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CyberAlert -- 09/13/2002 -- Jennings: Bush's "War Drums" & Iraq "Preoccupation"

Jennings: Bush's "War Drums" & Iraq "Preoccupation"; "No Anti-War Constituency in Congress?"; Bush Speech "Argument" Not "Evidence"; Moyers' Bias Awarded; NBC Uses 9/11 to Promote The West Wing

1) Just before President Bush addressed the United Nations on Thursday morning about Iraq, ABC's Peter Jennings referred to how "the sound of war drums being beaten in Washington has become unmistakable" and described the administration's concern about Saddam Hussein's weapons as a "preoccupation," as if there were something misplaced about the worry.

2) Peter Jennings disappointed by the lack of Democratic opposition to Bush's Iraq policy? On World News Tonight he asked George Stephanopoulos to confirm that "the President's critics in Congress appear to have folded" before wistfully pleading: "Is there any anti-war constituency in Congress anymore?"

3) While NBC's David Gregory characterized President Bush's speech on Iraq at the UN in courtroom terms, describing it as "the President as prosecutor, the world his jury and Saddam Hussein the accused," ABC's Terry Moran insisted "the speech was more of an argument rather than a strict presentation of evidence."

4) Liberal advocacy and journalistic abuse honored. On Tuesday night, at a ceremony emceed by CNN's Garrick Utley, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented its "News and Documentary Emmy Awards," giving its "Investigative journalism (long form)" award to PBS's Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report. But that program was a one-sided screed in which Moyers refused to give any air time to those who disagreed with his agenda.

5) In the midst of solemn coverage Wednesday of the 9/11 anniversary, NBC repeatedly ran a promo for The West Wing playing off the terrorist attacks as its dream liberal President delivered a speech, calling on Americans to rise to the occasion, just hours before the real President addressed the nation.

6) On Sunday, ABC debuts This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The MRC has created a collection of his most egregious liberal bias from the past few years.

7) ABC's impressive coup. From the TV grid in Thursday's USA Today: "PrimeTime: (Season premiere) Interview with Saddam Hussein. (CC)" Not quite.


1

Just before President Bush addressed the United Nations on Thursday morning about Iraq, ABC's Peter Jennings referred to how "the sound of war drums being beaten in Washington has become unmistakable" and described the administration's concern about Saddam Hussein's weapons as a "preoccupation," as if there were something misplaced about the worry.

At about 10:38am EDT on September 12, Jennings began an ABC News Special Report by telling viewers: "The Bush administration made clear earlier this week that this was the occasion on which the President was going to make his case to the international community for a possible preemptive attack against Iraq. Wherever you live in the world today the sound of war drums being beaten in Washington has become unmistakable. With the first anniversary of the September 11th attacks behind us, the commemorations yesterday very, very moving, and with the campaign against terrorism very much a long-term affair, the administration's preoccupation with Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction has rapidly become the number one issue in international affairs."

After Bush finished, Jennings did acknowledge: "Great speech or moral clarity, the kind we've come to expect from President Bush. The difference between good and evil, them and us. And as he said at one point, liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause."

2

Peter Jennings appeared disappointed by the lack of Democratic opposition to Bush's Iraq policy. On World News Tonight he asked George Stephanopoulos to confirm that "the President's critics in Congress appear to have folded" before wistfully pleading: "Is there any anti-war constituency in Congress anymore?"

MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth took down the exchange between Jennings and Stephanopoulos on the September 12 show:

Jennings: "This was also a speech very much designed for the American audience. And the President certainly appears to have had an effect on his critics in the Congress. ABC's George Stephanopoulos is with us from Washington tonight. George, one well-crafted speech with a slight tilt towards the international community. And the President's critics in Congress appear to have folded."
Stephanopoulos: "That's exactly right, Peter. As he has with so many issues, the President trumped his congressional critics by taking their advice. They said come to the Congress before you take military action. He said I will. They said go to the UN before you take military action. Today he said he will. And by doing that, he really made Saddam Hussein and his actions the main issue. And, Peter, look at the response from leading Democrats. Senators Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, Joe Biden, John Edwards, Congressman Dick Gephardt, all praised the speech. I spoke to one of the President's chief Republican critics, Senator Chuck Hagel. He said the President did what he had to do."
Jennings pleaded: "Is there any anti-war constituency in Congress anymore?"
Stephanopoulos: "Not too much. I mean, there are some people. Senator Daschle raised some questions. He said more questions have to be answered. There are others who are raising caution signs, particularly about what happens after the war. But I think the question in Congress now is not whether there will be authorization but when."

3

While NBC's David Gregory characterized President Bush's speech on Iraq at the UN in courtroom terms, describing it as "the President as prosecutor, the world his jury and Saddam Hussein the accused," ABC's Terry Moran insisted "the speech was more of an argument rather than a strict presentation of evidence." But even Moran soon referred to Bush's "indictment" of Hussein.

On the September 12 World News Tonight on ABC, Moran asserted: "In the end, the speech was more of an argument rather than a strict presentation of evidence." Moran elaborated: "Mr. Bush was methodical. He discussed in detail most of the 16 UN security council resolutions passed since 1991 to deal with Iraq and again and again he reminded he leaders of Saddam Hussein's response."
Bush: "Iraq broke this promise..."

But Moran soon put Bush's case into evidentiary terms: "The heart of the President's indictment: Saddam Hussein's clandestine and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, an effort Mr. Bush argued unique in its potential for horror."

Over on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, David Gregory described Bush's address: "At the UN today it was the President as prosecutor, the world his jury and Saddam Hussein the accused."

Gregory, however, implied it was somehow surprising that Bill Clinton is opposed to preemptive action, using the word "even" before relaying what he said: "Even former President Clinton told David Letterman preemptive action would be a mistake."
Bill Clinton on Wednesday's Late Show: "The precedent of us acting alone might someday come back to haunt us in something somebody else does."

4

Liberal advocacy and journalistic abuse honored. On Tuesday night, at a ceremony held in New York City featuring several prominent media figures and emceed by CNN's Garrick Utley, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented its "News and Documentary Emmy Awards," giving its "Investigative journalism (long form)" award to PBS's Trade Secrets: A Moyers Report.

But that show should have been an embarrassment to anyone interested in fair and balanced journalism, the MRC's Rich Noyes noted in a March 27, 2001 Media Reality Check. An excerpt:

Last night, PBS aired Moyers's ninety-minute screed, Trade Secrets, which claimed that children and others are imperiled by a reckless chemical industry. But while the show extensively quoted
anti-business activists from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Citizen Action, Moyers refused to include the views of any representative from the very industry whose reputation he had impugned with documents obtained by trial lawyers.

"They have no defense for these documents," Moyers argued on NBC's Today on Monday, after he was asked about industry complaints that his complete omission of chemical spokesmen from the documentary was "journalistic malpractice."

"Their only defense is to attack the messenger who brings the message," Moyers insisted. "I take it as a badge of honor." Moyers allowed two spokesmen for the industry to plead their case in a separate half-hour program that also featured two industry critics, including Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group, which Moyers's foundation financially backed in the past. While the panel show included both sides, the documentary featured 90 minutes of industry critics, vs. zero minutes for supporters.

END of Excerpt

No word on who specifically found Moyers' work worthy of honor, as the academy's press release stated only that "the finalists were chosen by blue ribbon panels composed of broadcast industry professionals."

Amongst those featured at the event honoring Moyers along with other award-winners: Barbara Walters and Bernard Shaw.

From the academy's press release:

The 23rd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards were presented by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Tuesday, September 10, 2002. A stellar line-up of prominent newsmakers and industry executives including Barbara Walters, Bernard Shaw and Pat Mitchell, President of PBS, presented the awards to a distinguished group of broadcast journalists at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York City. Garrick Utley of CNN acted as Master of Ceremonies during the event.

The awards recognize outstanding achievement by individuals and programs broadcast throughout the 2001 calendar year. During the ceremony, Barbara Walters presented the first-ever lifetime achievement award to Roone Arledge, Chairman, ABC. The Awards Committee of NATAS granted the award.

"If ever there was a year to recognize television news coverage, this was it," said NATAS President Peter Price. "It was our honor to present so many notable broadcasters with the coveted Emmy in tribute to their skill, hard work and commitment...."

END of Excerpt

For the press release:
http://www.emmyonline.org/national/newsdoc/default.asp

PBS won 14 of the "News and Documentary Emmy Awards" with CBS getting seven, ABC six, CNN four, NBC three and MSNBC two, but both of MSNBC's were for National Geographic-produced Explorer shows. Fox News Channel won none, but as the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes noted, FNC "did not have any nominations." Nominees are selected from work submitted by each media outlet, so I don't know whether FNC even submitted anything.

For a rundown of the winners in all the categories: CLICK HERE

While talking about Moyers, the September 3 CyberAlert Special, which featured the content of the September 2 Notable Quotables, promised that all the quotes had appeared in previous CyberAlerts. Well, one had not, so now I will fix that by running it here as an example of the kind of journalism provided by PBS and Bill Moyers.

Here's how Moyers opened his Friday night PBS show, Now with Bill Moyers, on August 23:
"Next week, over 100 heads of state will meet in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their goal is to search for ways to save the Earth's life support system -- our water, air and soil. Ten years ago they gathered in Rio de Janeiro for the same purpose, but United Nations studies reveal the Earth's environment is still in decline. So the leaders of every major industrial country will be in Johannesburg next week, except for George W. Bush. That makes his core constituents quite happy: representatives of the religious right, conservative activists and big companies like ExxonMobil wrote the President this week praising him for not going to the summit. They also asked him to make sure American officials...keep the issue of global warming off the table. It's all part of a pattern. The Bush administration is carrying on what the Los Angeles Times this week called 'the most concerted exploitation of the public's land, air and water since fundamental protection laws went into effect three decades ago.'"

You can get another dose of Moyers' award-winning "journalism" on Now tonight on PBS.

5

In the midst of solemn coverage Wednesday of the 9/11 anniversary, NBC repeatedly ran a promo for The West Wing playing off the terrorist attacks as its dream liberal President delivered a speech, calling on Americans to rise to the occasion, just hours before the real President addressed the nation.

In the spot, viewers saw "President Bartlet," played by Martin Sheen, delivering a speech in a ballroom with soft lighting. As he spoke, the camera cut to shots of his staff gazing in admiration. Over stirring music, Bartlet/Sheen trumpeted:
"More than any time in recent history America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not expect, nor did we invite, confrontation with evil. But every time we think we've measured our capacity to meet a challenge we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. We will do what is hard, we will achieve what is great. This is the time for American heroes and we reach for the stars."

Over the last sentence, NBC put this on the screen:
"Season Premiere
THE WEST WING
NBC
Wednesday in 2 Weeks"

Only on entertainment television would a liberal Democratic President refer to something other than conservatives as "evil."

And so much for not using the death caused by the terrorist attacks for corporate aggrandizement.

For a picture of Sheen as President Bartlet: CLICK HERE

6

On Sunday ABC will debut This with George Stephanopoulos, featuring him as the solo anchor of the show.

The MRC's Tim Jones has compiled a collection of the most egregious bias from Stephanopoulos from his years so far at ABC.

For links to more that two dozen examples of Stephanopoulos promoting liberalism or denouncing conservative policies:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/mrcspotlight/stephanopoulos/welcome.asp

7

ABC's impressive coup. From the TV grid in Thursday's USA Today: "PrimeTime: (Season premiere) Interview with Saddam Hussein. (CC)"

Well, not quite. What ABC really offered was an interview by Claire Shipman with one of Saddam Hussein's former mistresses. -- Brent Baker


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