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CyberAlert -- 11/20/2001 -- Doonesbury Had Bush Thanking the Terrorists

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Jennings Told: "Nobody Likes You"; Rivera Complained He Was "Marginalized" at NBC; Doonesbury Had Bush Thanking the Terrorists

1) A man in Dallas curtly chided Peter Jennings: "Nobody likes you." That rebuke aired on ABC's World News Tonight about 24 hours after Jennings, moderating a TV panel program on the local ABC affiliate, was hit with complaints about his September 11 remarks about President Bush.

2) Geraldo Rivera left NBC for Fox News because he felt "marginalized" at NBC News where, he told Newsday's Verne Gay, "I never even talked to Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams." On September 11 Rivera was stuck in Los Angeles, but NBC refused to put him on the air on either NBC or MSNBC.

3) Sunday's Doonesbury had President Bush saying "thanks evildoers" for allowing him to succeed with "the missile defense program and corporate tax cuts and subsidies for the power industry and oil drilling in Alaska" because those policies are "all justified by the war against terrorism."

4) Tonight on CBS's JAG: "A U.S. Navy spy plane collides with a Chinese fighter jet and the crew members are taken hostage after they are forced to make an emergency landing."


Correction: The November 19 CyberAlert item on Saturday Night Live's parody of a Pentagon briefing with reporters posing stupid questions to Donald Rumsfeld mistakenly referred to Rumsfeld as the "Secretary of State." Obviously, as the Pentagon briefer, he's the Secretary of Defense.

1

A bad weekend for Peter Jennings in Dallas. As he showed on Monday's World News Tonight, a man who considered media coverage to be "unpatriotic" curtly chided Jennings: "Nobody likes you." That rebuke aired about 24 hours after Jennings, moderating a TV panel program on the local ABC affiliate, had the tables turned on him as he was hit with complaints about his September 11 on-air remarks.

WFAA-TV showcased a letter in which a viewer charged: "With the most horrific attack upon the United States since Pearl Harbor unfolding before our very eyes, Mr. Jennings sees fit to bash the Bush administration."

Jennings anchored the November 19 World News Tonight from Dallas as part of a series of stops around the country to look at the post-September 11 mood. For the last story of the program Jennings relayed the opinions he gathered over the weekend during Sunday's tailgate party before the Dallas Cowboys football game. He didn't fare as well as President Bush and Jennings deserves credit for being willing to highlight displeasure with the media and himself. He observed:
"The President's approval rating is high in his home state."
Man: "George Bush, so far, has done an unbelievable job."
Jennings: "Many of us in the media don't get the same high marks."
Jennings to a second man: "Can you tell me how the mood is in Dallas these days."
The second man: "Nobody likes you."
Jennings summarized his beef: "This man told us our reporting in these days is unpatriotic and cannot help the nation get back to business."

Later in the same day as the man castigated him, Jennings moderated a WFAA-TV special about media coverage of terrorism. He soon faced questions about how he treated President Bush in the hours after the terrorist attacks.

Jim Romenesko's MediaNews (http://www.poynter.org/medianews) on Monday highlighted a November 19 Dallas Morning News story about the November 18 panel show. An excerpt from the story by reporter Ed Bark:

ABC anchor Peter Jennings and four local journalists put their news judgments on the line Sunday evening in a live telecast that gave consumers a chance to question the barrage of coverage sent their way since Sept. 11.

Titled Covering Terrorism: Critiquing the Media, the one-hour program was produced by ABC affiliate WFAA-TV (Channel 8) and originated from that station's Dallas studios.

Mr. Jennings mostly moderated give-and-take among 12 questioners and a panel made up of Channel 8 anchor John McCaa; Robert W. Mong Jr., president and editor of The Dallas Morning News; KERA-TV (Channel 13) news director Yolette Garcia; and WBAP-AM (820) talk-show host Mark Davis.

Mr. Jennings came under sharp scrutiny himself, however, after Channel 8 surprised him by bridging a commercial break with videotape of the ABC anchor wondering about President Bush's whereabouts on the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The excerpt, played "unbeknownst to me," Mr. Jennings said, was followed by in-studio questioning from Craig Stambaugh of Arlington, who had criticized the anchor in a letter to The News that also was excerpted on Sunday's program.

"With the most horrific attack upon the United States since Pearl Harbor unfolding before our very eyes, Mr. Jennings sees fit to bash the Bush administration," Mr. Stambaugh had written in part to The News.

Mr. Jennings agreed that a "number of people took objection" to his remarks, in which he asked on the air, "Where is the president of the United States?...I know we don't know where he is, but pretty soon the country needs to know where he is."

His comments were "in no way intended to question his [Mr. Bush's] actions," Mr. Jennings said, but rather to express "how important it was for all of us in the country to see the president."

Most of the panelists sided with him, although WBAP's Mr. Davis said the timing of the anchor's remarks was questionable. He said Mr. Jennings seemed to be implying that President Bush was foundering in the early hours of a crisis situation....

END of Excerpt

To read the story in full, go to:
http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainment/STORY.ea437538a6.b0.af.0.a4.d967f.html

Did anyone in the metro-Dallas/Ft. Worth area happen to tape this WFAA-TV program?

2

Geraldo Rivera, who took a cut in pay from $5 million to $2 million to join Fox News from CNBC as of Monday, had been awarded appearances on Today and NBC prime time specials in response to an earlier overture from Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, but Rivera still felt "marginalized" at NBC News where, he told Newsday's Verne Gay, "I never even talked to Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams." On September 11 Rivera was stuck in Los Angeles, but NBC refused to put him on the air on either NBC or MSNBC.

An excerpt from another newspaper story highlighted by Romenesko's MediaNews, a piece by Verne Gay in the November 19 Newsday about why Rivera decided to leave CNBC for FNC:

....It is midtown Manhattan and four days before Rivera signs off for the last time from his CNBC talk show, "Rivera Live." Yet walking just two city blocks to a restaurant on 49th Street, every businessman, tourist and messenger seems to know about his radical career adjustment, from millionaire talk show host to war correspondent for the Fox News Channel.

"Way to go, Geraldo!" "Go get 'em, Geraldo!" "Bring back his head, Geraldo!" The latter may be a reference to an offhand comment Rivera made to a reporter a few weeks ago -- something about cutting off Osama bin Laden's head, bronzing it, and then bringing it back stateside as an unusual trophy of war.

He shrugs and laughs. "A typical Geraldoism." Yet with Rivera's fans, confusion is, and always was, understandable. Is Geraldo going to cover the war or fight it? Is this the last chapter of one of the most colorful careers in TV news or the halfway point? (He seems to suggest both.) And is he really walking away from all that money -- from an estimated $5 million a year to $2 million -- out of principle and an unquenchable desire to cover the most important story of his and everybody else's life, as he insists?...

His "instinct [and] desire," he says, are to not adapt. "It may be the worst folly of my career. On the other hand, maybe I can do a great job and bring more eyeballs to an important story that have already drifted off to 'Friends' or 'Survivor.' ... Why stay [at CNBC] in Fort Lee?"

On CNBC, he adds, "I wasted a lot of time, just like a lot of other Americans worrying about things that maybe weren't so important." Roger Ailes, the Fox News chief and former head of CNBC who brought Rivera to that network in 1994, says "I truly believe when he saw those towers hit, it made him feel...that he had to go back to reporting. This is a sincere move on his part."

But there's a story behind this story. Several years ago, Ailes made a play for Rivera, which forced NBC News management (which controls CNBC's prime time schedule) to dramatically boost Rivera's salary and give him a much broader role at the news division, including the production of prime time specials and contributor to the "Today" show.

Industry observers long suspected that NBC News' bosses were ambivalent about their newly empowered star and, in fact, he would get no role on "Nightly News" (as he'd hoped) while the prime time specials disappeared.

Rivera admits that he felt "marginalized" at NBC News, and says, "I never even talked to Tom Brokaw or Brian Williams. Katie Couric was as sweet as can be and Matt Lauer was wonderful [but] when a person moves into a neighborhood, you'd think someone would send over a bottle of wine. I'm still waiting for mine."

The long-troubled relationship began to fall apart on Sept. 11.

Rivera was in Los Angeles and unable to fly home. Instead of killing time, he went to the NBC News bureau to see what he could do. Nothing, he was told, and -- oh, by the way -- a Brokaw special would take over his 9 p.m. CNBC slot. Rivera fumed.

When he got back to New York, Rivera asked to report stories on the crisis and to anchor his show from Jerusalem. "'No, no, no,'" he claims he was told. "'We have people in Jerusalem and Islamabad. We really need you to do your show. That's your job.'"

Rivera, who loudly reminded his bosses that he had covered wars in Afghanistan in years past, then exploded, telling them "I will not be marginalized on this story."

His next words, he recalls, were: "I quit."

Rivera says his resignation could have led to a lawsuit, "but they didn't want to have a war with me and I didn't want to have a war with them. I had the [contractual] out." (An NBC News spokeswoman declined to comment.)...

END of Excerpt

To read the story in its entirety, go to:
http://www.newsday.com/features/printedition/ny-p2top22470302nov19.story?coll=ny%2Dfeatures%2Dprint

3

Another anti-Bush, cheap shot Doonesbury cartoon strip from Mr. Jane Pauley, Gary Trudeau. As first highlighted by the DrudgeReport.com, the Sunday Doonesbury strip had President Bush saying "thanks evildoers" for allowing him to succeed with "the missile defense program and corporate tax cuts and subsidies for the power industry and oil drilling in Alaska" because those policies are "all justified by the war against terrorism."

In the November 18 Sunday strip, which showed no faces or characters, just bubbles above the White House, a man, presumably Karl Rove, said: "Sir, you've been so busy this fall, we didn't have a chance to brief you on this..."
Next frame: "But it turned out that the missile defense program and corporate tax cuts and subsidies for the power industry and oil drilling in Alaska..."
Next frame: "...In fact, most of the items on our political agenda..."
Next frame: "...Are ALL justified by the war on terrorism!"
Next frame, President Bush: "Wow...What a coincidence..."
Next and last frame. In one bubble: "Thanks, evildoers." In a second bubble: "They're such jerks -- if they only knew..."

James Taranto's "Best of the Web" column on http://www.OpinionJournal.com on Monday reminded me that back in early September "Trudeau fell for the obvious 'Lovenstein Institute' presidential IQ hoax."

To view the November 18 strip as distributed by Universal Press Syndicate, go to:
http://www.doonesbury.com/strip/dailydose/index20011118.htm

For the earlier one about how Bush supposedly possessed the lowest-ever presidential IQ, go to:
http://www.doonesbury.ucomics.com/strip/dailydose/index20010902.htm

4

Ripped from the headlines of this past Spring, tonight CBB will present the first of a two-part JAG tied to the Chinese incident back in April.

As described in the Washington Post's TV Week: "A U.S. Navy spy plane collides with a Chinese fighter jet and the crew members are taken hostage after they are forced to make an emergency landing."

JAG, about a team of Navy lawyers, airs at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST on CBS.

This is the last CyberAlert until after Thanksgiving, though on Wednesday I may distribute the text of the last Notable Quotables, so have a safe and happy holiday. I'll be flying for the first time since the 11th, and doing so between two airports which were both used by the terrorists. -- Brent Baker


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