CyberAlert -- 09/06/2002 -- Only FNC Notes Unprecedented Rejection of ABA "Well-Qualified" Nominee
Only FNC Notes Unprecedented Rejection of ABA "Well-Qualified" Nominee; Washington Post Misconstrues Baker as Anti-Invasion; On FNC Kissinger Confirms NY Times Distortion; Lauer Scolds Heston
1) FNC's Brit Hume pointed out how the Senate Judiciary Committee's rejection on Thursday of Priscilla Owen represented the first time ever the committee had turned down a nominee rated as "well-qualified" by the ABA. CNN's Inside Politics skipped over the unprecedented decision while CNN's Wolf Blitzer instead relayed how those committee Democrats "contend Owen was not qualified for the position."
2) A bit of a snide tone from CNN's Aaron Brown. On Tuesday night's NewsNight, noting new administration efforts to make its case about the danger posed by Saddam Hussein, Brown contrasted fear with reason: "Clearly, the administration has decided it cannot rely on post-9/11 fear or fervor to win the day. Facts and arguments still count."
3) First the New York Times distorted what Henry Kissinger wrote about Iraq in a Washington Post op-ed. Now, the Washington Post has misrepresented what James Baker contended in a New York Times op-ed. Post reporter Karen DeYoung stated that Baker "advised against invasion." In fact, Baker argued: "The only realistic way to effect regime change in Iraq is through the application of military force."
4) In an appearance Thursday morning on FNC's Fox & Friends, Henry Kissinger confirmed that he believed that the New York Times misrepresented him in aligning him with opponents of preemptive action against Saddam Hussein: "I believe that preemption is sort of built into the nature of the terrorist threat."
5) Matt Lauer acted astonished that NRA President Charlton Heston had never reconsidered his support of gun rights after hearing about shootings. On Thursday's Today, Lauer worried that given Heston has guns in his house as he is showing signs of Alzheimer's, whether there is "a concern that if you become of diminished mental capacity that that could be a problem?" Lauer also admonished Heston for his disrespect of Bill Clinton.
Not even CNN's political news show, Inside Politics, mentioned the unprecedented nature of the committee's decision. Anchor Judy Woodruff briefly noted how "Judge Priscilla Owen's nomination to a federal appeals court has gone down to defeat," before running a soundbite from President Bush and reading a statement from committee chairman Patrick Leahy about how "ideologues are not going to make it" -- all leading into a discussion about that and other topics with Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, neither of whom mentioned the first-ever rejection of an ABA "well-qualified" nominee.
Also nothing on Thursday's The News with Brian Williams on CNBC. During the "tomorrow's headlines" segment Williams briefly noted the rejection of Owen, but made no mention of how the vote was unprecedented.
The ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows on Thursday did not mention the committee vote on Owen for a seat on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals covering Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer relayed on the September 5 Wolf Blitzer Reports aired at 5pm EDT: "The Senate Judiciary Committee is rejecting another one of President Bush's judicial nominees. By a 10 to 9 vote along strict party lines, Texas Supreme Court Justice Priscilla Owen's bid to step up to the appellate court was defeated. President Bush calls the vote 'shameful.' But the move was not unexpected. Committee members contend Owens was not qualified for the position -- at least the Democrats contend that."
But FNC viewers heard a more complete story as Brit Hume introduced a piece on Special Report with Brit Hume: "On a party line vote, the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee rejected President Bush's nomination of Priscilla Owen to a federal appeals court. The ten to nine vote marked the first time in history the Judiciary Committee rejected a President's nominee who had received the American Bar Association's unanimous appraisal as quote, 'well qualified' for the federal bench."
FNC's Major Garrett, who was recently let go by CNN, soon elaborated on Owen's qualifications, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Garrett also advanced a Democratic talking point: "But the larger question is, 'Are Democrats stonewalling most Bush nominees?' The numbers suggest they aren't and that they're working at a faster pace than Republicans did near the end of former President Clinton's term. In the last Congress [1999-2000], Republicans held 15 hearings for 72 judges and confirmed them all. Since Democrats took control last year, they've convened 23 hearings covering 84 nominees, confirming 73 judges and defeating two. Seven more judges are likely to be confirmed before Congress adjourns. But there are still 79 vacancies on the federal bench, 32 of which are classified as judicial emergencies. Owen was slotted to plug one of those vacancies, as was the other Bush judge Senate Democrats rejected this year: Charles Pickering of Mississippi."
And liberals say FNC isn't "fair and balanced."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught Brown's remark as Brown introduced a September 3 story by Jamie McIntyre on Bush administration efforts at "selling" a war on Iraq. Brown announced:
In a September 5 story headlined "New Plan On Iraq Emerges:
In fact, in his August 25 op-ed, Baker argued that "the issue for policymakers to resolve is not whether to use military force," but "how to go about it." He added: "The only realistic way to effect regime change in Iraq is through the application of military force."
The opening paragraphs of DeYoung's story:
President Bush's pledge yesterday to consult here and abroad before deciding whether to invade Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein came amid a growing chorus of caution that unilateral U.S. military action would be both unwise and extremely risky to world peace.
With few exceptions, most countries that have voiced an opinion have publicly objected to an invasion. More recently, although polls indicate that more than half of Americans and a large majority of Congress would support such an action, an undercurrent of domestic unease has begun to surface with op-ed pieces and television appearances by prominent officials from previous administrations.
Among them, Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, respectively the national security adviser and secretary of state in the first Bush administration, have advised against invasion, saying the administration should seek a policy with international support.
END of Excerpt
For the entire story:
DeYoung did not elaborate on Baker's views or quote him in any way.
Now contrast that with what Baker actually wrote in the August 25 New York Times op-ed. It began:
While there may be little evidence that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda or to the attacks of Sept. 11, there is no question that its present government, under Saddam Hussein, is an outlaw regime, is in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, is embarked upon a program of developing weapons of mass destruction and is a threat to peace and stability, both in the Middle East and, because of the risk of proliferation of these weapons, in other parts of the globe. Peace-loving nations have a moral responsibility to fight against the development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction by rogues like Saddam Hussein. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do so, and leading that fight is, and must continue to be, an important foreign policy priority for America.
And thus regime change in Iraq is the policy of the current administration, just as it was the policy of its predecessor. That being the case, the issue for policymakers to resolve is not whether to use military force to achieve this, but how to go about it....
The only realistic way to effect regime change in Iraq is through the application of military force, including sufficient ground troops to occupy the country (including Baghdad), depose the current leadership and install a successor government. Anyone who thinks we can effect regime change in Iraq with anything less than this is simply not realistic....
END of Excerpt
Baker's piece is no longer online for free, but if you go to www.nytimes.com and do a search for "Baker" on 8/25 you can get it for $2.95.
Kissinger asserted: "My views are not the same as General Scowcroft or Jim Baker's. General Scowcroft is against the whole concept. Jim Baker gives the impression that he wants a vote prior to doing something. I believe that preemption is sort of built into the nature of the terrorist threat."
In an August 16 front page story, New York Times reporters Todd S. Purdum, aka Mr. Dee Dee Myers, and Patrick E. Tyler, maintained:
They soon elaborated on Kissinger: "In an opinion article published on Monday in The Washington Post, Mr. Kissinger made a long and complex argument about the international complications of any military campaign, writing that American policy 'will be judged by how the aftermath of the military operation is handled politically,' a statement that seems to play well with the State Department's strategy.
As columnist Charles Krauthammer asked about the Times spin: "How can one possibly include Kissinger in this opposition group? He writes in the very article the Times cites: 'The imminence of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the huge dangers it involves, the rejection of a viable inspection system and the demonstrated hostility of Hussein combine to produce an imperative for preemptive action.' There is hardly a more succinct statement
For more about the Times story and more from Krauthammer's column, refer back to the August 19 CyberAlert:
Then in an "Editors' Note" on Wednesday, three weeks after their mis-reporting of Henry Kissinger as amongst Republicans opposed to going to war against Iraq, the New York Times finally admitted that one of their stories "listed Mr. Kissinger incorrectly among Republicans who were warning outright against a war." The note, however, falsely insisted that Kissinger "most centrally" said in his op-ed piece "that removing Mr. Hussein from power -- Mr. Bush's justification for war -- was not an appropriate goal."
For more about the "Editors' Note" and why it was inaccurate, as well as for a link to Kissinger's mid-August op-ed:
Now, to Thursday morning's Fox & Friends on FNC. During the 8am EDT hour, tri-host Brian Kilmeade asked Kissinger: "What's the truth about how the New York Times represented your views?"
Kissinger replied, as taken down by MRC analyst Patrick Gregory: "You know, the arguments are sort of complicated. My views are not the same as General Scowcroft or Jim Baker's. General Scowcroft is against the whole concept. Jim Baker gives the impression that he wants a vote prior to doing something. I believe that preemption is sort of built into the nature of the terrorist threat. When the terrorists strike and then disappear, you cannot wait until they have struck. And I don't think we can give a veto to the United Nations. So in this respect I disagree with him. On the other hand, I believe there should be a theory of consultation, and I think we should listen to the opinions of our allies and of the United Nations, but at the end of the day we have to reserve the right to act, and at the end of the day, we will get support."
Just not from the New York Times.
The September 5 CyberAlert also noted how New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines claimed those who say his paper is biased against Bush's Iraq policy are making the accusations "for ideological reasons." He charged on the PBS NewsHour: "When you look at what the conservative columnists are saying, they're expressing a perception of opinion, and they're the best witness on it." Raines sees everything through a Vietnam prism: "I'm hearing a lot of echoes of the early '60s, when people were saying it was unpatriotic to report the debate over Vietnam."
Of course, no one is saying anything about being unpatriotic, just about views being distorted
Lauer was also appalled by Heston's disrespect of Bill Clinton. Today showed a clip of Heston proclaiming: "Mr. Clinton, sir, America doesn't trust you with our health care system. America didn't trust you with gays in the military, America doesn't trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure Lord, don't trust you with our guns."
After Heston maintained, "I'm proud of having said it," Lauer admonished him: "Speaking about a President of the United States here."
Earlier in the interview, Lauer demanded: "Have you ever gotten up one morning, read the newspaper or seen the news about a particularly horrific crime or event that involved a shooting and thought even for a second, I may be on the wrong side of this issue?"
Lauer set up the September 5 segment, aired during the 7:30am half hour, which MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed:
Lauer prompted Heston during the pre-taped, in-studio session: "You were active in the civil rights movement" and reminded him: "You stood on the Lincoln Memorial steps as Dr. King delivered his, 'I Have A Dream,' speech."
Lauer soon noted: "Heston is as much known for his activism as he is for his acting." Lauer asked Heston: "What are you most proud of in that area of your life?"
Lauer moved on to lighter topics: "He's still getting offers and is currently in negotiations for a movie. He's also working with his son Frazier on an animated version of Ben Hur. And he's spending more personal time with his family as well, including his daughter Holly, his grandchildren and wife of 58 years, Lydia. Heston's first and only love whom he met in college."
For the remainder of the interview Lauer asked about his wife and kids and role as a father as well as how he has kept a daily journal throughout his life and how he his handling the disease which confronts him.
> Scheduled to appear tonight, Friday September 6, on the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS: ABC's Peter Jennings. -- Brent Baker