2. Brokaw Again Cites "Huge Tax Cuts" in the Bush Budget
3. Rather Depicts NASA Budget Cuts as Continuous Since Nixon
4. Columbia Disaster Stirs Bush-Despising Letters to
5. Ted Turner to Be Interviewed on CBS's
60 Minutes II
6. "Top Ten Cool Things About Living on an Aircraft Carrier"
"Anti-war" and a "lifelong left-wing activist" or simply "one of Britain's most famous politicians"? ABC, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night all ran clips from a British TV interview with Saddam Hussein conducted by Tony Benn, a former member of the British Parliament. But while both NBC and CBS informed viewers up front of Benn's political agenda, Peter Jennings made it hard for ABC viewers to realize Benn's political bent as Jennings reported the interview "was conducted by a former member of the British Parliament, Tony Benn, one of Britain's most famous and outspoken politicians."
Only deep in the subsequent story did viewers get a clue about Benn's agenda when Dan Harris noted: "Tony Benn said he conducted this interview to stop the war."
In contrast, in setting up a clip on the NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell observed that in Hussein's "first interview in 12 years, airing tonight on British TV, he told an anti-war British politician he has no links to al Qaeda and no illegal weapons."
CBS's Bob Simon, during a story ridiculously touted on screen as a "CBS News Exclusive" when ABC and NBC were nearly simultaneously showing soundbites from it, described Benn as "a 79-year-old British politician and lifelong left-wing activist." You've got to be pretty far left for CBS News to describe you as "left-wing."
None of the stories exposed just how Saddam-friendly Benn was during the interview. A transcript shows that he "asked" Hussein "about how you see the enormous oil reserves of Iraq being developed, first for the benefit of the people of Iraq and secondly for the needs of mankind?" And, Benn urged Hussein to "say something yourself directly through this interview to the peace movement of the world that might help to advance the cause they have in mind."
Maybe we'll see some of that in Simon's story on Benn's interview set to air Wednesday night on 60 Minutes II, which is probably the "exclusive" CBS was misleadingly touting on the Evening News. For the 60 Minutes II plug for its February 5 interview with Benn about his Hussein interview:
> Back to Tuesday night, Simon reported on the February 4 CBS Evening News: "Dan, Saddam had not given an interview to anyone from the West for 12 years until Sunday. Anthony Wedgwood Benn, a 79-year-old British politician and lifelong left-wing activist, was invited to Baghdad to talk to the Iraqi President. Benn said he had come to explore the possibilities for peace and asked Saddam the two key questions."
ABC avoided Benn's left-wing perspective as World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings intoned: "The Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, has given his first television interview today, to a non-Iraqi, in 12 years. It was conducted by a former member of the British Parliament, Tony Benn, one of Britain's most famous and outspoken politicians. It's also been broadcast in the Middle East and in Britain. And our man in Baghdad, Dan Harris, has the details."
Harris began reverentially: "Speaking slowly and calmly, alternately sipping his coffee and playing with his pen, Saddam Hussein rejected the central allegation the U.S. has leveled against him."
Hussein, through an interpreter, maintained Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction and denied any connection to al Qaeda.
Only after Harris pointed out how Hussein did not address the complaints from inspectors about the lack of access to scientists, did Harris acknowledge: "Tony Benn said he conducted this interview to stop the war."
Judging by Benn's Web site
(http://www.tonybenn.com/), the long-time Labour Party renegade is very far to the left. Here's how he opened a June, 2002 article about "The Left" in America:
Reminds you of Phil Donahue.
I must have been taken off the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's mailing list. I've never heard of the "International Democrat Union" which Benn claims is the "Thinktank of the world's Right."
For Benn's polemic in full: http://www.tonybenn.com/left.html
The Web site also features a transcript of his Hussein interview which aired on ITV's "Channel 4." Three of Benn's inquiries in the form of tributes to Hussein's wisdom:
-- "I come for one reason only -- to see whether in a talk we can explore, or you can help me to see, what the paths to peace may be. My only reason, I remember the war because I lost a brother. I never want to see another war.
-- "There are people who believe this present conflict is about oil, and I wonder if you would say something about how you see the enormous oil reserves of Iraq being developed, first for the benefit of the people of Iraq and secondly for the needs of mankind."
-- "There are tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people in Britain and America, in Europe and worldwide, who want to see a peaceful outcome to this problem, and they are the real Americans in my opinion, the real British, the real French, the real Germans, because they think of the world in terms of their children. I have 10 grandchildren and in my family there is English, Scottish, American, French, Irish, Jewish and Indian blood, and for me politics is about their future, their survival. And I wonder whether you could say something yourself directly through this interview to the peace movement of the world that might help to advance the cause they have in mind?"
For the entire transcript: http://www.tonybenn.com/interview.html
Tax cuts and deficits are "huge" to NBC's Tom Brokaw, but not the much larger amount dedicated to spending. On Monday's Nightly News, as noted in the February 4 CyberAlert, Brokaw referred to Bush's proposed "huge tax cuts." On Tuesday night, Brokaw stated that the Bush budget features "huge new tax cuts" and that "Democrats said the administration is making huge debt."
Brokaw read this short item on the February 4 NBC Nightly News: "President Bush's budget director was on Capitol Hill today taking heat from members of both political parties over the 2004 budget. Mitch Daniels told lawmakers the President's $2.2 trillion budget, with its call for huge new tax cuts, are the right remedies for a struggling economy. But Democrats said the administration is making huge debt, $300 billion deficits this year and next, to future generations. And some Republicans said they cannot defend the size of the tax cut given the size of the deficits."
Democrats and numerous media reports describe the expected $300 billion deficits as a "record" size, but as MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught, on Monday's Fox Report, FNC's Major Garrett pointed that "today's deficits are smaller as a percentage of the entire U.S. economy than the startlingly high deficits of 1992 and 1983, as these numbers clearly indicate." An on-screen table related how the expected 2004 deficit would be 2.7 percent of GDP while the 1992 one consumed 4.7 percent of GDP and the 1983 deficit ate up 6 percent of GDP.
NASA suffered 30-plus straight years of budget reductions that "resulted in safety cutting," Dan Rather suggested during CBS News live coverage of Tuesday afternoon's memorial service for the Columbia crew. Rather proposed: "There's certainly been talk that in recent years that Congress's attitude and, for that matter, the attitude of a succession of Presidents beginning with President Nixon, running through Carter, Reagan, Bush first and President Clinton and now President George W. Bush, there's been more cost cutting that has resulted in safety cutting."
If the budget was reduced continually for 30 years how could there have been enough spending left in each succeeding year to sustain cut?
But CBS News space expert Bill Harwood quickly corrected Rather's misperception.
About ten minutes before the 1pm EST service began, Rather, who was inside the Johnson Space Center with Harwood in front of a shuttle mock up, presented Harwood with a supposition:
Harwood put the budget numbers and connection to safety in proper context: "I get the sense Dan that after Challenger the budgets really ramped up, as they really made a major effort to fix the problem that doomed that shuttle. But it reached a peak. And then over the years, as the flight record continued to be flawless, and they had mission after mission successful, as in any other thing, the interest drops off a bit but the funding level went down too. It's a slow and steady decline. Some of that's natural. It's a mature program now. They've launched, this was the 113th launch, you understand how it works better. You don't necessarily need the same level of hands on operation of a system like that.
Harwood shows it's a lot more nuanced than a lot of TV reporting suggests.
Is the San Francisco area part of the United States or has it joined France? After running a bunch of very far-left, America-hating and Bush-despising letters on Sunday and Monday commenting on the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, the San Francisco Chronicle's editorial page editor, John Diaz, acknowledged "the cynical, even hateful, tone of many of the letters." But, he amazingly reported, "the outtakes were considerably harsher and more jaded than the selection we printed."
Even "harsher"? Wow. The letters he ran included one which declared: "I fear that the illegitimate Bush administration will use this tragedy just as they cynically have used 9/11. They have manipulated us into war with Iraq." Another asserted that with Bush in office "Washington is awash with evil." And one woman spewed this venom: "Throughout the Biblical Scriptures, God has often acted like a supernatural terrorist, unleashing unexplained calamities against enemies. Could it be that God is trying to send a strong message with this latest tragedy to the lying, two-faced hypocrites in the White House?"
In OpinionJournal.com's Best of the Web column (www.opinionjournal.com/best), James Taranto has highlighted a couple of the wackiest letters and Diaz's realization of their extremism.
Here are the wackier letters run by the San Francisco Chronicle:
-- Published on February 2:
MISSION TOO FAR
Editor -- The loss of the space shuttle is indeed tragic. This was the mission too far. These vehicles just can't tolerate 20-plus years of extreme stress. I fear that the illegitimate Bush administration will use this tragedy just as they cynically have used 9/11. They have manipulated us into war with Iraq. What's next? Have they no shame, no honor?
PAUL H. TAYLOR
For all of the February 2 letters:
-- Published on February 3:
Editor -- Another tragedy, another day of mourning.
When the space shuttle Challenger blew up, I cried. With Columbia blowing up, I wonder, instead, of the timing regarding Bush's war schedule, and I wonder about the first flight to carry an Israeli. I know, just pure coincidence.
Cynical? You bet. Cold and heartless? After two years of false terrorist warnings, why not? The White House does not have an exclusive right to speculate outside the box.
Facts will not interfere with President Bush making political hay out of this, just as he did with 9/11. Washington is awash with evil. Watch and listen to the administration's responses, especially Karl Rove.
Editor -- I was wondering if anyone ever considered that God might just well be a kind of supernatural terrorist, intervening in things such as the space shuttle exploding over Texas, President Bush's home state.
Throughout the Biblical Scriptures, God has often acted like a supernatural terrorist, unleashing unexplained calamities against enemies. Could it be that God is trying to send a strong message with this latest tragedy to the lying, two-faced hypocrites in the White House? Is Bush going to declare war on God?
For all of the February 3 letters:
In a February 4 column titled, "About those letters...," Chronicle editorial page editor John Diaz admitted the letters were a bit "startling." An excerpt:
Several readers have called or written to complain about the selection of letters we have printed about the space shuttle Columbia tragedy.
Where, they asked, was the universal outpouring of grief for the seven brave astronauts and their families? Why were so many of the letters tinged with gratuitous bitterness toward President Bush or otherwise infused with cynicism or conspiracy theories?
Frankly, my colleagues and I were asking the same questions Saturday as we sorted through the several dozen e-mails and faxes that came in after the disastrous breakup of the shuttle on its final descent home.
It's always perilous to try to make any generalizations out of the composition of letters sent to a newspaper. They are not necessarily a representative sampling of the readership, especially when they are arriving on a sunny Saturday morning in early February.
Still, two things struck me about the first waves of letters. One, they were coming in relatively small numbers for a news event of this magnitude, even taking the weekend into account....
Even more startling was the cynical, even hateful, tone of many of the letters. The outtakes were considerably harsher and more jaded than the selection we printed.
One letter writer flat-out accused the government of a secret plot to "sabotage the mission to direct future finances away from NASA to further the military industrial complex." A recurring theme was resentment that Bush would somehow exploit the tragedy for political gain.
One letter speculated that Palestinians would be "dancing in the streets" upon hearing of the deaths of the U.S. and Israeli astronauts. Another wondered why television was showing "so much empathy" for the deaths of agents of two countries who were responsible for "uncounted Palestinian deaths, every day" in the occupied territories....
For all the readers who asked, we do want to print more letters that pay "tribute to the memory" of the Columbia crew, as we have today. But we can only choose from among the letters we receive.
END of Excerpt
For the column in full:
For the more reasonable February 4 letters:
An excerpt from CBS's page plugging the segment, including how Turner explained why he described the 9-11 terrorists as "brave." The excerpt:
During the candid interview, Turner talks about his past, his future and his last role at AOL Time Warner, a position he calls "a title without portfolio...like the emperor of Japan."
Just before he quit his job as a vice chairman at AOL Time Warner, Turner told Wallace that he doesn't have much to do.
"I have one foot in the door and one on the sidewalk," he says. Turner doesn't even have a voice in the running of CNN, the network he founded.
"I think basically that CNN is doing a pretty good job," says Turner. "I mean there are some things, obviously, that I don't like, but I'm the old fuddy-duddy that -- that it reported to for 22 or 23 years, so, I mean, obviously, any changes are going to...give me some trouble."
Some of the things that have come out of Turner's self-described "big fat mouth" have also given him trouble over the years.
During a speech after the World Trade Center disaster, he told an audience he thought the terrorists were brave. "Brave...was a bad word," Turner tells Wallace. "My father committed suicide and he was not a coward. He was very brave when he shot himself, in my opinion, so that's why, to a degree, I said that."...
END of Excerpt
For the entire CBS plug for the segment:
Actually Turner said more than that the terrorists were "brave." In February 11, 2002 remarks at Brown University, as reported by Gerald Carbone in the February 12 Providence Journal, Turner rationalized the actions of the terrorists: "The reason that the World Trade Center got hit is because there are a lot of people living in abject poverty out there who don't have any hope for a better life....I think they [the 19 hijackers] were brave at the very least."
The next day, Turner issued a statement: "The attacks of Sept. 11 were despicable acts. I in no way meant to convey otherwise."
Let's see if Wallace presses him about his 'poverty caused the terrorist attacks' reasoning. 60 Minutes II airs at 9pm EST/PST, 8pm CST/MST on Wednesday night, February 5.
From the February 3 Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by ten crew members on the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier in San Diego, the "Top Ten Cool Things About Living on an Aircraft Carrier." Late Show Web page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/
10. It combines all the excitement of going on a cruise with the fun of living at the airport
9. There's no more pleasant wake-up call than the roar of an F-18 Super Hornet
8. On weekends we turn the deck into the world's largest roller disco
7. Feel like lasagna? Send a pilot to Italy for takeout
6. When everyone's asleep, you can climb in one of the planes and pretend you're Tom Cruise
5. Who else gets to describe their home as "Nimitz-class"?
4. The weekly shuffleboard tournaments
3. All-you-can-drink jet fuel
2. If you ever have an aircraft that needs carrying, you're in luck
1. You can get both seasick and airsick at the same time
> Tonight NBC will run the first of a two-part West Wing about the inauguration of re-elected liberal Democratic President Jeb Bartlet. -- Brent Baker