CyberAlert -- 12/26/2001 -- Brokaw Chided Ted Olson Over Wife's Book
Jennings Cited "Root Causes"; Brokaw Chided Ted Olson Over Wife's Book; CNN's Pelton: "Respect the Cause" Espoused by John Walker?
1) ABC's Peter Jennings exhibited hints of leftist concerns on the Late Show as he twice fretted about the difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism," asserted that "campaigning against terrorism" means recognizing the "root causes for dissatisfaction around the world," maintained that global leadership is not just "selling American culture," and bemoaned how "Americans are pretty insular people for the most part."
2) Tom Brokaw demanded that Ted Olson defend his decision to proceed with the publication of his late wife's anti-Clinton book. Brokaw claimed that "some people are also saying it just opens old wounds at a time when we're trying to have political unity in this country" and insisted that "people who are neutral in all of this are going to say, 'Look, this is just a continuation of a political vendetta against that couple.'"
3) Writer Robert Pelton, who gave CNN exclusive rights to his interview with John Walker, proclaimed, when Walker asked if he were a Muslim, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." On CNN's Reliable Sources, Pelton denied he was supporting the Taliban's terrorism, telling Howard Kurtz: "One of the pillars of Islam is jihad, or struggle, and like many religions, it is a foundation of their belief. So, I do respect that."
4) Last week when CNN's Aaron Brown set up an interview segment by tagging Shelby Steele as "a conservative," but simply described Richard Cohen as "a columnist," Steele called him on it, forcing Brown to concede that Cohen is a liberal.
Friday night on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, ABC's Peter Jennings exhibited hints of leftist concerns as he twice fretted about the difference between "nationalism" and "patriotism," pleading for people to "respect the differences that exist in the country...especially...on the issue of patriotism," asserted that "campaigning against terrorism around the world" is "just too simple" since "there are a lot of root causes for dissatisfaction around the world," maintained global leadership is "not just American business or selling American culture around the world," and bemoaned how "Americans are pretty insular people for the most part."
Appearing on the December 21 show to promote
the New Year's Eve coverage planned by ABC News in prime time, Jennings
Letterman soon wondered if it's important
for leaders to ask for sacrifice in order to provide the "notion we
are all in this together?" Jennings lectured Americans:
But unlike Jennings, who is still a Canadian citizen, we are Americans.
Tom Brokaw concluded Friday's NBC Nightly News with what promised to be a poignant pre-holiday weekend discussion with Solicitor General Ted Olson about his wife, Barbara, who was killed aboard the plane which hit the Pentagon on September 11. While Brokaw allowed Olson to fondly reminisce about her love for "opera, Shakespeare, country and western music, dogs and the countryside of Virginia," Brokaw chided Olson for his decision to proceed with the publication of her anti-Clinton book, The Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of Power by the Clinton White House.
Brokaw claimed that "some people are also saying it just opens old wounds at a time when we're trying to have political unity in this country" and insisted that "admirers of the Clintons or other people who are neutral in all of this are going to say, 'Look, this is just a continuation of a political vendetta against that couple.'"
Brokaw set up the last story on the December
21 NBC Nightly News: "It's a bittersweet Christmas for the husband of
another well-known television personality: Ted Olson, married to Barbara
Olson, the commentator who was on board the plane that crashed into the
Pentagon. Her book on the final days of the Clinton presidency was
published after her death, and it's a best-seller. Ted Olson, of course,
represented George Bush during the Florida election controversy. He's now
For more about Barbara Olson's book, The
Final Days: A Behind the Scenes Look at the Last, Desperate Abuses of
Power by the Clinton White House, go to:
During a portion of his December 2 interview with the then-disheveled and just-captured John Walker shown for the first time late last week, CNN contributor Robert Pelton, when asked if he were a Muslim, told Walker, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." The New York Post's Adam Buckman caught the exchange and reported it in a Friday story.
On Saturday's Reliable Sources on CNN, Pelton denied he was expressing support for the Taliban's terrorism, telling Howard Kurtz: "One of the pillars of Islam is jihad, or struggle, and like many religions, it is a foundation of their belief. So, I do respect that."
So, he does "respect" the anti-Western crusade, in which Walker enlisted, to kill all non-believers?
An excerpt from Buckman's December 21 story:
I couldn't believe my ears.
I'm watching this CNN interview with the shaggy-haired traitor John Walker yesterday when suddenly I hear the interviewer -- identified as a CNN correspondent -- tell Walker how much he "respects" the cause to which Walker has pledged his allegiance.
I was so stunned that I went searching for the interview transcript on CNN's Web site to see if I'd heard it right and there it was for anyone to read: the correspondent -- author and self-styled adventurer Robert Young Pelton -- was expressing an unseemly and, to say the least, unjournalistic sympathy for a sworn enemy of the United States in wartime.
Doesn't anyone at CNN even listen to this stuff before putting it on TV?
"Yourself a Muslim?" asked Walker hopefully at one point in the interview, which was aired for the first time during Aaron Brown's show on Wednesday night and then aired throughout the day yesterday on CNN (though it was taped back on Dec. 2).
"No, unfortunately, I'm not," answered Pelton to the religion question. "But," he was quick to add, "I respect the cause and I respect the call."
Respect the cause? As I understand it, the "cause" for which the American-born Walker was willing to kill Americans is the fundamentalist Islamic philosophy of the repressive Taliban, which the United States has aided Afghan nationalists in driving from power.
So who is Robert Young Pelton? He is the author of a handful of free-wheeling and best-selling travel books, including "The World's Most Dangerous Places," "Come Back Alive" and "The Adventurist."
He's an unusual personality who, depending on which bio you're reading, has ventured through 60 or 80 countries in search of off-the-beaten-path adventures.
Delve further and you come across some wild statements uttered by Pelton, such as an on-line Q&A he conducted with the Terrorism Research Center in which he likened the New York City police to terrorists ("the New York City police seem to do just fine terrorizing immigrants with toilet plungers") and then later stated, "There is no such thing as terrorism."...
END of Excerpt
While CNN's transcripts do identify Pelton as a "CNN correspondent," the on-screen graphics during interviews with him aired around all of his reports listed him as a "CNN contributor."
Clips from Pelton's December 2 interview with a very scruffy Walker, as he laid in a bed while doctors attended to him, began to air on NewsNight with Aaron Brown on Wednesday night and continued throughout Thursday on CNN. The portion Buckman caught, however, did not run on NewsNight and was not part of the repeating rotation and from what I could determine, by fast-forwarding through tapes, may have aired just once: During the 10am EST half hour on Thursday, December 20.
During that 10am half hour CNN showed this exchange, which I am quoting in full context and for which I checked the CNN transcript against the actual CNN broadcast. "Inaudible" means someone else's voice was drowning out Walker or Pelton:
Pelton: "Is this what you thought it
would be? Was this the right cause or the right place?"
For a full transcript of what CNN played
during the 10am EST half hour:
CNN featured Pelton on the December 22
Reliable Sources. Host Howard Kurtz first asked about his journalistic
status: "You were described in this interview, despite your
relatively brief association with CNN, as a CNN contributor. Do you
consider yourself a journalist?"
Kurtz then played a clip of Pelton telling
Walker, "I respect the cause and I respect the call." Kurtz
wanted to know: "What did you mean, Robert Pelton, when you said 'I
respect the cause' of Islamic jihad?"
Kurtz soon pressed Pelton on what he did not
ask about: "Why did you not ask John Walker what he thought of the
September 11 attacks, or whether he felt that he'd betrayed his
Kurtz raised another discovery made by the New
York Post's Buckman: "The New York Post reported the other day that
during an online discussion recently, you said that you didn't think there
was any such thing as terrorism. Can you explain a little bit about your
views on that?"
The next time CNN gets hot video from someone who isn't a journalist maybe they should consider muting the sound whenever he or she speaks.
To learn about Pelton's latest book, go to:
Confronting liberal bias as it occurs. Last week when CNN's Aaron Brown set up an interview segment by tagging Shelby Steele as "a conservative," but simply describing Richard Cohen as "a columnist," Steele called him on it, forcing Brown to concede that Cohen is a liberal.
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the incident
which occurred on the December 18 NewsNight. Brown set up the segment on
the 10pm EST show: "There was that remarkable meeting a few weeks
back in the prison in Mazar-e Sharif of two young men -- and to some, two
different cultures. Two different American cultures. CIA officer Mike
Spann, a former Marine, a child of small-town Alabama, whose family said
he always wanted to serve his country. And in that prison, before he was
killed, he met John Walker, a 20-year-old from Marin County, California,
fighting with the Taliban, whose parents sent him to an alternative
school, supported his conversion to Islam, and allowed him to travel
across the world to pursue his new religion. Some conservatives jumped on
Walker, saying he is a product of cultural liberalism -- the California
kind -- helping to turn an impressionable kid against his own country.
Steele has provided an excellent model for the new year for how conservative guests on TV shows can correct liberal bias on the fly. -- trapped with unlabeled liberals in Taxachusetts.
-- Brent Baker