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NBC Displays Agenda, Leads with Case for Closing Guantanamo --6/10/2005


1. NBC Displays Agenda, Leads with Case for Closing Guantanamo
Based upon President Bush's comment on Wednesday about Guantanamo -- "Well, you know, we're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America" -- on Thursday night NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams displayed a little wishful thinking as he led with how "President Bush says it may be time to shut down the camp where hundreds of prisoners have been held in the war on terror." Jim Miklaszewski asserted that Guantanamo has "become a symbol of prisoner abuse. And the Bush administration is under increasing political pressure to shut it down. Democratic Senator Joe Biden fears the prison camp has become a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists." Miklaszewski soon highlighted a day-old quote from the media's favorite ex-President who thinks Guantanamo should be closed: "Former President Jimmy Carter says Guantanamo has dealt a serious blow to America's reputation as a champion of human rights." Miklaszewski concluded with how "critics" contend "the solution" is to "close Guantanamo and grant the detainees their day in court."

2. Schieffer Again Compares Guantanamo with North Vietnamese Prisons
CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer reiterated Thursday morning, on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, that he thinks Guantanamo should be closed, comparing it with how the North Vietnamese treated U.S. POWs. Schieffer asserted that the A&E film about John McCain's suffering in a North Vietnamese prison "made me rethink this whole thing about how we treat these prisoners in Guantanamo. And people keep making this point, this is so bad for us in the Arab world, this is giving us such a bad name. My problem with it is what's it doing to us? Do we want our kids to think we're that kind of people, that we participate in things like this? And if you see this film that John McCain, about John McCain and what he went through, it's putting it in reverse." Listen to MP3 audio clip

3. ABC: North Koreans Hate Americans, Offer Great Music/Art for Kids
North Koreans are isolated from outside information and fed a steady diet of anti-American propaganda, but that apparently doesn't make the anti-American comments from regime operatives, or citizens with minders standing nearby, unnewsworthy to ABC. "There are large gaps in what the world knows about the North Korean leader and his people," World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted before asserting that "many North Koreans, it seems, have strong opinions about Americans." From Pyongyang, Bob Woodruff went aboard the captured USS Pueblo and relayed how the "officer who gave us a tour today said the ship's an example of American crimes and another reason Koreans don't like Americans." The uniformed woman declared: "They invaded to our territory, and they supplied information, so all Koreans were angry." Woodruff traveled to a collective farm where he found an 11-year-old girl who said of Americans: "They killed Korean people." Finally, Woodruff went to the "Children's Palace" where "5,000 North Korean kids are trained after school in music, art and sports." The video showed healthy kids in colorful uniforms paying instruments, painting and dancing.

4. Three National Journalists Deny Liberal Bias or Proclaim Centrism
In the past day or so three national journalists have denied liberal bias or claimed they are really centrists. Asked by the Houston Chronicle if he's "liberal or conservative?", MSNBC's Keith Olbermann admitted that "a lot of my personal world view is unmistakably sympathetic to things in a liberal play book," but he insisted "my point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view." Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, recalling a conversation with Roger Ailes about joining FNC, related on Huffington Post that "I never pursued it after it was clear he just wanted me on his air as a liberal punching bag. When I told him I was a centrist on many issues and didn't care to be announced as a liberal every time I appeared (his terms of employment), our discussions ended." CBS's Bob Schieffer, on Imus in the Morning on Thursday, conceded "there may be one or two people in journalism" with a political agenda, "but for the most part, most reporters are just trying to find out what happened."


NBC Displays Agenda, Leads with Case
for Closing Guantanamo

Brian Williams Based upon President Bush's comment on Wednesday about Guantanamo -- "Well, you know, we're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America" -- on Thursday night NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams displayed a little wishful thinking as he led with how "President Bush says it may be time to shut down the camp where hundreds of prisoners have been held in the war on terror." Jim Miklaszewski asserted that Guantanamo has "become a symbol of prisoner abuse. And the Bush administration is under increasing political pressure to shut it down. Democratic Senator Joe Biden fears the prison camp has become a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists." Miklaszewski soon highlighted a day-old quote from the media's favorite ex-President who thinks Guantanamo should be closed: "Former President Jimmy Carter says Guantanamo has dealt a serious blow to America's reputation as a champion of human rights." Miklaszewski concluded with how "critics" contend "the solution" is to "close Guantanamo and grant the detainees their day in court."

NBC was on its own with its lead story choice and neither ABC's World News Tonight, which led with Alan Greenspan's warning about a housing bubble, or the CBS Evening News, which naturally began with Hurricane Arlene, cobbled together day-old quotes to make a case for closing Guantanamo.

Williams teased the June 9 NBC Nightly News: "Guantanamo Bay: President Bush says it may be time to shut down the camp where hundreds of prisoners have been held in the war on terror. What happens now?"

Williams led, over video of the "Camp Delta" sign: "Good evening. Some find it strange in this day and age that as an outgrowth of the Spanish-American War, the U.S. still owns a huge chunk of otherwise communist Cuba just 90 miles south of Florida. On that property is the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, and part of that is a prison housing al-Qaeda prisoners. The prison has become symbolic, and it's considered a problem for the U.S. Very few know what goes on inside the place they call Gitmo. There have been allegations of torture and abuse of the holy Koran, and prisoners who have been there for years face an unclear future. Tonight there is real talk now of closing it, including indications from the Commander-in-Chief. And we begin with NBC's Jim Miklaszewski."

Miklaszewski began, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth: "Opened in January 2002 to hold al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners from the war in Afghanistan, Guantanamo has since become a symbol of prisoner abuse. And the Bush administration is under increasing political pressure to shut it down. Democratic Senator Joe Biden fears the prison camp has become a powerful recruiting tool for terrorists."
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE): "The idea of keeping the Guantanamo Bay facility open as it is indefinitely is not a real good option."
Jimmy Carter Miklaszewski: "Former President Jimmy Carter says Guantanamo has dealt a serious blow to America's reputation as a champion of human rights."
Jimmy Carter, on Wednesday at a forum at his Carter Center: "Our government needs, first of all, to close down Guantanamo."
Miklaszewski: "President Bush yesterday in an interview on Fox News Channel's 'Your World with Neil Cavuto' refused to rule out that possibility."
George W. Bush, on FNC, on Wednesday: "Well, you know, we're exploring all alternatives as to how best to do the main objective, which is to protect America."
Miklaszewski: "The heat was turned up recently when Amnesty International compared Guantanamo, where detainees have no legal rights, to Soviet concentration camps."
Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General, May 25 press conference: "Guantanamo has become the gulag of our times."
Miklaszewski: "President Bush called the charge absurd. Then last week the Pentagon confirmed that in at least five cases U.S. military guards had abused the Koran. But Defense Secretary Rumsfeld indicated today there are no plans to shut down Guantanamo, where he said prisoner interrogations have provided valuable intelligence."
Donald Rumsfeld, in Europe: "We have found information from interviewing these people that has saved lives and prevented other terrorist attacks."
Miklaszewski: "But U.S. intelligence officials say most detainees have provided little or no valuable information. And the longer they remain at Guantanamo, the older and less useful their information gets."
Prof. Neal Katyal, Georgetown University Law School: "Guantanamo is outliving its usefulness. It is becoming an eyesore and a thorn in the side rather than a place that promotes American security."
Miklaszewski concluded: "The solution, according to critics, close Guantanamo and grant the detainees their day in court. Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon."

NBC next went to Pete Williams for a look at the legal plight of the detainees.

Schieffer Again Compares Guantanamo with
North Vietnamese Prisons

CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer reiterated Thursday morning, on MSNBC's Imus in the Morning, that he thinks Guantanamo should be closed, comparing it with how the North Vietnamese treated U.S. POWs. Schieffer asserted that the A&E film about John McCain's suffering in a North Vietnamese prison "made me rethink this whole thing about how we treat these prisoners in Guantanamo.
Listen to MP3 audio clip
Text of clip + audio archive

And people keep making this point, this is so bad for us in the Arab world, this is giving us such a bad name. My problem with it is what's it doing to us? Do we want our kids to think we're that kind of people, that we participate in things like this? And if you see this film that John McCain, about John McCain and what he went through, it's putting it in reverse."

Schieffer made the same claims on the May 29 Face the Nation, as recounted in the May 31 CyberAlert:
Recalling how John McCain's "code of honor" is what "separated him from his captors" in communist North Vietnam, on Sunday's Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer casually referred to how he "thought about that as yet another tale of torture and abuse came out about the POW camp we are running at Guantanamo Bay." Schieffer then proceeded to endorse New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's recommendation that "the prison ought to be shut down because the stories about it are so inflaming the Arab world." Schieffer presumed the worst about the uncorroborated charges related to detainee treatment, most of which fall far short of qualifying as "torture." Schieffer asked: "I wondered if the greater danger is the impact Guantanamo is having on us. Do we want our children to believe this is how we are?" Characterizing the U.S. as no better than our enemies, Schieffer concluded: "As we reflect on the meaning of Memorial Day, let us remember first what it is that separates us from those who would take away our freedom," the code "John McCain's dad taught his kid."

For more, and an MP3 audio clip of Schieffer: www.mrc.org

The MRC's Jessica Barnes caught how Don Imus asked Schieffer, in the 7:20am EDT half hour on the June 9 program: Imus: "Apparently the President told Neil Cavuto on Fox yesterday that he didn't reject out of hand closing Guantanamo, that Tom Friedman and Sen. Joe Biden and others have -- well, Biden didn't suggest they close it, but they get it straightened out down there. But that's kind of interesting, isn't it?"
Schieffer, by phone: "Yes, I think so, and then you have Rumsfeld come right back and say, you know, no, we're not under any circumstances. But you know, this thing is just, this is just a boil. It's a cancer. This thing is not doing anybody any good, and I'll tell you something, Don. I went to see, they had a showing up here in New York before Memorial Day, this film about John McCain when he was in the North Vietnamese prison camp. And to see what those people did to him, it just, it made me rethink this whole thing about how we treat these prisoners in Guantanamo. And people keep making this point, this is so bad for us in the Arab world, this is giving us such a bad name. My problem with it is what's it doing to us? Do we want our kids to think we're that kind of people, that we participate in things like this? And if you see this film that John McCain, about John McCain and what he went through, it's putting it in reverse."
Imus: "That's a good point."
Schieffer: "It's not, you know, it's somebody doing it to an American, not an American doing it to somebody, and you know, I think we need to think about what separates us from the people who are trying to take our freedom away from us, and what is the separation? It is that we're fair people and we're fair-minded people and we don't do things like that, and I think that's the great problem with this thing and that's what bothers me about it. I don't want my kids to think this is how Americans are. I don't care what the Arab world thinks about us. I just don't want our people to think this is how we are."

ABC: North Koreans Hate Americans, Offer
Great Music/Art for Kids

ABC North Koreans are isolated from outside information and fed a steady diet of anti-American propaganda, but that apparently doesn't make the anti-American comments from regime operatives, or citizens with minders standing nearby, unnewsworthy to ABC. "There are large gaps in what the world knows about the North Korean leader and his people," World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas noted before asserting that "many North Koreans, it seems, have strong opinions about Americans." From Pyongyang, Bob Woodruff went aboard the captured USS Pueblo and relayed how the "officer who gave us a tour today said the ship's an example of American crimes and another reason Koreans don't like Americans." The uniformed woman declared: "They invaded to our territory, and they supplied information, so all Koreans were angry." Woodruff traveled to a collective farm where found an 11-year-old girl who said of Americans: "They killed Korean people." Finally, Woodruff went to the "Children's Palace" where "5,000 North Korean kids are trained after school in music, art and sports." The video showed healthy kids in colorful uniforms paying instruments, painting and dancing.

All week, World News Tonight, and on some mornings GMA too, have been carrying Woodruff's "exclusive" reports from inside North Korea. An earlier segment showed a nearly empty capital city, since many were shipped out to work in the fields, with traffic lights turned off and no cars, yet still people at each intersection to direct the non-existent traffic.

World News Tonight anchor Elizabeth Vargas set up the June 9 offering: "We have another exclusive report tonight from the most secretive nation in the world: North Korea. Access to the country is incredibly hard to come by. There are large gaps in what the world knows about the North Korean leader and his people. But many North Koreans, it seems, have strong opinions about Americans. ABC's Bob Woodruff reports again from North Korea."
Woodruff, walking with a uniformed North Korean woman and then over historic video of ship: "The USS Pueblo, the American ship which North Korea caught spying off its coast in 1968, is now a museum on the river here. One American crewman was killed during the assault, and 82 men were captured, then imprisoned, for 11 months under horrible conditions. [video of two inside sub] The officer who gave us a tour today said the ship's an example of American crimes and another reason Koreans don't like Americans."
Kim Mee Kyong, with words on screen: "They invaded to our territory, and they supplied information, so all Koreans were angry."
Woodruff: "Do you have any good feelings about Americans?"
[Kim Mee Kyong laughs]
ABC Woodruff, in front of ship: "This is the kind of image of America that goes completely unchallenged here. There are no American products in the markets, no American programs on television. And since almost no U.S. citizens ever visit North Korea, most North Koreans have never even met one. [video of dreary countryside] What all North Koreans do hear is a steady drumbeat of anti-American propaganda. So when we traveled two hours north of the capital today in our SUVs and with our government minders, we found anti-U.S. feeling. On this collective farm, three 11-year-old girls. Do you know about America? Have you heard about America?"
Korean girl through translator: "They killed Korean people."
Woodruff: "When did they kill Korean people? [voice of translator, but no translated reaction] This 18-year-old we found fishing told us he plans to join the army to protect his country. What do you think about the Americans? 'I curse them,' he said, 'as the sworn enemy of the Korean people.' Have you ever met an American before?"
Korean boy, through translator: "No."
Woodruff: "I'm an American. [translator speaks, guy looks down, no response provided]"
ABC Woodruff, over video of well-dressed and healthy looking kids playing string instruments, a kid painting with Woodruff sitting next to him, and a shot of a swimming pool]: "Our final stop today was at the Children's Palace in Pyongyang where 5,000 North Korean kids are trained after school in music, art and sports. [video of colorfully-dressed kids dancing on a stage] This was their final performance for foreign dignitaries today, [long pause] stunning reminder of how well children can learn if the state decides to teach them. Bob Woodruff, ABC News, Pyongyang."

For the online version of Woodruff's story: abcnews.go.com

Three National Journalists Deny Liberal
Bias or Proclaim Centrism

Keith Olbermann In the past day or so three national journalists have denied liberal bias or claimed they are really centrists. Asked by the Houston Chronicle if he's "liberal or conservative?", MSNBC's Keith Olbermann admitted that "a lot of my personal world view is unmistakably sympathetic to things in a liberal play book," but he insisted "my point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view." Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, recalling a conversation with Roger Ailes about joining FNC, related on Huffington Post that "I never pursued it after it was clear he just wanted me on his air as a liberal punching bag. When I told him I was a centrist on many issues and didn't care to be announced as a liberal every time I appeared (his terms of employment), our discussions ended." CBS's Bob Schieffer, on Imus in the Morning on Thursday, conceded "there may be one or two people in journalism" with a political agenda, "but for the most part, most reporters are just trying to find out what happened."

-- MSNBC's Keith Olbermann: Romenesko (www.poynter.org on Thursday highlighted a glowing June 9 review, in the Houston Chronicle, of Olbermann's Countdown. Mike McDaniel advised readers: "May I direct you to Countdown With Keith Olbermann, an hour-long MSNBC show that rivals Jon Stewart's Daily Show in entertainment value while also serving up smart takes on the news of the day. Heck, some days it even makes news."

Near the end of his column, McDaniel asked: "Is he liberal or conservative?" He passed along Olbermann's response: "'A lot of my personal world view is unmistakably sympathetic to things in a liberal play book,' he said, 'but honest to God, I have been called a reactionary by some on the far left, a liberal by some on the far right and I'm insulted by both terms. My point of view is about delivering information and context. It has nothing to do with a political point of view.'"
"And he's not afraid to give it, when necessary.
"'Only if it serves to illuminate would I do it. I don't look for opportunities to be critical of a particular party. I look for opportunities to be critical.'"

For McDaniel's review in full: www.chron.com


-- Newsweek's Jonathan Alter: "Fox, Watergate and Intimidation Journalism" read the headline over his June 9 Huffington Post blog entry. An excerpt from the top:

I got a little insight today into how the bullies at Fox News play the game. In this week's Newsweek, I wrote a column under the headline "If Watergate Happened Now." The satirical conceit was that I was writing a column looking back at the successful completion of Nixon's second term. In a light vein, I sideswiped lots of people in today's media culture by way of explaining why the scandal never came out and Nixon survived in office. At one point, I wrote: "Those of us who hoped it would end differently knew we were in trouble when former Nixon media adviser Roger Ailes banned the word 'Watergate' from Fox's coverage and went with the logo 'Assault on the Presidency' instead."

Well, it turns out Mr.-Dish-It-Out apparently can't take it. Today I heard that his stooges were out peddling a story to the press that I was guilty of a conflict-of-interest and should have disclosed in my column that I twice unsuccessfully sought employment at Fox News and now do part-time work under contract to NBC News and MSNBC.

The facts: Five years ago, I once had a conversation with Ailes in his office about going to Fox but I never pursued it after it was clear he just wanted me on his air as a liberal punching bag. When I told him I was a centrist on many issues and didn't care to be announced as a liberal every time I appeared (his terms of employment), our discussions ended....

END of Excerpt

For Alter's posting in full: www.huffingtonpost.com

As for Alter's centrism, the June 7 CyberAlert recounted: Declaring that he's "really ticked off these days about the stem cell research debate," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, a cancer survivor, admitted on Monday's Imus in the Morning that because of that "personal thing...I don't have a lot of neutrality on it." Indeed, in last week's Newsweek he argued that while "most Americans still don't know" all the "details" about how opponents of federal funding of embryonic stem cell research are distorting the facts, "they're beginning to understand that religious extremists are hijacking the political system and robbing us of our essential national character -- faith in the future." See: www.mediaresearch.org

And the MRC's Rich Noyes reminded me of this unintentionally hilarious defense from Alter, quoted by Washington Post media writer Howard Kurtz on June 4, 2001: "People send me e-mails full of dopey attacks -- 'I bet you've never written anything positive about a Republican in your whole life' -- obviously never having read any of the columns I wrote praising John McCain during the campaign."


-- CBS's Bob Schieffer: During the same Thursday MSNBC Imus in the Morning interview recited in item #2 above, Schieffer contended:
"We [Bob Woodward and I] were on a symposium not so long ago together, and you know, he was asked what was his mind-set when all this was happening. He said, 'We didn't have any mind-set, we were just trying to find out what happened.' And I thought that, you know, you ought to print that up and put it over the door of every newsroom in the country, so it's the last thing a reporter sees when he goes out the door: try to find out what happened. That's a pretty important thing. It sounds kind of simple, but generally when reporters do that, they're performing a real service and when they kind of get off of that, that's when we all seem to get into trouble. But that's what journalism's all about, and when these people talk to me about everybody has, you know, a mind-set or a bias or some sort of an agenda, yeah, there may be one or two people in journalism like that, but for the most part, most reporters are just trying to find out what happened."

-- Brent Baker