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CyberAlert -- 04/26/2002 -- Palestinian Bombers Called "Victims" by Dan Rather

Palestinian Bombers Called "Victims" by Dan Rather; Goldberg Made It Onto Today, But Paired with Left-Winger; Stephanopoulos's Anti-Israeli Sister; George to Plunk Down $2M Plus for DC Home -- Extra Edition

1) Three Palestinians, armed with bombs and intent on murdering Israelis, were shot dead as they approached an Israeli settlement, but CBS's Dan Rather characterized the three as "victims." Rather intoned that "many on both sides are still stunned by the deaths Tuesday of three victims too young to die for any cause." ABC's Peter Jennings portrayed the Israelis as the guilty party, as if the Palestinian teens had done nothing wrong, as he referred to how "three boys...were killed by the Israelis."

2) Six weeks after Today showcased David Brock and his anti-conservative book before it made the New York Times best-seller list, the show finally got around to Bernard Goldberg, whose book has been on the Times' best-seller list for 19 weeks. But instead of appearing alone as had Brock to discuss the substance of his book, on Thursday Today paired him with left-wing author Michael Moore for a segment focused on why both books have become popular.

3) George Stephanopoulos's sister, a Russian Orthodox nun living in Jerusalem, regularly uses e-mail to spread anti-Israel propaganda that later proves untrue, World Net Daily's Paul Sperry reported. Maria Stephanopoulos has also agitated for the U.S. to take on Israel: "Get on the phone and ask your congressman and senators why the United States government is backing this invasion of Israeli forces into sovereign (Palestinian) areas, (and) why so many innocent civilians are being terrorized."

4) Another strong sign that George Stephanopoulos will soon take over as the solo host of ABC's This Week: The Manhattan resident is about to buy a $2 million-plus home in the District of Columbia.


1

As three 13 and 14-year-old Palestinians, armed with bombs and knives and intent on murdering Israelis, approached as Israeli settlement, they were shot dead by Israeli forces, but CBS's Dan Rather on Thursday night characterized the three as "victims." Rather intoned that "many on both sides are still stunned by the deaths Tuesday of three victims too young to die for any cause." ABC's Peter Jennings portrayed the Israelis as the guilty party as he referred to how "three boys...were killed by the Israelis."

CBS's Mark Phillips rationalized: "The cult of the martyr has been so glorified here and the repression of the Israelis is perceived as so odious, that the kid's reaction seems almost inevitable." Phillips concluded by blaming Israel for creating the killers: "Many people here have argued all along that this Israeli operation would merely create the next generation of suicide bomber, but people on both sides of the line here have been shocked that that next generation would start so young."

As the AP reported, the three young teens "were killed as they charged toward the settlement of Netzarim in central Gaza, armed with knives and crude homemade bombs."

Rather set up the April 25 CBS Evening News story: "Israeli soldiers killed seven Palestinians today in Gaza and the West Bank, but many on both sides are still stunned by the deaths Tuesday of three victims too young to die for any cause. CBS's Mark Phillips reports."

Phillips began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"Of all the recent funerals here, this may have been the scariest. These would-be suicide bombers were shot dead near an Israeli settlement in the Gaza strip. That's not unusual here. What's frightening is that two of the bombers were 14 and one just 13 years old. They'd come from the generation that's grown up throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. But some of these kids have now been so radicalized, they're attacking Israelis with crude pipe bombs, axes, and knives.
"Ahmed Tafesh (sp?) was supposed to be one of them. He and a friend had set out armed with bombs toward an Israeli position. He later told of how he'd changed his mind and gone home. His friend was killed. Ahmed's relieved mother says the kids are too young to understand what they're doing. Yet the cult of the martyr has been so glorified here and the repression of the Israelis is perceived as so odious, that the kid's reaction seems almost inevitable."
Phillips allowed Dr. Eyad Sarraj of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program to rationalize the attacks: "If you are a child that is brought into this environment in which humiliation is continuous, subjugation and oppression is continuous, you are totally vulnerable and exposed."
Phillips concluded: "Many people here have argued all along that this Israeli operation would merely create the next generation of suicide bomber, but people on both sides of the line here have been shocked that that next generation would start so young. For now, Ahmed's parents are not letting him out of their sight. Mark Phillips, CBS News, on the West Bank."

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings announced the latest deaths caused by Israel: "There was a very significant funeral in Palestinian Gaza this week for three boys who were killed by the Israelis. The fact that they were so young -- the boys -- has been particularly disturbing to Israelis and Palestinians both."

Gillian Findlay began her report with empathy: "Ismael left a note for his parents asking their forgiveness, Yusef wanted his mother to pay the 30 cents he owed the corner grocer, and Anwar's request was that the three friends be buried together as martyrs. He got his wish. Two nights ago, carrying kitchen knives and homemade explosives, the three boys tried to infiltrate a Jewish settlement in Gaza and were shot. They were honor students at this school where today there were three empty chairs marked with flowers.
"The consensus here is the boys acted on their own. 'We all know how to make explosives,' these children told us. One boy drew a diagram of how to make a pipe bomb. 'There are programs on the computer,' he said, 'in books. They're killing us, so we have to find a way to hurt them.' Did they agree with what their friends did? 'They were driven by their hearts,' this boy said.
"Their teachers and parents cannot believe that boys so young could do what they did. What's even more shocking is that these three boys were not alone. Police here say that in the last week, they've stopped at least 10 other teenagers from carrying out similar attacks. Ahmed Tafesh (sp?) had agreed to go with his friend to a settlement to throw grenades. At the last moment, he backed out. 'I told him it's stupid to die for nothing,' he told Israeli TV. 'Then I heard the shooting, and I knew he'd become a martyr.'
"Ahmed's mother is furious that militant groups may now be recruiting teenagers, but the militants deny they sent the kids. This afternoon we met this man who showed us a note his daughter had written. Her name over and over again and the words 'heroic martyr.' She is seven years old. Today the classmates of those three boys remembered their friends as heroes. 'Rest in peace,' was the chant. 'We will continue the struggle.' Gillian Findlay, ABC News, Gaza."

2

Exactly six weeks after Today showcased David Brock and his book, Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative, before it made the New York Times best-seller list, the show finally got around to Bernard Goldberg, whose book has been on the Times' best-seller list for 19 weeks, including seven weeks at number one. But instead of appearing alone as had Brock to discuss the substance of his book, on Thursday Today paired him with left-wing author Michael Moore for a segment focused on why both books have become popular.

Moore's book, Stupid White Men, is now #4 on the Times' list and has been on the list for eight weeks. Goldberg's Bias is now #10 after 19 weeks and Brock's book, which never made #1, is now #7 after five weeks on the list. For the New York Times' Best Seller list of April 28 for hardcover non-fiction: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/28/books/bestseller/0428besthardnonfiction.html

The three authors have yet to be invited onto either ABC's Good Morning America or CBS's The Early Show to discuss their latest books.

Asked to assess the premise of each other's books, Michael Moore rejected Goldberg's view as he asserted he's "never seen" any liberal bias. But Goldberg was kinder to Moore, agreeing with Moore's contention that corporations are heartless.


Bernard Goldberg made it onto Today, but not to discuss media bias, and with socialist Michael Moore

Back on Thursday, March 14 Matt Lauer set up the Today segment during the 7:30am half hour by focusing on the substance of Brock's book and treating Brock's claims as fully credible. Lauer even added a colorful dose of invective toward conservatives:
"His specialty was character assassination and throughout the 1990s he made a living as a right-wing hatchet man. But after years of lies and, some would say, malicious journalism, this Washington insider wants to clear his conscience. In his new book, Blinded by the Right, best-selling author and ex-conservative David Brock, exposes how he says the GOP tried to destroy the Clinton presidency through a series of well-plotted smear campaigns."

For a rundown of Lauer's interview with Brock:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020314.asp#1

Katie Couric teased the April 25 segment: "Up next. What's wrong with America? Bias and stupid white men. That's according to two best-selling authors."

Lauer set up the 7:30am half hour segment observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens:
"The truth is out there. You just don't know it yet. That's what two very different kinds of authors are saying in their bestsellers. In his book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg criticizes the mainstream press for reporting the news with a liberal slant. While Michael Moore, author of Stupid White Men and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation, is unapologetically liberal. As he critiques those in power in America."

Lauer's first question: "What does it say about the state of this country right now that both of your books from absolute opposite ends of the political spectrum are both bestsellers at the same time Michael?"
Moore quipped: "Well I think it says that we both got to number one without doing the Today show."
Lauer: "You're here now! Better late than never, c'mon."

Lauer wondered why the books have become popular: "Well why has it taken off? That's the question."
Goldberg: "Because we're more mainstream than you think we are. We're at least as mainstream as you are. I mean you can't have a number one book, my, my book was number one for seven weeks, it's been on the list for 18 weeks and counting he took over number one right after me. With, if you just appeal to people on the right or if you just appeal to people on the left, we're appealing to, to your audience."
Lauer: "What you're saying is you're not fringe books."
Goldberg: "Absolutely not. You know, liberal, I know for a fact because liberals are calling me, telling me I've never thought about bias in the media the way I am now until after I read your book."

Lauer turned to Moore: "Michael, here's what Time magazine says. It says that, 'This is an example of just how divided this nation is right now.' After September 11th we were all supposed to come together, love one another, but the reality is we still have huge differences and in the privacy of our homes we're sharpening our knives."
Moore offered some Bush-bashing: "That's good though. That's what America is about. It's about having an opinion. It's about, you know, appreciating these differences. You don't want everybody all together on the same page. And I think for, in my case, with this book Stupid White Men that people were tired after six months of listening to this mantra of 'America loves Bush, America loves Bush, America loves Bush,' and I think the media completely misread this love. It wasn't that they loved Bush it was more like love the one your with."

Lauer asked Moore to critique Goldberg's book: "It makes no sense to have each of you talk about your own books, so let me ask you to talk about the theory of the other book. Let me ask you about Bernie's book. He basically says, 'Look the media is dominated by liberals. They masquerade as unbiased journalists and everything they report on has a slant. The conservatives are the bad guys and the liberals are the working man's heroes.' How do you feel about that?"

Moore disagreed with the premise: "Well I've never seen that. I mean, look these media companies are owned by large conglomerates. That's the way I look at it. I mean last time I was on, I think it was the weekend Today show, they had a sign-up list here for some guy that works on the stage here. A light had fallen, he [had] broken his foot. But because these are contract workers here they don't have full health benefits they were passing the hat around the stage here on the Today show amongst the camera guys to raise money to fix this guy's foot. He works for GE! I mean to me that, that should be the real issue."
Lauer helpfully added: "So it's not, it's not liberal bias it's, it's controlled by corporations."
Moore: "Yeah and the fact that I think a lot of, of journalists these days are just lazy. That they're not doing their job. That the real issues are not being discussed. The real questions aren't being asked, especially of Bush."

Lauer turned to Goldberg: "Did I sum your book up fairly first of all?"
Goldberg: "Yeah, pretty much. I agree with Michael that journalists are largely lazy. And I also understand why he thinks-"
Lauer: "Great to have you both here, let me just tell you that." [Laughter]
Moore: "Except you Matt, you're up at four in the morning!"
Lauer: "Thrilled you're here."
Goldberg: "And I understand why Michael thinks that the media isn't liberal because he's even further to the left than you guys are."
Moore countered: "I'm where the American people are. The majority of Americans are pro-environment, they're pro-choice, they're pro-labor, they're anti-big business. I'm in the mainstream and I think that's why the book is doing well."
Goldberg: "But, but the point is that Michael is taking on big business and I'm taking on big journalism and what you guys really need to know is that there are millions and millions and millions of people out there who think that we're onto something. Whether, whether he's criticizing business or I'm criticizing you, not you personally."
Lauer: "No I understand what you're saying."
Goldberg: "That they think we're onto something. So even if I'm wrong in my book or even if he's wrong in his book they're millions of people out there who think we're right."
Lauer: "So let's talk about Michael's book. Basically his premise, stop me if I'm wrong here, he blames everything that's happened bad to him in his life and that has happened bad to this country on stupid white men. And, and that he can't stand the fact that some of these conservatives in power are getting the rave reviews they're getting right now."
Goldberg: "Well that's his problem."
Lauer: "How do you feel about it?"
Moore: "It's the truth."

Instead of rejecting Moore's premise, as Moore had done with Goldberg's book, Goldberg was more generous and actually agreed with its criticism of corporations: "Well listen, as I, if there's one area of American life where I could be a radical, I mean not even a liberal, just a radical leftist it's how some corporations treat their employees. How they talk about what a big family we are and then when, when they miss the, their mark by a penny they fire 7,000 people. So to, to portray me as some guy from the right, he is from the left, I mean he's a borderline socialist and borderline, I'm being generous, generous here."
Moore interjected: "I'm an American. I'm in the majority!"

Goldberg chastised the Today producers: "But, but, but to portray me as some guy from the right and, and here's some guy from the left and here's like a dog and pony show for five and a half minutes on the Today show you're missing the point. We both appeal, we both appeal-"
Moore: "So if I, If I, let me ask you something. If have the most read book in America right now, how, does that mean the country's turned socialist? Is that's what happened?"
Goldberg: "No my point, on some issues they, they may be. And my point is-"
Moore: "Yeah? Get ready for May Day here!"
Goldberg: "-that on, that on many issues the very same people who don't trust big business on some issues, don't trust big business, don't trust big journalism either. We're crossing over. I disagree with what you read from Time magazine, by the way, that this shows how split the country is. Liberals are buying my book and people on the right are buying his."

Lauer then ended the session: "Alright let me stop it there and say this is a little bit like inviting two guys over for dinner and then they tell you they think you've done a terrible job decorating your house."

Maybe that's because Today has shown inconsistency in deciding to give a platform to David Brock's anti-conservative rantings days after his book was released while waiting until long after the Goldberg and Moore books had fallen from number one to give them some air time, but then not to allow their authors to outline their contentions.

3

George Stephanopoulos's personal Palestinian connection. His sister, a Russian Orthodox nun living in Jerusalem, regularly uses e-mail to spread vicious anti-Israel propaganda that later proves untrue, World Net Daily's Paul Sperry reported. Maria Stephanopoulos has agitated for the U.S. to take on Israel: "Get on the phone and ask your congressman and senators why the United States government is backing this invasion of Israeli forces into sovereign (Palestinian) areas, (and) why so many innocent civilians are being terrorized."

Amongst the recent claims made by the sister of the ABC News correspondent: That Israeli soldiers defecated in a Palestinian medical clinic and that Israeli soldiers are raping Palestinian girls. The latter proved to be a hoax.

An excerpt from the piece by Sperry, World Net Daily's Washington Bureau Chief, posted late Wednesday night, April 24 and first brought to my attention by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd:

"I'm not spreading propaganda," George Stephanopoulos' orthodox-nun sister vows, but Israeli soldiers last week "defecated" on the floors of a West Bank medical clinic they raided.

They're also looting Palestinians' homes there, claims Sister Maria Stephanopoulos, a nun at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem.

A Russian Orthodox Christian (who changed from Greek Orthodox), Stephanopoulos runs a school for Palestinian girls there, and is pleading with priests here, via e-mail, to "get on the phone and ask your congressman and senators why the United States government is backing this invasion of Israeli forces into sovereign (Palestinian) areas, (and) why so many innocent civilians are being terrorized."

Not all the front-line reports of "Mother Maria," as she's more recently known, turn out to be true.

An e-mail she sent 10 days ago about Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian girls was later deemed apocryphal, one priest who saw it told WorldNetDaily. Stephanopoulos was the victim of a Palestinian boy's e-mail hoax.

Her brother, George, is the rising star and future host, reportedly, of ABC News' "This Week." The former senior adviser to President Clinton has done his own "reporting" from Jerusalem on the Israeli-Palestinian showdown....

He advised Israel to back off its "hard line" and withdraw from the West Bank, where Israel has sent tanks in response to systematic attacks from Palestinian suicide bombers in recent months.

"There's no end to the terrorism unless there's an end to the occupation," Stephanopoulos said....

Relaying what a Palestinian Orthodox couple told her over the phone last week, [Maria] Stephanopoulos said, "Israeli soldiers have entered their new home in the middle of the night three times in the last month, once stealing all the money from the house, and another time strafing the house with gunfire, miraculously only slightly wounding one of their daughters."

At the couple's clinic, moreover, soldiers allegedly "defecated on the floors" and destroyed a $20,000 ultrasound machine, Stephanopoulos, 41, reported through the eyes of her Palestinian friends.

"There are reports that some newborns have died during these past two weeks in Bethlehem because they were unable to receive medical attention," she added....

Nearly all of Mother Maria's reporting comes from Palestinian sources. She has not herself witnessed the alleged Israeli atrocities.

"There is no way we can confirm any of that," admitted Stephanopoulos family friend Father John Reeves, referring to the alleged Palestinian home-and-clinic raids cited by Stephanopoulos in her April 15 e-mail to him. The long message was posted on the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation's website.

Reeves, pastor of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in State College, Pa., says Stephanopoulos' e-mails from the West Bank aren't always 100-percent accurate, but her "motives are pure."

"She's not trying to fan the flames," he said in a phone interview. "Mother Maria has relayed the difficulties the Palestinians have encountered under Israeli occupation."

END of Excerpt

To read Sperry's piece in full: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=27387

4

While his sister is probably living in less than ideal conditions in Jerusalem as a nun (see item #3 above), ABC's George Stephanopoulos is about to spend more than $2 million for a house in the Georgetown section of Washington, DC, the Washington Post revealed on Thursday. It's another strong hint that the former Clintonista, who lives in Manhattan and flies to the District on weekends to do This Week, will soon be taking over as the solo host of the Sunday morning ABC News show.

The April 25 item in the Washington Post's "The Reliable Source" column by Lloyd Grove and Barbara E. Martinez:

"ABC News hasn't said whether New York resident George Stephanopoulos will succeed Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts as the sole anchor of This Week, the network's Washington-based Sunday show. But the rising star and his pregnant wife, Alexandra Wentworth, are buying a handsome brick ivy-covered Georgetown town house. We hear that they're paying a bit less than seller Katryna Carothers's $2.275 million asking price for the sunlit five-bedroom house -- an 1810-vintage Federal-style residence with a modern addition by Washington architect Hugh Jacobsen, plus a pretty terrace and garden. The parents-to-be are planning some renovations, we're told. Stephanopoulos, who declined to comment yesterday, is scheduled to sign the contract in late June -- on the house, not the job."

To see a photo of the house you'll have to get a hard copy of Thursday's Washington Post. It's on page 3 of the Style section. The online version of the above item is sans picture: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A44092-2002Apr24.html

TV jobs sure pay better than government positions. You can't afford a $2 million-plus home on a White House salary where Stephanopoulos's pay probably never exceeded $100,000 annually. -- Brent Baker


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