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CyberAlert -- 04/12/2002 -- Congressman James Traficant (?-OH)

Congressman James Traficant (?-OH); Saudi Aid to Suicide Bombers Skipped; Terrorist and Victim Equated; MSNBC Imitating FNC?

1) Following his conviction on multiple corruption counts, anchors on ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN on Thursday night all identified Congressman James Traficant as a Democrat. But not NBC's Tom Brokaw or MSNBC's Brian Williams.

2) Saudi Arabia makes payments to the families of suicide murderers, FNC's Brit Hume reported on Thursday in picking up on a UPI story. But while highlighting a Saudi telethon "to raise money for Palestinians in the occupied territories who the Saudis are referring to as 'martyrs,'" ABC's Peter Jennings failed to make clear how the money goes to the families of killers.

3) To ABC's Claire Shipman, a victim and a suicide murderer were "both excellent students with a passion for writing and pop music." Shipman saw equally valid "missions" for each: "Both girls were intent on their missions: one, searching for spices and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for an answer to her rage." Shipman also blamed Ariel Sharon, claiming that "many believe" he "sparked the current crisis with a controversial visit to a disputed holy site," while she described Yasser Arafat as "the charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland."

4) Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers and ABC's Terry Moran tag teamed Ari Fleischer at Thursday afternoon's White House press briefing, demanding to know how President Bush could possibly believe Ariel Sharon is "a man of peace." FNC's Jim Angle noted how Fleischer took on the media's slant as he "sought to broaden the media's focus from what Israel is doing to the demands Mr. Bush made of the Arabs and Palestinians as well."

5) MSNBC trying to glom onto FNC's patriotism? On Thursday the least-watch cable news channel started calling itself "America's NewsChannel" as the NBC peacock part of its logo was changed to display a flag motif. And a promo conveyed a view suspiciously similar to how Brit Hume ends his show.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten Reasons John Ashcroft Would Not Sing on Our Show." And the lyrics to Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar."


1

U.S. Representative James Traficant (?-OH). Following his conviction on multiple corruption counts, anchors on ABC, CBS, FNC and CNN on Thursday night all identified Traficant as a Democrat. But not NBC. Nor MSNBC, which now calls itself "America's NewsChannel."

In his 17-second item, Tom Brokaw managed to twice inform viewers that Traficant is from Ohio, but not his party affiliation. Brokaw announced on the April 11 NBC Nightly News:
"Back here, in Ohio tonight, the verdict is guilty on all counts for long-time Congressman James Traficant of Ohio. A federal jury has convicted him of bribery and racketeering. Traficant served as his own lawyer at trial and he could get up to 60 years in prison when he's sentenced in June."

A bit later on "America's NewsChannel," MSNBC, Brian Williams also failed to identify Traficant's party. Williams, however, found time to note Traficant's hair and clothing style, relaying on The News with Brian Williams:
"You know him from his bird's nest haircuts and leisure suits and brown shirts. James Traficant of Ohio, the firebrand of the House. Thought he could defend himself at his own trial even though he's not a lawyer. That was a mistake. He got nicked today, convicted of racketeering, bribery and fraud. He's looking at a possible 63 years in a federal joint, probably will do less time as a matter of fact."

2

In addition to Iraq, Saudi Arabia makes payments to the families of suicide murderers, FNC's Brit Hume reported on Thursday as he noted that the Saudis held a television fundraiser for the cause. But while highlighting the very same telethon ABC's Peter Jennings failed to acknowledge the terrorist destination of some of the money.

Picking up on a UPI story, on FNC's April 11 Special Report with Brit Hume the anchor of the same name related:
"Speaking of the Saudis, they're now joining Iraq in sending payments to the families of what they're calling martyrs, those killed in the Palestinian uprising. UPI says that what's called the 'Saudi Committee for the Support of the Al Aqsa Intifada' is giving $5,333 to the families of the dead as well as $4,000 to each Palestinian receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia.
"Saudi official television and radio stations held an 11-hour telethon today with the royal family contributing nearly $5 million. The Saudi embassy in Washington said that to that fund, the term 'martyr' does not refer to suicide bombers but to quote, 'Palestinians who are victimized by Israeli terror and violence.' But Ibrahim Hooper of the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations says the families of suicide bombers are getting money and that they're just as needy as those killed by military attacks."

Stephen Schwartz had reported in an article in the April 8 edition of The Weekly Standard: "The kingdom pledged $400 million last year for the support of 'martyrs' families,' according to the Saudi Embassy's Web site. At $5,300 per 'martyr,' that works out to about 75,000 martyrs, suggesting the Saudi princes anticipate a lot more suicide bombings than Israel has yet suffered."

For Schwartz's piece in full:
http://theweeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/001/072kqska.asp

On Wednesday, James Taranto's "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com (www.opinionjournal.com/best), caught the UPI story which Hume cited. An excerpt from the April 9 UPI story, "Saudi Arabia sets aside $50M for 'martyrs'," by Pamela Hess:

The Saudi Arabian government has paid out at least $33 million to families of Palestinians killed or injured in the 17-month-old intifada and in December 2001 earmarked another $50 million for the payments, according to Arabic news agencies and the Saudi Embassy's Web site.

Similar payments promised by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein have drawn sharp condemnation from U.S. President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

The Saudi Committee for Support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada distributes payments of $5,333 to the families of the dead and $4,000 to each Palestinian receiving medical treatment in Saudi hospitals. The fund is managed by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz, according to the embassy.

The sum is far less than the $10,000 Iraq offers to the families of those killed and the $25,000 it gives to the kin of suicide bombers, but is nonetheless significant to the average Palestinian whose annual income is $1,575....

END of Excerpt

For the entire UPI story:
http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=09042002-050314-4015r

Despite all of this, Peter Jennings skipped over the troublesome details on Thursday night about how the money goes to those killed and may very well go to the families of killers. Over video of the telethon, on the April 11 World News Tonight he stated, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Just one other note from the Middle East this evening, you saw from Dean Reynolds' report how much damage there is in the West Bank. In Saudi Arabia today there was a nationwide telethon to raise money for Palestinians in the occupied territories who the Saudis are referring to as 'martyrs.' The Saudi royal family has donated several million dollars, and it is one of many fund-raising campaigns currently under way in the Arab world."

3

A murderer and her victim put on the same moral plane by ABC's Claire Shipman. On Thursday's Good Morning America, Shipman treated as equally valid the "missions" of a victim of a suicide murderer and the perpetrator: "Both girls were intent on their missions: one, searching for spices and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for an answer to her rage." Shipman stressed their similarity: "The girls were alike in many ways, both excellent students with a passion for writing and pop music."

Oh, and one also had a passion to murder a lot of other people.

On Thursday night Shipman, newly arrived in Jerusalem, filed a story for World News Tonight which treated Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat as two similar "warriors" even though only one is acting in defense of a democratic government. She blamed Sharon, saying that "many believe" he "sparked the current crisis with a controversial visit to a disputed holy site," while as she described Arafat as "the charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland."

Shipman began her April 11 World News Tonight piece: "The 72-year-old revolutionary and the 73-year-old general. Today in many ways they embody this conflict. The two men who have fought each other for decades locked in a contest of wills. Ariel Sharon:"
Ariel Sharon: "We have to survive here. For us, it's a war of survival."
Shipman: "The tough career military man turned politician who has been defying the U.S. at every turn and who many believe sparked the current crisis with a controversial visit to a disputed holy site. Yasser Arafat, who says the Palestinian flag will be raised over Jerusalem. The charismatic crusader for a Palestinian homeland has rejected what many thought was the best peace deal he could get, and he's failed to stop the terror..."

Walking by a holy site didn't kill anyone. Arafat's suicide murderers did and continue to do so.

Earlier, Good Morning America co-host Robin Roberts set up Shipman's April 11 dispatch: "If we were getting numb to the violence in the Middle East, all it took was two young girls -- so alike on the outside, but so different inside -- to bring home the human cost of war."

Shipman checked in, as transcribed by MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, with ellipses where matching soundbites occurred:
"This grainy image is the last her family saw of Ayat, a terrorist's videotaped suicide note recorded just before she set off for this Jerusalem grocery store. 'She left the house in the morning to go to school,' remembers her mother. 'We had no idea.' Here she would fatefully collide in the doorway with another 17-year-old, Rachel....Both girls were intent on their missions: one, searching for spices and fish for a Sabbath dinner; the other, looking for an answer to her rage.
"When Ayat Al-Akhras pushed the button on the explosives belt strapped to her waist, she stunned the world with the depths of a teenage Palestinian girl's murderous despair....The mothers, now forever linked by fate and grief and unanswered questions, live just four miles apart....Of course, grief is complicated for the family of a girl many here consider a martyr. [Clip of men cheering in the streets] This was the neighborhood reaction when word got out, but Ayat's status as a hero brings her mother little comfort....The girls were alike in many ways, both excellent students with a passion for writing and pop music, but Rachel tried to ignore the political conflict; Ayat, in this refugee camp, lived in the middle of it. Angered when her brother was wounded by Israeli soldiers a few years ago, friends say she was distraught when she saw a neighbor shot to death by troops this March, and she complained passionately about a lack of help from Arab nations. She was an obvious recruit for a new terrorist group that encourages female bombers. Her family, stunned, expected her to get married and go to college in the fall. Instead, Ayat chose to become the third Palestinian woman ever to turn herself into a deadly weapon.
"Ayat and Rachel have become twin symbols of the brutal toll of this conflict and have transfixed young people here, especially the women....[To Rachel's mother] Palestinians say it's hard for other people to understand the humiliation and anger that they feel."
Abigail Levy, Rachel's mother: "I used to feel sorry for them. Believe me, I used to feel sorry for them."
Shipman: "Ayat's mother was indirect about what she would say to Mrs. Levy. 'If I knew she was planning to do that,' she says, 'I would have prevented her, but this tragic reality makes girls here think that way. We are killed every day.'
Shipman to Rachel's mother: "What would you say to the mother of Ayat?"
Levy: "That she has to take of her kids, you know, watch them and watch what they're doing, and that we don't have any hate for her. That she killed an innocent girl, and whatever they say, it's not true, because most of us want to live in peace with them."
Shipman concluded: "What really struck us about this story is the loss of hope. It's a quality normally so abundant in the young, and of course it was an extreme loss of hope that drove Ayat, but so many of the teenagers here are feeling a loss of optimism, and especially a powerlessness. Robin."
Roberts: "Claire, I know that was a difficult story, but thank you very much for bringing that to us. We appreciate it, and you take care."

A lot more "difficult" for the victims of Palestinian terrorism than the perpetrators whose "rage" Shipman tried to rationalize.

4

Helen Thomas of Hearst Newspapers and ABC's Terry Moran tag teamed Ari Fleischer at Thursday afternoon's White House press briefing, demanding to know how President Bush could possibly consider Ariel Sharon to be "a man of peace," the MRC's Ken Shepherd observed.

Thomas seemed flummoxed by the concept: "Ari, will you go on the public record and stand by a statement you made earlier this morning which was that Sharon is a man of peace which some Israelis might not even agree with. Do you stand by that, that he's a man of peace considering his record?"

Moran soon asked: "To follow up on the statement that the President believes Ariel Sharon is a peacemaker. Given that Sharon has long been on record saying that he's against the Oslo Accords, that as Minister of Housing in several governments he is on the record saying that one of the purposes of building settlements in the West Bank is to render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state there, and given that he's twice in his career been reprimanded by Israeli authorities for atrocities committed by forces under his de facto control against Palestinians, on what evidence does the President believe that Ariel Sharon is a man of peace?"

Well, as the Prime Minister of a democracy he's acting in its self-defense. He's not sending suicide murderers to kill Palestinian civilians and any Palestinians who were killed have only their leadership to blame. Yasser Arafat won a Nobel Peace Prize and yet he's responsible for a lot more deaths than Sharon.

Thursday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, reporter Jim Angle noted how Fleischer took on the media's anti-Israel slant: "The White House also sought to broaden the media's focus from what Israel is doing to the demands Mr. Bush made of the Arabs and Palestinians as well."
Fleischer: "The Palestinian Authority has responsibilities they have not yet taken. The Arab nations in the region have responsibilities that the President has called for, which he is still looking for results. And so again, I remind you, it is not only one nation. It is all of them."

5

File this under "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." Or, "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

On Thursday, though it is the least-watched of the three cable news channel, MSNBC seemed to try to match FNC's patriotic flavor by starting to call itself "America's NewsChannel" with the NBC peacock part of its logo now displaying a U.S. flag motif.

A promo I saw on Thursday night featured this white lettering over a blurry flag in the background with the word "fear" in red:

"WE NEED NOT FEAR THE EXPRESSION OF IDEAS --
WE DO NEED TO FEAR THEIR SUPPRESSION.
-- Harry S. Truman"

Sounds suspiciously like Brit Hume's closing line every night: "Fair, balanced and unafraid."

And before anyone e-mails me, I realize there should not be a period after the S in Harry S. Truman, but that is what MSNBC displayed.

6

From the April 10 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Reasons John Ashcroft Would Not Sing on Our Show." Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

(Letterman had hoped Ashcroft would sing "Let the Eagle Soar," a song he wrote. CNN last month showed Ashcroft singing it, a clip of which Letterman has been regularly playing. Instead, on the April 9 Late Show Ashcroft joined Paul Shafer and the orchestra where Ashcroft played piano for a rendition of the Beatles song, "Can't Buy Me Love." Brit Hume ended his FNC show Wednesday night by playing a clip of that and I believe CNN's Inside Politics also showed it.)

The "Top Ten Reasons John Ashcroft Would Not Sing on Our Show."

10. Pre-show partying with Mayor Bloomberg left him in no condition to perform
9. He insisted on singing shirtless
8. Depressed there were only a dozen screaming teenage girls at the stage door
7. Refused to do "Let The Eagle Soar" unless we paid for hair and makeup for the eagle
6. Needs to rest voice for upcoming Ashcroftpalooza tour
5. Too busy tapping my phones
4. Been depressed ever since his eagle stopped soaring, if you know what I mean
3. For some reason he thought we'd make fun of him
2. The vibe wasn't right, man
1. Blah, blah, upholding the dignity of the office, blah, blah

On Tuesday, Michael Z. McIntee, author of the daily Wahoo Gazette report on the Late Show Web site, posted the lyrics to the song Ashcroft ended up not singing:

"Let the eagle soar,
Like she's never soared before.
From rocky coast to golden shore,
Let the mighty eagle soar.
Soar with healing in her wings,
As the land beneath her sings:
'Only god, no other kings.'
This country's far too young to die.
We've still got a lot of climbing to do,
And we can make it if we try.
Built by toils and struggles
God has led us through."

If he had sung it a lot of viewers probably would have missed the religious message and considered it a tribute to protecting the environment. -- Brent Baker


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