FNC Picks Up New Annan Scandal Link, NBC Plays Up British Memos --6/15/2005
2. CBS Again Trots Out Markey to Push for Amusement Park Regulation
3. Chicago Trib Vet Denies He's Liberal, Then Espouses Liberal Views
4. ABC Admits America-Bashing Relayed by North Korean Translators
An illustration of mainstream versus new media news judgment. On Tuesday night, FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume led with how the commission investigating the UN oil-for-food scandal is "urgently" reviewing documents which, FNC's Jonathan Hunt reported, "appear to contradict [UN Secretary General Kofi] Annan's claim that he knew nothing about the awarding of a major oil for food contract to a company that employed his son." But none of the broadcast network evening newscasts, nor CNN's NewsNight, mentioned the development even though the Tuesday New York Times ran an article on it and before 1pm EDT Tuesday the AP distributed a story, with reaction from the Volcker committee, headlined: "Memo Suggests Annan Oil-For-Food Link." Instead, the NBC Nightly News regurgitated the so-called "Downing Street Memo" as Andrea Mitchell gave publicity to how "war critics have come up with seven more memos verified by NBC News. One, also from July 2002, says U.S. military planners had given 'little thought' to postwar Iraq."
While CNN got around to the UN development on Wednesday morning, the three broadcast network morning shows managed to continue to ignore it.
Brian Williams teased the June 14 NBC Nightly News: "Paper trail: Mounting evidence that America's biggest partner in the Iraq War had serious doubts before the war about the Bush plan."
Williams led his broadcast: "Good evening. At the top of our broadcast tonight, we have news on two fronts, both of them identified by President Bush as part of the Axis of Evil. On a day that saw another violent terrorist attack in Iraq, we have more tonight on the memos from within the British government that some say show the U.S. determined to launch a war against Iraq back in 2002."
After a piece on Iran, Williams set up his co-lead item: "Now to the memos. How was the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq viewed by the Blair government in Great Britain? And what about U.S. plans for after the shooting stopped? NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell reports tonight on the paper trail that stretches from the U.K. all the way to the U.S."
Mitchell began, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "It started during Tony Blair's re-election campaign last month. A top secret memo from July 2002, eight months before the Iraq War. British officials, just back from Washington, reported that pre-war 'intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy' to invade Iraq. Just last week, both the President and Blair denied war was inevitable."
For the online version of Mitchell's story: www.msnbc.msn.com
From Washington, DC Brit Hume opened his FNC newscast: "The independent inquiry committee looking into the oil for food scandal says that it is now quote 'urgently' investigating whether UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had closer relations than he has admitted with a contractor that had hired his son Kojo. Fox News correspondent Jonathan Hunt reports some new evidence has come to light."
Hunt checked in from New York City: "Kofi Annan was in Paris today as the UN and those investigating it scrambled to deal with new and potentially explosive evidence. Documents obtained by Fox News appear to contradict Mr. Annan's claim that he knew nothing about the awarding of a major oil for food contract to a company that employed his son. Kojo Annan worked for Swiss-based Cotecna, which won one of the most lucrative oil-for-food contracts. The Secretary General has consistently denied ever discussing the contract with his son or any Cotecna executives. This was what he said, for instance, last November:"
For the online version of Hunt's story: www.foxnews.com
The other networks hardly had an excuse for missing the story since it was in Tuesday's New York Times. "Memo Seems to Link Annan to Contract of Son's Company" read the June 14 headline. See: www.nytimes.com
Plus, Yahoo News had up an AP piece at 12:53pm EDT with reaction from the Volcker committee. An excerpt from that dispatch, "Memo Suggests Annan Oil-For-Food Link," by Nick Wadhams:
UNITED NATIONS - Investigators of the UN oil-for-food program said Tuesday they are "urgently reviewing" new information that suggests U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may have known more than he revealed about a contract that was awarded to the company that employed his son.
The December 1998 memo from Michael Wilson, then a vice president of Cotecna Inspections S.A., mentions brief discussions with Annan "and his entourage" at a summit in Paris in 1998 about Cotecna's bid for a $10 million-a-year contract under oil-for-food.
If accurate, the memo could contradict a major finding of the Independent Inquiry Committee -- that there wasn't enough evidence to show that Annan knew about efforts by Cotecna, which employed his son, Kojo, to win the contract. Cotecna learned it won the contract on Dec. 11, 1998, days after the meeting.
The statement from the Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, said it would "conduct additional investigation regarding this new information."...
END of Excerpt
For the AP piece in full: news.yahoo.com
Another amusement park accident, another chance for CBS News to trot out left-wing Democratic Congressman Ed Markey to advocate additional federal regulation. The death of a four-year-old on a Disney World ride prompted a story on Tuesday's CBS Evening news in which Byron Pitts insisted that "this accident raises familiar questions: How safe are these rides, and should they be regulated?" Pitts soon highlighted how "today, Congressman Ed Markey renewed his push for federal oversight of amusement ride safety." Three years ago CBS didn't even wait for an accident when reporter Sandra Hughes featured Markey as she did the bidding of a personal injury lawyer: "Critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased." And a year before that, ABC featured Markey in a story which World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up by demanding: "Why won't Congress let the government regulate these parks?"
Anchor Bob Schieffer introduced the June 14 CBS Evening News story: "Summertime weather also means that a lot of people are going to amusement parks and theme parks, and today investigators are trying to figure out why a child passed out and died after a simulated rocket ship ride at Disney World in Florida. Byron Pitts is here with details on that. Byron?"
Pitts checked in, as corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Well, Bob, this accident raises familiar questions: How safe are these rides, and should they be regulated? Mission Space is one of Disney World's most popular rides. It simulates the sensation of a rocket launch, complete with G forces twice the strength of normal gravity. But yesterday that thrill turned tragic when a four-year-old boy died after passing out sitting right next to his mother. The ride was reopened after being temporarily closed for a safety inspection. Today, Congressman Ed Markey renewed his push for federal oversight of amusement ride safety."
The June 20, 2002 CyberAlert recounted:
Another summer, another opportunity for a network to push for federal regulation of amusement park rides. Last summer, ABC waited until there was an accident on a ride before World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas demanded: "Why won't Congress let the government regulate these parks?"
On Wednesday night, CBS got into the action early, before summer has even begun. Like ABC, CBS's Sandra Hughes promoted the cause of left-wing Congressman Ed Markey as she also did the bidding of a personal injury lawyer: "Critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased." She allowed an industry spokesman to point out how foot scooters cause a lot more injuries, but she discredited the point by giving the last word to the lawyer to describe amusement parks as deadly killers: "You at least have to tell the public that, you know, there is an inherent risk that you could suffer a serious injury, even death, by going on the attraction."
Dan Rather set up the June 19 CBS Evening News story: "Summer officially arrived Friday. If your summer plans include a theme park, you're likely to find new, more powerful, roller coasters with break-neck speeds, higher highs and deeper dips. They're meant for thrills. But CBS's Sandra Hughes reports, some warn there's a real risk."
From California, Hughes let a roller coaster enthusiast enthuse about the thrill of rides before warning how a new ride which goes from zero to 80mph in two seconds has generated "new fears about health risks." After letting a park engineer say the ride is safe, Hughes countered by highlighting the case of a 28-year-old woman who died from a brain aneurism following a ride on Magic Mountain's Goliath Coaster.
Hughes ran a soundbite from the lawyer suing in the case, Barry Novack, who claimed G-forces and lateral moves leads to the tearing of veins, like shaken baby syndrome.
Hughes added: "The amusement park industry points out there's no medical proof of a connection, but critics want federal regulation, saying the number of brain injuries over the past decade has increased." Rep. Edward Markey, D-Massachusetts: "I have now compiled more than fifty examples of brain injuries and I am asking for the federal government to do a comprehensive study." Bill Powers, amusement park industry spokesman: "26,700 children were injured and went to emergency rooms last year due to foot-powered scooters and two died. Why he isn't he trying to regulate those?" Hughes fretted: "For now, only New Jersey is proposing G-force standards. California started requiring parks to report all injuries this year, but some want more." Novack claimed: "You at least have to tell the public that, you know, there is an inherent risk that you could suffer a serious injury, even death, by going on the attraction." Hughes concluded: "But how much risk and who's likely to be injured are still up in the air."
Last year, on July 31, ABC used a Michigan amusement park accident, in which no one was seriously injured, as a justification to argue for federal regulation of amusement parks.
World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas demanded in teasing upcoming stories at the top of the ABC newscast: "More trouble at the nation's amusement parks. Two dozen people injured. Why won't Congress let the government regulate these parks?" Later, just before an ad break, Vargas plugged the story again: "When we come back, yet another accident at an amusement park. Should the government step in?"
In the eventual piece, Lisa Stark lamented: "There is no federal oversight of the industry; it's left to the states. But six states with amusement parks [on screen map highlighted Utah, Arizona, South Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi and Alabama] have no regulation or inspections. The industry argues the rides are safe and that parks would be out of business if they weren't." Bret Lovejoy, International Association of Amusement Parks: "With 320 million visitors to parks a year and three billion rides given you can expect to have a few accidents." Stark countered: "But critics say with rides becoming faster and more death-defying, it's past time for federal regulation." U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA): "It's really the only significant consumer product that is allowed to escape that kind of oversight and protection of the public." Stark concluded by stressing the perspective of those who want more regulation: "Representative Markey has a bill that would give the Consumer Product Safety Commission oversight over amusement parks, authority the commission had until the industry successfully lobbied against it twenty years ago. But that bill is stalled. For now it remains up to the states and the industry to ensure that rides are safe."
END Reprint of Previous CyberAlert item
Chicago Tribune senior correspondent Charlie Madigan, a long-time reporter and editor with the paper who once worked in the Washington bureau, penned a column Tuesday in which he insisted the media are no longer liberal and put forward his personal view of the world ("I don't think I'm liberal") as proof. But then he showed that while he may have lost his youthful faith in government to solve problems, he still looks at the world from the left. On Iraq, he ridiculed the Bush administration: "Democracy and elections and car bombs and 1,700 dead troops. What a grand mixture of dishonesty and incompetence is on display." He denounced how "Republicans seem to spend most of their energies and emotions on raising vast bundles of dingy money. The Republicans then give wads back to the wealthy and wag their index fingers at everyone else and tell them to climb on board the personal-profits train." Madigan then castigated Democrats from the left for how they "work hard on trying to figure out how to be Republicans." And he promised: "
Romenesko ( www.poynter.org ) on Tuesday highlighted Madigan's June 14 Chicago Tribune column, "You think you know me, but you don't." An excerpt:
I have been examining my conscience of late and taking inventory of my political views.
Am I "liberal?" Are media liberal?
Maybe media were liberal in some ways in the days of family newspaper ownership in some places. Not anymore. These are big media conglomerates, for the most part. Primarily, they care about performance and returns, not about politics.
Abandon the illusion that there's a socialist behind the curtain manipulating the media levers. That clanking sound is just a cash register.
Still, even friends have taken to calling me liberal.
"It's good to hear a liberal voice," they say. "It's good to see such a conservative paper giving some space to a strong liberal voice."
It's not working for me.
I don't think I'm liberal.
I may have been liberal a long time ago, back when blue jeans had bell-bottoms, people spoke about what fun pot smoking was, women broke the bonds of fashion, loosely embracing nature, and sensitive men said they wept sad tears at "Love Story" instead of gagging, the more natural response.
Life, I have found, is not a liberalizing process.
What you want in life is for the trains to run on time and for your kids to be on them.
That's not liberal.
Your thoughts about government and what it can achieve are dashed on the rocks of reality....
Government cannot fix our dented lives, either, although it could certainly help us by providing some access to the money we might need to repair ourselves. Health care for everyone would help.
Government certainly cannot fix our environment.
We created that problem ourselves during periods of uncontrolled, frenzied growth. We have fallen into behaviors that allow the consumption of everything around us, all at the expense of habitat and the natural world....
Government is terrible at keeping the peace.
The cops come after you have been robbed or pounded into the pavement by thugs.
And Sept. 11, 2001, proves all of those threats that people had been assessing to no effect were actually real. Government sends our sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters off to Afghanistan and to Iraq to have wars.
Do you see Osama bin Laden rotting in a prison?
I don't. As best I can tell, the poppy fields are fantastic in Afghanistan this year. That means lots of heroin in Europe next year.
Thank you, government!
Weapons of mass destruction? Show me some. That's why we went, wasn't it? Big threats and Saddam Hussein buying nuclear yellowcake and fancy metal tubes and whatever?
Oh, no, it's about democracy now.
Democracy and elections and car bombs and 1,700 dead troops.
What a grand mixture of dishonesty and incompetence is on display.
You don't even recognize it.
All of this has happened because we let it happen.
Generally, we know very little about the world. We are easily manipulated by political leaders who use our ignorance as powerful political fuel. The founding fathers were worried about the ignorant masses for a good reason. See where ignorance leads?
What about politics?
Democrats and Republicans seem to spend most of their energies and emotions on raising vast bundles of dingy money. The Republicans then give wads back to the wealthy and wag their index fingers at everyone else and tell them to climb on board the personal-profits train. With the passion and drive of figs drying in the hot sun, the Democrats work hard on trying to figure out how to be Republicans.
Take the test.
Sit down and write two paragraphs, just two paragraphs, one about what a Democrat is and one about what a Republican is.
If it takes more than four minutes, either you need writing remediation or I am absolutely right, these are passionless shells of political parties good only for raising money and slandering opponents.
So, liberal? No, that's wrong.
Pragmatist. That's what I am.
Finally, because we live in a society, I want the best for everyone.
My own interests are best protected when the interests of my countrymen are well protected.
I don't think that is liberal. I don't think that is conservative.
I think that is practical and smart.
END of Excerpt
For the column in full: www.chicagotribune.com
In his June 9 World News Tonight piece, Woodruff had showcased three 11-year-old girls whom he asked: "Do you know about America? Have you heard about America?" The translator then said that one girl answered: "They killed Korean people." Woodruff asked an 18-year-old man he found fishing: "What do you think about the Americans?" Woodruff relayed what the translator told him he answered: "'I curse them,' he said, 'as the sworn enemy of the Korean people.'" On Saturday, Woodruff also boasted that during his week of stories from North Korea that "not one word was censored" by his minders. As if that's anything to be proud of.
The June 10 CyberAlert 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 he 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 paying instruments, painting and dancing. For more: www.mediaresearch.org
Allowing one U.S. reporter to pass along images they like hardly constitutes a "more open" North Korea.
-- Brent Baker