2. Media Too Negative for Public, Koppel Blames Bush's Deception
3. Hume Notes CBS's "Reluctant Witness" Hasn't Been Very Reluctant
4. CBS Castigates the Pope: "His Legacy is Not Without Flaws"
Today Promotes Gun Rights-Bashing Movie and Novel
6. Washington Post Celebrates Left-Wing Award to Joe Wilson
7. CBS Paints Unregulated Home Schooling as Dangerous to Kids
8. Letterman's "Top Ten Perks of Being Stationed In Iraq"
Stop the presses! A Christian man has expressed Christian views while speaking inside some Christian churches. A night after Tom Brokaw labeled the comments as "divisive" as he trumpeted how "NBC News has learned that a highly-decorated General has a history of outspoken and divisive views on religion, Islam in particular," the other networks piled on Thursday night, treating a few remarks made months ago by Lt. General Jerry Boykin as suddenly scandalous.
ABC and CBS put up a "Holy Warrior" graphic as each teased their respective evening newscasts. Peter Jennings previewed the October 16 World News Tonight: "The holy warrior in the American Army. God, he says, has revealed the enemy." Over on the CBS Evening News, Dan Rather teased: "God and the U.S. military: One of the country's top Generals embroiled in controversy for saying we are at war with Satan."
Jennings set up the full story by John Cochran: "General Jerry Boykin is making headlines today because he has said so openly that the war on terrorism is God's war against Satan and he's in God's Army."
Rather framed a piece by David Martin: "At the Pentagon today, officials from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on down faced questions about a U.S. Army General who says publicly that God put George Bush in the White House. The issue is this: No matter how strongly he may believe it, should or should not an American General, in uniform, be publicly proclaiming it to the world?"
But he only proclaimed his pretty standard Christian view to people inside some churches where he spoke earlier this year. It's only because of the media that a wider audience has now heard the supposedly dangerous views of the General who heads a secret unit tasked with hunting down Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and, if exposing those views really will hurt America's war on terrorism, which side are the media on in so unnecessarily publicizing them?
This mini-scandal started with a report by Lisa Myers on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News which aired in conjunction with a Thursday story in the Los Angeles Times.
Reporters at Thursday's Pentagon briefing incessantly peppered Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld with questions intended to get him to denounce Boykin.
Thursday night on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes criticized NBC's news judgment, including how they so ridiculously packaged the re-playing of some church-produced video clips someone gave them as some kind of great scoop by their "Investigative Unit." Barnes opined, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Brokaw touted the "exclusive report" on the October 15 NBC Nightly News: "There's a strange new development in the war on terror involving one of the leaders of a secretive new Pentagon unit formed to coordinate intelligence on terrorists and help hunt down Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other high-profile targets. NBC News has learned that a highly-decorated General has a history of outspoken and divisive views on religion, Islam in particular."
Lisa Myers began: "He's a highly-decorated officer, twice wounded in combat -- a warrior's warrior. The former commander of Army Special Forces, Lt. Gen. William 'Jerry' Boykin has led or been part of almost every recent U.S. military operation, from the ill-fated attempt to rescue hostages in Iran to Grenada, Panama, Colombia, Somalia.
["Obtained" as if they had to sneak into the churches with a hidden camera. In fact, as Myers spoke NBC panned tapes and CDs with professionally printed, graphically-appealing tape and CD labels with titles like "2003 Patriotic Service" over a waving flag background. So, the churches had obviously taped the sessions and reproduced copies for sale.]
Myers played a home video quality clip of Boykin on an altar doing slide a show on June 21 at the Good Shepherd Community Church in Sandy Oregon, with his somewhat muffled words on screen: "Well, is he [bin Laden] the enemy? Next slide. Or is this man [Saddam] the enemy? The enemy is none of these people I have showed you here. The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."
Myers: "Why are terrorists out to destroy the U.S.?"
Too late. NBC has already smeared him.
For a picture of Boykin and Windows Media Player video of the Myers story: www.msnbc.com
For the collection of quotes from Boykin in churches: www.msnbc.com
For a Boykin bio collected by NBC's liberal analyst Bill Arkin: www.msnbc.com
"General Casts War in Religious Terms" declared the headline over a front page story in the October 16 Los Angeles Times. The subhead: "The top soldier assigned to track down Bin Laden and Hussein is an evangelical Christian who speaks publicly of 'the army of God.'" For the story in full: www.latimes.com
The public is losing trust in media coverage of Iraq, a new Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll discovered, but ABC's Ted Koppel on Wednesday night blamed the Bush administration for any overly negative coverage.
The poll, released on Thursday, found that "three times as many Americans think news reports about Iraq are more likely to focus on the negative and leave out the positive (60 percent), than to focus largely on the positive things happening in Iraq (19 percent)." Approval of "the way newspapers and television channels have been reporting on U.S. military operations in Iraq" has fallen from 52 percent in early April to just 36 percent this month while disapproval has jumped from 39 to 46 percent.
For a full rundown of the survey of registered voters conducted October 14-15, see: www.foxnews.com
But on Wednesday's Nightline, instead of considering any possibility of media responsibility, Ted Koppel deflected criticism of his colleagues and lectured the Bush team for daring to try to go around the national media by granting interviews with the President to local reporters: "If things are really bad in Iraq, bypassing the mainstream media won't make them any better, and that's what the Bush administration seems to be trying these days."
Koppel argued that it is the Bush administration which has been deceitful and dishonest, not the press corps, that needs to change its attitude: "There is, actually, a solution and it's deceptively simple: level with the American public about what is going wrong, and then they and we will have a much easier time believing the good news when it occurs."
But as noted in the October 16 CyberAlert, Koppel's nominal boss, ABC News President David Westin, acknowledged that his network has been too negative on Iraq. In a memo to ABC News staffers last week which USA Today reported on Wednesday, Westin conveyed his concern: "I've been troubled for some time about the reporting of all news organizations on the situation in Iraq." He explained: "We often seem to be captive to the individual dramatic incident -- and those of us in television subject to one that comes with great video." For more: www.mediaresearch.org
Following a piece by John Donvan, on the debate over the proper balance between good and bad news in Iraq, Koppel interviewed White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett. This question reflected the theme as Koppel put the burden on the Bush team: "Do you think the context, Dan, might have been a little bit easier to understand if the administration had been a little more forthcoming in acknowledging that things didn't quite go the way you were expecting after the war?"
If the White House were to cry uncle, all that would do is generate more negative stories about White House duplicity and questions about what other nefarious things are they still hiding.
FNC's Brit Hume on Thursday night added value to a CyberAlert item by pulling out a gem of a contrast which I had failed to highlight in the report about CBS treating as "new" charges leveled by former State Department official Greg Thielmann on the misuse of intelligence on Iraq.
Hume recited the numerous times Thielmann was featured on network news programs in June and July and then how, at the end of Wednesday's 60 Minutes II featuring Thielmann, CBS's Scott Pelley insisted that Thielmann "told us he's 'a reluctant witness.'"
Hume read this item during the "Grapevine" segment on the October 16 Special Report with Brit Hume:
For the October 16 CyberAlert article on CBS hyping the oft-repeated allegations from Thielmann: www.mediaresearch.org
The flawed Pope. CBS's Allen Pizzey on Thursday night marked the Pope's 25th anniversary by listing some of his successes, but then Pizzey declared as fact that "his legacy is not without flaws" with policies which "have alienated many." Not that his legacy is not without detractors or controversies or that some think his views are flawed, but that his legacy does include areas in which he has definitively been "flawed." Pizzey, naturally, cited topics on which the Pope's stands upset liberals -- "his staunch refusal to ordain women as priests and rigorous rejection of birth control, abortion and homosexuality, have alienated many."
Reviewing the Pope's health and then his legacy, on the October 16 CBS Evening News, Pizzey noted how during his tenure he has traveled to 130 countries and made 19,000 speeches. Pizzey elaborated:
And media hostility to anyone with those conservative views is what has alienated many from flawed journalists.
The day after NBC's Today devoted a ridiculous story to the NRA's supposed "enemies list," a story which matched to efforts of a left-wing group to raise money off attacking the list, Today returned on Thursday with two segments which featured guests opposed to Second Amendment rights.
During the 8:30am half hour, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, Matt Lauer prompted actor Dustin Hoffman to expound on how the Brady Campaign had provided guidance for the film Runaway Jury about jury manipulation in a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer. In the next half hour, Today promoted a new novel by Richard North Patterson, who sits on the Brady Campaign's Board of Directors, about a President who "vows to eradicate gun violence and crush the most powerful lobby in Washington -- the Sons of the Second Amendment," an admitted "thinly veiled" stand-in for the NRA.
-- Matt Lauer plugged the Hoffman interview on the October 16 Today: "And now Dustin Hoffman is starring in Runaway Jury as the attorney filing suit against a gun manufacturer."
During the interview, Lauer prompted Hoffman to explain how the antagonist was changed from Big Tobacco in John Grisham's novel to Big Gun in the movie: "The role, the role of this character, in the book, was a lot smaller than the role in the movie."
For the Internet Movie Database's (IMDb) page on the film which opens today: us.imdb.com
For 20th Century Fox's page on its movie: www.runawayjurymovie.com
IMDb's page on Hoffman: us.imdb.com
-- During the 9am half hour, Ann Curry set up a session about a pro-gun control novel which Bill Clinton endorsed and the plot of which, Curry boasted, her segment producer "absolutely loved." Curry announced: "Some powerful forces come together when the President of the United States is pitted against a powerful Washington lobby group debating gun laws and dealing with families coping with loss. It's the latest novel of best-selling author Richard North Patterson, called Balance of Power."
Curry cued him up: "You take on a lot of very controversial issues in your books. This is what your eleventh, twelfth book? Who's counting? You're taking on, in this case, the gun lobby, which is a very controversial subject that's close to your heart. You actually serve on boards dealing with this issue."
A journalist's job is to challenge his or her guests. Curry did not.
For Today's posted excerpt of the book about "the terrible toll of gun violence," go to: www.msnbc.com
Amazon's page for the novel: www.amazon.com
On Thursday, the Washington Post celebrated a left-wing public-relations event spotlighting former diplomat and anti-war activist Joe Wilson, the center of the CIA-leak "scandal," with the panegyrical headline: "Paying Homage to the Truth and Its Consequences." The Post never described Wilson or the event's sponsor, The Nation Institute (part of The Nation magazine) as "leftist" or even "liberal," even though Wilson wrote in The Nation that Bush's "underlying objective" in going to war in Iraq "is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes."
[Tim Graham, MRC's Director of Media Analysis, submitted this item for CyberAlert.]
In a piece on the front page of the October 16 "Style" section, reporter Reilly Capps passed on that Wilson had won the first Ron Ridenhour Award for Truth-Telling. Wilson appeared with leftist Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the "Pentagon Papers" on the Vietnam War to the newspapers, who also won a Ridenhour Award for a lifetime of "courage." Ridenhour inspired the prize name by exposing the My Lai massacre by American soldiers in Vietnam.
Capps reported the Ridenhour Awards were organized by the Fertel Foundation and "The Nation magazine's foundation, the Nation Institute." Capps didn't call them "left-wing," "progressive," or even "liberal." It also failed to explain to less knowledgeable readers that the Nation's award to Wilson for standing up for a revealed CIA agent wife is strange, since The Nation has generally been a forum for CIA abolitionists and an enemy of spies, at least those acting on behalf of the U.S. government.
Labeling Wilson on the "left" would fit if Capps had quoted from Wilson's article in the March 3, 2003 edition of The Nation, where he suggested America was seeking nothing less than a Middle Eastern empire: "The underlying objective of this war is the imposition of a Pax Americana on the region and installation of vassal regimes that will control restive populations." He added that "neoconservatives with a stranglehold on the foreign policy of the Republican Party" aren't satisfied with regional pre-eminence. "Nothing short of conquest, occupation, and imposition of handpicked leaders on a vanquished population will suffice. Iraq is the linchpin for this broader assault on the region. The new imperialists will not rest until governments that ape our worldview are implanted throughout the regime, a breathtakingly ambitious undertaking, smacking of hubris in the extreme."
To read the rest of that screed: www.thenation.com
Unsurprisingly, Capps noted, "In their remarks, Wilson and Ellsberg leveled blistering criticism at the Bush administration." For his part, "Ellsberg compared this war to the Nixon era: 'I believe this situation is exactly parallel,' Ellsberg said. 'By trying to punish him and his wife, they're trying to intimidate those who might be thinking about coming forward....Hopefully the trajectory of this episode will end very similarly,' he said, 'with indictments, resignations.'"
The Post considered that "paying homage to the truth and its consequences."
For the Post's piece: www.washingtonpost.com
"CBS Needs Education on Homeschooling, Say Advocates," reads the headline over a Thursday story on CNSNews.com by Marc Morano about a couple of CBS Evening News stories this week which set out to portray home schooling as a method child abusers use to avoid having anyone notice their abuse.
Morano reported: "According to the CBS reports, the practice of educating children at home carries with it the risk that children will be abused or even 'killed while homeschooling.'
Morano added: "On Monday, CBS News correspondent Vince Gonzales previewed the following day's segment by saying: 'Tomorrow, how children nationwide have been put in danger, even killed while home schooling.'
For Morano's entire story, complete with reaction from home schooling advocates, go to: www.cnsnews.com
From the October 16 Late Show with David Letterman, as announced by ten members of the Army's 1st Armored Division on the grounds of a former Saddam Hussein palace, the "Top Ten Perks of Being Stationed In Iraq." Late Show Web site: www.cbs.com
10. "Access to Saddam's extensive collection of Barbra Streisand CDs" (Sergeant Lillian Rodriguez)
9. "I'm the only Jonathan Atwood in the Baghdad phonebook" (Specialist Jonathan Atwood)
8. "You play cards with those Iraqi government decks -- we use the actual guys" (Sergeant First Class Timothy Bird)
7. "We get to test out the Army's new bulletproof camel" (Sergeant Kevin Kirk)
6. "You don't need Dr. Phil to lose weight here -- you just sweat your ass off" (Private First Class Daniel Ruiz)
5. "When the C.O. isn't looking, I like to tiptoe around the presidential palace and play dictator for a while" (Specialist Nyria Roach)
4. "It's fun to pick up the phone and say, 'No, Uday and Qusay are not available right now because they're dead'" (Specialist Jason Williams)
3. "Goodbye standard-issue army tent, hello billion-dollar palace" (Sergeant First Class Edwin Kolb)
2. "CBS comedies are even funnier in Kurdish" (Specialist Jonathan Moore)
1. "The farther away from the state of California, the better" (Specialist Noel Ellis)
-- Brent Baker