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Mike Wallace Doubts Bush's "Validity," Says Iraq Not "Good War" --6/1/2004


1. Mike Wallace Doubts Bush's "Validity," Says Iraq Not "Good War"
CBS News veteran Mike Wallace, at a Smithsonian Institution "National World War II Reunion" event on Friday shown later by C-SPAN, denounced the war in Iraq. "This is not, in my estimation, a good war," Wallace declared. "I don't know how we got into a position where our present Commander-in-Chief and the people around him," the 60 Minutes correspondent lamented, "had the guts to take our kids and send them on what seems to be -- it sure is not a noble enterprise." Citing President George W. Bush's lack of military experience, both Wallace and fellow panelist Allen Neuharth, founder of USA Today, unfavorably compared him to George Washington and Wallace contrasted Bush with President Franklin Roosevelt, but failed to acknowledge that FDR lacked any military experience.

2. Koppel Catches Up, on Friday Lists Those Killed Beyond Iraq
Ted Koppel on Friday night caught up with the servicemen killed in the war on terror outside of Iraq, names he ignored during his Friday, April 30 "The Fallen" edition of Nightline in which he dedicated his entire program to the names and pictures of those killed in Iraq. Koppel told viewers that "since this is Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to pay our respects to those whom we did not honor a few weeks back." He ended the May 28 Nightline by taking four minutes to read the list of names of those killed beyond Iraq, "from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan," as the names, along with their rank and age, scrolled over near-silent video of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. But while Nightline had shown photos of all those killed in Iraq, on Friday those killed elsewhere did not get a picture.

3. Bob Woodward's Colleagues: Bush Has "Never Read a 21-Page Memo!"
Bob Woodward's colleagues at the Washington Post teased him about sending a 21-page memo to President Bush since "he's never read a 21-page memo!" Woodward related his anecdote, about how those inside a major media outlet ridiculed the President, during a Friday night appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to plug his book about how the Bush administration decided to take the U.S. to war with Iraq, Plan of Attack.

4. NPR's Williams Sees No Liberal Bias, NYT "Mainstream Journalism"
NPR's Juan Williams doesn't see any liberal bias in the media and, damning with faint praise, insisted: "I think the New York Times is mainstream American journalism." Williams made his remarks during a Fox News Sunday panel segment devoted to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey which found that amongst national media outlet reporters, editors, producers and executives, five times more, 34 percent, identified themselves as liberal than the piddling 7 percent who called themselves conservative. Williams, a senior correspondent at NPR and a former Washington Post reporter, countered that somehow advertisers prevent any liberal bias: "When they ask the advertisers who determine what gets on TV and what gets in the papers, guess what? They're conservatives."


Mike Wallace Doubts Bush's "Validity,"
Says Iraq Not "Good War"

CBS correspondent Mike Wallace CBS News veteran Mike Wallace, at a Smithsonian Institution "National World War II Reunion" event on Friday shown later by C-SPAN, denounced the war in Iraq. "This is not, in my estimation, a good war," Wallace declared during a "National World War II Reunion" panel event, on "World War II veterans as journalists," held in a tent on the Capitol end of Mall the afternoon before the dedication of the World War II Memorial. "I don't know how we got into a position where our present Commander-in-Chief and the people around him," the 60 Minutes correspondent lamented, "had the guts to take our kids and send them on what seems to be -- it sure is not a noble enterprise."

(Wallace's sharing of his personal views helps explain his disgust with President Bush shown on the April 18 60 Minutes when he jeeringly proposed to Bob Woodward: "The President of the United States, without a great deal of background in foreign policy, makes up his mind and believes he was sent by somebody to free the people -- not just in Iraq, but around the world?" See: www.mediaresearch.org )

Fellow panelist Allen Neuharth, the founder of USA Today, echoed Wallace: "I think we stumbled and bumbled our way into this war."

Citing President George W. Bush's lack of military experience, both Wallace and Neuharth unfavorably compared him to George Washington -- as if many Presidents look good by comparison -- and Wallace contrasted Bush with President Franklin Roosevelt, but failed to acknowledge that FDR lacked any military experience, yet managed to lead the nation during World War II..

Wallace not too-subtly raised Bush's "validity" as President: "George Washington was Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States. Franklin Roosevelt was Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States. I don't have to persuade anybody about the validity of those two guys."

Neuharth questioned if the Founding Fathers were wise to have made the President "the Commander-in-Chief of our military forces. They were right with George Washington. He had been a military person. But I'm not sure whether a non-military Commander-in-Chief, no matter which party he's from or no matter who he or she is, whether a non-military Commander-in-Chief has the background and the instincts to make a decision to take us to war."

One must assume that since, along with Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, Bill Clinton spent no time in the military, Wallace and Neuharth voted for Bob Dole in 1996.

A UNC professor has posted the military records of every President. See: www.unc.edu

Tied to Saturday's dedication of the World War II Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution set up a big tent on the Mall to hold events under the rubric of the "National World War II Reunion."

Sometime Friday afternoon (you could see light outside on C-SPAN), Thomas Doherty, Associate Professor of American Studies at Brandeis University, moderated a discussion, which C-SPAN titled "World War II veterans as journalists," featuring Wallace and Neuharth. (On tight shots of the panel it didn't look like a tent since the panelists sat in front of a wood background that looked like an interior room wall.)

Speaking haltingly, Wallace contrasted World War II, during which he served on a Navy ship, with today: "We knew what we were fighting for. We knew how important it was. We loved our country. We loved our Commander-in-Chief. We respected the people with whom we worked and we were caught up in a, as I say, in a mutual enterprise, if that's the word, the world needed but the Americans were able to bring and when finally Pearl Harbor came and we were, we finally got in, it was a damn good thing that we did.
"I wish that I could -- I look at where we are today, I look at where we are today, and I say to myself, I wouldn't want to, this is not, in my estimation, a good war. [applause] I don't know what -- Commander-in-Chief. George Washington was Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States. Franklin Roosevelt was Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States. I don't have to persuade anybody about the validity of those two guys. I don't know how we got into a position where our present Commander-in-Chief and the people around him had the guts to take our kids and send them on what seems to be -- it sure is not a noble enterprise."

While most applauded Wallace's sentiment, a few in the audience stood up and came forward and yelled their displeasure at Wallace, but you couldn't make out much of what they said.

Moderator Doherty implored them to wait for the question and answer period.

Neuharth argued that "I don't think there are any good wars," but contended: "I'm proud to have fought in World War II and I'm proud of every veteran in this country who fought in any war [applause]. And that includes Iraq, but must agree with you that I think we stumbled and bumbled our way into this war [applause]. That decision was not made by the troops over there who are fighting and dying. It was made in the Oval Office. And I think it does raise a question whether we were absolutely right when our Founding Fathers said that the President of the United States shall be the Commander-in-Chief of our military forces. They were right with George Washington. He had been a military person. But I'm not sure whether a non-military Commander-in-Chief, no matter which party he's from or no matter who he or she is, whether a non-military Commander-in-Chief has the background and the instincts to make a decision to take us to war."

That prompted some more audience dissent.

The May 18 CyberAlert relayed how Neuharth denounced Bush and the war in his May 14 column: Blaming President Bush's "cowboy culture" for the "biggest military mess miscreated in the Oval Office and miscarried by the Pentagon in my 80-year lifetime," USA Today founder Al Neuharth urged a withdrawal from Iraq and that Bush "should take a cue from a fellow Texan, former President Lyndon Baines Johnson" who did not run for re-election as he "turned tail and rode off into the sunset of his Texas ranch." www.mediaresearch.org

For the Smithsonian's Web site for its "World War II Reunion," which was put on by its Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage: www.folklife.si.edu

Koppel Catches Up, on Friday Lists Those
Killed Beyond Iraq

Ted Koppel on Friday night caught up with the servicemen killed in the war on terror outside of Iraq, names he ignored during his Friday, April 30 "The Fallen" edition of Nightline in which he dedicated his entire program to the names and pictures of those killed in Iraq. Koppel told viewers that "since this is Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to pay our respects to those whom we did not honor a few weeks back."

(On Sunday's 60 Minutes, Andy Rooney set up a nearly eleven-minute-long sliding by, from right to left, of photos of all those killed in Iraq. About four photos fit on screen at a time with somber music playing. Names were not listed and Rooney did not recite the names. Just pictures and music.)

Koppel ended the May 28 Nightline by taking four minutes to read the list of names of those killed beyond Iraq, "from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan," as the names, along with their rank and age, scrolled over near-silent video of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery. But while Nightline had shown photos of all those killed in Iraq, on Friday those killed elsewhere did not get a picture.

Most of Friday's Nightline was devoted to a two-part look at the "Old Guard," the Army unit at Fort Myer next to Arlington National Cemetery which handles burials and ceremonial duties.

Koppel introduced the program by alerting viewers to how he planned to end it: "Just weeks after 9/11, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched by President Bush. There was no formal declaration of war but, effectively, that's what it amounted to -- the beginning of the war on terrorism. Young American servicemen and women have been dying far from home ever since. Most of those deaths have occurred in Iraq, of course. As many of you know, we paid tribute to those men and women a few weeks ago in a broadcast we dedicated to 'The Fallen.' At the end of this program tonight I will read the names of those who have died in Operation Enduring Freedom in places other than Iraq. Most of those, obviously, in Afghanistan. We have also lost military personnel, however, in Pakistan and Kuwait, Cuba, the Philippines and Uzbekistan. In Qatar, the United Arab Emirites, and in the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Many of those young men and women did not die in combat, but they all died in the service of their country. And since this is Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to pay our respects to those whom we did not honor a few weeks back."

The May 1 CyberAlert re-capped Koppel's extended April 30 program: At the conclusion of Friday's controversial 35-minute Nightline devoted to Ted Koppel announcing, over matching pictures, the names of servicemen killed in Iraq over the past 13 months, he contended that "the reading tonight of those 721 names was neither intended to provoke opposition to the war, nor was it meant as an endorsement." Koppel acknowledged, however, that "some of you doubt that" and "are convinced that I am opposed to the war." He insisted: "I'm not."
But he did offer a personal opinion which seemed to integrate the liberal criticism of the Bush administration for not asking for sacrifices, such as raising taxes: "I am opposed to sustaining the illusion that war can be waged by the sacrifice of a few without burdening the rest of us in any way. I oppose the notion that to be at war is to forfeit the right to question, criticize or debate our leaders' policies."
After watching the show, I'm not sure I can offer any profound assessment on the political agenda, or lack of one, in Koppel's production. I'm sure many families and friends of those listed were appreciative of the recognition, while many others, who don't personally know anyone killed in the war, were moved by the long recitation of sacrifices by others. But by airing the list of names and pictures on the eve of the one-year anniversary of President Bush's much media-ridiculed "Mission Accomplished" speech and aircraft carrier landing, ABC still raised suspicions about the motives behind the effort, especially when combined with how the list ignored those killed in Afghanistan and Koppel's comments at the end of the broadcast about how too many Americans are not presently burdened enough by the cost of the war.

For the May 1 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org

It seems Koppel has corrected his overlooking of those killed outside of Iraq, though without the pre-show fanfare.

Bob Woodward's Colleagues: Bush Has "Never
Read a 21-Page Memo!"

Bob Woodward's colleagues at the Washington Post teased him about sending a 21-page memo to President Bush since "he's never read a 21-page memo!" Woodward related his anecdote, about how those inside a major media outlet ridiculed the President, during a Friday night appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to plug his book about how the Bush administration decided to take the U.S. to war with Iraq, Plan of Attack.

Woodward's meant-to-be-humorous anecdote also revealed his journalism via blackmail strategy in which he tells a high-profile subject what others have said about him or her in order to get that person to go on the record in response.

Woodward recounted for Letterman how he landed an interview with President Bush: "What I did, I worked for months on this and I sent President Bush a 21-page memo saying I know these meetings occurred and you said the following things. My colleagues at the Washington Post said, 'you sent President Bush a 21-page memo? He's never read a 21-page memo!' But to his credit he did..."

NPR's Williams Sees No Liberal Bias,
NYT "Mainstream Journalism"

NPR's Juan Williams doesn't see any liberal bias in the media and, damning with faint praise, insisted: "I think the New York Times is mainstream American journalism." Williams made his remarks during a Fox News Sunday panel segment devoted to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey which found that amongst national media outlet reporters, editors, producers and executives, five times more, 34 percent, identified themselves as liberal than the piddling 7 percent who called themselves conservative.

Williams, a senior correspondent at NPR and a former Washington Post reporter, countered that somehow advertisers prevent any liberal bias: "When they ask the advertisers who determine what gets on TV and what gets in the papers, guess what? They're conservatives."

A dumbfounded Williams asked: "Where is this radical liberalism that we see on TV? I don't see it?...Do you think the New York Times is a radically liberal institution?" Brit Hume answered: "I don't think The New York Times is radically liberal. I think The New York Times is liberal." That prompted Williams to make the above-quoted claim that the Times delivers "mainstream American journalism."

He's correct since "mainstream American journalism" is journalism through a liberal prism.

Host Chris Wallace set up the June 1 session with Williams, Hume, Roll Call Executive Editor Mort Kondracke and Weekly Standard Executive Editor Bill Kristol: "I want to talk about poll, a fascinating poll that was put out this week by the Pew Research Center. And let's take a look at it."

With matching numbers on screen, Wallace ran through some findings: "They asked national print and broadcast reporters how they would describe their own politics. Thirty-four percent said they were liberal, 54 percent said moderate and 7 percent said conservative. By comparison, among the general public, 20 percent say they're liberal, and 33 percent of the general public say they're conservative.
"Two other interesting results. Fifty-five percent of national reporters see the media as not critical enough of the President. Only 8 percent say they're too critical. And finally, 88 percent of the national media say society should accept homosexuality. Only about half the public agrees [51 percent]."
"Bill Kristol, big surprise?"

Kristol: "No. Plus, a lot of those 54 percent say they're moderate, they're really liberal too. (laughter) So it's even more skewed. The 7 percent is the striking number. You know, two-fifths of Americans call themselves conservative and, what, I can't do the math-"
Hume: "One-fourteenth."
Kristol: "-one-fourteenth, -fifteenth of the media calls themselves conservative. So when, it's no accident that the New York Times has to have a special reporter assigned to the conservative beat. They cover it sort of like a foreign country, to explain to the editors and the readers of The New York Times what's going on in that strange world of conservative America, which is two-fifths of the country."
Hume: "And note this, too, the use of the word 'liberal.' You cannot find politicians today who will admit, with few exceptions, that they are liberal. They are all now 'progressive.' I wonder what would have happened had that word had been used in lieu of liberal. I think a lot of those people who decided they would identify themselves as moderate would have popped up in the progressive camp, making that number even larger."
Kondracke: "A couple of other interesting things. Only 5 percent of the national reporters thought that objectivity and balance, or the lack thereof, is a problem for that national media. And 60 percent of them could not name a single news organization that they regard as liberal, which indicates that they don't understand what kind of a situation they are in. I mean, these 54 percent who are moderates I think are, a lot of them are liberals and don't even know that they're liberals....

William soon joined in: "This is one of the situations where they might find that reporters say they're liberal, moderate, whatever, however you want to put it, Bill, but the fact is, who are their editors? They don't ask the editors. They don't ask the owners, who owns these publications."
Hume: "Sure, they do."

Indeed, a point for Hume. The Pew survey did include editors and publishers and news division executives at broadcast outlets. Pew listed these job descriptions for those it polled:

Executive Level
TV & Radio: President/CEO, Vice President, General Manager, Station Manager
Print: Publisher, President/CEO, Vice President

Senior Editors and Producers
TV & Radio: News Division Executive, Executive Producer
Print: Assistant Managing Editor, Managing Editor, Executive Editor, Section Editor

Working Journalists and Editors
TV & Radio: Bureau Chief, Senior Producer, Correspondent, Anchor
Print: Bureau Chief, Senior Editor, Columnist, Associate Editor, Reporter, Correspondent, Assignment editor

For Pew's methodology page: people-press.org

Undeterred, Williams plowed on: "Well, let me tell you, when they ask who owns, when they ask the advertisers who determine what gets on TV and what gets in the papers, guess what? They're conservatives. So they are setting the tone. They're hiring the reporters. And believe me, they're muting any of the so-called liberal -- where is this radical liberalism that we see on TV? I don't see it."
Hume: "I don't think there's a lot-"
Williams: "Do you think the New York Times is a radically liberal institution?"
Hume: "I don't think The New York Times is radically liberal. I think the New York Times is liberal."
Williams: "Liberal?"
Hume: "Liberal."
Williams: "I think the New York Times is mainstream American journalism."
Hume: "Well, it may be mainstream American journalism, it's a very wide mainstream we have in this country, Juan. But if you are asking the question does it tilt right or left, it unmistakably tilts left."
Williams: "No, I think it should tilt in a way that would challenge authority."
Hume: "Ah, here we go. Ah, yes."
Williams: "You don't think journalism should, in fact, challenge-"
Hume: "Ah, the romance of journalism, to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To challenge authority, speak truth to power."
Williams: "Is that wrong, Brit?"
Kristol interjected the key point: "They should challenge liberal authority."
Williams: "They should challenge all authority."
Kristol: "I agree, but they only challenge those conservatives who occasionally find themselves in positions of authority."

Williams embodies the very problem of bias. He assumes he's mainstream when he's really a liberal who doesn't see any liberal bias and so is befuddled by the complaint.

For the Pew poll released on May 23: people-press.org

For the May 24 CyberAlert article summarizing it: www.mediaresearch.org

# All the late night comedy show are in repeats this week (Letterman, Kilborn, Kimmel, Leno and O'Brien), except for Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart which returns to new shows after a two-week break.

-- Brent Baker