ABC & CBS Deride Missile Defense Plan
3. ABC's Roberts Unfazed by Spike Lee Charge that Lott in
MSNBC: Daschle in "Pragmatic Political Center"
NBC's Today Hypes Portrait of SUVs as Weapons of Terrorism
ABC Plays "Top Ten Ways Trent Lott is Preparing for the Holidays"
Correction/Update: As noted in the December 17 CyberAlert Special, the December 16 CyberAlert misquoted an argument on FNC's Fox Newswatch about whether the Media Research Center has "mau-maued" media outlets, misspelling the term as "mow-mowed." A Canadian reader passed along the origin of the term as listed in the American Heritage dictionary:
Faced with ABC News-Washington Post poll results that found both solid support for Bush's Iraq policy, a willingness to go nuclear and concern about the threat posed by Iraq as well as a desire for more evidence and a fear of the casualties a ground war might bring, ABC's Peter Jennings highlighted only the results which reflected badly for President Bush.
A story posted by WashingtonPost.com on Tuesday night relayed how more than six in ten (62 percent) support the U.S. using force to oust Saddam Hussein, 81 percent see Iraq as a threat to U.S. national security, most "favor using nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam Hussein attacks U.S. military forces with chemical or biological weapons" and "two-thirds of those interviewed said Bush has done enough to win the backing of other countries, up from barely half three months ago."
But here's how Jennings presented the poll results on the December 17 World News Tonight: "Iraq. An ABC News-Washington Post poll finds the public is somewhat cautious about attacking Iraq. 58 percent of Americans say they want the President to show them more evidence about why the U.S. should take military action. That's an 8 point increase from September. 54 percent are concerned the President will move too quickly against Iraq and only 30 percent of Americans support a ground war against Saddam Hussein that would result in heavy casualties."
Contrast that with how in a WashingtonPost.com piece Richard Morin managed to convey both the findings favorable an unfavorable toward Bush's policy. An excerpt:
Most Americans favor using nuclear weapons against Iraq if Saddam Hussein attacks U.S. military forces with chemical or biological weapons in a war that the public believes is virtually inevitable, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The survey found that six in 10 Americans favored a nuclear response if Hussein orders use of chemical or biological weapons on U.S. troops. Slightly more than a third -- 37 percent -- were opposed. Nearly nine in 10 Americans said the United States is headed for war with Iraq, which most Americans believe possesses weapons of mass destruction....
But the new survey also found that 58 percent of those interviewed would like to see President Bush present more evidence explaining why the United States should use military force to topple the Iraqi leader, up from 50 percent in September. And while most Americans view Iraq as a major threat, fewer than half said it poses an immediate danger to this country....
Overall, six in 10 -- 62 percent -- said they support using U.S. forces to topple Hussein. But when asked specifically if the United States should send American ground troops to invade Iraq, fewer than half -- 45 percent -- said yes while 50 percent disagreed.
Two-thirds of those interviewed said Bush has done enough to win the backing of other countries, up from barely half three months ago. Among those who say Bush as done enough, seven in 10 favored military strikes against Iraq. But among those who say he needs to do more, 54 percent opposed the military option, a finding that underscores the importance for Bush to secure international backing.
END of Excerpt
For the story in full: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3596-2002Dec17.html
For a complete rundown of the poll results:
"President Bush says a multi-billion dollar missile defense system will be deployed," ABC's Peter Jennings teased at the top of World News Tonight before jeeringly adding, "with serious doubts that it will work." John McWethy concluded that "the administration plans to spend $17 billion to rush into the field a system that may not work against a threat that critics say is remote."
Calling it "a sort of Star Wars Junior," this was CBS anchor Dan Rather's idea of balance: "Supporters have high hopes and say they're confident the thing will eventually work. Critics call it pie in the sky and a kind of relief act or corporate welfare for big defense contractors." Describing it as "the thing" hardly conveys confidence as Rather suggested that even supporters can only hope that "the thing eventually works."
NBC's Campbell Brown treated a majority of successes as a failure: "In eight tests conducted over the last three years only five have been successful. Three, including the most recent test less than a week ago, failed."
Peter Jennings introduced the December 17 story: "President Bush announced he will begin deploying a multi-billion dollar system which its defenders say will protect the country from the threat of some enemy ballistic missiles. It is a very modest system for now, but even now it is unclear if it will work. ABC's John McWethy is at the Pentagon. John?"
McWethy gave time to both sides, but concluded with a point made by detractors. He began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Peter, it is a system that the Defense Secretary says is worth building now even though it may be less than perfect."
Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather opened his broadcast: "Good evening. They used to call it Star Wars. President Reagan's idea for a possible missile defense shield over America. Today President Bush committed the people of the United States to actually building it, an expensive system which, it is hoped, would intercept incoming enemy missiles. So far, tests have produced mixed results at best. But the first actual deployment of a small scale version, a sort of Star Wars Junior, is now slated for 2004. Supporters have high hopes and say they're confident the thing will eventually work. Critics call it pie in the sky and a kind of relief act or corporate welfare for big defense contractors."
David Martin explained the proposal and took the same point as made by McWethy, about three out of eight failures in hitting a rocket, but, noting how "the program director says [it] can be done," offered an upbeat soundbite from Kadish: "There are fundamental technology of hit to kill, collision of the interceptor with the warheads, that completely destroys the warheads, works."
Martin concluded: "It may be better than nothing. The question is, will it be good enough and reliable enough to justify a staggering price tag which eventually will exceed $100 billion?."
NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw announced: "The Bush administration announced today it is moving forward with another one of its campaign priorities: deploying a missile defense system. The dream of a missile shield goes back to the Reagan administration Star Wars program. The hangups have always been cost and the fact that the technology is not always reliable. More tonight from NBC's Campbell Brown."
Brown began: "It's the first step toward fulfilling the President's longtime goal: building a shield designed to destroy incoming missiles in mid-air which the Pentagon today called a new first line of defense against an enemy attack."
Prominent journalists have shown a lot of hostility toward missile defense. Some previous CyberAlert items:
-- The NBC News team nefariously characterized President Bush's decision to withdraw from the ABM treaty. Tom Brokaw stated Bush "deliberately broke a treaty." MSNBC anchor Brian Williams claimed Bush had the U.S. "deliberately going back on its word." http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011217.asp#5
-- Following animation of missile defense in action, Peter Jennings snidely added: "One other note. Critics often object to the animation in news reports because the animation usually has the systems working." But Jennings did not utter a word about a successful test. See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011205.asp#4
-- CBS's Bob Schieffer admitted to Don Imus: "I think anti-ballistic missile defense systems are a bad idea." See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010718_extra.asp#4
-- Missile defense an "extreme" idea to New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman who on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning complained about how Bush has "some really ideological advisers with some pretty extreme ideas, I believe, on issues like missile defense." See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010618.asp#5
-- Bush will "build a missile defense system whether the allies like it or not," ABC's Charles Gibson asserted. NBC's Tom Brokaw offered hostility: "It's very expensive and takes the arms race in a whole new direction." Campbell Brown focused on how "key allies" expressed "doubts" over whether it will work as they fear setting aside the ABM treaty "will rekindle the Cold War dynamic." http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010614.asp#1
-- Missile defense enjoys overwhelming public support, but CBS's Dan Rather insisted: "The President backs an expensive, controversial plan." Tom Brokaw referred to the "controversial missile defense system." Peter Jennings snidely observed: "Critics often object to the animation in news reports because the animation usually has the systems working." See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20010502.asp#1
-- Bash "Star Wars" night on CBS and NBC. CBS ran a piece which highlighted attacks on the viability of the newly planned system, while NBC piled on about its dangers, including how "it could actually ignite a whole new nuclear arms race." See: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2000/cyb20000602.asp#2
Director/actor Spike Lee's scurrilous charge that Trent Lott "is a card carrying member of the Klan," didn't faze Robin Roberts on Tuesday's Good Morning America. After all, the ABC News reader had just finished praising Lee as "my good friend" and "my old friend" and gushing: "You are involved in so much, your films make us think." But Diane Sawyer demanded that Lee offer some proof: "You can't come on and say somebody's a card carrying member of the Klan!"
Unable to offer any proof that Lott's now infamous comment about wishing Strom Thurmond had won in 1948 means he's part of a murderous gang, Lee insisted Lott is a member of the Klan in a "metaphysical" sense.
Of course, not a word from Lee about Democratic Senator Robert Byrd who was a member of the Klan in a very real sense.
Lee appeared during the 8:30am half hour on the December 17 ABC program to plug his new movie, 25th Hour, about a man's last 24 hours before entering prison.
News reader Roberts handled the segment and after the laudatory comments about Lee quoted above, the two discussed the movie until Roberts raised Lott. MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down the subsequent exchange:
Of course, anyone with any political sense knows their silence speaks volumes.
Roberts: "This story is far from over, and I think Diane wants to weigh in a little bit, Diane?"
For the ABCNews.com story about the interview and video of it: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/entertainment/DailyNews/spike021217.html
For a picture and bio of Lee, see the Internet Movie Database's page on him: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Lee,+Spike
For a picture of Roberts, whom you may better recognize from her ESPN days, check:
Robert's affection for the left-wing Lee is no surprise given her support of Bill Bradley's presidential bid. As recalled in the April 29 CyberAlert after she left ESPN for ABC News, she helped raise money for Bradley. Roberts emceed a $1 million-plus fundraiser in November 1999. USA Today quoted Roberts as hopefully predicting at it that Bradley would be "going from Madison Square Garden to the Rose Garden." For details: http://www.mediaresearch.org/cyberalerts/2002/cyb20020429.asp#4
On the December 16 show Shuster assessed some likely candidates: "Massachusetts Senator John Kerry now seems to be the leading voice for a more classically liberal approach. Senators Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and perhaps even Tom Daschle lean towards the more pragmatic political center."
One trusts that were Shuster still at FNC, which he left for MSNBC just a few months ago, such foolishness would have been edited out of his script.
NBC has found the real terroristic weapons of mass destruction and they're not in Iraq; they're in your garage. Tuesday's Today hyped the efforts of some liberal cranks to scare people away from driving SUVs. "Is your SUV a weapon of terrorism? Some people think so. They're taking out ads to tell you why," co-host Lester Holt announced at the top of the December 17 show. Later, Holt promised: "Coming up in our next half-hour. Is your SUV a weapon of mass destruction?"
Revealing that she sees the world through the prism of press releases issued by liberal groups, co-host Ann Curry trumpeted how "there seems to be a bit of a drumbeat...because not only have we heard this from Hollywood but there also has been a message from evangelical Christians in the middle America saying, asking with ads, 'Would Jesus have driven an SUV?' Do you hear the drumbeat?"
Curry set up the eventual 7:30am half hour segment observed by MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens: "More than one of every four vehicles sold in America today is an SUV. Making it the most popular vehicle on the road. Well now one group is fueling a fiery controversy producing television ads saying the extra gas guzzled by your SUV makes it a threat to national security. Well syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington is the co-founder of the new group, Americans for Fuel Efficient Cars. And Csaba Csere is the Editor-In-Chief of Car and Driver magazine."
Curry went first to Huffington: "Your ad campaign which is, the ads are running in January, tries to convince Americans to give up their SUVs, having SUV drivers saying things like, 'I helped hijack an airplane.' 'I helped blow up a night club.' 'I gassed 40,000 Kurds.' Are you saying that people who are driving SUVs are contributing to terrorism?"
Curry highlighted the claims: "You use these ads as well as your Web site [http://www.ariannaonline.com/suv/] which has a script that includes, in part: 'Oil money supports some terrible things, if you drive an SUV you may too.' Csaba Csere what, what do you think? I'm gonna turn to, to Mr. Csere. What do you think about this message and that, that if you own an SUV, if you drive an SUV you are supporting terrorism?"
Csere pointed out how the U.S. "only imports about 12 percent of its oil from the Middle East. So the argument that all of our oil money is going to the Middle East is ludicrous" and that "pick-up trucks as a whole get mileage just as poor as SUVs do."
Curry saw a groundswell against SUVs: "I need to ask you this. There seems to be a bit of a drumbeat Csaba Csere because not only have we heard this from Hollywood but there also has been a message from evangelical Christians in the middle America saying, asking with ads, 'Would Jesus have driven an SUV?' Do you hear the drumbeat?"
From the December 16 Late Show with David Letterman, the
(In a very unusual move which suggested how much ABC News producers liked the theme of the list, Good Morning America on Tuesday ended its 7:30am half hour by playing video of Letterman reading the entire list on his program which is aired by a competing network.)
10. Making a list of bigoted remarks and checking it twice
9. Fill out membership form to the Augusta National Golf Club
8. Trying to keep track of all the people calling to say they can't make it to his Christmas party
7. Pray for peace and happiness for everyone...well, almost everyone
6. Reminding friends to "keep quiet about the old days"
5. Dipping his foot in delicious eggnog before putting it in his mouth
4. Inviting media to "traditional Lott family Kwanzaa parade"
3. Phone jet propulsion laboratories in Pasadena -- ask how much down force his hair is generating
2. Joining Eminem in record album of hateful Christmas duets
1. Work on next year's apologies
Looks like Lott will soon have time for all of that. -- Brent Baker, CyberAlert Editor