2. FNC Follows
CyberAlert and Recounts Distorted Reporting on Link
3. Vieira Declares "Entire Pre-Text for War" Was "Built on Lies"
4. Kerry Campaign Uses Network Reporting to Bolster Its Cause
5. Update: Reporter Who Documented bin Laden-Saddam Ties Now at CBS
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."
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:
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."
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."
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:
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
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:
-- 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."
-- 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."
-- 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."
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:
For the June 17 CyberAlert item which recounted all but the New York Times headline: www.mediaresearch.org
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-"
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
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:
"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...'
"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."
"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
To match up the unattributed quotes cited by the Kerry campaign with who uttered them, see the June 17 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org
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
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