Appearance Alert!
MRC Research Director Rich Noyes on Fox Business Network at 5:55 p.m. ET

CyberAlert -- 05/02/2002 -- CNN's Franken Doubted Honesty of Camp Delta Leader

CNN's Franken Doubted Honesty of Camp Delta Leader; ABC and CBS Still Relaying Jenin "Massacre" Charge; Pollster Agreed that Polls Are Skewed; "Compassionate Conservative" Not "Reality"; Only FNC's Liberal Loses in Ratings to CNN

1) After Brigadier General Rick Baccus said the transfer of detainees from Camp X-Ray to the new Camp Delta went smoothly, CNN's Bob Franken, upset that reporters were kept away, demanded: "How can the public know that you're telling the truth about the move?" To which Baccus shot back: "As a commissioned officer in the armed forces, I can assure you that what I've said is the truth."

2) As the Washington Times reported, even a Palestinian terrorist leader has given up the propaganda claim that Israel committed a massacre in Jenin, but in the last two nights ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather have passed along the "massacre" charge as if it still has credibility. NBC's Martin Fletcher undermined the allegation: "NBC News visited the camp five times and saw anguish, pain and plenty of digging for bodies, but no signs of a massacre."

3) Pollster John Zogby, who does work for NBC News, conceded at a Cato Institute forum with Matthew Robinson, author of the book about the liberal tilt in media polling, Mobocracy: How the Media's Obsession With Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections, and Undermines Democracy, that "there is a lot in there that I agree with."

4) None of Europe's conservative governments "are as right wing as the government we have here in Washington," Newsweek's Eleanor Clift opined on last weekend's McLaughlin Group. "We're pretty far to the right here," she insisted before claiming that Bush's "compassionate conservative" image is "more talk than reality."

5) Coincidence? The only hour of prime time during which the Fox News Channel loses to CNN is the 10pm EDT hour during which FNC features a liberal host: Greta Van Susteren.

6) Letterman's "Top Ten New Features of Camp Delta," the new detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay.


Correction: The April 30 CyberAlert reported that Gary Nolan narrated an April 26 story on the syndicated TV show Extra which claimed that "inside sources at CBS tell Extra that [Bill] Clinton is being seriously considered to replace the retiring Bryant Gumbel." An Extra producer informed us that Nolan's first name is Barry, not Gary.

1

CNN's Bob Franken wasn't convinced by the assurance of the U.S. military officer in charge of the move of detainees from Camp X-Ray to the new Camp Delta that the transfer went smoothly. On Monday's NewsNight, Franken demanded of Brigadier General Rick Baccus: "How can we know that you're telling the truth?" Franken followed up: "How can the public know that you're telling the truth about the move?" To which Baccus shot back: "Well, as a commissioned officer in the armed forces, I can assure you that what I've said is the truth."

Franken offered no evidence that the transfer did not go without injury to any detainee nor explain why anyone should care if it didn't, but anchor Aaron Brown, probably realizing his viewers did not share Franken's assumption that the U.S. military would lie, suggested that Franken's question "reminds me of something we're all taught as young reporters. If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out, and that's what Bob was doing." Bob Franken
CNN's Bob Franken to a U.S. Brigadier General: "How can we know that you're telling the truth?"

MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the April 29 story on NewsNight by Franken in Cuba on the move of detainees from the outdoor Camp X-Ray to the new indoor Camp Delta three miles away. Franken reported that the "infamous cages are empty" with the detainees transferred to the new facility which has better security. For instance, since the cells have indoor plumbing, the prisoners won't need to be escorted to an outhouse.

Franken noted: "Spokesmen say it will all in all be more humane although independent media have been denied any access to confirm that. As for the move, officials report it took 17 hours with no mistreatment, no problems."
Brigadier General Rick Baccus: "There were no accidents, no injuries on anyone's part and it was done in a very professional and efficient manner."
Franken complained about the lack of media access: "Again, the limited access media had during previous movements was denied here. Journalists were kept in polite custody during the operation far from here. Military officials cited operational security, what they like to call 'OpSec.' So reports of the transfer were provided only by the ones who were in charge of it."
Franken to Baccus as both stood outside of Camp Delta: "How can we know that you're telling the truth?"
Baccus explained: "As you are well aware the International Committee of the Red Cross is on station. They were informed of the move yesterday and they have access to the detainees as of today with no problems so they could verify that."
Franken wasn't convinced: "May I follow up? The International Red Cross, as you know, does not report to the public, nor do you report whatever their deliberations are. How can the public know that you're telling the truth about the move?"
CNN had the integrity to play the retort from Baccus: "Well, as a commissioned officer in the armed forces I can assure you that what I've said is the truth."

After Franken's piece, Brown tried to convince viewers of why Franken's attitude was reasonable: "Bob Franken in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba tonight. Bob's question reminds me of something we're all taught as young reporters. If your mother tells you she loves you, check it out, and that's what Bob was doing. Later on the program, Bob's cousin, and we're not kidding here, Al Franken, will be here..."

His cousin? News to me. And I'd bet Bob Franken's mom loves him despite what he may think. As for Aaron Brown...

2

As the Washington Times reported on Wednesday, even a Palestinian terrorist leader has given up the propaganda claim that Israel committed a massacre in Jenin, but in the last two nights ABC's Peter Jennings and CBS's Dan Rather have passed along that charge as if it still has credibility. NBC's Tom Brokaw, however, refrained from using the loaded term on Wednesday night before reporter Martin Fletcher undermined the allegation: "NBC News visited the camp five times and saw anguish, pain and plenty of digging for bodies, but no signs of a massacre."

None of the broadcast network stories tied to Israel's resistance to allowing a UN probe, however, raised the issue of the UN's hypocrisy in pursuing the allegations against Israel after not pushing a special investigation of any of the organized murder plots against Israeli civilians carried out over the past several months.

On Tuesday's World News Tonight, Jennings plugged an upcoming story: "When we come back this evening, the debate about war or massacre. Going where the United Nations is not permitted." On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Rather relayed how "Palestinians say Israeli troops massacred civilians in that camp."

From the West Bank, in a story summarized Wednesday night by Brit Hume on his FNC show, Paul Martin reported in a May 1 Washington Times story:

"Palestinian officials yesterday put the death toll at 56 in the two-week Israeli assault on Jenin, dropping claims of a massacre of 500 that had sparked demands for a U.N. investigation.
"The official Palestinian body count, which is not disproportionate to the 33 Israeli soldiers killed in the incursion, was disclosed by Kadoura Mousa Kadoura, the director of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement for the northern West Bank, after a team of four Palestinian-appointed investigators reported to him in his Jenin office."

Martin also disclosed: "The propaganda war continues, meanwhile, in the refugee camp itself. Families whose homes had been destroyed were ordered to sit and lie inside tents pitched near the destruction, to be available for interviews and filming with foreign reporters and photographers. At dusk, with the press opportunities concluded, they returned to houses offered to them in the undamaged city or in the rest of the refugee camp."

For the Washington Times story in full: http://www.washtimes.com/world/20020501-5587072.htm

Dan Rather announced on the May 1 CBS Evening News: "Citing resistance from Israel, United Nation's Secretary General Kofi Annan today abandoned his plan to send a fact-finding mission to the Palestinian refugee camp at Jenin in the West Bank. Palestinians say Israeli troops massacred civilians in that camp. Israel strongly denies that, saying there is no evidence supporting the claim."

So, to CBS News, both claims have equal credibility?

Over on NBC Nightly News the same evening, anchor Tom Brokaw avoided the "massacre" term in introducing a piece by Martin Fletcher on what really happened in Jenin. After relating the charges made by Palestinians and Israelis, Fletcher asked: "So who's right? NBC News visited the camp five times and saw anguish, pain and plenty of digging for bodies, but no signs of a massacre." Fletcher added: "Palestinian charges are most upsetting because, according to Israel, their soldiers took great care to avoid killing civilians. A U.S. humanitarian group did investigate in Jenin for a week. It says it was alarmed by the delay in getting wounded Palestinians to hospitals, but a massacre?"
Leonard Rubenstein, Physicians for Human Rights: "Our assessment found no evidence of a massacre having taken place."

The night before, ABC's Peter Jennings had plugged an April 30 World News Tonight look at Jenin: "When we come back this evening, the debate about war or massacre. Going where the United Nations is not permitted." Of course, UN officials have already been in Jenin since the battle.

In the subsequent story, John Yang focused on how each side says the other used civilians as human shields. He then asserted: "On the seventh day of military operations here, 13 Israeli reservists were killed. Residents say that's also the day the nature of the fighting changed. Now, instead of house to house searches, the army began house to house demolition. 'They started destroying everything, all the houses, with bulldozers,' he says, 'Anyone who opened their door, the Israelis would shoot.' This is when many Palestinian civilians were killed. Others were left to die when Israel barred relief agencies from the camp."

Without saying so, Yang concluded by conveying how there was no massacre: "Now, initial assessments by human rights groups suggest roughly 20 civilians died, a number that's uncertain, like so much else that took place here during those 13 days."

3

At a Cato Institute forum on polling with Matthew Robinson, author of the new book, Mobocracy: How the Media's Obsession With Polling Twists the News, Alters Elections, and Undermines Democracy, the Washington Times reported that John Zogby, who does polling for NBC News, agreed that many polls reported by news outlets are distorted. Referring to the book, Zogby conceded: "There is a lot in there that I agree with."

An excerpt from a May 1 Washington Times story by Donald Lambro:

Pollster John Zogby and polling critic Matthew Robinson debated yesterday about news media abuse of public opinion surveys for partisan purposes and were surprised to find how much they agreed.

Mr. Robinson is the author of a new book, "Mobocracy: How the Media's Obsession With Polling Twists the News," that fiercely attacks pollsters and polls as pawns of a generally liberal-leaning news media that too often panders to and distorts public opinion.

Mr. Zogby is a political pollster who has built a reputation for being very accurate in the past several elections. He said that polls conducted carefully and fairly can perform a valuable public service that opens up critical lines of communication between legislators and the people. But he also confessed that after reading Mr. Robinson's book, "there is a lot in there that I agree with."

Their meeting at the Cato Institute's Policy Forum had all the appearances of a debate, but when it was over, Mr. Zogby had expressed nearly as many complaints about his profession as Mr. Robinson did.

Mr. Robinson criticized pollsters for too often tilting questions to elicit desired responses that fit in with the news media's political views. "There is a liberal bias in the news media and that affects the way the question is asked," he said. For example, he cited one poll that asked whether money should be spent on tax cuts that would otherwise go for education, health care, Medicare, Social Security and national defense, which -- predictably -- drew a strong majority against tax cuts....

Mr. Zogby agreed that tilted questions were "particularly egregious. If you are going to offer voters a choice, you have to give them a balanced choice. You cannot load up one side."...

He also embraced Mr. Robinson's opposition to overnight polls and to quick phone polls of a few hundred "adults" 18 years of age or older, which often result in an unrepresentative sampling of opinion.

Mr. Zogby said that when polling policy issues, "the only polls that matter are the ones that use likely voters," preferably 1,000 voters or more, and not just at election time but "all year round."...

END of Excerpt

For the entire story:
http://www.washtimes.com/national/20020501-93446304.htm

Robinson's book is published by Prima, which summarizes it on their Web site: http://www.primapublishing.com/books/book/5711/

The March 4 CyberAlert featured an excerpt of Bob Novak's review of Robinson's book: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020304.asp#4

4

None of Europe's conservative governments "are as right wing as the government we have here in Washington," Newsweek's Eleanor Clift opined on last weekend's McLaughlin Group. "We're pretty far to the right here," she insisted before claiming that Bush's "compassionate conservative" image is "more talk than reality."

MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed this exchange on the April 26 McLaughlin Group prompted by the second place finish in France of Le Pen:

John McLaughlin: "Is this, the phenomenon that's sweeping Europe, is there a right-wing zeitgeist that is wafting through Europe? I will tell you. Austria, you've got Haider's Freedom Party; Denmark, the anti-immigrant People's Party. Italy, the conservative coalition government, led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, includes two far-right parties. Germany, you've got Social Democrats. The party of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder took a beating in regional elections, losing to the right. What do you make of this, Eleanor?"
Clift: "Well, first of all, none of those governments are as right wing as the government we have here in Washington. Second-"
McLaughlin: "What does that mean?"
Clift: "We're pretty far to the right here. And Europe, I think most of the, the parties you're talking about are still on the fringe. Second of all, Le Pen-"
McLaughlin: "This is a compassionate conservative President! What are you talking about?
Clift: "That's more talk than reality."

No U.S. politician with any following matches the anti-Semitic vitriol and/or favorable outlook on communist principles common amongst Europe's right and left.

And how "far right" are elected conservatives in the U.S. when their position is not to abolish or reduce government programs and regulations, but to pursue the best way to increase federal intervention and public reliance on government programs created by liberals? See the actions and positions of President Bush and others identified as conservatives on education and expanding Medicare entitlements.

5

Coincidence? The only hour of prime time during which the Fox News Channel loses to CNN is the 10pm EDT hour during which FNC features a liberal host: Greta Van Susteren.

Could it be a sign that when viewers don't see an alternative perspective to the one presented by CNN that they have less reason to switch to FNC?

A May 1 Atlanta Journal-Constitution story, highlighted by Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews/), reported that CNN's NewsNight anchored by Aaron Brown "averaged a nightly audience of 961,000 viewers in April. Van Susteren's On the Record averaged 900,000 viewers."

Reporter Matt Kempner noted that "CNN, however, is available in 7 million more homes than Fox News, putting NewsNight and On the Record in a ratings tie."

But that's still quite a fall for Van Susteren, or rebound for Brown, depending on how you look at it. Kempner recalled how in February Brown "averaged 200,000 fewer viewers per night than Van Susteren."

Overall, FNC is still in the lead over the entire day. In April ratings, which really ended several days before the end of the month, FNC attracted and average of 686,000 viewers compared to 557,000 for CNN. MSNBC, "America's News Channel," is clearly not America's choice as it only earned an average audience half as large as CNN: 279,000.

For the Atlanta Journal-Constitution story: http://www.accessatlanta.com/ajc/business/cnn/0501susteren.html

For a New York Daily News story about the cable news ratings: http://www.nydailynews.com/2002-05-01/New_York_Now/Television/a-149361.asp

6

From the April 29 Late Show with David Letterman, prompted by the transfer of prisoner from the temporary Camp X-Ray to Camp Delta, a more solidly built indoor facility, the "Top Ten New Features of Camp Delta." The Late Show Web site: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Interrogation rooms with ocean views
9. Still has that "new detention camp" smell
8. Prisoners allowed one threatening phone call a week
7. The loosest slots on Guantanamo Bay
6. Free "Camp Delta" tote bag with every confession
5. Extremist kids eat free
4. Nightly turndown service includes a goat on your pillow
3. Burqa raids on girls' camp across the lake
2. Midnight performances by Engelbert Humperdink
1. Craftmatic adjustable torture rack

If #1 were true, Bob Franken wouldn't know. -- Brent Baker


Sign up for CyberAlerts:
Keep track of the latest instances of media bias and alerts to stories the major media are ignoring. Sign up to receive CyberAlerts via e-mail.

Subscribe!
Enter your email to join MRC CyberAlert today!

questions and comments about CyberAlert subscription

You can also learn what has been posted each day on the MRC's Web site by subscribing to the "MRC Web Site News" distributed every weekday afternoon. To subscribe, go to: http://www.mrc.org/newsletters