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CyberAlert -- 11/19/2001 -- Parody of Reporters on SNL

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Parody of Reporters on SNL; "Terrorist" Too "Judgmental" for BBC; Actor Danny Glover Denounced U.S. as "Purveyors of Violence"

1) Newsweek's Evan Thomas conceded: "Last week I said it might take a couple of hundred thousand ground troops. I was wrong, wrong, wrong."

2) NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL) lampooned the stupidity of questions posed at Pentagon briefings. One "reporter" asked: "We're getting reports of U.S. special op forces being dropped into Taliban areas with camouflage and night vision goggles. This means the Taliban soldiers won't be able to see our troops, but we'll be able to see them. Is that fair?"

3) The BBC World Service proclaimed its audience expects "accurate" information, but it won't describe the September 11 events as "terrorist" acts because that word "can appear judgmental in parts of the world." The BBC's radio broadcasts are heard by 70 percent of Afghanis.

4) More on Gallup's poll which found just 43 percent approval of news media coverage of the war on terrorism: "Exactly 50% of males under the age of 50 approve of the news media, as do 50% of Democrats and 50% of people who did not attend church in the past seven days. By contrast, only 38% of older males, 33% of Republicans and 33% of people who attended church in the past seven days indicate their approval."

5) Actor Danny Glover criticized President Bush for wanting to kill Osama bin Laden. Glover denounced the U.S.: "One of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it's been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever."

6) The war is getting so boring that this morning CBS's Early Show featured an interview with....Chandra Levy's parents.


1

Kudos to Newsweek's Evan Thomas for admitting on Inside Washington over the weekend that he was one of the pundits who was wrong about the progress in the war in Afghanistan.

The Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek conceded: "Last week I said it might take a couple of hundred thousand ground troops. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Like a lot of pundits, I was just plain wrong."

2

NBC's Saturday Night Live (SNL) opened with a skit making fun of the stupidity of questions posed by reporters at Pentagon briefings.

The skit featured a parody of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, complete with squinting and a hostile attitude toward the reporters. With C-SPAN graphics on screen, the fake reporters posed these questions:

-- A male reporter: "We're getting reports of U.S. special op forces being dropped into Taliban areas with camouflage and night vision goggles. This means the Taliban soldiers won't be able to see our troops, but we'll be able to see them. Is that fair?"

-- A female reporter: "With our military campaign stalled and the opposition forces seemingly bogged down in a quagmire, isn't there a danger the U.S. will look like a weakling and thus lose the support of the Afghan people?"
Rumsfeld character: "Isn't that the same question you asked last week?"
Reporter: "Oh, I'm sorry. Okay, with our military moving so rapidly and opposition forces easily overrunning Taliban areas, isn't there a danger the U.S. will look like a bully and thus lose the support of the Afghan people?"

A great lampooning of how reporters so often take an adversarial position to whatever is occurring.

-- Another male reporter: "We're being told that Northern Alliance forces are firing back at Taliban troops who have fired on them even though the Taliban troops missed. Does the U.S. condone that?"
Rumsfeld: "Now what kind of question is that?"
Reporter: "Thought provoking?"
Rumsfeld: "No."
Reporter: "Incisive?"
Rumsfeld: "No. Remember what I said about your question the other day?"
Reporter: "That it was idiotic?"
Rumsfeld: "And?"
Reporter: "And that I am an embarrassment both to myself and to my newspaper?"
Rumsfeld: "That's right."

If only the real Rumsfeld was that tough.

3

Calling the events of September 11 "terrorist" acts is too "judgmental" for BBC's World Service, the BBC insisted in a statement highlighted Friday night by MSNBC's Brian Williams. The BBC World Service is the radio news service transmitted in dozens of languages around the world, including the Pashto service in Afghanistan where it is the leading source of information.

As reported in the November 16 CyberAlert, last week the Guardian newspaper in London quoted the BBC's Deputy Director of News, Mark Damazer, explaining why the World Service will not describe the attacks on the U.S. as terrorism: "However appalling and disgusting it was, there will nevertheless be a constituency of your listeners who don't regard it as terrorism. Describing it as such could downgrade your status as an impartial and independent broadcaster."

For an excerpt from the Guardian story first highlighted by OpinionJournal.com's "Best of the Web" column, go to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011116.asp#5

During a discussion segment with three reporters about other issues on Friday's The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC, Williams displayed on screen a statement from the BBC about the policy:
"BBC World Service's international audiences expect authoritative and impartial news and information, that is accurate and editorially independent. The word 'terrorist' can appear judgmental in parts of the world where there is no clear consensus about the legitimacy of militant political groups."

Just how "accurate" is it to not refer to it as "terrorism"?

Despite an exhaustive search over the weekend on several British newspaper sites, the BBC site, Yahoo's news page and Nexis, I couldn't find any other citation of this statement or any other follow up to last week's Guardian story.

In my search, however, I did come across a Financial Times story on the influence of the BBC World Service where few other services are available: "With roughly 70 percent of the Afghan population said to tune in regularly to the local language radio broadcasts, the BBC World Service has penetrated deeper into Taliban territory than the British army special forces."

An excerpt from the November 16 Financial Times story headlined: "World Service helps BBC to enjoy a great war." Reporter James Harding wrote:

While the US has deployed the B52 bomber to pound Afghanistan with weeks of air strikes, the UK's main contribution to the rout of the Taliban has arguably been a hearts-and-minds bombardment by the BBC Pashto and Persian service.

With roughly 70 per cent of the Afghan population said to tune in regularly to the local language radio broadcasts, the BBC World Service has penetrated deeper into Taliban territory than the British army special forces.

On Thursday, the BBC's central role in the conflict was underlined by the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar. The one-eyed cleric called the BBC out of the blue on Tuesday night, a couple of days after his followers had fled Kabul, to say he wanted to give an interview to address both the Afghan people and his enemies.

Speaking via an intermediary on a walkie-talkie, Mullah Omar warned the West that the "destruction of America...will happen within a short period of time." Later in the same day, the BBC broadcast in Pashto an interview with Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, who promised a long, but ultimately successful war on terrorism.

The BBC World Service, which is funded by the UK foreign office, has nearly doubled its Pashto and Persian broadcasts since September 11, raising transmission hours from 6 to 11 hours a day.

Other state-funded international broadcasters, such as the Voice of America and Germany's Deutsche Welle, have also poured more resources into local language transmissions targetted at Afghanistan and its neighbours.

But the BBC has built up a lead among Pashto and Persian listeners thanks to years of broadcasting, a reputation for impartial news and, as almost any Afghan will tell you, an unmissable soap opera....

Beyond the anecdotal reports that the BBC is the most widely listened-to radio service in Afghanistan, the United Nations conducted a listener survey nearly two years ago which showed 72 per cent of household heads regularly listened to the BBC Pashto service.

In the television world, the Al Jazeera network, based in Qatar, has been the media meeting-point for both sides to put their arguments. In radio, it has been the BBC....

END Excerpt

The Afghans listening to the BBC must have been confused about why their country was being bombed in response to some sort of event on September 11 which fell short of being "terrorism."

To listen to the BBC World Service in English, which some public radio stations carry for an hour or so a day, you can tune in anytime via either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player. Go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/index.shtml

4

The Gallup Organization on Friday posted a fresh "poll analysis" about their survey released earlier in the week, and reported in the November 15 CyberAlert, about how out of all the players in the war on terrorism the public only disapproves of one: the "news media." The Gallup survey, taken November 8-11, found 54 percent public disapproval for how the news media are "handling the war on terrorism since September 11," compared to 43 who approve.

In the November 16 posting, "High Approval for Most People/Institutions Handling War on Terrorism: But majority of Americans disapprove of news media's performance," Gallup's David W. Moore revealed:
"Approval ratings for the news media vary somewhat among demographic subgroups, but even the most positive groups show no more than half who approve, far below the approval rating of all other people and institutions mentioned in the poll. Exactly 50% of males under the age of 50 approve of the news media, as do 50% of Democrats and 50% of people who did not attend church in the past seven days. By contrast, only 38% of older males, 33% of Republicans and 33% of people who attended church in the past seven days indicate their approval."

Moore added that the public does not share the media's interest in resisting government efforts to limit information dissemination: "In general, Americans appear to be quite willing to support governmental restriction of news coverage, while at the same time several news reports have been critical of such efforts. This tension between the desire of the media to cover events as fully as possible and the government's desire to restrict coverage in certain areas is reflected in two CNN/Time questions, asked of the general public on Oct. 12. When asked about problems in providing information about the war against terrorism, most Americans, 72%, said that the possibility of the government withholding too much information from the media and the American public was not a problem. On the other hand, 68% of Americans said it was a problem that the news media were providing too much detailed information about U.S. military actions."

For the Gallup "poll analysis" in full, go to:
http://www.gallup.com/poll/releases/pr011116.asp

For the November 15 CyberAlert item with a rundown of the high ratings for every other person or institution, from 89 percent approval for President Bush to 77 percent approval for the Post Office, refer back to:
http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011115.asp#2

5

"One of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it's been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever," actor Danny Glover declared during a talk at Princeton University last week to an Amnesty International anti-death penalty group.

A November 16 Trentonian story, highlighted Friday night by Tony Snow on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, quoted Glover as arguing against killing Osama bin Laden or imposing the death penalty on any terrorists.

An excerpt from the story in the November 16 Trentonian, a daily newspaper in Trenton, by reporter Dave Sommers:

PRINCETON -- Movie star Danny Glover, known for his brutal gunplay in the Lethal Weapon movie series, last night called on the U.S. to spare the life of Osama bin Laden

As guest speaker at an anti-death penalty forum at Princeton University, Glover said America was the one to blame for bombing and terror around the world.

"Yes -- Yes!" Glover said when asked if American forces should spare the Saudi terrorist's life.

"When I say the death penalty is inhumane. I mean [it's inhumane] whether that person is in a bird cage [jail] or it's bin Laden."

Glover spent the first 30 minutes of his presentation at McCosh 50 auditorium deriding the death penalty, which he called "homicide as the official tool of the state."

He went on to chide the U.S. government for incarceration of nearly 1,000 illegal immigrants in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, and derided John Ashcroft for asking permission to listen to conversations between terrorist suspects and their lawyers.

"It gets even worse," he added. "This week President Bush implemented a military tribunal...which will make it easier for us to execute (people)."

"This clearly is a slippery slope. We must stand vigilant against Bush in these times and work with the abolitionists.

"One of the main purveyors of violence in this world has been this country, whether it's been against Nicaragua, Vietnam or wherever," Glover added.

The event was sponsored by the Mercer County Chapter of Amnesty International, a group with 1,000 members which opposes the death penalty and advocates human rights.

Glover has received wide recognition for his roles in more than 50 films, including his role as a gun-toting police officer in the Lethal Weapon movies.

When asked how he could justify playing a Los Angeles cop who guns down villains in the movies, Glover said he compromised with Warner Brothers and Sony, the movie financiers.

For example, Glover said Warner Brothers agreed to finance half the cost of movies with pacifist themes, such as Beloved and Buffalo Soldiers, in exchange for him agreeing to perform in films where he often ignores the rights of criminal characters....

"I've been an advocate for peace my whole life. But one of the main purveyors of violence in this world is this country," he said....

END of Excerpt

For the story in full with a picture of Glover, go to:
http://www.zwire.com/site/Danny_Glover.html

6

A sure sign at least one network show is getting bored with the war: This morning's Early Show on CBS, at the top of the 7:30am half hour, featured an in-studio interview segment with Chandra Levy's parents. -- Brent Baker


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