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CyberAlert -- 04/19/2002 -- Credence to "Massacre" Claims

Credence to "Massacre" Claims; CNN's Brown Scolded Ashcroft; This Week with George Stephanopoulos; From CyberAlert Readers: "Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving The Early Show."

1) Despite the lack of evidence of any massacre, CBS's Mark Phillips highlighted claims of atrocities by Israeli soldiers as he relayed how Jenin "residents say noncombatant civilians were trapped in the buildings as they collapsed. They put the death toll in the hundreds and call it a massacre."

2) CNN's Aaron Brown scolded John Ashcroft for opposing Oregon's assisted suicide law: "Why would a conservative administration, a conservative Attorney General, tell the people of a state how to run their lives this way? Conservatives believe in less government intrusion." Brown argued: "In this case, the conservative position sounds awfully liberal to me, a judgment that Washington knows what's best for the people in Oregon."

3) Coming soon, according to TV Guide and USA Today: This Week with George Stephanopoulos. But having as the solo host a liberal political operative isn't what concerned USA Today's Peter Johnson. He was most upset that Stephanopoulos is male: "If Stephanopoulos is tapped, every Sunday public affairs show on network and cable will once again be hosted by white men, reinforcing what many women have complained about for years: Power in this country rests with white men."

4) The probable new news anchor on Good Morning America: Robin Roberts. Last year at the opening of Bill Clinton's Harlem office, she maintained that there are two Bill Clintons, "the one who loves glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place." And she raved: "Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy."

5) From the Late Show's "Top Ten Contest" page, the winning submissions for the "Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving The Early Show." Plus, the best entries suggested by CyberAlert readers.


Corrections: The April 18 CyberAlert stated: "A 1990 MRC study of the Washington Post, New York Times, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News found that during 1988-89 Concerned Women for America was tagged conservative 41 percent of the time, but the National Organization for Women was called liberal just 2 percent of the time. Now that's a real disparity." That was actually a 1989 study and it covered 1987-88. To read the entire study, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/news/mediawatch/1989/mw19890301stud.html
The same item also initially misidentified Geoffrey Nunberg's first name as Gary.

1

Though only 23 Palestinian bodies have been recovered from the Jenin refuge camp, the same number as Israeli soldiers killed in the battle there, the CBS Evening News on Thursday night gave credibility to the unsupported contention of a massacre committed by the Israelis.

While reporter Mark Phillips opened his piece with Israeli denials and how they suffered 23 deaths, he relayed as equally as believable: "The residents say noncombatant civilians were trapped in the buildings as they collapsed. They put the death toll in the hundreds and call it a massacre." He didn't relate any agonizing anecdotes from the Israeli point of view, but did illustrate Palestinian suffering by passing along their claims of mistreatment. After giving legitimacy to one side over the other, Phillips concluded by suggesting the truth is really irrelevant: "Did a wholesale massacre take place here? In terms of the hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, it almost doesn't matter. Perceptions are what count, and Jenin has already become another reason for mistrust, hatred, and revenge."

Dan Rather set up the April 18 story as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "In the Middle East this day, Israel's army commander said his forces will complete their pullback from the West Bank town of Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp by tomorrow morning. Israel says its troops did their best to minimize civilian casualties there during the worst fighting of the nearly three-week operation, but as CBS's Mark Phillips reports, one United Nations official calls Jenin, quote, 'a sad and disgraceful chapter in Israel's history.'"

Mark Phillips began: "The miserable refugee camp at Jenin was never a pretty sight. As the Israelis pulled out, the residents have begun to emerge to see what's left of it. Not much. The Israelis say the fiercest resistance to their incursion was put up here by Palestinian gunmen who had booby trapped buildings and taken up sniper positions, that 23 Israeli soldiers were killed here. Their response was to flatten the center of the camp with bulldozers and tank fire. It looks like an earthquake hit it."

After showing a man pointing to his destroyed house, Phillips continued: "The residents say noncombatant civilians were trapped in the buildings as they collapsed. They put the death toll in the hundreds and call it a massacre."

A man claimed many were buried in the rubble before Phillips picked up: "But how many people might have been buried here is impossible to know until the heavy lifting equipment clears the rubble. Judging by the stench of decaying flesh hanging over Jenin, there are some. And the survivors here are now facing other threats."
Woman: "No electric lights, no food, no water, no medicine!"
Phillips: "For how long?"
Woman: "All of this week. Do you see it? Do you feel with us?"
Phillips: "So far, 23 bodies have been recovered from the ruins. They've been buried in temporary makeshift graves. In the local hospital, the medical staff say there is plenty of evidence of civilian casualties and of indiscriminate firing. A woman shot in the leg along with her seven-year-old daughter...Another woman shot while trying to get to the hospital to have her baby. She somehow made it. Another child literally born into this conflict. Did a wholesale massacre take place here? In terms of the hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, it almost doesn't matter. Perceptions are what count, and Jenin has already become another reason for mistrust, hatred, and revenge. Mark Phillips, CBS News, Jenin."

No mention, naturally, of how Palestinian authorities have deliberately kept their people in the refuge camps in order to maximize their suffering and thus anger at Israel.

In his "Best of the Web" column for OpinionJournal.com on Thursday (www.opinionjournal.com/best), James Taranto pointed out the dangers posed the terrorists who hid behind civilians:
"No doubt a substantial number of Arabs died in the battle of Jenin; there is, after all, a war on. And when you're dealing with an enemy whose chief tactic is terrorism, it's hard to distinguish between soldiers and civilians."

Taranto then cited this excerpt from a Jerusalem Post story:
"The soldiers operated slowly and cautiously, he said, moving from house to house. 'We covered 600 meters in three days due to the intense gun battles,' [Hagai Tal, an Israeli soldier who is also a Post employee] said. 'In one of the buildings we entered we found two women and children who were screaming and yelling. We offered them sweets and then placed them in one of the rooms in accordance with regulations.
"One of the women told us there was no one else in the house, but when we told them to remain in the room she called out to her husband that soldiers were inside and told him to run away. They began shooting at us -- soldiers in a house opposite opened fire and killed them,' said Tal."

For the entire story: http://www.jpost.com/Editions/2002/04/18/News/News.47164.html

2

John Ashcroft is very "liberal" to CNN's Aaron Brown who opened Wednesday's NewsNight by scolding the Attorney General for violating conservative principles by appealing to a federal judge to interfere with local control by overturning Oregon's assisted suicide law.

Brown asked: "Why would a conservative administration, a conservative Attorney General, tell the people of a state how to run their lives this way? Conservatives believe in less government intrusion." Brown argued: "In this case, the conservative position sounds awfully liberal to me, a judgment that Washington knows what's best for the people in Oregon."

Libertarian conservatives support assisted suicide laws while more traditional conservatives oppose them and not all liberals are in favor of them, so Brown's liberal bias is not so much in opposing Ashcroft's action, but in how he chose this as the topic on which to complain about the federal government interfering with a state's decision. The federal government does that all the time and yet I don't recall Brown, or any other media liberals, complaining about it on such issues as school testing mandates, clean water rules, controls on the use of land, tying road funds to lowering the blood alcohol limit for drivers, etc.

Brown opened the April 17 NewsNight, MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed, with this "Page Two" lecture:

"Good evening again. I'm Aaron Brown. For the first time in a couple of weeks, this page is not about the Middle East. It could have been. There is still plenty to say and a lot happened or didn't happen that's newsworthy today, and we'll spend plenty of time in the Middle East tonight.
"But tonight the page is about confusion. Mine. In Oregon today, as we'll report in some detail later, a federal judge ruled the Justice Department, the Attorney General of the United States, cannot stop doctors in that state from helping the terminally ill die if that's what they choose.
"Twice, voters in Oregon have approved assisted suicide laws. There have been fierce and fascinating campaigns about the wisdom of this, and if asked to vote on it, I honestly don't know what I would do.
"But that's not my confusion. This is: Why would a conservative administration, a conservative attorney general, tell the people of a state how to run their lives this way? Conservatives believe in less government intrusion. I believe that. Conservatives believe that the more decisions made outside of Washington, D.C., the better. But in this case, the conservative position sounds awfully liberal to me, a judgment that Washington knows what's best for the people in Oregon, and that's confusing. Oregon may have been right or may not have been, but no one is being forced by the Oregon law to do anything.
"Doctors aren't forced to prescribe the drugs. No terminally ill patient is forced to take them. Attorney General Ashcroft would not be happy to be called a liberal, but his decision to attack the decision made by the voters of Oregon, whether you like that decision or not, sounds awfully liberal to me."

The fact that Aaron Brown delivered this lecture makes him sound awfully liberal to me.

3

Coming soon: This Week with George Stephanopoulos. As noted on Monday's CyberAlert, on Sunday Stephanopoulos served as the solo host of ABC's This Week. Articles in TV Guide and USA Today late this week confirmed that it was indeed a try-out and that ABC executives were pleased with what they saw.

But having as the solo host a liberal political operative who could very well end up interviewing former political colleagues and officials he fought to keep out of office isn't what concerned USA Today's Peter Johnson. No, he was most upset that Stephanopoulos is male: "If Stephanopoulos is tapped, every Sunday public affairs show on network and cable will once again be hosted by white men, reinforcing what many women have complained about for years: Power in this country rests with white men."

I trust Johnson will soon be resigning so a woman can have his job since 100 percent of the TV reviewers and reporters at nationally-distributed general interest newspapers are white men.

An excerpt from the April 18 TV Guide story by J. Max Robins:

....According to ABC News insiders, a solo Stephanopoulos outing on the April 14 This Week was purposely engineered: Donaldson was out of town, and ABC News executives told Roberts to stay home, a decision viewed inside the news division as a trial run.

Speculation about a shake-up at This Week has been afoot for almost two years, as the show has slipped further in the ratings behind NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Changes appeared imminent last March, after a report in USA Today speculated that Stephanopoulos -- a top aide to President Clinton before joining ABC News in 1996 -- might be paired with ABC News senior national correspondent Claire Shipman on This Week. On the heels of that report, the 58-year-old Roberts announced she would leave the show come November.

Meanwhile, the 68-year-old Donaldson made statements in the press that indicated he also knew his days co-hosting This Week were numbered, and he's been actively seeking to expand the reach of his ABC Radio talk show....

END of excerpt

For the complete story: http://www.tvguide.com/magazine/robins/020415.asp

Indeed, since last fall Donaldson has been hosting a two-hour long daily radio talk show. I believe it's done live from 10am to noon ET. In the Washington, DC area you can hear it tape-delayed weeknights at midnight on WMAL.

An excerpt from Peter Johnson's April 18 USA Today story:

George Stephanopoulos' big tryout was this past Sunday. And by all accounts, it went just fine....

But coupled with the fact that Stephanopoulos is planning to sell his New York apartment and has been spotted talking to real estate agents in Washington, D.C., it's no wonder insiders at ABC News are predicting that the former Clinton White House aide will become anchor of This Week in the fall....

If Stephanopoulos is tapped, every Sunday public affairs show on network and cable will once again be hosted by white men, reinforcing what many women have complained about for years: Power in this country rests with white men.

60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl once hosted CBS' Face the Nation, but currently Tim Russert hosts NBC's Meet the Press; Bob Schieffer hosts Face; Tony Snow hosts Fox News Sunday; and Wolf Blitzer hosts CNN's Late Edition....

Donaldson, 68, who has been trying to pump up his ABC radio show and ABC Webcast, has indicated he is resigned to changes on the show. He has been off at his ranch in New Mexico.

With him away, ABC News executives -- knowing they had a chance to test-drive Stephanopoulos alone -- took the unprecedented step of asking Roberts to take the day off. Word is she didn't like that....

Producers had a rehearsal with Stephanopoulos on Saturday. One of the first things Stephanopoulos did was invite conservative commentator Bill Kristol to be a guest on Sunday. ABC fired Kristol from the This Week roundtable in 1999.

Insiders say it's unlikely that Kristol will be asked to return because executives want to stick with resident conservative George Will....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full: http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20020418/4038450s.htm

4

George Stephanopoulos may not be the only liberal ABC News will promote to a more prominent role. In addition to his report about Stephanopoulos taking over This Week cited in item #3 above, TV Guide's J. Max Robins revealed that Robin Roberts is "close to signing a deal that would make her GMA's news anchor."

CyberAlert readers best know Roberts for how she covered the opening last July of Bill Clinton's Harlem office. As recounted in the July 31, 2001 CyberAlert, Roberts maintained that there are two Bill Clintons, "the one who loves glamour, the one who wants to make the world a better place." Later, she raved: "Today, by public relations design, he becomes an honorary homeboy."

The host of GMA that day who interviewed his former White House colleague, Joe Lockhart, about the celebration: George Stephanopoulos. For details about his easy questions and Roberts' gushing, check: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010731.asp#2

Robins reported in the April 18 TV Guide:
"Cokie Roberts may be cutting back at ABC News, but Robin Roberts is expected to expand her role at the network. Since last year, Roberts has been a contributor to Good Morning America, and now, according to industry sources, she's close to signing a deal that would make her GMA's news anchor. The 41-year-old ESPN veteran (ESPN and ABC share the Walt Disney Company as a corporate parent) would replace Antonio Mora, who left GMA last January to anchor at the CBS-owned WBBM in Chicago."

And she soon could be co-hosting the morning show. Robins speculated: "News division executives were impressed with her performance when she sat in for GMA co-host Charlie Gibson last March. They decided she was the best available choice for the newsreader slot, a move that places Roberts on a shortlist of possible successors to GMA co-host Diane Sawyer."

5

From the Late Show's "Top Ten Contest" page, the list posted April 15 based on Web submissions from the previous week, for the "Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving The Early Show." Plus, the best entries suggested by CyberAlert readers but not picked by the Late Show staff.

The winners as selected by the Late Show:

10. No more fighting Greg for the "Gumbel" parking spot
(Kenton A., El Paso, TX)

9. Wants to spend more free time making obscene gestures in front of Today show window
(Tim W., Fremont, OH)

8. Wants to get choice place in line for Star Wars: Episode II
(Tony S.., Alameda, CA)

7. So he can spend more "quality time" with himself
(Chris S., Ravena, NY)

6. Three words: "Good Morning, Tuscaloosa"
(John W., Fresno, CA)

5. Oprah's book club is gone, what's the point of continuing?
(Lane W., Knoxville, TN)

4. Work schedule interferes with watching Good Morning, America
(Mark G., Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

3. Starting work on his upcoming CBS smash comedy, "Baby Bryant"
(Jason J., Cincinnati, OH)

2. Heard Letterman was staying at CBS
(Dan P., Los Angeles, CA)

1. Doesn't feel "Gumbel-riffic" anymore
(Darin R., Halifax, NS)

The Late Show posts a new Top Ten topic each week for which you can contribute entries:
http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/top_ten/contest/

About a dozen CyberAlert readers sent me their suggested entries for "the Top Ten Reasons Bryant Gumbel is Leaving the Early Show." Some were ingenious and demonstrated that those CyberAlert readers could have a career in comedy writing. Others, frankly, were not quite as good. Several submitters displayed an impressive knowledge of Late Show attitude and verbiage. Here's my selection of the best ones:

> From Jim Stewart, probably not the CBS News reporter of the same name:

-- Running out of smirks
-- Secretly hoping that Fox News Channel will hire him
-- Wants to be W's new press secretary
-- Two words: sleep in
-- Tired of getting his ass kicked by GMA

> From Derrick Tanner, whose familiarity with "psychic sandwich" shows he's a Late Show viewer, a whole list:

10. Early Show staffers took none of his memos seriously.
9. Needed some R & R at one of those cool undisclosed locations.
8. Too many groggy mornings from staying up to watch "Psychic Sandwich."
7. Will go play golf with O.J. to help find the real killer.
6. May pack on forty pounds and get a weather gig with Good Morning America.
5. Must do some serious soul-searching upon deciding that his tax-cut "is like, the coolest idea ever."
4. Must devote more time to his upcoming book, "I Got Your Bias Right Here."
3. Gearing up to launch political pig-latin radio talk show.
2. Needs his mornings free because he'd rather watch The 700 Club in real time.
1. Koppel's contract has been extended? I'm staying put, baby!!

I hope #4 is really true.

> From Jeff Houser, another complete list:

10. Jane Clayson's breath.
9. Achieved his goal of 1,000,000 stupid comments.
8. Writing book entitled "What? Me biased?"
7. Starting new program at 10am called "The Not-So-Damn Early Show."
6. Finally realized he's actually an idiot.
5. Campaigning for the rights of liberal journalists to adopt.
4. Starting boxing career as Bryant "the Humble" Gumbel.
3. Trying out for Survivor 5: Berkeley.
2. Joining OJ in the search for Nicole's killer.
1. Tired of relying on Survivor for any ratings.

Yes, he long ago achieved and surpassed #9

> From John P. Gobinski:

10. Memorized names of all 12 Viewers
9. Misses Al Roker's weather reports
8. Needs to return home and take care of mom
7. Spend more hang time with my brother
6. Attend refresher course at Columbia University School of Journalism
5. Allot more time to the reparation issue
4. Going back to Kenya to find my roots
3. Yearns for Katie Couric's wit
2. Writing "How to Book" on Winning Friends and Influencing People
1. Work on my Scotty Pippen look-alike image

Probably should have stopped at #10

> From Shawn Lerch, one line: Nobody Likes Me

> Finally, an anonymous suggestion:
Tired of hearing the slogan, "The Early Show, where fewer Americans get their news than anywhere else."

Not bad. That one is growing on me.

> Scheduled to appear tonight, Friday April 19, on NBC's Tonight Show: Katie Couric. -- Brent Baker


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