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Jennings Expresses Skepticism Toward Powell's Case -- 02/06/2003 CyberAlert


1. Jennings Expresses Skepticism Toward Powell's Case
Peter Jennings expressed repeated skepticism toward Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN. After George Stephanopoulos told Jennings that even Democrats were "impressed" with Powell, Jennings countered: "Let me add a note of skepticism. Does this mean they were impressed with substance or performance?" And after John McWethy warned of the threat Iraq's chemical and biological weapons will pose to U.S. troops, Jennings assumed Hussein may not have the weapons: "It's an 'if'...'If' he has all of these provisions?"

2. CBS Notes More European Support, NBC: Biden a Bush "Supporter"
On CBS and NBC on Wednesday night, two noteworthy items: Dan Rather highlighted how ten more European nations have come out in support of the Bush administration's approach to Iraq and NBC's Campbell Brown oddly cited liberal Democratic Senator Joe Biden as a "supporter" of Bush's policy. Naturally, Brown used Biden to push Bush toward a softer position: "Even supporters challenge the President to make the most of this moment and win UN backing."

3. CBS Actually Labels Tony Benn a "British Lefty"
CBS's 60 Minutes II on Wednesday night used the Tony Benn interview with Saddam Hussein to illustrate how Hussein is using the language of Western peace groups to ingratiate himself with them. After analyst Fouad Ajami noted how calm Hussein looked, CBS's Bob Simon actually uttered the word "lefty" as he wondered: "Do you think he doesn't realize that the Americans are coming after him no matter what he does or says, no matter which British lefties he invites to Baghdad?"

4. FNC Undermines Case that Bush Just After Iraq's Oil
As for the charge that the U.S. just wants to control Iraq's oil, Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC recounted how, as Hume summarized, "that view is not shared by some in the region who have seen the U.S. come and go from Arab oil fields before." Reporter William La Jeunesse related: "If the Iraqi conflict really was about oil, Arab leaders say America would have never left in 1991."

5. Wallace Raises Only One of Turner's Obnoxious 9-11 Remarks
In an interview aired on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II, Ted Turner admitted that saying "Christianity is for losers" was a "terrible statement" and that he called the 9-11 terrorists "brave" because he considered his father, who committed suicide, to be brave. But Mike Wallace failed to ask him defend how he argued that "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," or that he regretted how President Bush "is another Julius Caesar. Just what we need."


Jennings Expresses Skepticism Toward Powell's Case

Peter Jennings expressed repeated skepticism toward Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN in which he used audio tapes and satellite photos to demonstrate Iraq's efforts to conceal its weapons of mass destruction and ties to terrorism.

Jennings observed at one point on Wednesday's World News Tonight that "many people will believe the Secretary of State today and some will not." Jennings and ABC certainly fed the predispositions of the doubters.

"But is there really a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda?" Jennings asked at the top of his February 5 show. "An ABC News exclusive tonight. We talk to the man who was accused of working with the Iraqis." Naturally, the man denied Hussein is helping him.

Recounting Powell's explanation for how a satellite photo proved Iraq moved chemical weapons from a site, reporter Martha Raddatz argued: "The satellite imagery is more open to interpretation."

After George Stephanopoulos told Jennings that even Democrats were "impressed" with Powell's presentation, Jennings tried the undermine the relevance of that: "Let me add a note of skepticism. Does this mean they were impressed with substance or performance?"

And after John McWethy warned of the threat Iraq's chemical and biological weapons will pose to U.S. troops, Jennings came to Hussein's defense, assuming he may not have the weapons: "John, very quickly, it's an 'if' still at the Pentagon, is it? 'If' he has all of these provisions?"

Now, more details about the approach to Powell's case taken by the February 5 World News Tonight:

The opening tease from Jennings, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "On World News Tonight, the Secretary of State at the United Nations making the Bush administration's case against Saddam Hussein."
Colin Powell: "Saddam Hussein and his regime will stop at nothing until something stops him."
Jennings: "The administration's evidence: audiotapes, satellite photos, more than an hour of accusation trying to convince the skeptics. But is there really a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda? An ABC News exclusive tonight. We talk to the man who was accused of working with the Iraqis."

Jennings then began the broadcast: "Good evening, everyone. We're going to begin tonight with show and tell about deadly business. In the United Nations Security Council this morning, the Secretary of State Colin Powell took almost an hour and a half to make the Bush administration's case against Saddam Hussein. Mr. Powell was talking to many different audiences at home and overseas. It was the Bush administration's justification for attacking Iraq if the Iraqi leader cannot be dealt with any other way."

Soon Martha Raddatz looked at Powell's satellite photos, but she cautioned viewers: "The satellite imagery is more open to interpretation. Secretary Powell said this was a satellite picture of a storage area for chemical or biological weapons with a decontamination vehicle and heavy cargo trucks nearby. A satellite image taken two months later at the same area, Powell said, showed the vehicles gone, buildings bulldozed, and to keep inspectors from being able to sample the soil, he claimed, the top layer had been hauled away."
Jonathan Tucker, Former UNSCOM Inspector: "We have to, of course, take Secretary Powell on faith to some extent about the significance of the images because they are very difficult for a layman to interpret."

A bit later Jennings went to Stephanopoulos, whom he set up:
"And somebody did observe today people will believe what they want to believe at this point. Mr. Powell certainly had another important constituency to convince, and that was Democrats on Capitol Hill. They were briefed this morning along with the Republican leaders just a few hours before Mr. Powell spoke, and ABC's George Stephanopoulos is in Washington. George, I gather from what you and I talked about earlier, that Democrats were generally impressed today. On what basis?"
Stephanopoulos: "Well, I think three reasons, Peter. First of all, the volume and the vividness of the evidence that Colin Powell presented today, especially those audiotapes. Secondly, the person who made the argument. Colin Powell is very popular with the American people, and he's trusted by the skeptics because he's been perceived to be a reluctant warrior. And then finally, the place he made it, the UN Security Council. Democrats and skeptical Republicans have been saying work with the UN. By going to the UN today, Colin Powell demonstrated that."
Jennings demanded: "Let me add a note of skepticism. Does this mean they were impressed with substance or performance?"
Stephanopoulos: "A little bit if both, Peter. Some of the substance was new, not so much to them, but they think it will be new to their constituents who, for example, will hear those audiotapes for the first time. They are also united, though, Peter, on the need for a second resolution, consensus among Democrats today, so a lot is going to be riding on Hans Blix next week and whether he makes the case to that UN Security Council for a second resolution."

Following an ad break, Jennings observed: "As we said at the outset, many people will believe the Secretary of State today and some will not. And there is one more consideration. If he is right on the money with his analysis of Iraqi capabilities in the case of war, or as somebody in Washington said today, if he's half right, it could be hell for American troops if the country goes to war. ABC's John McWethy is at the Pentagon. Take it from there, John."
McWethy: "And frankly, Peter, if in addition to what the Secretary said, presenting this kind of intelligence in public could make it even tougher for U.S. troops by showing the Iraqis how much the U.S. knows. Chemical and biological weapons: If Secretary Powell is right about Saddam Hussein having a massive stockpile of these weapons, what U.S. forces could face in any war might be far worse than earlier predictions. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld today acknowledged the possibilities could be ghastly."
Donald Rumsfeld: "General Franks has a plan that addresses a host of very unpleasant contingencies. And there are a lot of things like that that can go wrong."
McWethy: "Unmanned planes and missiles: If Iraq has the capabilities Powell described, it creates a nasty new threat for many of Iraq's neighbors. Unmanned airplanes that could fly 350 miles and missiles that can reach 700 miles."
Michael O'Hanlon, Brookings Institution: "I would predict that Saddam would use biological weapons if possible against civilian targets overseas or in Israel, and that he would use chemical weapons on the battlefield."
McWethy: "Terrorism: With Powell arguing that al-Qaeda is now getting help from Iraq, intelligence sources say they are increasingly concerned by the possibility of terrorist attacks against key U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf and Europe. Those kinds of attacks are all part of the, that could also come against front line units, and they could come against those facilities that are far back, Peter, in Europe and in the Persian Gulf. This could affect the speed and effectiveness of any U.S. invasion, all part of the many different threats that Secretary Powell argued were real."
Jennings cautioned: "John, very quickly, it's an 'if' still at the Pentagon, is it? 'If' he has all of these provisions?"
McWethy: "If he has them all, Peter, yes. But many here in the Pentagon are fearing the worst, and frankly they've trained the troops for the worst."

But in the meantime, Jennings is assuming the best about Hussein and the worst about the U.S. exaggerating the threat.

CBS Notes More European Support, NBC: Biden a Bush "Supporter"

On CBS and NBC on Wednesday night, two noteworthy items:
Dan Rather highlighted how ten more European nations have come out in support of the Bush administration's approach to Iraq and NBC's Campbell Brown oddly cited liberal Democratic Senator Joe Biden, who has spent the last weeks demanding the Bush team provide evidence and listen to European dissenters, as a "supporter" of Bush's policy. Naturally, Brown used Biden to push Bush toward a softer position: "Even supporters challenge the President to make the most of this moment and win UN backing."

-- Rather set up a February 5 CBS Evening News story: "Powell apparently did persuade some countries to support a U.S.-led war with Iraq. The White House today released a joint statement to that effect signed by the foreign ministers of ten east European countries from Estonia in the north to Albania in the South. But as CBS's Richard Roth reports, much of the rest of the world, including some important U.S. allies, seem to remain unconvinced."

-- On the NBC Nightly News, Campbell Brown found: "On Capitol Hill, lawmakers glued to their televisions. Almost all, Republicans and Democrats, praising the strength of Powell's case." After a soundbite from Republican Senator John Warner, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein acknowledged: "This is a shift for me. This was a very impressive chain of evidence."
Brown added: "But even supporters challenge the President to make the most of this moment and win UN Backing."
Joe Biden: "His presentation will embolden leaders who have been reluctant to risk any political capital in their own countries."

As Democratic attacks on Bush over the past few months illustrate, including by Biden, having voted for the Senate resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq hardly makes one a "supporter" of Bush's Iraq policy.

CBS Actually Labels Tony Benn a "British Lefty"


CBS's 60 Minutes II on Wednesday night used the Tony Benn interview with Saddam Hussein to illustrate how Hussein is using the language of Western peace groups to ingratiate himself with them. As noted in the February 5 CyberAlert, Benn, a left-wing former member of the British parliament, tossed softball set up questions to Hussein in the interview he conducted as part of his quest to stop any war.

But CBS didn't deliver a sympathetic piece about Hussein as the network only played some brief clips from the interview. CBS reporter Bob Simon acknowledged that Hussein had "sat down in a presidential palace in Baghdad with a British anti-war activist who asked Saddam sympathetic questions. Still, the Iraqi leaders answers were revealing in what he said, how he said it and in what he didn't say."

CBS analyst Fouad Ajami explained to Simon how Hussein's answers matched the concerns of the Western peace movement, such as his talk about the U.S. wanting to control the world through Iraq's oil.

After Ajami noted how calm and reasonable Hussein looked, Simon wondered: "Do you think he doesn't realize that the Americans are coming after him no matter what he does or says, no matter which British lefties he invites to Baghdad?"

Now that's the first time I can recall a CBS News reporter using the label "lefty," especially in a derogatory way.

For more about Benn, whom Peter Jennings described simply as "one of Britain's most famous and outspoken politicians," see the February 5 CyberAlert. Amongst Benn's questions to Hussein in the form of tributes to his wisdom:
"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."

For more about Tuesday night coverage of the interview and Benn's questions:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2003/cyb20030205.asp#1

FNC Undermines Case that Bush Just After Iraq's Oil

Speaking of the charge that the U.S. just wants to control Iraq's oil, Tuesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC recounted how, as Hume summarized, "that view is not shared by some in the region who have seen the U.S. come and go from Arab oil fields before." Reporter William La Jeunesse related: "If the Iraqi conflict really was about oil, Arab leaders say America would have never left in 1991."

MRC analyst Patrick Gregory caught the February 4 story, which Hume set up: "They said it about the Vietnam War, they said it about the Gulf War, they even said it about Afghanistan. Now anti-war critics are saying the U.S. wants to topple Saddam Hussein to get control of his oil. But as Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse reports, that view is not shared by some in the region who have seen the U.S. come and go from Arab oil fields before."

La Jeunesse began: "An attack on Iraq. Is it about weapons of mass destruction, or as the President's critics say, only about oil? If the Iraqi conflict really was about oil, Arab leaders say America would have never left in 1991. Occupying oil fields in Iraq, if not Kuwait. America also could have lifted U.N. sanctions against Saddam, potentially tripling Iraqi output and dramatically cutting world prices. The U.S. did neither."
Hassan Johar, Kuwati Parliament: "The bottom line of this, that American troops here for the protection of our country and if they are here to get rid of Saddam Hussein, I think this is a hope and a dream."
La Jeunesse: "Others aren't convinced. While Persian Gulf nations want stability in the region and many oppose Saddam, others are equally fearful of the U.S. military."
Dr. Usameh El Jamali, OPEC advisor: "It behooves the United States to have a presence in this area, a strategic presence."
La Jeunesse: "Why? Because oil consumption in India and China is soaring and experts say the U.S. doesn't necessarily trust China to stay out of the Gulf. Also, a free Iraq could raise production from two to six million barrels a day, undermining the monopoly power of world's biggest producers, OPEC."
Mohammed Al Sagar, Kuwait Foreign Affairs: "In 20 years, Iraq will be a very important oil exporter. Very, very, important."
La Jeunesse concluded: "The big question, OPEC. Some Arab producers are fearful that a new U.S.-backed regime could privatize the Iraqi national oil company, undercutting OPEC's able to set the world market price. In the short-term, the fear is Saddam will sabotage his own fields. Eventually, however, that oil will come on-line, generating billions of dollars of revenue to rebuild Iraq."

Wallace Raises Only One of Turner's Obnoxious 9-11 Remarks

In an interview aired on Wednesday's 60 Minutes II, Ted Turner admitted that saying "Christianity is for losers" was a "terrible statement" and that he called the 9-11 terrorists "brave" because he considered his father, who committed suicide, to be brave.

But Mike Wallace failed to ask the CNN founder to defend how, in the same remarks in which he uttered the "brave" comment, he argued that "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," and regretted how President Bush "is another Julius Caesar. Just what we need."

During the February 5 60 Minutes II piece, Wallace raised some of Turner's "outrageous" comments from over the years:

Wallace: "'Christianity is for losers'?"
Turner: "Terrible statement. I really regretted that from the time that it came out of my big fat mouth."
Turner at Brown University in February of 2002: "I believe that you should live by your word."
Wallace: "And there were others, like when he gave a speech some months after the World Trade Center disaster."
Wallace to Turner: "Look, after 9-11 you said in a speech."
Turner, rolling his eyes: "Oh my God."
Wallace: "What was on your mind? Some had a problem with it. And you apologized after, well, expressed regret for it. But let me repeat what you said."
Turner: "Okay, go ahead."
Wallace: "'The 19 young men who blew themselves up-"
CBS faded into video/audio of Turner at Brown: "-going into the trade center that our administration called cowards, I mean, how are you a coward when you're willing to die for your country? I mean, I think they were brave at the very least and I'm not going to fly my-" [sound faded out]
Turner, back on the CBS interview: "Brave was a bad word, but I do not think, I know for instance 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."

As recounted in the February 12, 2002 CyberAlert Extra:

The Providence Journal reported that in a talk Monday night at Brown University AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner called the terrorists who attacked on September 11 "brave," claimed, despite the fact that the terrorists were well-off, "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," and lamented that with "a few more votes in Florida....we could have had the best environmental President we ever had." Instead, he regretted, President Bush "is another Julius Caesar. Just what we need."

Turner denounced Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" labeling of the Soviet Union as he equated it with Bush's "axis of evil" concept. "Calling other countries 'dirty names,' the Brown Daily Herald quoted Turner as saying, "is 'a great plan if you want to start a war with somebody.'"

For more:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020212_extra.asp

The next day Turner claimed his comments were "reported out of context, and I deeply regret any pain they may have caused."

Turner told Wallace: "A lot of times what's in your mind is best left unsaid, particularly if you're trying to be diplomatic."

Now there's an understatement in his case. -- Brent Baker