Nets Follow NY Times and Kerry, Hype Missing Explosives Cache --10/26/2004
2. ABC Sees 30,000 at Clinton's Philly Event, CBS Touts 100,000
3. ABC's Gibson and Stephanopoulos Aghast at Charges Against Kerry
4. Jennings Rebukes Ohio's Blackwell, But Silent on Vindication
5. Clift: Bush Can't Keep Us Safe from the Flu or from Small Pox
Prompted by a top of the front page New York Times story on Monday headlined, "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished from Site in Iraq," the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as CNN's NewsNight, led by hyping the story picked up by John Kerry on the campaign trail, but only NBC Nightly News revealed the missing cache wasn't there when U.S. troops arrived and suggested a political motivation in the timing of the disclosure about something which occurred at least 18 months ago.
Dan Rather trumpeted at the top of the CBS Evening News: "Eight days to go til America elects a President, and disturbing news from Iraq is again dominating the campaign. The White House acknowledged today that a huge stockpile of ultra-high explosives is inexplicably missing from an Iraqi weapons site. Senator John Kerry called this a quote, 'great blunder' by President Bush and his administration."
NBC's Jim Miklaszewski, however, passed along how "one U.S. official tells NBC News that recent disagreements between the administration and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency makes the agency's release of this explosive information, one week before elections, appear highly political."
CBS's 60 Minutes had been working on the story which CBS intended to air as a last-minute hit on Bush two days before the election. Elizabeth Jensen reported in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times: "Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 Minutes, said in a statement that 'our plan was to run the story on [Oct.] 31, but it became clear that it wouldn't hold, so the decision was made for the Times to run it.'" For the October 26 LA Times article in full, with the bracket in the original: www.latimes.com
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 24 - The Iraqi interim government has warned the United States and international nuclear inspectors that nearly 380 tons of powerful conventional explosives -- used to demolish buildings, make missile warheads and detonate nuclear weapons -- are missing from one of Iraq's most sensitive former military installations.
The huge facility, called Al Qaqaa, was supposed to be under American military control but is now a no man's land, still picked over by looters as recently as Sunday. United Nations weapons inspectors had monitored the explosives for many years, but White House and Pentagon officials acknowledge that the explosives vanished sometime after the American-led invasion last year.
The White House said President Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, was informed within the past month that the explosives were missing. It is unclear whether President Bush was informed. American officials have never publicly announced the disappearance, but beginning last week they answered questions about it posed by The New York Times and the CBS News program "60 Minutes."
Administration officials said Sunday that the Iraq Survey Group, the C.I.A. task force that searched for unconventional weapons, has been ordered to investigate the disappearance of the explosives....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times story in full: www.nytimes.com
And it got big play on the network newscasts which all led with it Monday night, only informing viewers well into the stories that the material went missing in April of 2003 or earlier, not recently as their leads implied.
A rundown of how ABC, CBS and NBC led Monday night, October 25:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Peter Jennings teased: "Today, John Kerry goes after the President about 377 tons of high explosives which have disappeared in Iraq."
Jennings led his newscast: "Today's leading-edge stories are about a man and a headline. The headline in the New York Times this morning said, 'Huge Cache of Explosives Vanish from Site in Iraq.' It goes on to say that a huge ammo dump was under U.S. control when 377 tons of powerful explosives disappeared. This was Senator Kerry, after he heard the story."
Jennings then went to Martha Raddatz at the Pentagon for a full story.
Ed Bradley then consumed 3:20 going into great detail, with UN officials criticizing the Bush administration, but always assuming the material disappeared after U.S. troops arrived on scene. After Bradley, a full report from John Roberts, which Rather set up, as taken down by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:
Roberts began: "It was not the way President Bush wanted to start the final week of his campaign: More bad news from Iraq that played right into his opponent's hands."
Brokaw opened his newscast from outdoors at Rockefeller Plaza: "Good evening. A week from tomorrow night, we'll be reporting the results of the presidential election here from Democracy Plaza, and in a race this close and hotly debated, a week can be a very long time. Again today, the unexpected. A major story out of Iraq, first reported first in today's New York Times, about the disappearance of 400 tons of deadly explosives material, part of Saddam Hussein's old weapons program. Where did it go, and how could this happen?"
From the Pentagon, over video of the desert site, Jim Miklaszewski related how an NBC reporter, embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne, saw that while the facility in question was full of missiles when troops arrived on April 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, the munitions stocks were not there.
Miklaszewski concluded his report with a factor ignored by the other networks: "Pentagon officials claim there's no evidence the HMX or RDX have been used in attacks in Iraq. Nevertheless, the explosives are still missing, and President Bush today ordered a full investigation. But one U.S. official tells NBC News that recent disagreements between the administration and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency makes the agency's release of this explosive information, one week before elections, appear highly political."
Tuesday morning on Today, the MRC's Geoff Dickens noticed, Miklaszewski relayed the same facts he conveyed the night before: "There's 380 tons of high-powered explosives missing from a huge ammo dump in Iraq. The first U.S. troops to pass through that site early in the war failed to find them. But the bigger concern today is who has those explosives now? The 101st Airborne rolled into the Al-Qaqaa weapons facility only three weeks into the war. And NBC News was embedded with the troops. It's now been revealed that nearly 380 tons of some of the most powerful conventional explosives, HMX and RDX, are now missing from this facility. Troops from the 101st did find large stockpiles of conventional bombs but not HMX or RDX. Explosives so powerful less than a pound brought down Pan Am 103 in 1988. And they could be used to trigger a nuclear bomb..."
Byron Pitts, as usual, the most enthusiastic for the Democratic ticket and its events. While ABC's Peter Jennings pegged the crowd, for Bill Clinton's Philadelphia appearance with John Kerry, at "as many as thirty thousand [30,000] people," CBS's Byron Pitts on Monday night touted "an estimated crowd of some one hundred thousand [100,000] supporters." Pitts relayed how Clinton's mission was to "remind supporters of the good old days when employment was up, the deficit was down and a Democrat was in the White House." Pitts failed to remind viewers that when Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, the unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent, just two-tenths lower than today's rate.
In fact, the unemployment rate rose to 5.4 percent in November 1996. See the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for monthly rates over the past decade: data.bls.gov
This morning (Tuesday) on Today, Matt Lauer copied from the Times: "80,000 people turn out in Philadelphia..."
The Washington Post, USA Today and NBC Nightly News did not provide crowd estimates.
Dan Rather introduced the October 25 CBS Evening News story on Clinton's triumphant appearance: "A familiar face showed up on the presidential campaign trail today, one that hadn't been seen in a while, trying to turn out the vote for Senator Kerry. CBS's Byron Pitts has that story tonight."
Mickey Robinson, Kerry supporter: "I think about bringing Bill Clinton today, it will get out the vote -- not only black vote, but all the votes."
ABC News stars aghast by the charges from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney against John Kerry. Charles Gibson challenged President Bush, in an excerpt from a Sunday interview played back on Monday's World News Tonight: "Do you honestly believe that this country's in more danger if John Kerry gets elected?" Sunday on This Week, George Stephanopoulos recited how Cheney argued that if John Kerry's policies had been followed, Saddam Hussein would be "in charge in the Persian Gulf with nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union still in business," a dismayed Stephanopoulos pressed Senator John McCain: "I can't believe you'd be friends with Senator Kerry if all that were true. Are these charges by Vice President Cheney fair?"
Monday's World News Tonight featured another excerpt from Good Morning America co-host Charles Gibson's Sunday interview with Bush conducted at the Crawford ranch. One exchange:
On Sunday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC set up a segment with McCain and Senator Joe Biden by playing this clip of Cheney in New Mexico on Saturday: "If John Kerry had been in charge, maybe the Soviet Union would still be in business. In 1991 John Kerry voted against sending American troops to expel Saddam Hussein after he invaded Kuwait. So if John Kerry had been in charge Saddam Hussein might well control the Persian Gulf today. And, of course, after the Gulf War international inspectors judged that Saddam would have been armed with nuclear weapons by the early '90s. So not only would Saddam control a crucial part of the Middle East, he might well have nuclear weapons."
Stephanopoulos turned to McCain, who appeared via satellite from Arizona: "Those charges from Vice President Cheney -- Saddam Hussein in charge in the Persian Gulf with nuclear weapons and the Soviet Union still in business -- I can't believe you'd be friends with Senator Kerry if all that were true. Are these charges by Vice President Cheney fair?"
Don't forget that Kerry supported the nuclear freeze in direct opposition to the European missile deployment which President Reagan used to successfully challenge the Soviet Union.
Ohio's Blackwell vindicated, but Jennings silent. Last Wednesday, ABC's Peter Jennings focused on how "Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a leading black conservative," has "made a number of decisions regarding election law which have made other black leaders angry." Amongst them, that provisional ballots must be submitted at the voter's proper polling location. "A federal judge overruled him" on that, Jennings stressed, adding: "Democrats say it's Republican trickery." Jennings followed up with a soundbite from a liberal Democratic Congresswoman denouncing Blackwell for appealing the ruling.
Well, on a Saturday, a federal appeals court judge sided with Blackwell. But not a syllable about that aired on Sunday's World News Tonight or when Jennings returned to the air to anchor Monday's World News Tonight, even though ABC devoted half of its Monday night newscast to campaign news.
An excerpt from the October 21 CyberAlert:
ABC's Peter Jennings on Wednesday night focused on how "Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a leading black conservative," has "made a number of decisions regarding election law which have made other black leaders angry." Viewers then heard this shot from Jesse Jackson: "This is a national pattern of voter suppression." While Jennings gave Blackwell one soundbite to respond, Jennings ran four soundbites from those denouncing Blackwell and, in relaying how a federal judge had overruled Blackwell's decision to have those casting provisional ballots do so only at the proper precinct, Jennings noted how "Democrats say" Blackwell's procedure symbolized "Republican trickery." But Jennings failed to address either how Blackwell was just trying to prevent voter fraud or how, at the very least, allowing anyone to show up anywhere to vote will lead to more problems....
Jennings: "Just before the voter registration deadline, Mr. Blackwell said that only registrations printed on a certain stock of paper, heavy like the weight of a post card, would be accepted. This meant that convenient registration forms people could print at home were now invalid."
Michael Vu, Cuyahoga County Director of Elections: "We were concerned that there would be public confusion as to whether there would ballot, registration form was going to be accepted."
Jennings: "The Secretary of State backed down on that one. But then he said that provisional ballots for people who showed up at the wrong polling station, or without an ID, would only be good at three locations. The Democrats sued him. A federal judge overruled him. Mr. Blackwell is appealing. Democrats say it's Republican trickery."
Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Secretary of State: "That's really foolish. And that's a wooden-headed suggestion. Here I am, elected official that receives 50 percent of the African-American vote, this is just partisan rage on the part of my critics."
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones: "You know, tell Ken Blackwell to get a life. Ken Blackwell knows he's wrong. He made a statement that if, in fact, a court determined that he was wrong, he would, in fact, follow the law. The court determined that he's wrong, and now he's filing a, he's going to appeal the decision."
END of Excerpt
For the October 21 CyberAlert item in full: www.mrc.org
An excerpt from a Sunday AP dispatch, "Ohio Provisional Ballot Ruling Reversed," by Joe Kay in Cincinnati:
A federal appeals court ruled Saturday that provisional ballots Ohio voters cast outside their own precincts should not be counted, throwing out a lower-court decision that said such ballots are valid as long as they are cast in the correct county.
The ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supports an order issued by Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell. Democrats contend the Republican official's rules are too restrictive and allege they are intended to suppress the vote.
Ohio Democrats on Saturday night decided not to file an appeal in the case, one of the first major tests of how such ballots will be handled in a close election....
Federal judges in several states have issued varying rulings on the issue of provisional ballots, which are intended to be backups for eligible voters whose names do not appear on the rolls. Saturday's ruling was the first time a federal appeals court has weighed in.
The state's Democrats had filed a lawsuit challenging Blackwell's directive instructing county elections boards not to give ballots to voters who come to the wrong precinct and to send them to the correct polling place on Election Day.
Blackwell has said allowing voters to cast a ballot wherever they show up, even if they're not registered to vote there, is a recipe for Election Day chaos....
U.S. District Judge James Carr on Oct. 14 blocked Blackwell's directive, ruling that Ohio voters who show up at the wrong polling place still can cast ballots as long as they are in the county where they are registered. Blackwell appealed to the 6th Circuit.
"Today's ruling reaffirms Secretary Blackwell's understanding of the law," Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said in a statement. "Unfortunately the frivolous lawsuits filed by the Ohio Democratic Party and its allies have needlessly wasted the valuable time of election officials across the state as they prepare for this important election."...
END of Excerpt
For the AP article in full: news.yahoo.com
Flu vaccine shortage is Bush's fault. On Fox News Sunday, Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly contended that "I think that the Democrats do have a legitimate policy case to make here" against the Bush administration. On the McLaughlin Group over the weekend, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift denounced Bush for how "he outsources our public health needs." Clift charged: "If he can't keep us safe from the flu how does he keep us safe from anthrax or small pox?" Clift failed to realize that unlike antidotes for small pox and anthrax, the flu vaccine must be created anew every year, as she claimed that "if there were a small pox attack the President, the President's staff, members of Congress and the well-connected would get their vaccine but the rest of us would not."
At the very end of the October 24 Fox News Sunday panel segment, Washington Post reporter Ceci Connolly insisted, as tracked down by the MRC's Megan McCormack:
The MRC's Geoff Dickens took down these outbursts from Clift on the McLaughlin Group:
-- Clift: "This wasn't an act of God, this wasn't a hurricane or an earthquake this is an act of incompetence and this President beats his chest about how we don't want to rely on anybody in a foreign land for our national security needs but he outsources our public health needs. Plus the fact Chiron actually is an American company that happens to have a factory in Liverpool. And there's this blind reliance that the free market can fix everything when it's pretty obvious that government should step in and provide this vaccine. Hundreds of thousands of Americans will get needlessly ill and many more will die than need to."
-- Clift: "If he can't keep us safe from the flu how does he keep us safe from anthrax or small pox?"
-- Clift: "And frankly I have every confidence that if there were a small pox attack the President, the President's staff, members of Congress and the well-connected would get their vaccine but the rest of us would not."
As if Clift isn't "well-connected."
-- Brent Baker