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NBC's Ned Colt Ponders: Osama Bin Laden 'Fanatic' or 'Hero?' --1/23/2008


1. NBC's Ned Colt Ponders: Osama Bin Laden 'Fanatic' or 'Hero?'
What is it about liberal reporters that they can deliver slanted pieces about conservatives time and time again but when it comes to a mass-murdering terrorist they feel compelled to give the other side? On Tuesday's Today show, NBC's Ned Colt decided he needed to balance out the views of Osama Bin Laden, as he rhetorically asked about the al Qaeda leader: "Murderous fanatic or hero of radical Islam?" Colt even went on to relay a soundbite from the editor of Al-Quds who painted Bin Laden as the "little David" with the U.S. playing the role of "the mighty Goliath."

2. ABC Reporters Fawn Over Bin Laden Son and His 'Curious Proposal'
ABC correspondent Nick Watt conducted a softball interview with the son of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden on Tuesday's Good Morning America and he credulously repeated Omar bin Laden's goals of being an "ambassador for peace." Host Diane Sawyer called the idea a "very curious proposal," while Watt announced that the younger bin Laden "wants to meet with President George W. Bush" and labeled the idea "astounding." Watt expressed no skepticism over the proposed meeting. This, despite the fact that bin Laden lauded his father, responsible for countless thousands of deaths, as a "very kind man" and stated that he would not turn his dad over to American authorities, were he to know the location. Apparently, it didn't occur to Watt that this might not be the kind of person who would be best qualified to be an ambassador for peace or someone that President Bush would meet with. However, the GMA correspondent did find time to notice bin Laden's "glamorous, English wife."

3. Weekly Standard Spoofs Matthews' Pollsters Better as 'Bunker'
Catching up: Picking up on Chris Matthews' New Hampshire primary night suggestion (reported in CyberAlert) -- that if pollsters called with an "Archie Bunker voice" they'd "get a more honest answer" -- last week's Weekly Standard magazine's "Parody" page conjured up an imaginary memo to pollsters advising them to mimic the voice of actor Carroll O'Connor's character. Amongst the suggested articulations presented to Zogby International staffers polling South Carolina voters: "So, this Clinton dame -- whew! Whaddaya think o' the piano legs on that broad, huh? She's a piece o' work, that senator o' mine, lemme tell ya. I can see why that husband o' hers thinks he's gotta dip his pen in the company inkwell, as we used to say. You gonna vote for her?..."

4. 'Top Ten George W. Bush Ideas for Stimulating the Economy'
Letterman's "Top Ten George W. Bush Ideas for Stimulating the Economy."


NBC's Ned Colt Ponders: Osama Bin Laden
'Fanatic' or 'Hero?'

What is it about liberal reporters that they can deliver slanted pieces about conservatives time and time again but when it comes to a mass-murdering terrorist they feel compelled to give the other side? On Tuesday's Today show, NBC's Ned Colt decided he needed to balance out the views of Osama Bin Laden, as he rhetorically asked about the al Qaeda leader: "Murderous fanatic or hero of radical Islam?" Colt even went on to relay a soundbite from the editor of Al-Quds who painted Bin Laden as the "little David" with the U.S. playing the role of "the mighty Goliath."

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog: NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following is Colt's set-up piece and the full interview as they aired on the January 22 Today show:

MATT LAUER: He is the most wanted man in the world, Osama Bin Laden. The al Qaeda leader has been on the run for years now but his son Omar is speaking out. The 26-year-old says he wants to bring peace to the world. We'll talk to him in a moment but first NBC's Ned Colt on public enemy #1.

[On screen graphic: His Father, The Terrorist: Osama Bin Laden's Son Breaks His Silence]

NED COLT: Murderous fanatic or hero of radical Islam? 50 year-old Osama Bin Laden is an icon of intense hatred and profound reverence.
ABDEL BARI ATWAN, EDITOR OF AL-QUDS: History will remember Osama Bin Laden as the man who challenged the American superpower. The little David who actually stand up against the mighty Goliath.
COLT: In the West the Saudi born al Qaeda leader is blamed for the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, the bombings at the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and two years later the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen. And while he's never directly claimed responsibility for 9/11, at the very least he inspired the attacks that left 3000 dead. Today the father of at least 23 children remains the FBI's most wanted terrorist and despite a $50 million price on his head has eluded capture in the rugged border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Among his followers he's obtained almost mythical status, financing his attacks with a $25 million personal fortune.
ATWAN: To manage to survive for actually about seven years, on the run, without being captured and traumatizing the life of the president of the greatest power in history.
COLT: That hatred hasn't diminished since. Every few months Bin Laden appears in a video denouncing the infidel West. He last appeared in September with his graying beard freshly dyed black when he launched a verbal attack on President Bush and America's war in Iraq. American officials believe Bin Laden's power has only increased in recent years with his followers now active in at least 40 countries worldwide. For Today, Ned Colt, NBC News, London.

LAUER: And a little earlier this morning I spoke to Osama Bin Laden's son Omar and his wife Zana. They are in Cairo, Egypt and because of a satellite delay and a little bit of a language barrier the interview was somewhat stilted but still interesting. I started by asking Omar Bin Laden why he's speaking out now.
OMAR BIN LADEN: Just because I get the chance and because I learn about the life more and that's it.
LAUER: Omar let me ask you, based on what your father has admitted responsibility for, some of the attacks that he says he has masterminded and there are several of those. If you were, and I interviewed your half-uncle I guess it would be, Osama's half-brother Yeslam Bin Laden in Geneva two years ago. And I asked him this question, I said if you were to find out where Osama Bin Laden was right now would you turn him in? So Omar how would you answer that question.
OMAR BIN LADEN: I say a lot time, sure I'm not going to, tell anybody about his place if I know where he is and anyway this is not going to happen. That's all.
ZANA BIN LADEN: But you hope he'll come forward and speak to Bush. This is one thing.
OMAR BIN LADEN: And I hope-
ZANA BIN LADEN: We hope that he will come forward and speak to the, the President-
OMAR BIN LADEN: I hope they find the problem, they will meet, do some meeting and to talk together between helping from the some president, some king and sheikh from Islam to fix this situation. Find the middle ground between everybody and that's what I, that's what my goal to find it for every civilian people.
LAUER: Given, given the chan-, given the fact that-
ZANA BIN LADEN: We want a meeting.
LAUER: Let me just say, given the fact that, it's very unlikely the U.S. administration would sit down and talk to Osama Bin Laden, based on, on his track record, do you think he'll ever be caught Omar?
ZANA BIN LADEN: Hold on one second. Can we just say Omar, you know, we, we talk about Gerry Adams and we talk about the IRA. You know Gerry Adams was cast as a terrorist. The IRA killed an awful lot of people, yet they talked. They sat down at the table and now Gerry Adams is an MP. Why can't we try and get something like that with Osama. You know there's not going to be any peace unless people talk. They can't, peace doesn't come with bombs, peace doesn't come with fighting. You know, and saying that you know to arrest Osama and bring him to court it's not gonna solve anything because there's people that are worse than Osama out there.
OMAR BIN LADEN: Of the same mind. Yeah of the same mind.
ZANA BIN LADEN: Yeah there's other people. You take Osama away and what are you going to get. You might get something a hell of a lot worse. Sorry.
LAUER: Well, well, that's alright but-
ZANA BIN LADEN: That's what we're afraid of.
LAUER: But on the other side of that coin Zana if you were, if you were-
ZANA BIN LADEN: We're afraid of that. We are afraid of that.
LAUER: Okay but on the other side of that coin if Osama Bin Laden by some strange chance were to sit down and say, "I'm willing to talk," it wouldn't stop those other people in al Qaeda right now anyway, would it?
ZANA BIN LADEN: He might have, have some influence. Without Osama we don't know what's going to happen.
OMAR BIN LADEN: They have, I think, the world have chance now to find newer solution of new ground for peace because still my father alive. They have some head to talk to. But I think if my father die there would be a lot people, everybody, everybody will say, "I am now the head of al Qaeda." And you will find thousand of al Qaeda everywhere. And because that I hope, I hope, not for my father, not for President Bush but for everybody just before the civilian people dying everyday. Some in Philistine, some in Iraq, some in Afghanistan. Why, why, why should civilian die between the head of the government people?
LAUER: We should say that Omar Bin Laden says he doesn't agree with his father's methods but he does stop short, also, of calling him a terrorist. Omar Bin Laden and his wife Zana earlier this morning.

ABC Reporters Fawn Over Bin Laden Son
and His 'Curious Proposal'

ABC correspondent Nick Watt conducted a softball interview with the son of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden on Tuesday's Good Morning America and he credulously repeated Omar bin Laden's goals of being an "ambassador for peace." Host Diane Sawyer called the idea a "very curious proposal," while Watt announced that the younger bin Laden "wants to meet with President George W. Bush" and labeled the idea "astounding."

Watt expressed no skepticism over the proposed meeting. This, despite the fact that bin Laden lauded his father, responsible for countless thousands of deaths, as a "very kind man" and stated that he would not turn his dad over to American authorities, were he to know the location. Apparently, it didn't occur to Watt that this might not be the kind of person who would be best qualified to be an ambassador for peace or someone that President Bush would meet with. However, the GMA correspondent did find time to notice bin Laden's "glamorous, English wife."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The son of the al Qaeda leader appeared, in one form or another, on all three morning shows. CBS's Early Show featured only a brief mention of the story. NBC's Today show obtained a full interview. Co-host Matt Lauer, who talked with Omar bin Laden, did show some cynicism about the son's idea (see item #1 above). In contrast to ABC, he asked: "But on the other side of that coin, if Osama bin Laden, by some strange chance, were to sit down and say, 'I'm willing to talk,' it wouldn't stop those other people in al Qaeda right now anyway, would it?" Additionally, Lauer mentioned the other acts of murder planned by Osama bin Laden, including the first attack on the World Trade center and the bombings of the USS Cole and the American embassy. Watt never broached these subjects.

Watt couldn't even manage a mildly tough question. (At one point, he lamely queried, "You love your father, but do you condemn what did?") Instead, he elaborated on what must have seemed romantic to the reporter, the romance between the son of a terrorist and his future wife. He summarized: "Omar has now married an English woman who he met while horseback riding in sight of the pyramids...He's 26. She's a 52-year-old grandmother. That didn't matter. And neither did Omar's name."

The ABC correspondent closed the segment by sympathetically observing: "Now, the question is, will anybody take Omar seriously as a peacemaker with a name like bin Laden? Well, he hopes so. He hopes to use that name, bin Laden, for some good. To bring the world some good rather than the bad that his father has brought." To reiterate, Watt apparently missed the contradiction of being a "peacemaker" and at the same time saying that you would not turn in the man who murdered over 3000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:44am on January 22:

DIANE SAWYER: And you are going to hear this morning from the son of the world's most wanted most wanted man. Osama bin Laden's son breaks his silence this morning. He's going to speak out. He looks eerily like his dad. He has a very curious proposal. It's a really strange and riveting interview....

SAWYER: And now, after more than six years of silence, guess who is speaking out? Omar bin laden, finally talking about his father, Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man. ABC's Nick Watt joins us live in Cairo with his interview. Nick?
NICK WATT: Good morning, Diane. Well, we came here to Cairo meet Omar and his rather glamorous, English wife. But she was not the biggest surprise. What Omar has to say is astounding. He wants to be an ambassador for peace. First up, he wants to meet with President George Bush to explain to him what his father is all about. The family resemblance is unmistakable. Behinds the braids and designer jeans, Omar bin Laden is his father's son.
OMAR BIN LADEN (Son of Osama bin Laden): My father is a very kind man.
NICK WATT: Very kind man?
BIN LADEN: Yeah. Very kind man. He's very sorry when he does something like 11 September.
WATT: He's very sorry?
BIN LADEN: Very sorry.
WATT: So, why does he do it?
BIN LADEN: Because, he believe if he put this two building down, maybe some people, little, will die, but millions others will save (sic). He believe that.
WATT: Omar decided he didn't believe. You love your father, but do you condemn what did?
BIN LADEN: Yes. I believe he did it wrong.
WATT: His father fought the Russians in Afghanistan. As a teenager, Omar trained there to become an al Qaeda fighter but he left in 2000 to see the world, he says, before deciding whether to flow his father's path. Do you think he's probably in Afghanistan?
BIN LADEN: I think should be in Afghanistan.
WATT: Father and son have not spoken in seven years yet the bond remains.
BIN LADEN: I still love him so much and with all my heart.
WATT: If you wanted to speak to him, can you?
BIN LADEN: I can't, only by this television.
WATT: What do you think when you see him on television?
BIN LADEN: I feel worried.
WATT: If you knew where he was, would you tell the Americans so that he could be caught?
BIN LADEN: Actually, I would hide him.
WATT: You would?
BIN LADEN: Yeah, because he's my father.
WATT: Omar now wants to be an intermediary to bring the world's most warranted terrorist to the negotiating table. You think President Bush should meet your father?
BIN LADEN: Yes, he should go straight away to my father and speak to him.
WATT: Because he believes his father holds the key.
BIN LADEN: He has the power to make war and he has the power to stop it.
WATT: Omar has now married an English woman who he met while horseback riding in sight of the pyramids.
BIN LADEN: The first time I saw her, something tell me, maybe you will marry this woman.
WATT: He's 26. She's a 52-year-old grandmother. That didn't matter. And neither did Omar's name.
ZAINA (OMAR BIN LADEN's WIFE): The bin Laden name didn't bother me at all. The son is not the father.
WATT: The couple is now planning a horse race for peace across North Africa. Omar says he wants to make up for what he calls his father's big mistake. Now, the question is, will anybody take Omar seriously as a peacemaker with a name like bin Laden? Well, he hopes so. He hopes to use that name, bin Laden, for some good. To bring the world some good rather than the bad that his father has brought.
SAWYER: Nick, does he live on bin Laden money, the Osama bin Laden money or how does he make a living?
WATT: Well, he claims that he has his own construction business in Saudi Arabia. That's where he makes his money. The couple plans to move to London And they say they are very worried. Who is going to employ people with the name like bin Laden? Diane?

Weekly Standard Spoofs Matthews' Pollsters
Better as 'Bunker'

Catching up: Picking up on Chris Matthews' New Hampshire primary night suggestion (reported in CyberAlert) -- that if pollsters called with an "Archie Bunker voice" they'd "get a more honest answer" -- last week's Weekly Standard magazine's "Parody" page conjured up an imaginary memo to pollsters advising them to mimic the voice of actor Carroll O'Connor's character. Amongst the suggested articulations presented to Zogby International staffers polling South Carolina voters:

# "Hey! How ya doin'? I'm callin' from th Zogby people, ya know, dem poll guys?..."

# "So, this Clinton dame -- whew! Whaddaya think o' the piano legs on that broad, huh? She's a piece o' work, that senator o' mine, lemme tell ya. I can see why that husband o' hers thinks he's gotta dip his pen in the company inkwell, as we used to say. You gonna vote for her?..."

# "Well, OK, my missus tells me it's time we had a woman President. But I tell her, those Ay-rabs better not start sendin' missiles over this way when it's Hillary's time o' the month, right?..."

# They got this Maback Bommarama, or Bamak Omarosa, or whatever his name is -- ya know, the colored guy with the big ears -- I mean, c'mon -- you're not gonna actually vote for de guy, are you?..."

TVLand's page for the Archie Bunker character: www.tvland.com

The Internet Movie Database's page for Carroll O'Connor: www.imdb.com

The January 9 CyberAlert item, "MSNBC Blames Voters for Bad NH Polls, If Only Archie Bunker Called," recounted:

During MSNBC's live New Hampshire primary night coverage, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw warned that poll results getting ahead of the voters could turn the public against the media, but then blamed the inaccurate polling on how "people probably are not as honest with pollsters." Chris Matthews, who urged an "inquest" on the polls which all had Barack Obama well ahead of Hillary Clinton in the Granite state when Clinton actually won, saw "an ethnic factor here." Matthews extrapolated on his theory involving "Archie Bunker," the bigoted 1970s TV character:

I've always thought that pollers, people, pollsters who call people up and ask them how they're going to vote, speak in perfect English, and standard English, they speak with a kind of a politically correct manner and it encourages a politically correct answer. I've often thought that if an Archie Bunker voice were to come over the phone, and ask people how they're going to vote, you'd get a more honest answer.

For the entire earlier CyberAlert article: www.mrc.org

Weekly Standard subscribers with a user name and password can view the parody page here: www.weeklystandard.com

Otherwise, for a nearly full-size reprint of the page from the January 21 Weekly Standard, check this NewsBusters link: newsbusters.org

Or, click here to view full-size reprint.

'Top Ten George W. Bush Ideas for Stimulating
the Economy'

From the January 22 Late Show with David Letterman, the "Top Ten George W. Bush Ideas for Stimulating the Economy." Late Show home page: www.cbs.com

10. Send troops to invade U.S. Mint

9. Oprah gives everybody a new car

8. Turn Grand Canyon into a giant national "Have a penny, leave a penny" jar

7. Cheney threatens to shoot treasury secretary in the face

6. Plans to fix economy in third term

5. Replace Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke with briefcase babes from "Deal or No Deal"

4. Send elite team of economists to rob Mick Jagger's apartment

3. Ahhh -- somebody help...Cloverfield monster...Run for your lives!

2. Maybe not spending a billion dollars a month in Iraq?

1. Forget the economy -- why doesn't someone try stimulating Condoleezza?

-- Brent Baker