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Jennings Fixates on Iraq War's Impact on Stock Market -- 10/17/2002 CyberAlert

Jennings Fixates on Iraq War's Impact on Stock Market; ABC & CBS Treat Iraqi "Election" Seriously; FNC Reports Results of MRC Study; Feet from Murder Geraldo Autographs Shorts of Hooters Girls; "Top Ten Ways CBS Can Attract Viewers to The Early Show."

1) How Peter Jennings measures stock market performance: When it falls he blames Bush's policy against Iraq. When it rises he worries about the future impact of the Bush's policy against Iraq. On September 3: "The prospect of war with Iraq caused anxiety on Wall Street today." This week, after the market rebounded strongly: "How worried do investors appear to be about the possibility of war with Iraq?"

2) Journalists from major outlets decided to take the Iraqi "election" seriously and used it as a chance to highlight "genuine" celebrations by Iraqi citizens. ABC's David Wright recalled how Hussein got 99.96 percent of the vote in the last referendum, but then incredibly claimed "it is impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings." On Today Soledad O'Brien heralded how Hussein had "won" another term and NBC's Keith Miller treated the charade seriously: "It's official yet still unbelievable! Saddam Hussein re-elected to another seven-year term as President in a referendum where he got 100 percent of the vote! The celebrations were genuine...."

3) On Tuesday night FNC's Brit Hume reported on how "the Media Research Center, which keeps statistics on who reports what in broadcast news, found a general bias in favor of Democrats and opponents of an Iraq war resolution in Congress."

4) Geraldo Rivera parachuted in to Spotsylvania County last Friday to cover the latest sniper murder and when he had a break he walked over to the neighboring Hooters where, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported, he was seen "autographing the seats of Fredericksburg Hooters waitresses' skimpy orange shorts -- while the women were in them." Actually, the Washington Post discovered, he and brother Craig "each used a felt-tip pen to scrawl their names, left and right, on each cheek of the Hooters shorts."

5) Letterman's "Top Ten Ways CBS Can Attract Viewers to The Early Show."


1

How Peter Jennings measures stock market performance: When it falls he blames Bush's policy against Iraq. When it rises he worries about the future impact of the Bush's policy against Iraq. A one-track mind.

On the September 3 World News Tonight he asserted: "The prospect of war with Iraq caused anxiety on Wall Street today. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 355 points to close at 8308. On the Nasdaq, stocks were down 51 points. Investors expressing concern about the United States and about the state of the world in general."

Fast forward to Tuesday night of this week after, as Jennings noted, the Dow Jones Industrial average had "gained nearly 1,000 points in the last four days of trading" and rose "another 378 points today." Following a story about it by Betsy Stark, Jennings asked her on the October 15 World News Tonight:
"How worried do investors appear to be about the possibility of war with Iraq?"

Stark's answer: "Well, that is still something that could derail this rally, for sure. They're suffering from a case of high anxiety about the war. And that, it makes this rally very vulnerable."

Vulnerable to Jennings wishing it would decline.

Naturally, the other networks this week did not raise a concern about Iraq policy ruining the stock market, and back on September 3 CBS and NBC found more pedestrian reasons for Wall Street's bad day. Dan Rather stated on the CBS Evening News: "A report today that the manufacturing sector of the economy is still struggling helped to send stock prices sharply lower." Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw echoed Rather: "The stock market sent a giant pessimistic signal after America's factory business reported new orders were not what they had hoped in August. That triggered giant sell orders."

2

Lots of journalists from major media outlets decided to take the Iraqi "election" seriously, treating it as something more than a sham and using it as an opportunity to highlight "genuine" celebrations by Iraqi citizens of Hussein's leadership. In broadcast network stories on Tuesday night, only CBS's Tom Fenton noted how "a UN human rights report said 500 people were jailed in the last referendum after casting a negative ballot."

That same night on ABC's World News Tonight, David Wright observed what occurred seven years ago and the made an incredible claim of naivete: "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings."

"Impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings"?

Wednesday morning on Today, news reader Soledad O'Brien stressed how it was a one-candidate election, but heralded how Hussein had "won" another term and assigned doubt about the election's credibility to the Bush administration, as if it were just another issue on which the Bush team has a differing view of no greater credibility: "It is no surprise but Saddam Hussein won another seven-year term in Iraq yesterday. It was a one-man election. An Iraqi official says Saddam got 100 percent of the vote, setting off celebrations in Baghdad. The Bush administration says the vote lacks any credibility."

Later, in story from Baghdad, informed viewers could discern the phoniness, but reporter Keith Miller treated the charade as something real enough to take seriously: "It's official yet still unbelievable! Saddam Hussein re-elected to another seven-year term as President in a referendum where he got 100 percent of the vote! The celebrations were genuine, but already the validity of the vote is being questioned. The Bush administration dismissed the vote as not credible."

Couldn't Miller on his own have dismissed it as not credible?

Miller relayed the propaganda line: "The government used the referendum to boost loyalty at a time of diplomatic crisis. And by recording a unanimous vote for Saddam pollsters show that the Iraqi people reject President Bush's demand for a regime change."

The night before Miller trumpeted how Hussein had won in a "landslide" and that though "nearly 12 million eligible voters were required to cast ballots," one man he highlighted "needed no encouragement. He was overjoyed to vote for Saddam, saying, 'We made Clinton dizzy. Wait until you see what we do to Bush.'"

The ABC and NBC stories followed some cheerleading from CNN, as related in the October 15 CyberAlert: A plug for American Morning with Paula Zahn on CNN's Web site promised a look at how "Iraqi citizens are preparing to go to the polls to decide whether Hussein stays in office." The story which actually aired acknowledged that he's the only name on the ballot, but fill-in host Carol Costello nonetheless stressed how in the days before the big vote "the mood on the street" in Iraq "is more festive than afraid." Reporter Nic Robertson passed along how "students at Baghdad's fine arts school, too young to vote in the last referendum in 1995, appear eager now." For details:
http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20021015.asp#2

The "Best of the Web" column ( www.opinionjournal.com/best ) on Tuesday passed along some other examples from print of reporters insisting upon treating it as a real election.

James Taranto wrote: "Iraq is holding a sham election today, in which citizens 'vote' on whether Saddam Hussein should serve another seven years as president. Under the watchful eye of Saddam's thugs, these 'voters' must sign their names to the 'ballots,' and any who dare vote 'no' can expect to be executed. It's a mystery why Western news organizations insist on portraying this as if it were an actual election."

He cited some Web and print examples:

+ "Iraq Says 'Yes' to Saddam; Voters Show Support as U.S. Threat Mounts" -- headline, MSNBC.com, Oct. 15

+ "Iraqis Urged to Back Hussein 100%" -- headline, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct. 15

+ "Saddam Aims for 100% Support" -- headline, BBC, Oct. 15

+ "Although President Saddam Hussein faces no challenger in Tuesday's presidential referendum, the government is pushing for the highest percentage of 'yes' votes to paint Saddam as a popular leader in a rebuke to the United States." -- lead paragraph, Associated Press dispatch, Oct. 15

+ "Reuters leads off its 'report' with this ludicrous statement: 'Defiant Iraqis lined up to show their support for Saddam Hussein Tuesday as Western powers were deadlocked over how to deal with the veteran leader they say threatens world security.' A captive people does a dictator's bidding under threat of death -- only in Reuterville could anyone call this 'defiant.'"

+ "Worst of all is the Los Angeles Times. Reporter Michael Slackman's article carries the headline 'For Iraqis, Vote for Hussein Is an Exercise in Democracy.' 'Of course the outcome is preordained,' Slackman acknowledges. 'But then, so is Western reaction' -- as if making a mockery of democracy were morally equivalent to recognizing that someone's made a mockery of democracy."

For the Reuters story: http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=topnews&StoryID=1577037

The October 15 Los Angeles Times story, headlined "For Iraqis, Vote for Hussein Is an Exercise in Democracy," began:

Veteran high school history teacher Saladin Fadahl proudly sports a Saddam Hussein pin on his shirt pocket and wants the whole world to know that he loves his president very dearly.

Going even further, Ahmed Abdul Latif, 30, said he wants the world to know that Iraq is a democracy and not the dictatorship that President Bush has made it out to be. It is a place where everyone is free -- free "to show love for the president."

They are among the 11 million eligible voters who will be asked to demonstrate that love by casting their ballots today in support of Hussein's leadership -- or against it. Officials are very serious about the referendum and hopeful it will spread a message around the world that Iraqis choose to live under an iron fist.

Of course the outcome is preordained. But then, so is Western reaction.

"I know in the West, maybe it does not mean anything," said Saad Naji Jawad, a political science professor at Baghdad University.

Western diplomats and academics said many Iraqis sincerely believe an overwhelming yes vote will show popular support for keeping Hussein in power. The referendum also serves to rally the public at a time when war with the United States appears ever more likely.

"In their view they will show the world they are in unity," one European diplomat said. But outside of Iraq, "everybody will laugh."...

END of Excerpt

But a lot of Western journalists aren't laughing. They're boosting the propaganda effort.

For the LA Times story in full: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-iraq15oct15.story?null

For Taranto's Tuesday column with links to all of the examples he listed: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110002473

CyberAlert can add to Taranto's rundown with some examples from television. The three worst I've seen, in addition to the CNN story recounted in the October 15 CyberAlert linked above, are the ABC and NBC stories briefly quoted earlier above. Here's more from each:

-- Peter Jennings introduced the story on the October 15 World News Tonight: "There was a national referendum in Iraq today. The proposition was whether to give Saddam Hussein another seven years as President. Nearly 12 million Iraqis were eligible to vote. The outcome was not in doubt. ABC's David Wright reports from Baghdad."

Wright began: "In some ways, election day in Iraq looked a lot like its American counterpart. But there were some obvious differences, too. Outside, throngs of enthusiastic supporters. Inside, voters picked up their ballots, recorded their choice behind a screen, and dropped the completed form into the slot. The ballot, one question, do you agree to re-elect President Saddam Hussein?"
An Iraqi man insisted that Iraqis had a real choice: "Here yes, and here no. He may choose no, and he may choose yes."
Wright asked: "Up to them?"
The man replied: "Yes, up to them."

Over video of a ballot box with a photo on its side of Saddam Hussein inside a red heart shape, Wright continued: "For many, the choice was as clear as the decorations on the ballot box."
A second Iraqi man proclaimed: "With my blood, not with pencil or pen, I write with my blood to Saddam Hussein, our President."

Wright then recalled Hussein's amazing popularity in 1995 before expressing befuddlement over whether that really represented what Iraqis feel: "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings."

Wright moved on: "This is Kerbala, one of several Shia Muslim strongholds that rebelled against Saddam after the Gulf War. If there were anyplace in Iraq where people might be tempted to vote no, it's here. We did see one man actually mark no on his form. But when we asked him about it afterwards, he told the Iraqi official who was translating for us that he voted yes. In Baghdad, the Iraqi leader's eldest son, Uday, showed up in a red Bentley to cast his vote. But his father made no public appearances, and hasn't for nearly two years."

-- NBC's Today, October 16. News reader Soledad O'Brien set up a piece by relaying how Hussein had "won" another term: "As for Saddam Hussein he has won another term as Iraq's President after getting all the votes in an election on Tuesday. He was the only candidate on the ballot. NBC's Keith Miller has more from Baghdad this morning. Keith good morning to you."
Miller, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, checked in with a report that an informed viewer could see was expressing doubt about the vote's legitimacy but which a naive viewer night take as a serious recounting of a Hussein victory in a real election, an assumption complicated by how Miller emphasized how "the celebrations were genuine." He enthused:
"Good morning Soledad. It's official yet still unbelievable! Saddam Hussein re-elected to another seven-year term as President in a referendum where he got 100 percent of the vote! Government officials appeared serious when they announced the historic results of the election. Saddam's right-hand man Izat Ibrahim said 100 percent of those eligible to vote did so. And all 11, 440,638 eligible voters went to the polls with one thought: Yes to Saddam Hussein! The government proclaimed it a victory of light over darkness, good over evil. It seemed more like a political miracle.
"On the streets it was like Saddam won the mother of all elections. The celebrations were genuine, but already the validity of the vote is being questioned. The Bush administration dismissed the vote as not credible. You won't hear any criticism here. State-run television ran patriotic programming non-stop. The government used the referendum to boost loyalty at a time of diplomatic crisis. And by recording a unanimous vote for Saddam pollsters show that the Iraqi people reject President Bush's demand for a regime change. Parliament will administer the oath of office later today, reportedly in private, because Saddam Hussein has not been seen in public in Iraq since last December. Soledad."

-- The night before, on the October 15 NBC Nightly News, Miller trumpeted: "The ballots are still being counted tonight, but there's no doubt about the result. A landslide. Saddam Hussein will win another seven-year term as President. Nearly 12 million eligible voters were required to cast ballots. But this man needed no encouragement. He was overjoyed to vote for Saddam, saying, 'We made Clinton dizzy. Wait until you see what we do to Bush.' Saddam's son Uday, surrounded by security, delivered his ballot from a Rolls Royce. Turnout in Baghdad was heavy and appeared unanimous..."
"In Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, 90 miles north of Baghdad, some people marked their ballot with blood, a symbolic act of defiance against American threats to attack Iraq. The referendum has turned into a campaign opposing president Bush's demand for regime change."
Iraqi man: "We are the only people that are not afraid of America, who say to Americans, 'No, stop! Stop!'"
Miller concluded from Baghdad: "If there is any fear of an invasion, you can't see it on the streets. No soldiers, no sand bags, and so apparent run on food supplies. At the al-Zawahi Café, people seem more concerned about dominos. Tonight, the vote count. Loud and clear. 'Yes, yes and yes.' There will be no call for a recount. The only suspense tonight, how much of a yes vote Saddam will win. In the last referendum, he won 99.96 percent of the vote. He hopes to do better."

It would be nice if the U.S. media would do a better job of resisting Iraq propaganda ploys about overwhelming public support fort Hussein in a nation in which people are not allowed to express any other view and lack the informational foundation on which to base their opinions.

3

You read it here first, at least those of you who are e-mail subscribers to CyberAlert and, therefore, get the "CyberAlert Specials" which are not posted. On Tuesday night, FNC's Brit Hume relayed the findings of an MRC Media Reality Check study about how the broadcast network evening shows aired more soundbites from members of the House and Senate opposing than favoring use of force against Iraq.

Actually, to be fair to CBS and NBC, the numbers were really skewed by ABC's one-sided slant as World News Tonight did not air a single pro-use of force soundbite, though the CBS and NBC soundbite selection did over-represent the share of House and Senate members who voted against the Iraq war resolution.

Leading off the "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume, on October 15 Hume announced:
"The Media Research Center, which keeps statistics on who reports what in broadcast news, found a general bias in favor of Democrats and opponents of an Iraq war resolution in Congress. In the month between President Bush's September speech to the U.N., and the final day of debate in Congress last week, the center found that ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs carried 81 soundbites from members of Congress: 58 were from Democrats, only 19 from Republicans. As for the 51 soundbites that were definitely for or against an Iraq war resolution, the center found the balance was 50/50 on CBS, 53 to 47 percent against on NBC, and 100 percent opposed on ABC News."

To read the study conducted by Rich Noyes, the MRC's Director of News Analysis, "TV's 'Congress' Rejected Bush's War Call: ABC Censored Bush's Congressional Supporters While CBS and NBC Exaggerated Anti-War Sentiment," go to: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/fax20021014.asp

For the Adobe Acrobat PDF of it: http://www.mediaresearch.org/realitycheck/2002/pdf/fax1014.pdf

4

Geraldo Rivera, class act. Rivera parachuted in to Spotsylvania County, Virginia last Friday to cover the latest sniper shooting for FNC and when he had a break between on air appearances he walked over to the neighboring Hooters where, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star reported, he was seen "autographing the seats of Fredericksburg Hooters waitresses' skimpy orange shorts -- while the women were in them."

The Washington Post's Lloyd Grove followed up with the revelation "that Geraldo and his younger brother each used a felt-tip pen to scrawl their names, left and right, on each cheek of the Hooters shorts."

But FNC maintained the brotherly antics with Craig, his producer, were not inappropriate since the butt signing across the street from the murder scene occurred only because Geraldo was "honoring" requests from his fans.

Geraldo Rivera

An excerpt of the October 15 Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star story headlined, "Geraldo signs backsides yards from sniper site," by reporter Michael Zitz:

Geraldo Rivera has a knack for getting to the bottom of a story.

The larger-than-life Fox News reporter swooped into Fredericksburg and spent the weekend to file reports following Friday's sniper shooting at the Four-Mile Fork Exxon.

He arrived at the scene at midday Friday, strutting around in a black leather jacket and blue jeans.

By 6 p.m. on the day of the shooting, Rivera was autographing the seats of Fredericksburg Hooters waitresses' skimpy orange shorts -- while the women were in them.

The Hooters restaurant is located only about 50 yards away from the crime scene.

"He was posing for pictures with the Hooters Girls and signing their [rear ends]," said Geoff Leach, a Caroline County resident who was at the restaurant late Friday afternoon.

"I thought it was pretty tasteless, considering the timing and the proximity to the scene of the killing," Leach said. "It was a circus atmosphere."

A spokesman for Fox News Channel in New York said the Hooters autograph session was only part of a wider Rivera autograph spree.

"He was all over the place," said FNC spokesman Robert Zimmerman. "He was giving autographs at the Waffle House next to the gas station, he was giving autographs to Spotsylvania sheriff's deputies, he was giving autographs to truck drivers."

Zimmerman made it clear that neither he nor Fox was defending Rivera's actions.

Rivera declined to talk directly to a reporter, but relayed a comment through Zimmerman.

"He said he was honoring the requests of his adoring fans," Zimmerman said....

END of Excerpt

Just proves that Geraldo is more of a celebrity than a journalist.

For the story in full: http://www.fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2002/102002/10152002/760427

In Wednesday's "The Reliable Source" column in the Washington Post, Lloyd Grove relayed what the Free Lance-Star reported and then added his discovery of the involvement of Geraldo's brother. An excerpt:

Minutes after the 58-year-old Rivera did a grim-faced live stand-up at the Exxon station where [Kenneth] Bridges, a Philadelphia father of six, was slain that morning -- calling the sniper a "creep" who had committed "murder and mayhem" from "a cowardly distance" -- he repaired to the local Hooters, 50 yards away, to have dinner and to autograph the skimpy orange hot pants of several willing waitresses.

The 58-year-old television star was joined in this hilarity by producer Craig Rivera -- "my brave brother Craig," as Geraldo called him in a memo last week in which he once again defended himself against the Baltimore Sun's allegations of bad journalism last year when he filed a spectacularly mistaken report of friendly fire in Afghanistan. Hooters patron Geoff Leach , a Fredericksburg environmental consultant, told us that Geraldo and his younger brother each used a felt-tip pen to scrawl their names, left and right, on each cheek of the Hooters shorts....

Rivera didn't respond to the two detailed messages we left on his cell phone, and we hear he was on his way to Indonesia to report on the nightclub bombing in Bali....

END of Excerpt

For the entire item: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A31959-2002Oct15.html

This is all really Tony Snow's fault. If he didn't refuse air a live report from Geraldo on his 6pm show (he anchors Special Report with Brit Hume on Fridays), Geraldo wouldn't have had time for a dinner break at Hooters!

Checking the Hooters Web site for the location of its Fredericksburg area restaurant (for a map: http://hooters.know-where.com/hooters/cgi/site?site=245&address=) I noticed that this is the chain's slogan: "Delightfully Tacky, Yet Unrefined."

Sounds just like Geraldo Rivera.

5

From the October 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the
"Top Ten Ways CBS Can Attract Viewers to The Early Show." Late Show home page: http://www.cbs.com/latenight/lateshow/

10. Every cooking segment ends with a grease fire

9. Frequent updates from "The Today Show"

8. Less focus on world news, more focus on harness-racing results

7. Free "Early Show" keychains

6. Three words: naked book reviews

5. Get rid of the "News You Can't Use" segments

4. "Early Show" rally monkey

3. Make it more like "Sanford and Son"

2. Lots of bloopers where people get hit in the nuts

1. Throw in a few new Gumbels

Not even all those things combined would be able to get more people to watch The Early Show. -- Brent Baker


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