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CyberAlert -- 04/05/2002 -- Peter's Pro-Palestinian Spin

Peter's Pro-Palestinian Spin; And His Palestinian Friend; Gumbel Prodded Arabs to Attack Israel; Moyers Rant; FNC's Liberal Bias?

1) ABC News on Thursday night adopted the spin preferred by Palestinian terrorists as Peter Jennings portrayed Israel's anti-terrorist military operation as an "assault against the Palestinians," as if all Palestinians were targeted, and moments later Dean Reynolds relayed the hope that Colin Powell's visit will allow the "liberation" of Yasser Arafat.

2) Media Reality Check. "Deploring Terror-Fighters, Not Terrorists: Criticism for Bush Administration and Israeli Anti-Terror Effort, Sympathy for Palestinians & Arafat." Bryant Gumbel pushed for a wider war to punish Israel: "Why have Arab states done so little in response to Israeli military operations in Palestinian territories," Gumbel demanded of the Secretary General of the Arab League, complaining: "You talk of unified action and you talk of all the rage and yet we see no action from the Arab states. Why not?"

3) Peter Jennings has a long record of hostility toward Israel and favorable treatment of the injustices claimed by Palestinians to rationalize terrorist attacks. Back in the 1970s Jennings had a relationship with a woman long-affiliated with the PLO, Hanan Ashrawi, now an official of the Palestinian Authority.

4) Despite evidence that environmental groups were consulted by the Bush administration, last Friday night Bill Moyers served as a mouthpiece for the agenda of left-wing environmentalists. Moyers showcased "the efforts...to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the administration's energy task force," which "seemed to be paying extra attention to the interests of industry."

5) Liberal bias on the Fox News Channel? On Tuesday night, Fox Report anchor Shephard Smith labeled only one side, referring to "a brawl breaking out between right-wing pro-Israeli activists and pro-Palestinian protesters."


Correction: The April 4 CyberAlert incorrectly listed the CNN show on which Paul Begala asserted: "When the right-wing FBI spy, Robert Hanssen came up, the Clinton administration prosecuted him successfully by guaranteeing his rights. Walker Lindh was not allowed to see his attorney." Begala made his remark Tuesday night on Crossfire, which he now co-hosts, not on Inside Politics.

Clarification: An April 4 CyberAlert item, about how MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is eager to give terrorist murder mastermind Osama bin Laden a forum from which to pontificate ("Personally, absolutely I would like to interview Osama bin Laden....I'd be fascinated by anything Osama bin Laden would have to say"), concluded that her attitude suggests she's a "journalist first, an American second." As some e-mailers reminded me, Banfield is Canadian.
Indeed, on the February 19 Late Show, referring to CBS Orchestra leader Paul Shaffer of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Banfield revealed how she uses her Canadian citizenship to her advantage in separating herself from the United States: "People right away assume that all of us are American because we work for an American TV crew, but I am Canadian, just like Paul, and so I'm very quick to point that out and I tend to get a warmer reception by some." For more: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020220.asp#4

1

ABC News on Thursday night adopted the spin preferred by Palestinian terrorists as Peter Jennings portrayed Israel's military operation aimed at rooting out the terrorist infrastructure as an "assault against the Palestinians," as if all Palestinians were targeted, and moments later Dean Reynolds relayed the hope that Colin Powell's visit will allow the "liberation" of Yasser Arafat.

Jennings teased at the top of his April 4 broadcast: "On World News Tonight: Under pressure. President Bush steps into the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. The Secretary of State will go there. In the region, the Israelis continue their assault against the Palestinians."

Imagine Jennings referring to U.S. operations in Afghanistan as the American "assault against the Afghans."

From Israel, Dean Reynolds concluded a subsequent story by espousing the loaded "liberation" term: "Many Palestinians are hoping the Powell visit will mark the liberation of Yasser Arafat and his Palestinian Authority. As one of them put it, 'there's a big difference between meeting Powell in your office and meeting him in your prison cell.'"

Next, Jennings emphasized over video of protesters: "Just to make the point, by the way, there's no one single opinion on either side. In Tel Aviv today, police fought with demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy. Several hundred Israelis, both Jews and Palestinian Arabs, or Israeli Arabs rather, were protesting U.S. support for Israel's military campaign in the occupied territories."

At least in Israel more than one single viewpoint is allowed since protesting is permitted. Jennings' Palestinian friends don't countenance any dissent in land they control. "Collaborators" are murdered and hung up on the street for display without any of the due process niceties guaranteed to Arabs who are Israeli citizens.

2

The text of a Media Reality Check put together by the MRC's Rich Noyes and distributed by fax on Thursday afternoon titled, "Deploring Terror-Fighters, Not Terrorists: Criticism for Bush Administration and Israeli Anti-Terror Effort, Sympathy for Palestinians & Arafat."

To view it in the format seen by fax recipients, access the Adobe Acrobat PDF posted by the MRC's Mez Djouadi: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/pdf/fax0404.pdf

The text of the April 4 Media Reality Check:

Bryant Gumbel announced Thursday that he will quit as co-host of CBS's ratings-challenged Early Show, but even as he began packing up his stuff, Gumbel displayed, yet again, the agenda-driven questioning style that's made him a poster boy for bias. This morning, he seemed to push for a wider Middle East war to punish Israel for fighting terrorism. "Why have Arab states done so little in response to Israeli military operations in Palestinian territories," Gumbel asked the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. "You talk of unified action and you talk of all the rage and yet we see no action from the Arab states. Why not?"

"What we need is not to go back to war-footing, what we need is to go forward on peace-footing," Moussa replied, looking more moderate than Gumbel, who did not ask whether the Arab League would ask terrorists like Arafat's Al Aqsa brigades to stop sending suicide bombers into Israeli civilian areas. And, the departing CBS host is hardly unique. Since the Israeli military campaign began, the broadcast networks, especially ABC, have shown increasing sympathy for the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat, while castigating both Israel and an allegedly neglectful Bush administration.

On Thursday, for example, Good Morning America's Charles Gibson explained the procedures followed at border crossings through the eyes of hassled Palestinians, not insecure Israelis: "Only foot traffic can pass, Palestinians who work in Jerusalem, opening their coats, raising their shirts, showing no explosives are strapped to their bodies. They're made to wait in pens before being checked one at a time. It takes at least an hour, they say, to pass through....Even at the checkpoints where Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can pass back and forth from their homes to their jobs, the waits are a humiliation, they say." The pictures showed that the "pens," as Gibson called them, weren't little cages, but rather muddy waiting areas surrounded by low barricades. And he neglected to report that a terrorist bomb killed an Israeli police officer at one of these "humiliating" checkpoints on Tuesday.

Friday, the day Israeli tanks seized Arafat's compound after a Hamas terrorist attacked a Passover dinner, killing more than two dozen civilians, ABC World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings zeroed in on the U.S. government: "Almost everywhere you turn this weekend, inside the Middle East and out, you hear people criticizing the Bush administration for not doing more to end the violence."

Two days later, ABC reporter Terry Moran editorialized on This Week: "His administration's response to this latest upsurge in violence has been hesitant, confused and contradictory. Mr. Bush himself has remained mostly aloof from day-to-day management of the crisis, unwilling to risk his personal political capital in such an uncertain endeavor." The next morning, April 1, Gibson relayed how one Palestinian "felt it was criminal -- criminal was the word used -- that the White House and President Bush have not involved themselves more to try to defuse what is such a high-tension situation here."

But that hasn't been the worst spin job. On March 27, ABC's Jennings visited Beirut, and offered a positive portrait of an anti-American terrorist group: "It is Hezbollah, which means the party of God, that gets credit for liberating Lebanon from the long Israeli occupation....Its 38-year-old leader, Hassan Nasrallah, [is] a popular member of the political establishment. The Bush administration says Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. 'Hezbollah was proud to resist the Israeli occupation,' [Nasrallah] says. 'We gave our lives. We are not terrorists,'" Jennings translated.

Later, at the site of America's former embassy, the ABC anchor recounted its destruction: "In 1983 a man simply drove his truck to the front door and blew himself up. Sixty-three people died. Later that year, the Marine barracks here were destroyed in much the same way, 241 Marines died." Actually, Hezbollah terrorists committed those murderous acts, not a random "man" with a truck, and Jennings knows it. Who does he think he's helping when he spins the truth to make the terrorists look like the good guys?

END Reprint of Media Reality Check

For more on Jennings failing to link Hezbollah to the terrorist killings of Americans:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020329.asp#1

For more on the Moran and Gibson reporting:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020402.asp#1

3

As reflected in how item #2 above documented how ABC's Peter Jennings refused to connect Hezbollah to the terrorist mass murder of Americans, Jennings has a long record of hostility toward Israel and favorable treatment of the injustices claimed by Palestinians to rationalize terrorist attacks.

A few CyberAlert readers have e-mailed to remind me that a possible explanation of Jennings' view lies in the fact that he not only lived in Beirut for several years during the 1970s, but also had a relationship with a woman long-affiliated with the PLO, Hanan Ashrawi, now an official of the Palestinian Authority. Normally, CyberAlert does not delve into the personal lives of journalists or assume that personal connections influence reporting, but given Ashrawi's high-profile role as a spokeswoman for a cause which Jennings regularly covers, I think it's relevant. Shortly after September 11th, he even interviewed her on the air.

Jennings' anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian skew was fully displayed back in early December. The December 4 and 5 CyberAlerts featured these three articles:

-- Israel was the victim of an attack by a terrorist group. But Peter Jennings wanted to know if the Bush administration wished to "restrain the Israelis?" Jennings also referred to Hamas simply as an "organization." http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011204.asp#1

-- In reporting on President Bush's decision Tuesday to freeze the assets of a Texas group, charging that it funnels money to Hamas, CBS, CNN, FNC and NBC directly or indirectly described Hamas as a "terrorist" operation. But not ABC's Peter Jennings.
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011205.asp#1

-- For the second night after terrorist attacks which killed Israelis, ABC's Peter Jennings painted Israel as the violent aggressors. He saw "an explosion of violence in the Middle East" with "Palestinians dead and wounded" because "Israelis have been on the attack again." But CBS's Dan Rather cited "Israel's latest answer to a wave of Palestinian terror attacks."
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011205.asp#2

The MRC's Rich Noyes tracked down how in a "Washington Whispers" item in the December 30, 1991/January 6, 1992 edition of U.S. News & World Report, Charles Fenyvesi informed readers:
"In the early 1970s, when he was single and head of the ABC bureau in Beirut, Peter Jennings dated Hanan Ashrawi, who at the time was also single and a graduate student in literature at the American University in the Lebanese capital. Jennings was introduced to Ashrawi's parents and sisters and became part of her circle of friends. Now, as anchorman for the ABC World News, Jennings, who later married author Kati Marton, analyzes briefings by Ashrawi on behalf of the Palestinian delegation to the Mideast peace talks. Says Jennings: 'Anyone who has known Hanan as long as I have is not surprised to see her emerge as a persuasive spokesperson for the Palestinians.'"

In a September 18, 1994 Washington Post review of a book by Barbara Victor, Hanan Ashrawi and Peace, Robin Wright relayed:
"Victor, a journalist and novelist, offers bits of color about the best-known woman in the Middle East. Ashrawi was the youngest of five daughters of a politically active physician. She still lives in the family's West Bank house with her husband, a U.N. photographer, and two daughters. Her pink shower curtain sports a map of Palestine. While an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut, where she was a leader of the General Union of Palestinian Students, she dated Peter Jennings, then a Mideast correspondent. Her weakness is chocolates, her only exercise is putting out the cigarettes she chain-smokes, and she's short-tempered."

4

Bill Moyers put his liberal polemical points ahead of any digging for what really occurred as he served as a mouthpiece last Friday night for the agenda of left-wing environmentalists trying to discredit the Bush administration's energy policy because Bush officials consulted with industry representatives.

The MRC's Brian Boyd noticed that the tirade on the March 29 edition of PBS's Now with Bill Moyers occurred after the Washington Times had uncovered how environmental groups, specifically the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) which Moyers allowed to rail against "special favors for special interests," did have meetings with Bush officials early on in the policy development process.

Washington Times reporter Patrice Hill disclosed in a March 28 story: "The NRDC yesterday conceded that the department obtained its recommendations and weighed them in drafting its energy plan. And the NRDC revealed it had three more previously undisclosed meetings with top energy task-force officials last year while the energy plan was being drafted. Two of those meetings were early in the drafting process, throwing into question the latest charge by environmentalists that they were left out until the very end."

Despite that, as detailed in the March 27 CyberAlert, CBS Evening News Wyatt Andrews charged that "at least 36 times Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham met representatives of the energy industry to discuss the policy, compared to zero meetings with environmental groups." Noting how many of the documents were "censored," Andrews relayed that "environmentalists call this a coverup" and then tried to suggest some kind of illegal behavior as he asked an NRDC official: "Do you think the amount of blackout breaks the law?" On CNN's NewsNight, after reporter Kelly Wallace featured the NRDC's complaints about being shut out, Connie Chung interviewed Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank. Her first question: "Tell me, do these documents confirm the worse suspicions of influence peddling?"

Neither show has yet clarified its skewed reporting.

For on the CBS and CNN reporting and an excerpt of the Washington Times story:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020329.asp#2

On his March 29 show, Moyers ominously updated his viewers:
"Now something new on a story we first reported on a few weeks ago: The efforts in Washington to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the administration's energy task force, that group headed by Vice President Cheney, seemed to be paying extra attention to the interests of industry. Here's our update: It's been a week of extraordinary revelations about who wrote the Bush administration's energy policy. Under a threat of court order, the Energy Department has now released eleven thousand pages of secret documents revealing how the energy industry used its influence to get what the big corporations wanted. Lobbyists for the oil industry, for example, wrote a presidential executive order that President Bush then issued practically verbatim granting the oil companies' wishes. The secret documents also reveal that over a five-month period last year, as the energy policy was being drafted, officials from energy companies were granted unparalleled access. Enron, American Coal, Texaco, ExxonMobil. In all, 109 industry executives, trade association leaders and lobbyists, met privately with Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham. Abraham met with no environmental or consumer groups."
Sharon Buccino, Senior Attorney for the NRDC: "The people who got in to see them are directly, are one in the same the people who contributed to the campaign and helped put the people in those decision making positions."
Moyers: "Sharon Buccino is senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. It was a lawsuit by NRDC that forced the Energy Department to release the secret documents."
Buccino: "One reason why the Bush administration has resisted providing this information that we've requested is, I think they have to be afraid that it's going to expose the Bush Energy Plan for what it is and that's special favors for special interest."
Moyers: "The Bush Energy Plan would provide the oil and gas industries alone with $21 Billion in tax subsidies and give the automotive industry a seven-year holiday from new fuel efficiency standards. As a whole the energy industry was among the biggest contributors to the Bush/Cheney campaign and to many members of Congress during the last election year."...

Another hour of PBS's Friday night liberal rant-fest, Now with Bill Moyers, airs tonight on most PBS stations at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST.

5

Liberal bias on the Fox News Channel? On Tuesday night, MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed, Fox Report anchor Shephard Smith labeled one side "right-wing," but failed to tag the other as "left-wing."

On the April 2 edition of the 7pm EST newscast, Smith relayed this short item: "France. The Mideast conflict spilling over into Orley airport in Paris. A brawl breaking out between right-wing pro-Israeli activists and pro-Palestinian protesters."

CyberAlert is just being fair and balanced in where we document liberal bias. -- Brent Baker


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