2. ABC Drums Up "Controversy" Over Idea of Assassinating Hussein
3. MSNBC's Donahue Goes Out with Rosie O'Donnell's Rantings
4. FNC's Brian Kilmeade Takes on Janeane Garofalo
5. Dennis Miller Delivers Some More Anti-Liberal Jibes
6. "Top Ten Surprises in Rather's Interview with Saddam Hussein"
CBS News is providing Iraqi dictator and mass murderer Saddam Hussein with a conduit to the American people for his propaganda on the eve of war. After CBS obtained from the Iraqi regime an edited tape of Dan Rather's Monday interview with Hussein, Tuesday's CBS Evening News and Wednesday's Early Show each showed different excerpts totaling about two-and-a-half minutes. Much more is scheduled to run tonight on 60 Minutes II.
CBS decided to showcase instances of Rather cuing up Hussein to get across points he wanted. Evening News viewers heard Rather wonder: "What's the most important thing you want the American people to understand at this important juncture of history?" Hussein assured Rather: "First, that you tell them that Iraqi people are not the enemy of the American people." Hussein proceeded to offer to debate Bush, a prospect which excited Rather. According to a transcript on the CBS Web site, Rather hoped: "Are you speaking of a debate? Yes, a debate. This is new. You are saying that you are willing, you are suggesting, you are urging a debate with President Bush on television?" The Evening News played only Rather's opening sentence: "Are you speaking of a debate?"
In the excerpt played on the Early Show, Rather asked about "any connections to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden?" Hussein dismissed the idea: "Iraq has no connection with Mr. Osama bin Laden."
After the Evening News excerpt, but not on the Early Show, Rather explained how "the videotaping was done by Iraqi television crews, which has long been standard practice for Saddam," because, Rather stated in passing along the Iraqi regime's claim, "to prevent assassination attempts."
All during prime time, CBS ran promos hyping the Hussein wants to debate Bush angle: "You've heard about Saddam's challenge to President Bush. But there's only one place to see it. It's on 60 Minutes II Wednesday at 9, 8 Central."
Yet, as the MRC's Tim Graham pointed out in a Media Reality Check which was distributed as a CyberAlert Special on Tuesday afternoon, Hussein's debate the President of the United States PR gimmick is nothing new. Hussein made the same offer during an interview with Rather in 1990. See:
Rather opened the February 25 CBS Evening News from a snowy Amman, Jordan: "Good evening from the Middle East where in his part of the high desert there's several feet of snow and where war now may be weeks or less away. President Bush today again warned Iraq there's only one way to avoid war and that is quote, 'full disarmament.' But Saddam Hussein remained defiant as I got together with the Iraqi President in one of his palaces in Baghdad for an exclusive, wide-ranging interview."
Rather then went to his interview, starting with this question to Hussein as the two sat across a table from each other with two interpreters sitting beside them: "Mr. President, do you intend to destroy the Al Samoud missiles that the United Nations prohibits?"
Next, CBS showed the debate proposal sequence, starting with Rather wondering: "What's the most important thing you want the American people to understand at this important juncture of history?"
That was it for the Hussein interview. Back to Rather in Amman, he relayed: "The White House has said no to any debate. As for those Al Samoud II missiles, chief UN inspector Hans Blix insists Iraq does have them and must destroy them."
Rather then noted: "Now a word about my interview with Saddam Hussein. The videotaping was done by Iraqi television crews, which has long been standard practice for Saddam, for one thing to prevent assassination attempts. The Iraqis returned to CBS News a tape that combined all three camera feeds into one. CBS News checked, and as far as we can determine, the content of the nearly three-hour interview is intact and was not censored by the Iraqis."
For a fuller transcript of the portion of the interview shown on the CBS Evening News, with the text of portions of questions and answers edited out of the Evening News excerpt:
Be advised, however, that I caught a couple of inaccuracies in the CBS transcript, so when in conflict go with what I have above.
Another CBS News Web site page provides the text to some additional questions posed by Rather:
-- "Mr. President, have you been offered asylum anywhere? And would you, under any circumstances, consider going into exile to save your people death and destruction?"
-- "If there is an invasion, will you set fire to the oil fields? Will you blow the dams? or your reservoirs of water to resist the invasion?"
The article ends with this assurance: "Saddam also told Rather the American people are not his enemy and urged dialogue, including a debate with President Bush, to avoid war."
That's online at:
Both links feature photos of Rather with Hussein.
As noted above, much more will air on Wednesday night's 60 Minutes II at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST. Plus, Rather is scheduled to appear Wednesday night on the Late Show with David Letterman.
ABC's World News Tonight on Tuesday, under the helm of Peter Jennings, but not CBS or NBC, jumped on the "controversy" over how six weeks ago President Bush supposedly said the U.S. would assassinate Saddam Hussein if the opportunity arose -- as if considering such an option is a grave transgression. Jennings insisted: "There was also enormous interest today in how far the President would go to kill Saddam Hussein himself."
Nightline on Tuesday devoted its entire half hour to the subject.
On the February 25 World News Tonight, from the White House Terry Moran explained: "There have been intense diplomatic efforts to persuade Saddam Hussein to go into exile in order to avoid war, but it seems the President may have been exploring a quicker solution. The controversy stems from what one Republican Senator claims Mr. Bush said last month on a trip to Chicago."
So much "controversy" over an option I bet virtually everyone outside of ABC News assumed the U.S. has been pursuing for months and would be much more concerned if it were not doing so.
MSNBC on Tuesday cancelled Donahue, its most-watched prime time show, though it was stuck well behind CNN and FNC in its time slot. And Phil Donahue went out as he came in last July, with his guest and himself railing against Bush's Iraq policy. While Donahue repeats will air through Friday, Monday's show with Rosie O'Donnell was the final original program.
With an average of 439,000 viewers this month (compared to 970,000 during the same 8pm EST hour for CNN's Connie Chung Tonight and 2.7 million watching FNC's The O'Reilly Factor), Donahue, the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes reported on Wednesday, "remained MSNBC's most watched prime time program." Remember that the next time anyone touts how Hardball is a popular show.
During the February 24 show with Rosie O'Donnell as the sole guest, Donahue delivered more of the left-wing pontificating which failed to attract a significant audience. He recalled saying after 9-11: "I hope we're not going to bomb Afghanistan. I really thought, holy cow, a third world country. People live in caves. We're going to bomb. How's that going to help?"
O'Donnell demanded: "We have to stop acting like a bully and change the policy." Proving she lives a life surrounded by liberals, O'Donnell maintained: "Every day when I go to pick up my kids from school, every person I've spoken to has said they're against this war."
Donahue and O'Donnell jointly lamented how "disappointing" it is that Senate liberals like Barbara Mikulski voted for the war resolution before Donahue declared: "We've got the biggest thing that goes boom in the history of the universe and we appear to be rather lofty and pious in our demands that nobody else have one!"
Some excerpts from the February 24 show, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth, followed by links to CyberAlert items about Donahue's MSNBC tenure:
-- Donahue: "Tell me about how you feel about what's happening now in our country and around the world."
-- O'Donnell: "We created the nuclear weapons and now all the other people have them, too. And we're getting mad. Right. Guess who started the game? We did. We did."
-- Donahue: "Butler, the former weapons inspector who now, inspector who works for MSNBC, a very nice chap, by the way, an Australian, makes the point that as he made his rounds around the world, he is very, very direct in saying, he hears good weapons of mass destruction and bad weapons of mass destruction way too often. People in other parts of the world want to know why our weapons of mass destruction are good and everybody else's is bad. At least we have to confront the hypocrisy. It doesn't mean we're evil. It doesn't mean the President doesn't have a good heart. But let us be honest. We've got the biggest thing that goes boom in the history of the universe and we appear to be rather lofty and pious in our demands that nobody else have one!"
> Now, some highlights of the liberal advocacy from Donahue and his guests, starting when his MSNBC show debuted last July:
-- NBC's Today gave Phil Donahue a soapbox. When Katie Couric cited the concern of those who say we "don't need another liberal" on TV, he retorted: "I'm still looking for this desperately dangerous expression of liberal thought on television." Donahue delivered a tirade about the superiority of liberalism: "We are claiming to be more respectful, in many ways, of the Bill of the Rights than many conservatives who just can't wait to surrender. You know, 'don't, don't sweat Miranda, they're coming after us!'"
-- On Phil Donahue's MSNBC show, Tom Brokaw attributed the false impression of liberal bias to how journalists spend "more time on issues that seem to be liberal," such as "the problem of the downtrodden, the problem of civil rights and human rights..." Donahue applauded Brokaw: "Let me tell you what is impressive. You're not wearing a flag...I say hip-hip-hooray for that." Brokaw argued that if you wear a flag pin, "it's a suggestion somehow that you're endorsing what the administration is doing" and so "I don't think journalists ought to be wearing flags."
For a RealPlayer clip of the first half of that item:
For a RealPlayer clip of the second half, which won the "Ashamed of the Red, White & Blue Award" in the MRC's Best Notable Quotables of 2002: The Fifteenth Annual Awards for the Year's Worst Reporting," go to:
-- Don't trust Phil Donahue's observations about the media. Thursday night on his MSNBC he noted a report about how U.S. bombing killed 400 civilians in Afghanistan and complained: "I don't see that leading anybody's newscast." But, in fact, it led ABC's World News Tonight.
-- Helen Thomas lamented how President Bush is "so far to the right" as she also complained to MSNBC's Phil Donahue about how "the chipping away of our civil liberties is unprecedented" and is worse than "even in World War II." She also raised a comparison to silence under Nazism.
-- Phil Donahue conceded "I never understood the uproar in the nation over" Hillary Clinton's claim that she and her husband were the victims of a "vast right-wing conspiracy." On his MSNBC show he asserted: "I thought she was right." http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020920.asp#7
-- Phil Donahue went on a lengthy harangue on his MSNBC show about how conservatives control the media and suppress liberal views because journalists have "white male Republican boardroom attitudes." To which Bernard Goldberg retorted that Donahue thinks that "because you're delusional on this matter." With video: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021011.asp#4
-- To Phil Donahue's dismay, CBS's Andy Rooney agreed with Bernard Goldberg: "I think most news people I know tend towards the liberal direction, yes." When Donahue disagreed, Rooney was taken aback: "You don't think that's true? Come on, Phil."
-- Former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg came under attack on MSNBC's Donahue, devoted to the mysterious question: "Is there a conservative bias in the media?" http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030108.asp#7
-- On MSNBC Dennis Miller so flustered Phil Donahue that he went on a rant about how people like Miller are trying to "marginalize" liberals. Donahue also claimed to be a "conservative" and insisted: "I would make a good Republican." When Donahue charged that dropping bombs which kill old people and children will give "Osama a poster for recruiting more angry young Islamic militants," an incredulous Miller fired back: "Oh, you believe he needs that, Phil? Do you really believe that he needs that?"
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory painstakingly took down what each said, though that was quite difficult because of how each talked over the other. Space does not permit a full transcript, that alone runs to more than six pages, but here are some highlights:
-- Garofalo: "...Madeleine Albright was very, unfortunately very vocal about 'compliance is irrelevant and sanctions don't get lifted until he's gone.' Okay, now, why you gonna disarm in the face of that? I think he is very well aware also that the hawks in this administration have no, they don't care at all whether he complies to arms inspections. In fact this administration is adamant that they don't want more inspections. And also, there's a myth that he kicked the inspectors out, UNSCOM inspectors out, who were very successful by the way. He kicked them out for spying, they were indeed spying, and then they went back in, and then Butler pulled them out before [drowned out]"
-- Kilmeade: "They're still missing a hundred tons of anthrax and VX gas, where is it?"
-- Kilmeade: "So you just distrust this government inherently, you distrust Colin Powell when he sat there and said 'Here is intercepts of Iraqis trying to cover up nerve gas, you distrust that?"
-- Kilmeade: "Okay can I just quote you Thomas Friedman, January 22? He says 'What liberals fail to realize about war with Iraq is that it's not some distraction from the war on al-Qaeda. That is a bogus argument. Just because oil is at stake does not mean it's illegitimate. Though disarming is legitimate, the real prize is regime change. Faltering Arab states are churning out these terrorists, and that's the only way to stop them.'"
-- Kilmeade: "You don't think those people deserve a shot at freedom?"
-- Kilmeade: "Let me just, you know 60 Minutes, that right-wing organization, 60 minutes, here it is. He says, this is Mr. Sharistani [sp?]. This is the [drowned out] 60 Minutes."
Quite the combative session.
For a picture of Garofalo and a full rundown of her roles, see her bio on the Internet Movie Database Web site: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Garofalo,+Janeane
For a photo of Kilmeade: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,1789,00.html
The Fox & Friends Web page: http://www.foxnews.com/foxfriends/index.html
If you go to the "Fox Fan" page and register, then via either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player, you can watch the entire interview. At least it was a featured video last night: http://www.foxnews.com/foxfan/index.html
Last week on MSNBC, when asked by Mike Barnicle about whether she considers Bush or Hussein to be "a bigger threat to world peace?", Garofalo maintained: "I say at this point, for different reasons, they are both very threatening to world peace and to deny that is to be incredibly naive." Watch that via RealPlayer: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030221.asp#3
For the Web site of the group for which Garofalo is a spokesperson, Artists United to Win Without War, and to see a TV ad she starred in for them: http://www.artistsunitedwww.org/
-- "I think he ought to take Saddam Hussein up on this debate. I like that idea because we can't find the guy anyway. Maybe this is a way to flush him out."
Miller then proceeded to outline a Godfather-inspired scenario in which Cheney would leave a gun in a rest room for Bush to use to shoot Hussein. (Definitely not an idea which would earn the approval of Peter Jennings.)
-- "The Nazi signs have got to stop. If you're in a peace march and the guy next to you has a sign saying that 'Bush is Hitler,' forget the peace thing for a second and beat his ass, because he is not Hitler."
For Miller's zingers on the Tonight Show on January 29 and for links to items about earlier appearances:
For Miller taking on Phil Donahue on February 3:
From the February 25 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten Surprises in Dan Rather's Interview with Saddam Hussein." Late Show Web site: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/
10. Saddam's responses to American charges were mainly of the "your momma's so fat" variety
9. The good laugh they shared at how wimpy the French are
8. Saddam kept calling Dan "Wolf"
7. The palpable sexual tension
6. Not only do they get CBS in Iraq, Saddam loves "Becker"
5. If the United States invades, Saddam would like us to do it in March, after the Baghdad tulip show
4. Entire interview was Saddam demonstrating a low-impact aerobic workout
3. Saddam fell for it every time Dan yelled, "Incoming!"
2. Proudly introduced Dan to the three relatives he hasn't executed
1. Saddam agreed to disarm if they give him one shot on "American Idol"
Again, in a fresh scheduling announced on Tuesday, Dan Rather should appear tonight, Wednesday, on Letterman's show. -- Brent Baker