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CyberAlert -- 04/03/2002 -- Jennings' Anti-Israel Skew

Jennings' Anti-Israel Skew; Thomas's Pro-Palestinian Push; Bush Illegitimate to CNN's New Host; West Wing's Latest Liberal Rants

1) Peter Jennings opened World News Tonight by lamenting how "at least a dozen people died...all Palestinians," as "the Israeli campaign in the occupied territories became more aggressive." But in conflict with Jennings' intended implication, they weren't all caused by the Israeli army. As CBS's Dan Rather noted, one was a Palestinian bomber who blew himself up.

2) Peter Jennings stressed how out of the step the U.S. has become, asserting: "It is more or less alone in its support of Israel." He cited protests in nations which have been friendly to Israel. ABC's Martha Raddatz confirmed for him that the U.S. is alone in its defense of Israel as she emphasized how there were anti-Israel protests "all over Europe."

3) Helen Thomas's anti-Israeli views came through loud and clear at Monday's White House press briefing: "Does the President think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?"

4) In recent dispatches Reuters has insisted upon using quotes to describe Israel's efforts to counter a "campaign of terror" and on behalf "rooting out terrorists," but has passed along without quotes how the Palestinians are rising up against "occupation" in "their struggle for independence."

5) CNN's new co-host of Crossfire, Paul Begala, is unable to let go of his partisan grudges, even in a time of war. He demanded to know: "When is the Congress going to stand up to these authoritarian acts from a right-wing unelected President?"

6) Tonight's West Wing will feature another showcasing of a liberal cause, the dangers of shipping nuclear power plant fuel rods across the country. Last week, the program railed against drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) as characters recited a litany of talking points espoused by real-life liberal environmental groups.

7) Letterman's "Top Ten Responsibilities of the National Guard."


1

Peter Jennings opened Tuesday's World News Tonight by lamenting how "at least a dozen people died...all Palestinians," as "the Israeli campaign in the occupied territories became more aggressive." But in conflict with Jennings' intended implication, they weren't all caused by the Israeli army. As CBS's Dan Rather noted, one was a Palestinian bomber who blew himself up.

Jennings, back in New York City after being in the region last week, opened the April 2 broadcast:
"Good evening everyone. As far as we can tell, and it is not easy, at least a dozen people died in the Middle East today as the Israeli campaign in the occupied territories becomes more aggressive. The deaths, we believe, were all Palestinians. Israel has now taken the city of Bethlehem and made it a closed military zone."

But as Dan Rather pointed out from Jerusalem on the CBS Evening News, one at least was hardly a victim of Israel: "...And tonight, yet another Palestinian suicide bomber, the seventh in seven days, blew himself up at an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. This time the bomber killed only himself."

2

Peter Jennings on Tuesday night made sure his viewers realized how out of the step the U.S. has become, asserting: "It is more or less alone in its support of Israel." He ran through protests against Israel around the world, emphasizing protests in nations which have been friendly to Israel. ABC reporter Martha Raddatz confirmed for him that the U.S. is alone in its defense of Israel as she stressed how there were anti-Israel protests "all over Europe."

ABC gave far more time on Tuesday night to protests than did either CBS or NBC. Jennings asserted on the April 2 World News Tonight, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"In the Arab world today there were demonstrations again against the Israeli campaign. In next door Jordan, which is largely Palestinian, thousands of people demanded that the Jordanian government cut its ties with Israel. In Egypt, which has also signed a peace treaty with Israel, a couple of thousand people demonstrated near the Israeli embassy, and the police used tear gas and water cannon to break it up. There were also anti-Israeli demonstrations in Bangladesh and in Turkey, which is quite friendly to Israel. This conflict in the Middle East has now put the United States in a difficult position. It is more or less alone in its support of Israel. ABC's Martha Raddatz is at the State Department. What other country, Martha, besides the United States, is in this position?"
Raddatz replied: "Well, Peter, I can't name a single country that is really supporting Israel in this fight, saying they should pull out those tanks from Ramallah. They're certainly not condoning the suicide bombings, but very strong language about pulling those tanks out of Ramallah and other areas. There were protests not only in Arab states but all over Europe as well."

3

The anti-Israel world view of UPI veteran Helen Thomas, who is now with Hearst Newspapers, came through loud and clear at Monday's White House press briefing. Thomas demanded: "Does the President think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?"

Former MRCer Clay Waters alerted me to the agenda pursued by Thomas at the top of the April 1 briefing with Ari Fleischer.

Thomas posed the first question of the day: "Ari, does the President think that the Palestinians have a right to resist 35 years of brutal military occupation and suppression?"
Fleischer: "Helen, the President believes that a result of a process that has got to focus on peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The President was the first to go to the United Nations and call for a Palestinian state. That remains the President's hope. That remains the President's vision. And, obviously, events in the Middle East have grown very violent. But that is the vision that the President continues to hold out for."
Thomas wouldn't let go: "But he does think they have a legitimate right to fight for their land?"
Fleischer: "Helen, I do not accept the description of the premise of your question, and the manner that you asked it."
Thomas, barely picked up by the microphone, muttered: "Occupation, 35 years."

As Glenn Reynolds suggested on the Instapundit Web site, "Helen Thomas is now reporting for Al Jazeera, or at least that's what her opening 'question' at today's White House press conference suggests." The Instapundit Web page of comments:
http://instapundit.blogspot.com/

4

In recent dispatches Reuters, which refuses to characterize the September 11th attacks as "terrorist," has insisted upon using quote marks to describe Israel's efforts to counter a "campaign of terror" and on behalf "rooting out terrorists," but has passed along without quote marks how the Palestinians are rising up against "occupation" in "their struggle for independence."

In his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/), James Taranto highlighted how Reuters accepts the Palestinian spin as fact while showing skepticism for the Israeli view by putting it in quote marks.

In his Monday column, Taranto cited this graph in a Reuters story: "Israel pledged to leave no stone unturned to halt a 'campaign of terror' against it after a suspected suicide bomber killed at least 12 people in the port city of Haifa Sunday."

Taranto asked: "Why the scare quotes around 'campaign of terror?' It's Reuters being evenhanded again. But can anyone really claim the Palestinian Arabs aren't waging a campaign of terror against Israel? Here's a roundup of the attacks since Friday afternoon:
"-- A bomb at an Arab-managed restaurant killed 14 in Haifa yesterday.
"-- A Palestinian terrorist blew up a coffee shop in Tel Aviv Saturday night, wounding 30.
"-- A member of Arafat's al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade shot and killed an Israeli border guard in Baka al-Garbiyeh Saturday.
"-- A suicide bomber in the West Bank city of Efrat blew himself up outside an emergency room yesterday, injuring four. David Bedein notes that this attack 'was directed against the medical services that Arabs receive from private Jewish funds.'
"-- A Palestinian sniper in Bethlehem killed an Israeli in Jerusalem this afternoon.
"-- A car bomb hit Jerusalem this evening; details are still sketchy."

Taranto then noted how the Reuters story ended:
"The blast occurred as the Israeli army battled Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's security forces outside his West Bank offices and was part of a major surge in violence since a Palestinian uprising against occupation began 18 months ago."

Taranto wondered: "Why no quotation marks around Palestinian uprising against occupation? Reuters, it seems, is evenhanded only when it is at the expense of the Jews."

To read the un-bylined Reuters story cited by Taranto:
http://reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=search&StoryID=758773

On Tuesday, Taranto cited another Reuters story: "Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said the military campaign is aimed at 'rooting out terrorists.' Palestinians say Israel wants to destroy their struggle for independence."

Taranto observed: "Sharon's characterization gets scare quotes; the Palestinians', which is surely no less tendentious, doesn't. If evenhandedness were really Reuters' goal, it wouldn't be so blatant about expressing its bias."

For that April 2 story, from Reuters reporter Said Ayyad in Bethlehem, go to:
http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=764078

5

To Paul Begala, CNN's new co-host of Crossfire, George W. Bush isn't the legitimate President. Even in a time of war Begala is unable to let go of his partisan grudges, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, as Begala demanded to know: "When is the Congress going to stand up to these authoritarian acts from a right-wing unelected President?"

CNN on Monday night debuted its new hour-long version of Crossfire, broadcast live at 7pm EST each night from George Washington University, with Paul Begala and James Carville alternating in the chair on the left and Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak alternately holding down the chair on the right. On Monday night, all four appeared on the show.

With Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle as the guest, Begala went on this rant on the April 1 show: "The problem is not whether Daschle has been too obstructionist, the problem has been the way Bush has run roughshod over the executive branch. He, for example, I'm told, refused to brief you and other leaders from both parties on Capitol Hill about his shadow government. He has refused to allow the Government Accounting Office, a nonpartisan agency, to review the records of the Cheney Energy Task Force. He has refused to allow our Homeland Security Director, whose salary we pay, to come and testify before the Congress that pays his salary on behalf of the American people."
Carlson: "Is there a question here, somewhere?"
Begala: "The question is this, when is the Congress going to stand up to these authoritarian acts from a right-wing unelected President? [audience cheers and applauds] That's the question. You asked [for] a question, Tucker, that was a question."
Carlson: "That was a soliloquy!"
Daschle, chuckling: "Paul, that's a very good question."

6

Another episode of NBC's The West Wing airs tonight at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST, and will feature another showcasing of a liberal cause, the dangers of shipping nuclear power plant fuel rods across the country. Last week, the program railed against drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Reserve (ANWR) as characters recited a litany of talking points espoused by real-life liberal environmental groups.

Martin Sheen, as "President Josiah Bartlet," insisted drilling "will forever damage natural treasures like ANWR." After a staffer expresses skepticism about the damage drilling will cause, the Press Secretary lectures him: "It hurts flesh and blood subsistence hunters in the area, changes migratory patterns in ways we don't even understand, increases freezing depths of rivers and lakes....It will cause pollutant haze and acid raid and all this in exchange for?" The skeptical staffer is now convinced and so responds with the liberal party line: "Not a lot of oil to begin with."The West Wing

That The West Wing advances the liberal cause, to an audience far larger than which watches all of cable news channels combined or any one broadcast network news program, is not lost on liberal activists. Last week, Boston Globe reporter Mark Jurkowitz observed:
"Bartlet -- played by Martin Sheen -- may command the nation's bully pulpit for only one hour a week. But in his third year (or season) as president, the words and deeds that emanate from his Oval Office carry genuine political clout, according to activists who work on the issues that fill West Wing plots.
"For one thing, the show pushes the hot buttons -- from RU_486 to gun control, from global warming to the estate tax. As a committed -- if flinty -- liberal, Bartlet provides an outlet for positions that don't get traction in the real White House these days. And as the ninth-highest-rated show, The West Wing attracts the hearts and minds of an impressive 18 million viewers per week.
"'I don't know anyone who doesn't watch it,' says Scott Stoermer, spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters, who has a 'Jed Bartlet is my president' bumper sticker in his office. An episode about the environment gets people thinking about the subject, he says, 'and to be able to pique someone's curiosity about these issues is an extraordinarily useful tool.'"

To read Jurkowitz's March 27 story in full:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/086/living/Getting_President_Bartlet_s_ear+.shtml

The March 27 West Wing opened with President Bartlet in the Oval Office conducting TV interviews with local affiliates about his upcoming press conference announcement of an energy plan. He tells one local anchor: "Thursday night we're going to talk about energy dependence versus independence, and cleaner burning fuels that get up to 80 miles per gallon versus oil-based fuels that pump billions of gallons of pollution into our air."

After "Communications Director Toby Ziegler," played by Richard Schiff, points out that there is a "12 point kick with ANWR between 'exploring' and 'drilling,'" Bartlet tells another satellite interviewer: "Exploring is what Magellan did and Balboa and Jacques Cousteau. What you're talking about is drilling, which is the only way you know if there's oil there and which will forever damage natural treasures like ANWR."

Later, the President's personal aide, "Charlie Young," played by Dule Hill, expresses doubt about the White House position. He and "Press Secretary C.J. Cregg," played by Allison Janney, have this exchange:
Charlie: "If we want to be energy independent, if we've been relying for too long on foreign oil, what's wrong with drilling in Alaska?"
C.J.: "It will do huge and lasting damage to the environment and will not in the long run reap that much oil."
Charlie: "It will have zero impact on the environment. And how do you know how much oil is down there until you explore?"
C.J.: "Explore?"
Charlie: "Yes."
C.J.: "You mean drill?"
Charlie: "That's how you get where the oil's at."

C.J. asks an aide to put together a briefing packet for Charlie and soon after the two meet up again in a hallway and Charlie reveals he has seen the light:

C.J.: "So as a matter of cold fact, chipper, you'll see that it's the porcupine caribou and ANWR is their calving ground and you can't put a price on that, but that's hardly the point."
Charlie, reading from the folder: "36 species of fish, 36 land mammals, 160 different bird species. I admit, this is a lot of wildlife."
C.J.: "Forget the wildlife. It hurts flesh and blood subsistence hunters in the area, changes migratory patterns in ways we don't even understand, increases freezing depths of rivers and lakes."
Charlie: "And the emissions from drilling."
C.J.: "Welcome home. It will cause pollutant haze and acid raid and all this in exchange for?"
Charlie: "Not a lot of oil to begin with."

Those liberal claims seem to be lifted straight from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Web site. Check these two pages with the arguments against exploring ANWR:
http://www.nrdc.org/land/wilderness/anwr/anwr1.asp
http://www.nrdc.org/land/wilderness/anwr/anwr2.asp

In the past when I've written items about The West Wing I've received feedback about how the show is irrelevant since it's not a news program. Keep in mind that three times more people watch The West Wing than tune into the Today show and The West Wing's liberal advocacy is seen by about 20 to 30 times as many people as are watching a cable news channel on average and about nine times more than watch the highest-rated cable news show, FNC's The O'Reilly Factor.

In another subplot on the March 27 episode, President Bartlet took a shot at West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin's stand-in for George W. Bush: "Governor Robert Ritchie" of Florida, the Republican presidential candidate. After the interview with the fictional Philadelphia station ends, but while still live with the anchor, President Bartlet is asked about Ritchie's book in which he advocates drilling in ANWR. Bartlet replied: "I think we might be talking about a .22 caliber mind in a .357 caliber world."

Tonight, The West Wing takes up another liberal cause, the danger posed by the Bush administration's plan to transport used nuclear power plant fuel rods to a storage site in a Nevada mountain. The description on NBC's Web site for the April 3 episode: "The President's staff reacts to the crash of a heavy rig bearing uranium fuel rods in a remote Idaho tunnel that could pose an environmental -- or terrorist -- crisis...."

Also, an "unwitting Veep ponders how to keep a favorite bill intact that would provide Internet access for the poor."

NBC's page for The West Wing:
http://www.nbc.com/The_West_Wing/index.html

Despite all his political advocacy, a little over a month ago in an interview with the New Yorker, West Wing writer Aaron Sorkin preposterously maintained: "We're a completely fictional, nonpolitical show."

For more about that and his criticism of President Bush, as well as a complete rundown of the show's most obnoxious left-wing preaching over the years:
http://www.mrc.org/news/cyberalert/2002/cyb20020306.asp#4

7

From the March 28 Late Show with David Letterman, as read by members of the National Guard, the "Top Ten Responsibilities of the National Guard." The Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Deploy to wherever American forces are needed, preferably somewhere like Cancun
(Staff Sergeant Catherine Knoebel)

9. Organizing peacekeeping efforts at all Clinton family gatherings
(Staff Sergeant Justin Rubin)

8. When all you lazy people return un-rewound Blockbuster videos, who do you think rewinds them?
(Specialist Raymond Ramirez)

7. We make sure your state doesn't get pushed around by the other states
(Senior Airmen Jennifer Rolon)

6. Keeping a close eye on that CBS talking baby
(Specialist Jennifer Durkin)

5. Reading lame comedy lists on second-rate late-night talk shows
(Specialist David Lee)

4. 24-hour perimeter security around Derek Jeter's locker
(Senior Airmen Laurie Santangelo)

3. We guard the nation...You know, as in "The National Guard"
(Tech Sergeant Todd Lobraico)

2. Looking damn good in uniform
(Specialist Godfrey Leigh)

1. Protecting our greatest national treasure, Oprah
(Sergeant Keith Meyers)

Scheduled to be a guest next Tuesday on the Late Show: Attorney General John Ashcroft. -- Brent Baker


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