a less liberal CNN has been dashed. CNN's late afternoon and evening line-up is now, if anything, even more liberal.

Starting at 4pm EST, CNN delivers the liberal Judy Woodruff anchoring Inside Politics, followed by an hour of Wolf Blitzer, who may not be all that liberal but certainly is not right of center. After an hour of business news with Lou Dobbs, Blitzer gets another half hour at 7pm EST, followed by Crossfire. CNN's 8pm programming changes by the day, but the liberal Connie Chung will soon take over the slot once held by Clinton-defender Greta Van Susteren. Olbermann now temporarily presides over the 8:30pm half hour. The anti-conservative Larry King holds down the 9pm hour and then at 10pm CNN made a definite shift left late last year with the launch of NewsNight with Aaron Brown. Finishing off the evening, a half hour hosted by Jeff Greenfield, one of the fairest journalists in television, but not one who offers the kind of contrarian programming provided by many FNC shows.

For an excerpt of last August's Roll Call story about Isaacson reaching out to Republicans and conservatives, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010807.asp#4

For a rundown of the liberal reporting record of CNN's latest acquisition, Connie Chung, go to Wednesday's CyberAlert Extra:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020123_extra.asp

3

Speaking of liberalness on CNN's NewsNight, on Tuesday night the show aired a story on how Somalis see the movie Blackhawk Down "as a painful re-enactment of their past" since, anchor Aaron Brown opined, "there were victims on both sides in what happened there back in 1993." Brown anticipated negative viewer reaction: "I can imagine the e-mails now."

U.S. forces did not create any innocent "victims" in their mission to capture a terrorist.

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the January 22 piece on Black Hawk Down being screened in Mogadishu. Brown set it up: "The movie Black Hawk Down is playing to sellout crowds, and not just here in the United States. Somalis in Mogadishu watched it last night, and it was a stark reminder that there were victims on both sides in what happened there back in 1993. In this country, an American audience might sit in silence or look away from the screen some times pretty graphic movie. In Mogadishu, the audience was glued, and in their bitterness, actually found reason to applaud."

From Somalia, reporter Jeff Koinange checked in: "In this country, where the U.S.'s military effort to catch the powerful Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid was opposed, the audience took delight in scenes of American defeat. Each time an American chopper goes down, the audience cheers. Each time an American serviceman is killed, the audience cheers some more."

Koinange concluded his piece: "While Black Hawk Down may prove entertaining to movie audiences worldwide, Somalis here see it as a painful re-enactment of their past, a past that could come back to haunt them coming at a time when they're looking to the outside world for a helping hand."

Brown added afterward: "I can imagine the e-mails now."

Instead of anticipating the angry e-mails from viewers why not just not air slanted stories which will generate such negative viewer reaction?

4

Climbing aboard the Enron scandal-fueled "campaign finance reform" express. On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, without a negative word about its restrictions on free speech and without questioning how it would have had any impact on Enron's fall, anchor Tom Brokaw linked Enron's financial support of legislators to how support is growing for the liberal legislation.

After a story on the first House hearing looking into Enron, Brokaw related: "A reminder as Congress rails against Enron, many of them took campaign contributions from the company, its political action committee and/or its employees. On the House side, 187 members, almost half, have taken more than $603,000 from Enron since 1989. Proportionately, that number is even higher on the Senate side: 71 out of 100 got Enron contributions to the collective tune of more than $530,000. And spurred on by the Enron scandal, supporters of campaign finance reform legislation in the House gathered enough signatures today to force a vote on the issue. A bill, that would among other things ban unregulated soft money contributions, passed the Senate last year, but then it did stall on the House side."

5

President Bush's revelation that his mother-in-law lost money in Enron stock, "served as a convenient device for him to distance himself from the Enron debacle and to appear more empathetic to its investors and employees," New York Times reporter Richard Berke asserted in a January 24 story which the MRC's Liz Swasey saw highlighted in Hotline. But just how calculated was it?

An excerpt from the top of Berke's story:

To listen to President Bush, it was almost as if an epiphany involving his mother-in-law drove him to turn on the Enron Corporation, his most generous political benefactor. In assailing Enron on a trip Tuesday to Belle, W.Va., Mr. Bush said, "My own mother-in-law" lost all of her investment when the company's stock collapsed.

But people close to Mr. Bush said his mother-in-law, Jenna Welch, served as a convenient device for him to distance himself from the Enron debacle and to appear more empathetic to its investors and employees than to the wealthy business executives who escaped the Enron collapse with flush bank accounts.

White House officials insisted that there was no change of emphasis -- or heart -- and noted that Mr. Bush's newly disparaging comments about Enron, and his mother-in-law's experience, came in response to reporters' questions.

"This was definitely not a predetermined strategy shift of any sort," said Dan Bartlett, Mr. Bush's communications director. "It's the same thing he's been saying in private meetings and conversations with staff for the past month."

Yet other advisers to Mr. Bush said the president had recently discussed with Karen P. Hughes, his counselor, and a tight circle of aides, that he needed to move more aggressively -- and in a much more public way -- to distance the White House from Enron and its chief executive, Kenneth L. Lay....

END of Excerpt

Those registered with the New York Times can access the entire article at:
http://www.nytimes.com/2002/01/24/politics/24POLI.html

On Tuesday, January 22 Bush did indeed talk about Jenna Bush's stock loss. But he also talked about it five days earlier with Tom Brokaw in the presidential limousine on Thursday, January 17, an interview for NBC's January 23 special, Inside the Real West Wing.

6

Putting Helen Thomas in her place. At Wednesday's White House press briefing, Washington Times "Inside Politics" columnist Greg Pierce noted, Ari Fleischer countered Thomas's latest outburst of moral equivalence between democratic Israel and terrorists.

Pierce reported:

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas stands accused of arguing "in support of terrorism." Her accuser: Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary. At yesterday's White House press briefing, Mr. Fleischer was answering a question from CNN's Major Garrett about U.S. efforts for peace in the Middle East. Mr. Fleischer was discussing the recent Israeli seizure of a shipload of Palestinian terrorist weapons when Miss Thomas interrupted to ask, "Where do the Israelis get their arms?"

Mr. Fleischer began to answer, "There is a difference, Helen, and that is-"

Miss Thomas interrupted again: "What is the difference?"

Mr. Fleischer said, "The targeting of innocents through the use of terror, which is a common enemy, for Yasser Arafat and for the people of Israel, as well as-"

Miss Thomas: "When people are fighting for their land "

Mr. Fleischer: "I think the killing of innocents is a category entirely different. Justifying killing of innocents for land is an argument in support of terrorism."

END of Excerpt from Pierce's column.

For Pierce's daily "Inside Politics" column, go to:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/inpolitics.htm

7

Could the CyberAlert-spurred publicity for ABC News President David Westin's reticence to comment on whether the Pentagon was a "legitimate" target, an appearance aired on C-SPAN, be behind the decision of ABC News to bar C-SPAN coverage of remarks by Peter Jennings?

As CyberAlert readers should know, I caught Westin's remarks on C-SPAN and put them into a CyberAlert. Within a day that led to an editorial in the New York Post denouncing Westin, big play by the DrudgeReport.com and discussion by Rush Limbaugh -- all followed immediately by Westin apologizing.

On Thursday, Jim Romenesko's MediaNews, online at http://www.poynter.org/medianews, caught this fascinating tidbit in the middle of a column by Chicago Tribune TV reporter Allan Johnson covering several topics. An excerpt from Johnson's January 24 column:

....C-SPAN found itself questioning the freedom of its speech a few weeks ago when it wanted to cover an event in which ABC News' Peter Jennings was a speaker -- only to find itself shut out of the coverage.

Jennings was part of a panel called "Irreverence in an Age of Reverence." He was chatting with Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" during a weekend arts event sponsored by the New York Times. But C-SPAN, which had been invited by the Times to cover the thing weeks in advance, was told on the day of the event that it couldn't, reportedly at the insistence of Jennings.

A spokesman for ABC News says that wasn't the case. Apparently, the news division had been asked for several concessions by the promoters of the event, including local television coverage and other amenities. But when it seemed the discussion was going to go live around the country -- a request ABC News said it received less than 24 hours before the event was to take place -- the news organization said it decided brakes needed to be applied.

C-SPAN's blackout wasn't Jennings' decision, according to ABC News spokesman Jeffrey Schneider. "We're not at all reluctant to have Peter Jennings on television," he says. "He couldn't be more on television, I don't think, than he already is."

Added Jennings in a release: "I'm a big fan of C-SPAN, but I had no idea they were even considering covering" the event. City University of New York will air the taped event in the future....

END of excerpt

The entire column is online at:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-0201240011jan24.story?
coll=chi%2Dleisuretempo%2Dhed

I'll buy Jennings' claim that he did not personally bar C-SPAN. But someone high up at ABC News, maybe even Westin himself, obviously did. And I can't help but think that their experience with Westin, when his comments to a class at Columbia University aired by C-SPAN blew up on them after CyberAlert transcribed some of what he said, led them to shut out C-SPAN.

So much for openness at ABC News.

For the Westin quote and reaction to it, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011031_extra.asp

For an excerpt of Fred Barnes' Weekly Standard piece recounting the CyberAlert discovery and reaction to it, the article in which he dubbed me the "scourge of liberal bias," go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011127.asp#4

8

With C-SPAN set to air the MRC's "Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2001" (see times at top of this e-mail), I thought I'd squeeze in an excerpt from a newspaper article about the January 17 event.

From the January 21 Washington Times, a story by Christian Toto:

....Dan Rather, Bryant Gumbel and Diane Sawyer headed the list of those taking their lumps during an evening as unabashedly partisan to the right as its guests contend the media is to the left.

With names like the "Bring Back Bubba Award" and the "Gilligan Award for Flakiest Comment of the Year," organizers pulled no punches. Neither did those assembled, who threw haymaker after haymaker at the media elite while giggling over a skein of ludicrous news clips....

Literary agent Lucianne Goldberg, the self-appointed Auntie Mame of the "vast right-wing conspiracy," slammed White House reporter Helen Thomas for a fawning tribute to former President Bill Clinton.

"There's such a thing as a shelf life," Mrs. Goldberg said of the elderly reporter to merciless laughter.

At a boisterous pre-gala reception, Media Research Center President and Founder L. Brent Bozell III said the public's perception of media bias has grown dramatically since his organization began its work in 1987.

"You can look at all the surveys. The public believes the information it's getting is subjective opinion, not objective truth," said Mr. Bozell, sipping coffee beside friends opting for harder beverages. "They're seeing the bias. They're looking for alternative markets, hence the growth of Fox News."

The conservative confab included master of ceremonies Cal Thomas, William F. Buckley Jr., former Rep. Robert K. Dornan, "Capital Gang" panelist Kate O'Beirne and the Wall Street Journal's John Fund.

Mr. Fund underscored the evening's message while announcing the nominees for several Dishonor Awards.

"There is no vast right-wing conspiracy," he said. "But there is a concentrated, focused and alert one, and it's in this room tonight."...

Some in the audience had felt the sting of the media's left-leaning ways.

Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris could only laugh about the times CBS anchor Dan Rather used modifiers like "as she sees it" or "as she deems it" to explain her handling of the Florida election imbroglio.

When she came to Washington she reported, "Even some of the Democrat operatives came to me and said 'we're really glad you followed the law."

Mr. Buckley, who sat at a table named for ABC News anchor Peter Jennings, said the media's liberal bias is nothing new. What's different today, he said, is that the imbalance is more visible to the average voter.

Now, he said, "More people wince when they do their thing."

END of Excerpt

To read the entire story:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/entertainment/20020121-88186991.htm

For the text of the story above, as well as two other newspaper pieces about the roast, go to the Dishonor Awards page and click on "press coverage": http://www.mrc.org/news/nq/dishonor2002/dishonor2002a.html

9

Panicked over-hype. Prompted by the story of a Pennsylvania school bus driver who drove his load of students to a suburb of Washington, DC, a promo run on Thursday's World News Tonight, over forbidding music and scattered images of school buses:
"How safe are your kids on their school bus? Could what happened today happen to them? What you must know before they get on board. A Good Morning America for every parent. Tomorrow."

A great example of how the media distort risks in order to generate ratings. -- Brent Baker


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