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CyberAlert -- 08/21/2002 -- ABC: O' Canada, Let's Follow Thee on Iraq

ABC: O' Canada, Let's Follow Thee on Iraq; "Mounting Opposition" on Iraq; Time Warns of "Secret" War Council That's "Conservative"; "Arch-Neoconservative"; Blame "Ancient Traditions" for Chinese Killing Girl Babies

1) O' Canada, let us follow thee. ABC's Peter Jennings seemed to speak for himself as he announced as a fact: "Some people are asking today whether or not the White House is losing control of the debate about war with Iraq." Terry Moran then trumpeted how Canada has given a "sharp rebuke" to U.S. policy before treating Scott Ritter, who has been defending Saddam Hussein for years, as fresh news: "Opposition is mounting at home, too" as Ritter "said the administration had failed to make the case for war."

2) This week's Time warned of a nefarious conservative influence on defense policy, "the secret war council" made up of an "unpaid conservative board" on which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given the "Republican right's most outspoken (and forsaken) hawks a place to nest." Reporter Mark Thompson worried that the board "lacks Democratic firepower. The sprinkling of Democrats includes token moderates," those "who are hawks within their own party." What about former House Speaker Thomas Foley?

3) Some creative labeling from Washington Post White House reporter Dana Milbank who referred, in an August 20 story on U.S. policy toward Iraq, to a "neoconservative hardliner" and to Bill Kristol as an "arch-neoconservative."

4) ABC's Peter Jennings and Mark Litke both blamed not China's oppressive communist regime's policies for the killing of female babies, but how, in Litke's words, it's "a society still in the grip of ancient traditions." Jennings stressed how in valuing boys more than girls "China is not unique...by any means." But there is hope, thanks to the forward-looking current communist leaders who have "launched campaigns that emphasize the important status of women in Chinese society. As Mao Zedong once said, 'women hold up half the sky.'" If Mao didn't have them murdered first.


Corrections. The July 26 and August 20 CyberAlerts erroneously referred to the title of Toby Keith's new album, which features the song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue," as "Vanished." It is "Unleashed."
The August 1 CyberAlert quoted CNBC anchor Brian Williams pointing out how President Bush had used the same "the economy is fundamentally sound" phrase as had Herbert Hoover. The remark occurred not on July 31, but on the July 30 News with Brian Williams.

1

ABC's Terry Moran ominously warned on Tuesday night: "Mr. Bush's drive to topple Saddam Hussein received another sharp rebuke today from a close ally." A drum roll please, that all important ally would be...Peter Jennings' native Canada! A development so unimportant that neither CBS or NBC mentioned it. But ABC featured how Canada's Defense Minister said his nation was "unlikely" to participate in an attack on Iraq.

With apologies to Canadian readers, I'm sure Canada was key to the U.S. operation in 1991. Not. Is Canada's military big enough to even put down an insurrection by the French in Quebec?

ABC's World News Tonight led with the Iraqi opposition's brief takeover of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, an event both Peter Jennings and Terry Moran twice asserted is a problem for Bush's effort to attack Iraq. It "has created one more problem for the Bush administration," Jennings declared.

Jennings then seemed to speak for himself as he announced as a fact: "Some people are asking today whether or not the White House is losing control of the debate about war with Iraq." Terry Moran helpfully explained: "In the past couple of weeks, you've had top Republican leaders defecting from the pro-war camp, key allies opposing any action against Saddam Hussein, and now this attack in Berlin. The hawks in the administration are on the defensive."

After highlighting the "rebuke" from Canada, Moran inaccurately portrayed Scott Ritter's opposition as something fresh and newsworthy. Leading into a lengthy soundbite from the man who has been claiming for years that Saddam Hussein has no weapons of mass destruction, Moran trumpeted: "Opposition is mounting at home, too. On Capitol Hill, Scott Ritter, the former Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, said the administration had failed to make the case for war."

Moran concluded with a warning: "Recent events have made clear, Peter, that if Mr. Bush wants to move militarily, he and his team will have to do a lot better job shoring up support at home and around the world."

Sounds like the real problem is with the reporting staff of ABC News and the New York Times, not the public which overwhelming supports taking care of Hussein.

Jennings opened the August 20 World News Tonight with an anti-Bush policy spin not added by CBS or NBC over the Berlin incident: "In Berlin, the German capital, opponents of Saddam Hussein stormed the Iraqi embassy and took the staff inside hostage. It was over in seven hours when the Germans stormed the embassy, but it has created one more problem for the Bush administration."

Following that story, Jennings set up a piece framed around how influential people are supposedly turning against Bush's Iraq policy. Over a "The Road to War?" graphic, Jennings asserted:
"Well, as you know, the Bush administration has made the removal of Saddam Hussein a priority, and the debate about it is getting more intense all the time. Our subtitle for the subject is 'The Road to War?' And it has, as you can see, an important question mark after it. Today's takeover makes this objective of removing President Hussein all the more complicated. ABC's Terry Moran is with the President down in Crawford, Texas. And, Terry, some people are asking today whether or not the White House is losing control of the debate about war with Iraq."

Moran confirmed, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Peter, White House officials are concerned that events are moving too fast and not in their direction. In the past couple of weeks, you've had top Republican leaders defecting from the pro-war camp, key allies opposing any action against Saddam Hussein, and now this attack in Berlin. The hawks in the administration are on the defensive. The seizure of Iraq's embassy in Berlin brought a swift and unequivocal condemnation from the Western White House."
Ari Fleischer: "Actions like this takeover are unacceptable. They undermine legitimate efforts by Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq to bring regime change to Iraq."
Moran again stressed the impact of the Berlin event: "Administration officials also said the U.S. had no contact with or knowledge of the Iraqi dissident group that claimed responsibility. But the episode marked another potential setback for a major U.S. goal: establishing a credible and stable Iraqi opposition to replace Saddam Hussein. At the high-level meetings earlier this month in Washington, Iraqi opposition leaders pledged to work together."
Hamid al-Bayati, Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, on August 9: "All Iraqi opposition are united and all Iraqi people are united."

Apparently serious, Moran then intoned: "Mr. Bush's drive to topple Saddam Hussein received another sharp rebuke today from a close ally: Canada. The Canadian defense minister was quoted as saying his country would not support a U.S. move against the Iraqi leader, declaring, 'As it stands now, it seems very unlikely that we would participate in a war against Iraq.' Opposition is mounting at home, too. On Capitol Hill, Scott Ritter, the former Chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, said the administration had failed to make the case for war."
Ritter: "We cannot go to war based upon rumor. We cannot go to war based upon speculation. Before we send tens of thousands of American troops off to fight, kill, and be killed in our name, we have to be absolutely certain that there is a threat there worthy of war."

Moran didn't tell viewers, but Ritter made his remarks before a meeting convened by Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a liberal opponent of taking on Hussein.

As Moran quoted Canada's Defense Minister, whom I assume is a member of the ruling Liberal Party, ABC displayed his quote on screen under just his last name, McCallum. If he's so important, you'd think ABC or Moran could tell us his first name too, but I tracked it down, it's John.

Moran concluded with an admonishment: "The White House continues to insist the threat is very real. And President Bush himself has said he bases his assessment on what he calls the latest intelligence. But recent events have made clear, Peter, that if Mr. Bush wants to move militarily, he and his team will have to do a lot better job shoring up support at home and around the world."

Over on the August 20 CBS Evening News, reporter John Roberts also treated Ritter's comments as newsworthy even though he's been saying the same thing for at least four years. Roberts relayed:
"While Congress agrees experts would need to lead any delegation, one former weapons inspector today declared there's no credible information Saddam is up to his old game and that President Bush's saber-rattling appears to be more about domestic politics than national security."
Ritter: "We have allowed a handful of people to hijack the national security policy mechanisms of the United States and pursue their own ideologically-driven political ambitions."

As opposed to Ritter's?

Roberts added a bit of Iraqi propaganda, explaining over matching video: "Iraqi officials tried to drive that point home today, taking journalists through a Baghdad warehouse the U.S. has targeted as a biological weapons facility. No weapons here, officials said. Only sugar and baby milk bought through the oil for food program."

Back over on ABC, Jennings also highlighted the photo-op gimmick, but conveyed a bit of doubt towards Iraq's claims, referring to how "today" the warehouse had milk in it: "Now there's another note about Iraq today based on a recent report in the Washington Times. Today Iraqi officials showed reporters a building that the newspaper said was being used to produce biological weapons. Today the warehouse was filled with sugar, rice and powdered milk. It is the second time this month that Iraq has tried to refute claims that it has biological weapons."

2

This week's Time warned of a nefarious conservative influence on defense policy. An article in the August 26 issue looked inside "the secret war council" made up of an "unpaid conservative board" on which Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has given the "Republican right's most outspoken (and forsaken) hawks a place to nest." Assuming there is something dangerous about its make-up, reporter Mark Thompson warned that "the board has an undeniably hard-nosed tilt: seven of the 31 members have ties to the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University."

Thompson worried that the Defense Policy Board "lacks Democratic firepower. The sprinkling of Democrats includes token moderates and those, like former CIA chief James Woolsey, who are hawks within their own party." Thompson failed to mention one well-known liberal Democrat on the board: Former House Speaker Thomas Foley.

The two-page piece appears just after a three page spread, headlined "Dick Gephardt Wants to Win Back the House," which did not contain even one ideological label.

"Inside The Secret War Council" announced the headline for the defense policy piece. Above that, this subhead, with words in all caps as they were in the magazine: "How an unpaid CONSERVATIVE BOARD that holds PRIVATE MEETINGS and puts NOTHING IN WRITING gets heard at the Pentagon."

An excerpt from the piece penned by Washington bureau reporter Mark Thompson about the ominous conservative threat:

If you could slip past the soldiers toting M-16s at the door, the Pentagon's 17 miles of corridors might remind you a little of an inner-city apartment building: every other door is plastered with alarms, fortified latches and ugly combination locks. You would buzz past signs bearing mysterious acronyms -- WELCOME ABOARD J3/SMOO -- that blur rather than clarify what's cooking behind those doors. Asked what goes on inside, officers get that "Don't ask, don't tell" look -- and don't even reply.

So it was alarming when one secret agency's work spilled into the open recently, only to be dismissed by almost everyone involved. Meeting last month in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's private conference room, a group called the Defense Policy Board heard an outside expert, armed only with a computerized PowerPoint briefing, denounce the Saudis for being "active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader."...

But the Pentagon briefer's solution to the Saudi problem was provocative in the extreme: Washington should declare the Saudis the enemy, he said, and threaten to take over the oil wells if the kingdom doesn't do more to combat Islamic terrorism....

This is the kind of outside-the-Pentagon-box thinking that routinely takes place inside the Defense Policy Board, the Secretary's private think tank in a building where helmets often trump thinking caps. Chaired by Richard Perle -- a Reagan Pentagon official whose hard-line views won him the title "Prince of Darkness" -- the board gives its 31 unpaid members something every Washington player wants: unrivaled access without accountability. Perle uses his post as a springboard for his unilateralist, attack-Iraq views to try to whip the Bush Administration into action. But despite its name, the board does not make policy. As the Saudi episode shows, it can do something far scarier: give a false impression of it....

Beneath the brass plating, the board's impact is harder to discern. Though its quarterly, two-day sessions take place in Rumsfeld's inner sanctum, the board's two full-time employees run the operation from another floor. Perle sets the agenda and briefers. The members take no votes, do not strive to reach a consensus and write no reports. Instead, they wrap up each session sharing what they have learned with Rumsfeld, who is free to ignore what he is told.

Rumsfeld has given some of the Republican right's most outspoken (and forsaken) hawks a place to nest. Among them: former Vice President Dan Quayle, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-CIA and Pentagon boss James Schlesinger. True, there are also centrist Republican members, like Henry Kissinger. But the board has an undeniably hard-nosed tilt: seven of the 31 members have ties to the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. Previous boards had at least a few members with views sharply opposed to the incumbent Administration - Perle was on the board through Clinton's two terms - but this one lacks Democratic firepower. The sprinkling of Democrats includes token moderates and those, like former CIA chief James Woolsey, who are hawks within their own party....

END of Excerpt

It also includes former Democratic House Speaker Thomas Foley, as you can see from the print edition of Time which lists the board's members, but without any identification, across the bottom of the article.

To read the piece in full: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1101020826-338628,00.html

3

Some creative labeling from Washington Post White House reporter Dana Milbank who referred, in an August 20 story on U.S. policy toward Iraq, to a "neoconservative hardliner" and to Bill Kristol as an "arch-neoconservative." Is that like a hardline moderate?

Not only has the Washington Post rarely used the term "arch-liberal," I think I'm on safe ground assuming the newspaper has never tagged anyone as an "arch-neoliberal."

Milbank's labeling came in a "White House Notebook" piece titled: "Bush's Summer Reading List Hints at Iraq."

Milbank began: "Looking for signs about President Bush's thinking on an Iraq attack? Check out his vacation reading.
"This vital intelligence comes from an interview with the industrious Associated Press reporter Scott Lindlaw, who went on a brush-clearing, pickup-riding, sweating-and-bleeding tour of the Bush ranch outside Waco last week. The President disclosed that he has been reading 'Supreme Command,' a new book by Eliot A. Cohen, a neoconservative hardliner on Iraq with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.
"In his reading choice, Bush seems to be following the advice of Bill Kristol, the arch-neoconservative who has been using his Weekly Standard magazine to chide Bush for being too soft on Saddam Hussein. It is Kristol's blurb, after all, on the back cover of Cohen's book suggesting: 'If I could ask President Bush to read one book, this would be it.' Former Quayle man Kristol, suspected of playing puppeteer to a number of hawkish officials in the Bush Pentagon and National Security Council, appears to have added the marionette-in-chief to his act."

For the entirety of Milbank's snide article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A37785-2002Aug19.html

4

China's communist leaders are falsely blamed for the killing to female babies. It isn't the fault of the communist regime's one-child policy, ABC's Mark Litke contended Tuesday night, it's a problem of "a society still in the grip of ancient traditions."

ABC's Peter Jennings and Litke rationalized the problems caused by China's one-child policy as both blamed not the oppressive communist regime's policies for the killing of female babies, but how, in Litke's words, "historically, Chinese culture has valued male children over females."

Indeed, Jennings did his best to not hold out China for any special condemnation as he stressed how in valuing boys more than girls "China is not unique in this regard by any means."

But there is hope, thanks to the forward-looking current communist leaders of China. Litke assured viewers that China has "launched campaigns that emphasize the important status of women in Chinese society. As Mao Zedong once said, 'women hold up half the sky.'"

Excerpt the millions he had murdered or let starve to death. Or the girl babies adults ate to survive under his regime.

Litke tarred all of Chinese history with no special censure for China's forced-abortion policies, implying the problem is not the communist regime's one-child policy but the priority of the people themselves: "From China's imperial past to its communist present, this has remained a male-dominated society. And no decree or law is going to change that any time soon. Even today, expectant mothers flock to this temple in the center of the Chinese capital to pray for a boy. A society still in the grip of ancient traditions."

Jennings set up the August 20 World News Tonight "A Closer Look" segment: "We're going to take a closer look tonight at a country that values sons more highly than daughters. It's China. But China is not unique in this regard by any means. However, when China implemented its 'One Child per Family' policy 20 years ago to reduce the rate of population growth, it ended up creating an imbalance between boys and girls. Now for the many families who want only a son, technology is making it easier to choose."

From Beijing, Litke reported how female babies are dumped in garbage dumps and how one woman has managed to rescue five girls alive.

Putting the burden on Chinese history and not the communists, Litke contended: "Historically, Chinese culture has valued male children over females, especially in rural areas where peasants want boys to help in the fields. Today, as ultra-sound machines have become readily available here, China has seen an epidemic of sex selection abortions, so many the ratio of males to females in parts of China has been thrown widely out of kilter. For every 100 girls born here there used to be about 105 boys. Now roughly 120 boys are born for every 100 girls."

Maybe there wouldn't be "an epidemic of sex selection abortions" if the communist regime gave their citizens the freedom to decide how many children to have. China could better support its population if free market policies and property and political rights were allowed so that its society could thrive.

Litke proceeded to outline "dire consequences for the future" China in which men won't have a stable family life. After noting how there are already villages of unemployed men without wives, Litke promised that China's leaders are on top of the situation:
"Chinese leaders are well-aware of the problem. They have recently relaxed the one child policy to allow some in the countryside to have extra children. They've also banned doctors from revealing the sex of a fetus during ultra-sound screening. And they've launched campaigns that emphasize the important status of women in Chinese society. As Mao Zedong once said, 'women hold up half the sky.'

Litke concluded: "Still, from China's imperial past to its communist present, this has remained a male-dominated society. And no decree or law is going to change that any time soon. Even today, expectant mothers flock to this temple in the center of the Chinese capital to pray for a boy. A society still in the grip of ancient traditions."

Yes, all was nirvana under the enlightened leadership of Mao.

Last year, on National Review Online, John Derbyshire relayed this little nugget about life under the mass murdering Mao:
"Nor were babies merely shot by the leftist terror-states, they were eaten, too: the great artificial famines brought on by communism drove millions to cannibalism. Khrushchev recorded this in his memoirs, writing of the 1930 Ukraine famine. Jasper Becker, in his 1997 book Hungry Ghosts, which deals with Mao's famine in China, records how starving peasants resorted to the ghastly custom of yi zi er shi - 'swap children, then eat.' Since no-one could bear to eat his own children, you exchanged yours with a neighbor. Then you ate his, he ate yours."

That article is online at: http://www.nationalreview.com/derbyshire/derbyshire061401.shtml

For a bio and photo of Litke: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/wnt/WorldNewsTonight/litke_mark_bio.html

Who knows, maybe in a few years Litke will favorably quote Mohammad Atta on the equal value with Muslims of Christians and Jews. -- Brent Baker


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