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Media Suppress Hamilton's Scolding of Misreporting of Iraq-Qaeda --6/18/2004


1. Media Suppress Hamilton's Scolding of Misreporting of Iraq-Qaeda
The Republican Chairman and Democratic Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission on Thursday rejected the media's widespread reporting that the commission's report issued the day before had directly contradicted Bush administration statements about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Yet on Thursday night ABC's Peter Jennings declared that there "continues to be a discrepancy between the commission's findings and the President's on whether al-Qaeda has a link to Saddam Hussein," and CBS anchor Dan Rather repeated how "the commission yesterday said it had found no credible evidence of a quote, 'collaborative relationship' between al-Qaeda and Iraq." NBC's Tom Brokaw reiterated the same no "collaborative relationship" finding. But, Brokaw intoned, "despite that conclusion, President Bush insisted there was a relationship between the two." NBC buried what should have been its lead. At the very end of his report, David Gregory informed viewers of how "Lee Hamilton said today that he does not see much different between administration statements and the commission's report." CNN barely mentioned Hamilton while the New York Times and Washington Post ignored him.

2. FNC Follows CyberAlert and Recounts Distorted Reporting on Link
You read it here first. FNC on Thursday night gave national cable air time to, as was detailed in Thursday's CyberAlert, how the broadcast networks distorted what the 9-11 Commission actually concluded about the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq and whether it contradicted what Bush officials have maintained over the past few years

3. Vieira Declares "Entire Pre-Text for War" Was "Built on Lies"
Meredith Vieira, a veteran of CBS News and ABC News, on Thursday's The View, the ABC daytime show she now quad-hosts, declared that, in the wake of how the 9-11 Commission supposedly contradicted (see item #1 above) the Bush administration on the links between al-Qaeda and Iraq: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pre-text for war."

4. Kerry Campaign Uses Network Reporting to Bolster Its Cause
The Kerry campaign on Wednesday night distributed a press release which, the MRC's CNSNews.com noticed, "simply quotes from the 'big three' networks -- as a means of bolstering Kerry's campaign." The release quoted from network coverage which charged that the 9-11 Commission had contradicted the Bush administration on the relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

5. Update: Reporter Who Documented bin Laden-Saddam Ties Now at CBS
Update: A June 17 CyberAlert item about how in 1999 then-ABC News reporter Sheila MacVicar recited ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, noted that "a short time" after that story aired she "jumped to CNN, and I believe she has recently departed from CNN." Indeed, MacVicar is now a London-based correspondent for CBS News, and on Thursday's CBS Evening News she filed the story on the plight of kidnaped American Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia.


Media Suppress Hamilton's Scolding of
Misreporting of Iraq-Qaeda

The Republican Chairman and Democratic Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission on Thursday rejected the media's widespread reporting that the commission's report issued the day before had directly contradicted Bush administration statements about connections between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

Yet on Thursday night ABC's Peter Jennings declared that there "continues to be a discrepancy between the commission's findings and the President's on whether al-Qaeda has a link to Saddam Hussein," and CBS anchor Dan Rather repeated how "the commission yesterday said it had found no credible evidence of a quote, 'collaborative relationship' between al-Qaeda and Iraq -- no plotting together against the United States," but, he added in treating President Bush as out of step, without mentioning how Kean and Hamilton had corrected CBS's mis-reporting, "President Bush insisted again today that there was a quote 'relationship' of some kind and defended his position."

NBC's Tom Brokaw took a similar tack, repeating how the commission had found "that there was no 'collaborative relationship' between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda." But, Brokaw lectured, "despite that conclusion, President Bush insisted there was a relationship between the two." NBC buried what should have been its lead. At the very end of his report, almost as an afterthought, David Gregory informed viewers of how "Lee Hamilton said today that he does not see much different between administration statements and the commission's report."

FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, but hosted by Jim Angle, on Thursday night played these clips of Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton made at an early afternoon press conference:

Kean: "Were there contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq? Yes. Some of them are shadowy, but there's no question they were there."

Hamilton, two soundbites: "I must say I have trouble understanding the flap over this. The Vice President is saying, I think, that there were connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's government. We don't disagree with that."
"So it seems to me that the sharp differences that the press has drawn, the media has drawn, are not that apparent to me."

Thus Hamilton undermined the premise of two days of the media line on how the report supposedly undermined Bush and Cheney.

For a picture and bio of Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton: www.9-11commission.gov

Nonetheless, Judy Woodruff, at the top of CNN's June 17 Inside Politics, portrayed Bush as the one out of step: "President Bush refuses to dismiss, one day after the 9/11 commission threw more cold water on the idea of an Iraq-al Qaeda connection." The subsequent story by Kathleen Koch featured Bush's cabinet room defense of his position on Iraq and al-Qaeda, but didn't mention Hamilton's remarks.

A half hour later, at 4pm EDT, however, Woodruff showcased the anti-Bush take of some other Democrats:
"Welcome back. The Bush administration may keep insisting there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda. But some top Democrats don't seem to be buying it. Today, Bush rival, John Kerry, again accused the President of misleading Americans when he made the case for war in Iraq. And here is what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had to say."

CNN viewers then saw this soundbite from Pelosi: "Now that the 9-11 Commission has said that there is no evidence to support a collaborative effort -- relationship between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, the President has a responsibility to the American people to speak truth on this subject."

Six hours later, in a report for NewsNight, Suzanne Malveaux gave five words to Hamilton. She began: "The 9-11 Commission says it has no evidence that Iraq had anything to do with the September 11th attacks. During a cabinet meeting the President maintained that the administration never made that claim."
Bush in cabinet room: "This administration never said that the 9-11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda."
Lee Hamilton: "We don't disagree with that."

Malveaux proceeded to stress how "some on the 9-11 Commission continue to charge that the President and senior administration officials may have overstated the relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda for political purposes." Malveaux then played this from John Lehman on Inside Politics earlier in the day: "Certainly, some in the administration may have overplayed this to leave the implication that, that the intelligence services in Iraq participated or helped plan 9/11." Malveaux cut off Lehman mid-sentence. The rest of his sentence directly contradicted Malveaux's introduction to his soundbite: "...but that's not what the President said and it's certainly not what our evidence supports."

In fact, Lehman backed up Bush. But Malveaux ignored that. Told by Judy Woodruff that "the President said today that there is a connection and he said there was a connection, a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda," Lehman endorsed Bush's take over that of the news media: "The President's correct. And the commission yesterday said exactly that. What the commission also said was there was no evidence of collaboration on any of the attacks against the United States. But we had previously pointed out that, particularly in Sudan, there is very hard evidence of collaboration on the X gas and other evidence, and additional contacts between Saddam's intelligence service and al Qaeda in the assistance in training in weapons, chemical and biological weapons, anthrax manufacture, and that's what we had in our report yesterday, but unfortunately, the New York Times sort of highlighted only one half of that."

Keith Olbermann, on MSNBC's Countdown on Thursday night, ignored Hamilton as he mocked the Bush-Cheney line, equating it to Bill Clinton's "parsing" of words, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed: "Etymologists have the Clinton years to thank for bringing to our attention what the definition of 'is' is. At the Bush White House, meanwhile, it looks like some parsing of the word 'connection' is in order, as in, 'Is there a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda or not?' On this delicate and divisive matter, we heard from the President once again today, once again asserting that the 9/11 Commission doesn't know its Iraq from its elbow."
George W. Bush in cabinet room: "The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al-Qaeda because there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda. This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda."
Olbermann: "Got that? Saddam and the 9/11 attacks, no. Knew al-Qaeda in a general 'how the heck are you' kind of way, yes. As if, for emphasis, one could also see the Vice President tonight on our sister network, CNBC, saying pretty much the same thing."
Cheney on Capital Report: "On the question of whether or not there was any kind of a relationship, there clearly was a relationship. It's been testified to. The evidence is overwhelming. It goes back to the early '90s. It involves a whole series of contacts, high-level contacts between Osama bin Laden and Iraqi intelligence officials."
Olbermann: "Contacts, which the Commission claimed, resulted in Iraq not returning bin Laden's message. The Vice President also had some choice words for the New York Times and the media in general for getting, quote, 'all in a dither,' and distorting the story."

On Wednesday night's World News Tonight, ABC's Peter Jennings had insisted the commission had "unequivocally" contradicted what the administration had maintained, on the CBS Evening News John Roberts asserted that the commission had "directly contradicted one of President Bush's justifications for going to war against Iraq" and on the NBC Nightly News Tom Brokaw characterized the commission as "sharply at odds with what leading members of the administration continue to claim." For more about Wednesday night coverage, see the June 17 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Print outlets also ignored Hamilton's rebuke of their bad reporting from the day before. After topping its front page Thursday with a story headlined, "Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Plot Tie," a Friday story in the bottom right corner of the front page, "Bush and Cheney Talk Strongly of Qaeda Links With Hussein," skipped Hamilton's remarks. Reporters David Sanger and Robin Toner, however, did relay Vice President Cheney's scolding of the Times' distortion:
"Last night Mr. Cheney, who was the administration's most forceful advocate of the Qaeda-Hussein links, was more pointed, repeating in detail his case for those ties and saying that The New York Times's coverage yesterday of the commission's findings 'was outrageous.'
"'They do a lot of outrageous things,' Mr. Cheney, appearing on Capital Report on CNBC, said of the Times, referring specifically to a four-column front page headline that read 'Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.' Mr. Cheney added: 'The press wants to run out and say there's a fundamental split here now between what the president said and what the commission said.'
"He said that newspapers, including the Times, had confused the question of whether there was evidence of Iraqi participation in Sept. 11 with the issue of whether a relationship existed between Al Qaeda and Mr. Hussein's regime."

For the June 18 Times article in full: www.nytimes.com

For the June 17 front page Times story: www.nytimes.com

For a dissection of the distortions in that Thursday, June 17, Times story, see an analysis of it, on the TimesWatch.org site, by the MRC's Clay Waters: www.timeswatch.org

"Al Qaeda-Hussein Link is Dismissed," declared a June 17 Washington Post front page headline. Friday's inside the paper story, "Bush Defends Assertions of Iraq-Al Qaeda Relationship," didn't include a word from Hamilton. See: www.washingtonpost.com

USA Today on Thursday stacked this big headline at the top of its Thursday front page:
"No Iraq,
al-Qaeda
Link
Found"

On Friday, inside the paper, USA Today ran a piece headlined, "Bush repeats there was an Iraq, al-Qaeda alliance; President: There were 'numerous contacts'" Near the very end, at least, reporter Judy Keen squeezed in a mention of Hamilton's point:
"Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman who is the top Democrat on the commission, said he doesn't disagree with Cheney's assertions of bin Laden contacts with Iraq. 'I have trouble understanding the flap over this,' Hamilton said.
"A commission official said the panel did not intend for its conclusions to be interpreted as a denial of any contacts between al-Qaeda and Iraq. The official said the commission concluded only that there was no connection between Saddam and Sept. 11. The comments were made to reporters on the condition that the official not be named. The official also said the commission hoped its findings would not set off a partisan storm."

A more detailed rundown of Thursday night, June 17, coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC:

-- ABC's World News Tonight. After Terry Moran completed a report on problems on 9/11 with communication from Bush and Cheney to subordinates, which was "deeply flawed," such as how it took a half hour for Cheney's shoot down authorization to get to pilots, Jennings asked: "And Terry, just a couple of seconds left, continues to be a discrepancy between the commission's findings and the President's on whether al-Qaeda has a link to Saddam Hussein."
Moran alluded to how Kean and Hamilton countered the media spin, but still managed to end on an anti-Bush note: "Well the President sticks by his guns and today actually the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the commission said they don't see a discrepancy. But Mr. Bush now says what he sees were numerous contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda. A year ago when he stood on that aircraft carrier deck he said Saddam Hussein was an 'ally' of al-Qaeda. He's changed his story today."

-- CBS Evening News. Over a picture of Saddam Hussein with "Al Qaeda Connection?" beneath, Dan Rather didn't make even a vague reference to Kean or Hamilton as he acted as if it is Bush who should be on the defensive: "The commission yesterday said it had found no credible evidence of a quote, 'collaborative relationship' between al-Qaeda and Iraq -- no plotting together against the United States. But President Bush insisted again today that there was a quote 'relationship' of some kind and defended his position."
Bush in cabinet room: "This administration never said the 9-11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al-Qaeda. We did say there were numerous contacts between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda."
Rather: "The President used those alleged contacts as one rationale for going to war against Iraq."

-- NBC Nightly News. Tom Brokaw set up a full story on the subject: "And President Bush today personally challenged one of the most provocative conclusions of the 9/11 Commission, that there was no 'collaborative relationship' between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Today, despite that conclusion, President Bush insisted there was a relationship between the two. NBC's David Gregory has more tonight from the White House. David?"

Gregory began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Tom, both the President and the Vice President today denied the suggestions that they in any way exaggerated the connection between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda. Both today said there is solid evidence that supports not only the claim of contacts between those two, but some collaboration. And the President, speaking to reporters, again today attempted to justify taking out Saddam."
George W. Bush: "He was a threat because he was a sworn enemy to the United States of America just like al-Qaeda. Now, he was a threat because he had terrorist connections -- not only al-Qaeda connections, but other connections to terrorist organizations. Abu Nidal is one. He was a threat because he provided safe haven for terrorists like Zarqawi, who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq."
Gregory: "The Vice President, in an interview with CNBC's Capital Report, elaborated on the connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda-linked terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi."
Dick Cheney: "He was allowed to operate out of Baghdad. He ran the poisons factory in northern Iraq out of Baghdad, which became a safe harbor for Ansar al-Islam, as well as al-Qaeda fleeing Afghanistan. There clearly was a relationship there that stretched back over that period of time to at least May of '02, a year before we launched into Iraq."
Gregory concluded with what should have been the lead: "White House officials, who are certainly feeling the strain of these questions, today seized on a comment by the Democratic co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission. Lee Hamilton said today that he does not see much different between administration statements and the Commission's report."

FNC Follows CyberAlert and Recounts Distorted
Reporting on Link

You read it here first. FNC on Thursday night gave national cable air time to, as was detailed in Thursday's CyberAlert, how the broadcast networks distorted what the 9-11 Commission actually concluded about the relationship between al-Qaeda and Iraq and whether it contradicted what Bush officials have maintained over the past few years.

In the "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume, Jim Angle explained:
"9-11 Commission Co-Chairman Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, said today there is no disagreement between the commission and the administration over links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. But most news organizations last night said the commission's conclusion, that there was no quote, 'collaborative relationship' between the two was evidence the administration deliberately misled the public. CBS Evening News said the commission quote, 'directly contradicted one of President Bush's justifications for going to war against Iraq.' ABC said the report quote, 'unequivocally' disputed the Bush administration's claims of an al-Qaeda-Iraq link. NBC reported that the commission is 'sharply at odds with what leading members of the administration continue to claim.'
"A front page headline in today's New York Times reads quote, 'Panel Finds No Qaeda-Iraq Tie.' And the Washington Post says quote, 'al-Qaeda-Hussein Link is Dismissed.' But commission members said today there were links, just not a working relationship and no evidence of any Iraqi involvement in September 11th."

For the June 17 CyberAlert item which recounted all but the New York Times headline: www.mediaresearch.org

Vieira Declares "Entire Pre-Text for
War" Was "Built on Lies"

Meredith Vieira, a veteran of CBS News and ABC News, on Thursday's The View, the ABC daytime show she now quad-hosts, declared that, in the wake of how the 9-11 Commission supposedly contradicted (see item #1 above) the Bush administration on the links between al-Qaeda and Iraq: "Everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pre-text for war."

Vieira, a former 60 Minutes correspondent who now hosts the syndicated version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, issued her vicious charge, which matches the most virulent hate speech of the far left, after Barbara Walters asserted that part of the rationale for going to war against Hussein "was the tie, right, between al-Qaeda and Iraq and now we know that's not true. And the President continues to say, and the Vice President, are you not better off -- I think, you know, since, now that Saddam Hussein is not there? That's the defense-"
Vieira jumped in: "Who knows anymore because everything's been built on lies. Everything! I mean the entire pre-text for war."

Another quad-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, defended Bush, in the show's up top "Hot Topics" segment, by asserting that given what was assumed at the time, "we had to act." Former Good Morning America staffer Joy Behar countered: "But they were lying to us." Bahar urged viewers of the June 17 program: "Go see that Fahrenheit 9/11. It will tell you a lot about what's going on."

For a picture and bio of Vieira: abc.go.com

For a picture and bio of Behar: abc.go.com

Kerry Campaign Uses Network Reporting
to Bolster Its Cause

The Kerry campaign on Wednesday night distributed a press release which, the MRC's CNSNews.com noticed, "simply quotes from the 'big three' networks -- as a means of bolstering Kerry's campaign." The release quoted from network coverage which charged that the 9-11 Commission had contradicted the Bush administration on the relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. (See item #1 above for the inaccuracy of the media's anti-Bush spin.)

"Kerry Campaign Bolstered by Network News 'Highlights'" read the headline over the June 17 posting by Susan Jones of CNSNews.com. An excerpt:

...The June 16 press release offers "highlights" from "tonight's network news coverage."...

The networks, in reporting on the 9/11 commission's findings, suggested that the Bush administration took America to war on false pretenses. Someone quoted by CBS -- the Kerry press release is not clear on who's being quoted -- accused Bush of "misleading" Americans, using a word -- misleading -- that liberal advocacy groups such as MoveOn.org regularly use to bash Bush....

What follows are "highlights" from CBS, ABC, and NBC -- as selected and excerpted by the Kerry campaign:

CBS:

"It is one of President Bush's last surviving justifications for war in Iraq and today took a devastating hit when the 9/11 Commission declared there was no collaborative relationship between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

'I think it's the clearest case of the administration misleading the American public to rally support for war and that misleading worked...'

NBC:

"But the 9/11 commission contradicts the White House today, particularly on claims that Iraq and al-Qaida were linked before the war... The report said that the meeting and other contacts between Iraq and bin Laden do not appear to have resulted in a collaborative relationship.

...Critics say the president has gone out of his way to blur the lines between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks... It's clear this report is a blow to the president's rationale for war."

ABC:

"One of the Bush administration's most controversial assertions that Bin Laden was linked to al-Qaida. Today the 911 commission said unequivocally, not so...

...The 9/11 commission staff report was categorical... But the Bush Administration continues to link the two... The commission found, however, that the only relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida was an apparent agreement not to attack each other."

Paid for by John Kerry for President, Inc."

END of Excerpt

For the CNSNews.com article in full: www.cnsnews.com

The Kerry campaign did not post this release on its press release page: www.johnkerry.com

To match up the unattributed quotes cited by the Kerry campaign with who uttered them, see the June 17 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

Update: Reporter Who Documented bin Laden-Saddam Ties Now at CBS

Update: A June 17 CyberAlert item about how in 1999 then-ABC News reporter Sheila MacVicar recited ties between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, noted that "a short time" after that story aired she "jumped to CNN, and I believe she has recently departed from CNN." Indeed, MacVicar is now a London-based correspondent for CBS News, and on Thursday's CBS Evening News she filed the story on the plight of kidnaped American Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia.

As of Thursday night, however, there's no MacVicar under "M" in the CBS News list of staff bios: www.cbsnews.com

MacVicar reported, on the January 14, 1999 edition of the ABC prime time newsmagazine Crime and Justice:
"Saddam Hussein has a long history of harboring terrorists. Carlos the Jackal, Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, the most notorious terrorists of their era, all found shelter and support at one time in Baghdad. Intelligence sources say bin Laden's long relationship with the Iraqis began as he helped Sudan's fundamentalist government in their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
"Three weeks after the bombing [by the U.S. in Sudan], on August 31, bin Laden reaches out to his friends in Iraq and Sudan. [over video of Iraqi man cheek to cheek with Sudanese men] Iraq's Vice President arrives in Khartoum to show his support for the Sudanese after the U.S. attack. ABC News has learned that during these meetings, senior Sudanese officials, acting on behalf of bin Laden, ask if Saddam Hussein would grant him asylum.
"Iraq was, indeed, interested. ABC News has learned that in December, an Iraqi intelligence chief, named Farouk Hijazi, now Iraq's ambassador to Turkey, made a secret trip to Afghanistan to meet with bin Laden. Three intelligence agencies tell ABC News they cannot be certain what was discussed, but almost certainly, they say, bin Laden has been told he would be welcome in Baghdad."

To view a RealPlayer clip of a portion of her story: www.mediaresearch.org

# Tonight Michael Moore begins his media blitz for his left-wing, conspiratorial-spewing, Bush-bashing "documentary," Fahrenheit 9/11. He'll be interviewed by Matt Lauer on Dateline, in the first hour of prime time Friday, and a few hours later he'll be a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.

On Friday's Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC, opposite Moore on CBS: The more rationale Dennis Miller will be Leno's guest.

-- Brent Baker