Dismissal of Charge Against DeLay Barely Touched by ABC and NBC --12/6/2005
2. Sawyer Has Gall to Rant Over Delay in Radio Public Safety Space
3. New Co-Anchor of ABC's WNT Delivered Propaganda from North Korea
Back on September 28, when a county grand jury in Texas indicted then-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay on a conspiracy charge related to local Democratic prosecutor Ronnie Earle's contention DeLay had participated in putting corporate money into Texas campaigns, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts all led with the development and aired at least two segments each. Earle subsequently got another grand jury to deliver a money laundering indictment. But on Monday night, after a Texas judge dismissed that original conspiracy indictment which generate so much media attention, ABC gave it a piddling 16 seconds and NBC a mere 20 seconds with only CBS showing some consistency by devoting significant time -- but not the lead story (CBS led with the Hussein trial).
ABC and NBC characterized the dismissed charge as the "less serious" one, but CBS called the remaining charge the "more difficult to prove." ABC anchor Elizabeth Vargas related how "a judge today refused to dismiss money laundering charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. At the same time, the judge dismissed a less-serious charge of conspiracy." NBC anchor Brian Williams relayed how "a judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against him but refused to throw out more serious charges of money laundering." CBS's Gloria Borger, however, reported that DeLay's "office was claiming that this was a victory and with some very good reason. Half the charges were thrown out. Money laundering is much more difficult to prove."
For a full rundown of the top of the newscast coverage of the Wednesday, September 28 ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts, check the September 29 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
Transcripts of the December 5 coverage:
# ABC's World News Tonight, 16 seconds from anchor Elizabeth Vargas: "In Austin, Texas, a judge today refused to dismiss money laundering charges against House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. At the same time, the judge dismissed a less-serious charge of conspiracy. The case will now move toward trial next year. DeLay was forced to vacate the House leadership position when he was indicted."
# NBC's Nightly News, 20 seconds from anchor Brian Williams: "An important day in court for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay today and the results were mixed. A judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against him but refused to throw out more serious charges of money laundering. DeLay had hoped to have all the charges dismissed so he could reclaim his leadership post. He was required to step down when he was indicted back in September."
# CBS Evening News. Anchor Bob Schieffer reported: "There's a new development tonight in the Tom DeLay case. A Texas judge threw out charges that DeLay conspired with others to violate election laws. But the judge upheld a charge that DeLay and two fundraisers illegally funneled $190,000 from corporations to Texas Republicans. We want to bring in our political correspondent Gloria Borger now in Washington. Gloria, he still faces some problems, does he not?"
Borger, from Capitol Hill: "Yes, Tom DeLay does have some problems. Legally, Bob, his office was claiming that this was a victory and with some very good reason. Half the charges were thrown out. Money laundering is much more difficult to prove. But politically, he does have some tremendous problems. He wanted to come back to Congress in January, re-take his job as Majority Leader. You are not allowed to serve in the leadership if you're under indictment. An instead, he's going to be going to trial."
ABC's Diane Sawyer had the temerity on Monday's Good Morning America to lecture White House counselor Dan Bartlett about the length of time it's taking to get more radio spectrum allocated to public safety when it is television broadcasters, led by the National Association of Broadcasters to which ABC belongs, which have been fighting to delay the move of television transmissions to HD digital on new channels, a necessary step to free up TV channels 60-69, the upper end of the 700 MHz spectrum, for public safety. Citing a low grade from the 9/11 Commission, Sawyer complained that "four years after 9/11, police and firefighters still can't talk to each other. They don't have interconnected radios, which is something that could have been done right away." Unsatisfied by Bartlett, who could have pointed out that Congress stands in the way, Sawyer exclaimed: "But four years?" Later in the day, on ABC's World News Tonight, Martha Raddatz pointed out: "Why the holdup? The 9/11 commission says part of the problem is that broadcasters have not set aside part of the radio spectrum for emergency personnel, keeping it instead for commercial broadcasts."
On the radio spectrum, media hero John McCain blasted TV broadcasters in a September 13 floor speech: "Congress also provided additional spectrum for first responders in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. So, after spending millions of dollars in funding and additional spectrum for our nation's first responders why aren't we better off than we were on 9/11 when it comes to interoperable communications? Because the spectrum Congress provided to first responders in 1996 is being held hostage by television broadcasters." For the posting of the entire speech on the Senator's web site: mccain.senate.gov
(A personal aside: The 9/11 Commission ranting about the critical need for the new spectrum to provide public safety with "interoperability" is largely a canard. While it is no doubt true that some regions will benefit from the ability to get additional voice and data channels, presuming money is available for the costly acquisition of new radio systems, and thus allow multiple agencies to be on the same bandwidth and enable easier interoperability, interoperability is possible now without the 700 MHz frequencies. And, in many regions, 700 MHz will just add another band with which many other agencies are incompatible.
The MRC's Brian Boyd took down much of Sawyer's 7am half hour December 5 session with Bartlett, who appeared from the White House:
Diane Sawyer: "Dan Bartlett, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us...Want to get right away to this indictment by the 9/11 commission. Specifically, after 9/11, four years after 9/11 police and firefighters still can't talk to each other. They don't have interconnected radios, which is something that could have been done right away."
On Monday, ABC announced the new anchor pairing, starting in January, of Elizabeth Vargas and Bob Woodruff. Alerting viewers to it at the end of Monday's newscast, Vargas asserted that "we are committed to every way maintaining the standard of excellence established by Peter Jennings" and Woodruff promised that "we will try to make Peter proud." One Woodruff resume listing ABC is proud enough to tout is his trip to North Korea. The ABCNews.com announcement boasted of how "in June 2005 he got unprecedented access to the secretive country of North Korea." (See: abcnews.go.com )
But, as documented at the time by the MRC, Woodruff's reports during his week inside the totalitarian regime showcased North Korean officials denouncing the U.S. and happy kids doing art and playing music. The June 10, 2005 CyberAlert, "ABC: North Koreans Hate Americans, Offer Great Music/Art for Kids," recounted: "North Koreans are isolated from outside information and fed a steady diet of anti-American propaganda, but that apparently doesn't make the anti-American comments from regime operatives, or citizens with minders standing nearby, unnewsworthy to ABC. 'There are large gaps in what the world knows about the North Korean leader and his people,' World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted before asserting that 'many North Koreans, it seems, have strong opinions about Americans.' From Pyongyang, Bob Woodruff went aboard the captured USS Pueblo and relayed how the 'officer who gave us a tour today said the ship's an example of American crimes and another reason Koreans don't like Americans.' The uniformed woman declared: 'They invaded to our territory, and they supplied information, so all Koreans were angry.' Woodruff traveled to a collective farm where found an 11-year-old girl who said of Americans: 'They killed Korean people.' Finally, Woodruff went to the 'Children's Palace' where '5,000 North Korean kids are trained after school in music, art and sports.' The video showed healthy kids in colorful uniforms playing instruments, painting and dancing."
Two days later, Woodruff conceded that "because we were not allowed to bring in our own translator, we had to rely on our minders to tell us what people were saying." So they could have been praising Americans for all we know? (See more below in the excerpt from the June 15 CyberAlert.)
[This item was posted Monday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To share your thoughts, go to: newsbusters.org The MRC's Tim Graham posted a compilation of liberal comments from Vargas over the years. See: http://newsbusters.org/node/3090 ]
Now, back to more from the June 10 CyberAlert report about Woodruff's June 9 story:
All week, World News Tonight, and on some mornings GMA too, have been carrying Woodruff's "exclusive" reports from inside North Korea. An earlier segment showed a nearly empty capital city, since many were shipped out to work in the fields, with traffic lights turned off and no cars, yet still people at each intersection to direct the non-existent traffic.
World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up the [Thursday] June 9 offering: "We have another exclusive report tonight from the most secretive nation in the world: North Korea. Access to the country is incredibly hard to come by. There are large gaps in what the world knows about the North Korean leader and his people. But many North Koreans, it seems, have strong opinions about Americans. ABC's Bob Woodruff reports again from North Korea."
Woodruff, walking with a uniformed North Korean woman and then over historic video of ship: "The USS Pueblo, the American ship which North Korea caught spying off its coast in 1968, is now a museum on the river here. One American crewman was killed during the assault, and 82 men were captured, then imprisoned, for 11 months under horrible conditions. [video of two inside sub] The officer who gave us a tour today said the ship's an example of American crimes and another reason Koreans don't like Americans."
Kim Mee Kyong, with words on screen: "They invaded to our territory, and they supplied information, so all Koreans were angry."
Woodruff: "Do you have any good feelings about Americans?" [Kim Mee Kyong laughs]
Woodruff, in front of ship: "This is the kind of image of America that goes completely unchallenged here. There are no American products in the markets, no American programs on television. And since almost no U.S. citizens ever visit North Korea, most North Koreans have never even met one. [video of dreary countryside] What all North Koreans do hear is a steady drumbeat of anti-American propaganda. So when we traveled two hours north of the capital today in our SUVs and with our government minders, we found anti-U.S. feeling. On this collective farm, three 11-year-old girls. Do you know about America? Have you heard about America?"
Korean girl through translator: "They killed Korean people."
Woodruff: "When did they kill Korean people? [voice of translator, but no translated reaction] This 18-year-old we found fishing told us he plans to join the army to protect his country. What do you think about the Americans? 'I curse them,' he said, 'as the sworn enemy of the Korean people.' Have you ever met an American before?"
Korean boy, through translator: "No."
Woodruff: "I'm an American. [translator speaks, guy looks down, no response provided]"
Woodruff, over video of well-dressed and healthy looking kids playing string instruments, a kid painting with Woodruff sitting next to him, and a shot of a swimming pool]: "Our final stop today was at the Children's Palace in Pyongyang where 5,000 North Korean kids are trained after school in music, art and sports. [video of colorfully-dressed kids dancing on a stage] This was their final performance for foreign dignitaries today, [long pause] stunning reminder of how well children can learn if the state decides to teach them. Bob Woodruff, ABC News, Pyongyang."
END of Reprint of June 10 CyberAlert article
For the June 10 CyberAlert article with still shots from Woodruff's story: www.mediaresearch.org
Last Thursday ABC framed a story from Bob Woodruff around how North Koreans hate Americans, but on Saturday Woodruff conceded that "because we were not allowed to bring in our own translator, we had to rely on our minders to tell us what people were saying." So they could have been praising Americans for all we know?
Reviewing his week in North Korea, on Saturday's World News Tonight Woodruff pointed out how the regime assigned three minders for his five-person team and then observed, from the capital of the communist regime: "Most North Koreans have never met an American, especially one with a camera, so some were nervous. And some were surprised by our direct questions. Gradually our minders grew more comfortable with us. They let us travel outside the capital. And when we asked them to stop at a village or by the road, they did, so we could speak to ordinary North Koreans unannounced. But because we were not allowed to bring in our own translator, we had to rely on our minders to tell us what people were saying.
Woodruff to one of the three 11-year-old girls: "Do you work here in the fields or do you go to school?"
Without providing her answer, Woodruff continued: "Of course, there were many places completely off limits to us. They refused our request to visit their nuclear facilities. We didn't even bother asking to see military installations or the prison camps that North Korean defectors have described. But of the material we did gather, not one word was censored. And the only picture they stopped us from transmitting was this shot of the country's founder, Kim il Sung, because they said it was partly blocked by a tree. Even in this more open North Korea, there are still some absolute limits. Bob Woodruff, ABC News, Pyongyang."
Allowing one U.S. reporter to pass along images they like hardly constitutes a "more open" North Korea.
END of Excerpt from June 15 CyberAlert
-- Brent Baker