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Nets Fret Over Timing of Bush's Details of LA Terror Attack Plan --2/10/2006


1. Nets Fret Over Timing of Bush's Details of LA Terror Attack Plan
Reporting on President Bush's Thursday speech in which he detailed a foiled al-Qaeda attack on a Los Angeles office tower, the three broadcast network evening newscasts fretted about the timing. ABC's George Stephanopoulos portrayed Democrats as the victims as he relayed how "Republicans hope that this war on terror issue is going to be the key to have them keeping control of the House and the Senate," while Democrats "know" they "can't let Republicans play the fear card." CBS's Jim Axelrod maintained that "the President's speech came at a time when his tactics in the war on terror are under attack from some quarters with the eavesdropping controversy consuming Washington." It certainly is "consuming" the press corps. Axelrod zeroed in how "the White House won't go anywhere near this question of whether the eavesdropping program had anything to do with the foiling of this West coast bomb plot, won't go anywhere near it. But checking across the government today, we couldn't find one single U.S. official to say that it had." NBC's Brian Williams opened with how "while the President is under fire for a program of domestic eavesdropping...he just happened to choose today as the day to talk about a planned terrorist incident in the U.S."

2. Evangelicals, Warm Torino Prompt Stories on Global Warming Threat
It doesn't take much to get the TV network news divisions to promote the cause of those who want drastic government action to try to arrest global warming. A little warm weather at the site of the Winter Olympics led NBC on Thursday to blame mankind-generated global warming and, the day before, NBC as well as ABC and CNN, jumped to promote a global warming ad campaign launched by some evangelicals as the networks showed a sudden respect for religious figures normally allied with conservatives. From Torino, NBC anchor Brian Williams announced that "just before we left the United States for Italy we learned that January was the warmest January ever in all the recorded history of the U.S. And suddenly now, in this region, global warming is a hot issue as well." The night before, ABC's Charles Gibson touted how "some of President Bush's strongest supporters in the evangelical Christian movement broke ranks with the administration on global warming. Their argument: God created Earth. Man must take care to preserve it and we're not doing so." Dan Harris had no quarrel in this context with using the term "pro-life" as he ominously concluded with how "they hope they can convince their brothers in Christ that global warming is, in fact, a pro-life issue, before it's too late."


Nets Fret Over Timing of Bush's Details
of LA Terror Attack Plan

Reporting on President Bush's Thursday speech in which he detailed a foiled al-Qaeda attack on a Los Angeles office tower, the three broadcast network evening newscasts fretted about the timing in relation to controversy over "domestic eavesdropping." ABC co-anchor Charles Gibson cued up George Stephanopoulos, "Democrats in Washington immediately began asking: Why is the President talking about this now?" Stephanopoulos contended "there is a lot of politics at play here," but portrayed Democrats as the victims as he relayed how "Republicans hope that this war on terror issue is going to be the key to have them keeping control of the House and the Senate in these 2006 mid-term elections" while Democrats "know" they "can't let Republicans play the fear card."

CBS's Jim Axelrod maintained that "the eavesdropping issue is starting to cut just a little bit differently, as even some Republicans now are starting to call for more oversight" and "the President's speech came at a time when his tactics in the war on terror are under attack from some quarters with the eavesdropping controversy consuming Washington." It certainly is "consuming" the press corps. Axelrod zeroed in how "the White House won't go anywhere near this question of whether the eavesdropping program had anything to do with the foiling of this West coast bomb plot, won't go anywhere near it. But checking across the government today, we couldn't find one single U.S. official to say that it had." Jim Stewart reported that "they got this information not from any wiretap, but from what they called the rigorous questioning of some al Qaeda detainees." To which Bob Schieffer translated: "Torture." NBC's Brian Williams opened: "The White House says it was just a coincidence that during this time while the President is under fire for a program of domestic eavesdropping, and while he's been trying to renew provisions of the Patriot Act, he just happened to choose today as the day to talk about a planned terrorist incident in the U.S. that was thwarted."

[This item was posted Thursday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org. To post your comments, go to: newsbusters.org ]

Brian Williams' opening of the NBC Nightly News from Torino:
"Good evening. The White House says it was just a coincidence that during this time while the President is under fire for a program of domestic eavesdropping, and while he's been trying to renew provisions of the Patriot Act, he just happened to choose today as the day to talk about a planned terrorist incident in the U.S. that was thwarted and thus never happened. The President today went public with details never before disclosed about a planned al Qaeda attack in Los Angeles which President Bush says was broken up by good spy work."

Transcripts of portions of the February 9 coverage on ABC and CBS:

# ABC's World News Tonight. Following a full story from Pierre Thomas on President Bush's revelations, delivered at the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington, DC, Charles Gibson turned to George Stephanopoulos:
"Well, the plot may be the stuff of thriller novels. But it all happened back in 2002. And Democrats in Washington immediately began asking: Why is the President talking about this now? Our Chief Washington Correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, joins us from Washington. And I'll give you that question, George. Why is the President talking about this now?"
Stephanopoulos, from DC: "Well, White House officials say the President wanted to emphasize this is a global problem that requires a global response. But Charlie, you know, there is a lot of politics at play here. Republicans hope that this war on terror issue is going to be the key to have them keeping control of the House and the Senate in these 2006 mid-term elections. It worked for them in 2002 and 2004. Democrats know this is a serious threat. Yesterday, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a major speech where she warned Democrats can't let Republicans play the fear card. Today, Senator Dianne Feinstein said the President's speech is old news, available on the open record. Expect this issue to play out all year long. President Bush will hit it. Democrats will try to fight back. But remember, polls right now show that this is the only big issue where President Bush holds an advantage over the Democrats."


# CBS Evening News. Jim Axelrod, at the White House, ended his report by emphasizing how the NSA eavesdropping did not play a role in stopping the attack:
"Unusual for its specifics, chilling in its detail, the President's speech came at a time when his tactics in the war on terror are under attack from some quarters with the eavesdropping controversy consuming Washington. Pure coincidence, says the White House. Perhaps, but the LA Times reported some key parts of the West coast bomb plan two years ago. So the story, if not the details was not exactly new. And today's speech fleshing out threats to America dovetails with a new White House effort to gain support for its warrant-less wiretapping, reversing its refusal to brief Congress on the wiretaps. The White House won't go anywhere near this question of whether the eavesdropping program had anything to do with the foiling of this West coast bomb plot, won't go anywhere near it. But checking across the government today, we couldn't find one single U.S. official to say that it had. Bob?"
Anchor Bob Schieffer: "Well, Jim, the odd thing about all this is that the Mayor of Los Angeles said this afternoon that he was totally blindsided by the President's announcement. He said he knew nothing about it. Now as you say, the President has been on this campaign to defend the eavesdropping without court orders and so forth. Is there any way to connect this as part of that campaign, do you think?"
Axelrod: "Well, first question, Bob, about L.A., the White House flatly disputes that L.A. didn't know. The press secretary says they did reach out. To your larger point, Bob, I think the White House clearly wants to be in control of any discussion about the war on terror, especially because the eavesdropping issue is starting to cut just a little bit differently, as even some Republicans now are starting to call for more oversight."

CBS then went to Jim Stewart at the DC bureau for more on the plot. When he wrapped up, Schieffer asked him:
"You know, the interesting thing and I want to go back to this, Jim. Jim Axelrod says the government won't touch the question of whether eavesdropping played a part in this. Do you have any information to suggest that it did?"
Stewart: "Well, the President authorized this in a time frame that would have allowed the NSA wiretap policy to have caught some of these secrets. But all the indications we have are, Bob, is that they got this information not from any wiretap, but from what they called the rigorous questioning of some al Qaeda detainees, Bob."
Schieffer: "Torture."
Stewart: "Call it what you will, sir."
Schieffer: "But not in this country, someplace else."
Stewart: "No sir, in undisclosed locations, as they say."
Schieffer: "Alright. Thank you very much."

Evangelicals, Warm Torino Prompt Stories
on Global Warming Threat

It doesn't take much to get the TV network news divisions to promote the cause of those who want drastic government action to try to arrest global warming. A little warm weather at the site of the Winter Olympics led NBC on Thursday to blame mankind-generated global warming and, the day before, NBC as well as ABC and CNN, jumped to promote a global warming ad campaign launched by some evangelicals as the networks showed a sudden respect for religious figures normally allied with conservatives. From Torino, NBC anchor Brian Williams announced that "just before we left the United States for Italy we learned that January was the warmest January ever in all the recorded history of the U.S. And suddenly now, in this region, global warming is a hot issue as well." The night before, ABC's Charles Gibson touted how "some of President Bush's strongest supporters in the evangelical Christian movement broke ranks with the administration on global warming. Their argument: God created Earth. Man must take care to preserve it and we're not doing so." Dan Harris had no quarrel in this context with using the term "pro-life" as he ominously concluded with how "they hope they can convince their brothers in Christ that global warming is, in fact, a pro-life issue, before it's too late."

Over on NBC on Wednesday night, Tom Costello warned: "From tsunamis to catastrophic hurricanes, famine in Africa and wildfires in California, the evidence of human-induced global warming, they say, is overwhelming....Today, 85 evangelical ministers, university presidents and charity leaders, who claim they're politically diverse, called on Christians to unite and Congress to act."

While the ABC and NBC stories on the ad campaign from the Evangelical Climate Initiative did note how some very prominent evangelical leaders refused to join the campaign, they did not question the science despite disputes amongst scientists about the accuracy of temperature readings and how they may just reflect the "heat island effect" in which measured temperatures are higher because they are taken in places that were once rural but are now urbanized.

CNN's Miles O'Brien, on Thursday's American Morning, declared as an undisputed fact that "the scientific evidence is overwhelming at this point" and that the only scientists who dispute global warming are ones "bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry." O'Brien made his charge during a segment which featured Reverend Jim Ball, Director of the Evangelical Environmental Network, the group behind the Evangelical Climate Initiative, and Reverend Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention. As recounted in a Thursday afternoon NewsBusters item by the MRC's Megan McCormack, this exchange took place between O'Brien and his two guests at remote locations:
Miles O'Brien: "You know, I know that science and religion are often at odds, but the scientific evidence is overwhelming at this point. Are you denying that?"
Reverend Richard Land: "There are scientists who deny it. There are scientists who've said-"
O'Brien: "Scientists who are bought and paid for by the fossil fuel industry, usually."
Land: "Well, not, not necessarily. I'm not going-"
O'Brien: "Mostly, yeah."

For the posting in full on the MRC's NewsBusters.org blog: newsbusters.org

Iain Murray of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in a Thursday posting on National Review Online, "Beware False Profits: On the dangers of ignoring the harmful effects of reducing carbon emissions," took on some of the assumptions of the Evangelical Climate Initiative. An excerpt:

....[T]he group [Evangelical Climate Initiative] claims that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has "documented the steady rise in global temperatures over the last fifty years." This is not the case. The earth actually cooled between 1942 and 1980 (see here). The earth has warmed steadily only over the last 25 years, and evidence from satellites is not consistent with the idea that global warming is actually global....

There is significant uncertainty even within the IPCC's judgment as to what the temperature rises will be. Rises of 1.5 C may well not have much effect, whereas rises of 5.4 C would probably have a profound effect; the actual data, as opposed to the models, suggest a modest temperature rise of just over 1 C....

Moreover, it is acknowledged by every responsible economist that drastic action to reduce fossil fuel use would increase energy costs, which would in turn reduce household income. Wealthier is healthier, and richer is cleaner. Limiting economic activity therefore can have a dramatic impact on quality of life, not least by reducing life expectancy. Researchers have found a direct correlation between income and mortality, with a disproportionate impact on poorer communities. Thus, policies that reduce societal wealth can be expected to induce premature mortalities, as well as to increase disease and injury rates.

For example, it is often asserted that global warming already kills 150,000 people per year worldwide. Yet a recent econometric study by Johns Hopkins epidemiologist Harvey Brenner found that replacing U.S. coal with higher-cost fuels for the purposes of energy production would result in at least 195,000 additional premature deaths per year in the U.S. alone....

END of Excerpt

For Murray's piece in full, with many links: www.nationalreview.com

For the statement/ad campaign launched by the Evangelical Climate Initiative: www.christiansandclimate.org

The group earned an article in this week's (February 13 issue) of Newsweek even before they announced their effort. For the article, titled "God's Green Soldiers: A new call to combat global warming triggers soul-searching and controversy among evangelicals," go to: msnbc.msn.com

Now to the NBC and ABC stories, starting with the Thursday, February 9 NBC Nightly News. Anchor Brian Williams related, as he walked along a street in Torino, Italy:
"We thought we'd close out tonight's broadcast from the streets of Torino. As you watch the Olympic games over the next two weeks you won't ever see that much snow here in the city. That mainly falls in the Italian Alps where all the ski events will be. Just before we left the United States for Italy we learned that January was the warmest January ever in all the recorded history of the U.S. And suddenly now, in this region, global warming is a hot issue as well. Our report on that tonight from NBC's Jim Maceda in the Italian Alps.".

Maceda began over video of snow-covered mountains with glaciers: "They are like the jewels of the Alps, the glaciers, thousands of years old. These majestic rivers of ice span the European continent and have been the pillars of its ski industry. Providing year-round skiing in resorts like Val Senales, in the Italian Alps. Until now."
Jimmy Rosito, ski instructor: "The future, I think is black. Completely black. I'm really worried."
Maceda: "Global warming, climatologists say, is melting these glaciers. And not slowly. The glaciers some warn will all but disappear in 50 years. Already, melting perma frost threats glacier ski stations and lifts leaving resort officials in a critical race against the elements."
Willi Kruger, Pitztal glacier manager: "The glacier is our gold for the business and we have to keep it."
Maceda, over video of people laying down white sheets: "And it's a way of life. 80 percent of those Italian villagers depend on the Senales glacier for freshwater, grazing land for livestock and tourism. So over the summer, something revolutionary was rolled out. Giant strips of white fleece, the size of football fields. An Austrian and Swiss experiment, the polyethylene foil acts like a giant picnic cooler, keeping the sun out and the cold in. And it works. Wrapped glaciers lost just a fraction of their mass. Some even grew. But wrapping a whole glacier? Hardly, at a whopping $70,000 a sheet, only the most vulnerable parts of ski runs can be covered. Environmentalists give wrapping the cold shoulder, calling it a waste of money, better spent on reducing greenhouse gases."
Markus Breiternberger, ecologist: "We can protect, absolutely sure, a small part but we cannot protect, we cannot stop, generally, the warming up of the climate."
Maceda, skiing by the camera: "Even the glacier wrappers admit it's like putting band-aids on open wounds. But they're afraid if they don't apply first aid now, then in just a few years' time, their livelihoods will melt away just like the glaciers. So increasingly under threat, people here say they're willing to try anything that buys some precious time. Jim Maceda, NBC News, Val Senales, in the Italian Alps."

The night before, also from Torino, Brian Williams set up a February 8 NBC Nightly News story:
"Today a group of evangelical Christians spoke out on a topic not normally associated with evangelical Christians. They spoke out on global warming. As a group, they're normally reliable supporters of President Bush, but they broke with him on this topic today right before another group of evangelical Christians broke with the first group. Our report on this strange turn of events today and this new group of evangelical environmentalists from NBC's Tom Costello."

Costello, over matching video: "From tsunamis to catastrophic hurricanes, famine in Africa and wildfires in California, the evidence of human-induced global warming, they say, is overwhelming."
Reverend Paul DeVries, New York Divinity School President: "However we treat the world, that's how we're treating Jesus."
Costello: "Today, 85 evangelical ministers, university presidents and charity leaders, who claim they're politically diverse, called on Christians to unite and Congress to act, even rolling out a media campaign targeting their core audience."
Evangelical Environmental Initiative ad: "As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ compels us to love our neighbors and to be stewards of God's creation."
Leith Anderson, Wooddale Church pastor: "We're convinced that God created the world and entrusted it to us, and we're concerned about the impact of global warming upon those who are the poorest of the poor and the marginalized of society."
Costello: "The Senate passed a non-binding resolution last summer, calling for emissions controls on greenhouse gases. And while many states have already imposed their own tough standards, the White House opposes mandatory cuts, preferring its plan of research and voluntary reductions. Usually evangelical Christians are in lockstep with the White House. Indeed, some of those closest to the Bush administration don't believe the global warming science."
Tom Minnery, Focus on the Family: "This is not settled. This is not proven."
Costello: "Focus on the Family's Tom Minnery says evangelicals should be focused on sanctity of life issues, not global warming."
Minnery: "The idea that anything human beings can do to reverse it is certainly not proven."
Costello: "But many scientists believe today's developments could help turn public opinion."
David Hawkins, Natural Resources Defense Council: "It shows the main stream of America is learning the truth about global warming and the need to act now."
Costello: "The evangelical leaders are calling for mandatory business-friendly ways to curb greenhouse gas emissions, some of the same initiatives proposed at both the Kyoto and Montreal conferences but opposed by the Bush administration. Tom Costello, NBC News, Washington."

The same night, ABC's World News Tonight also promoted the cause of the evangelical activists. Co-anchor Charles Gibson introduced the segment on an ominous, though not sourced, note:
"Our 'Closer Look' tonight is at global warming, and there were two developments today. A major study released in a prominent medical journal says global warming is already causing death and disease due to flooding and diminished food production. And the study says there is near-unanimous scientific consensus that unless something is done, things are going to get worse. The second development, some of President Bush's strongest supporters in the evangelical Christian movement broke ranks with the administration on global warming. Their argument: God created Earth. Man must take care to preserve it and we're not doing so. ABC's Dan Harris has our 'Closer Look.'"

Dan Harris began: "Evangelicals are commonly associated with issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But in just days, this ad will hit the air, saying if you believe in Jesus, you must act on global warming."
Clip of ad: "We can stop global warming, for our kids, our world, and for our Lord."
Harris: "One of the evangelical leaders involved in this effort is mega-church Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life."
Rick Warren: "We cannot be all God wants us to be without caring about the earth. I think that's kind of a no-brainer."
Harris: "Warren is one of 86 evangelical leaders who signed a statement released today that says global warming is real, that humans are causing it and that the government should limit emissions of greenhouse gases. These leaders say climate change is most certainly a religious issue because, as Christians, they must care for the earth, God's creation, and love their neighbors, millions of whom could die, they say, in a worst-case global warming scenario. But not all evangelicals are on board. Some of the most prominent pastors signed a competing letter."
Richard Land, Southern Baptist Convention: "A significant portion of my constituency don't think global warming is a settled issue. They don't think that human impact on global warming's a settled issue."
Harris: "Evangelicals are often perceived as monolithic, but there is a real debate in this community about whether to focus on issues such as abortion or to broaden the agenda to poverty, AIDS and the environment."
Warren: "There's more to the Christian agenda than simply personal moral issues and family moral issues."
Harris concluded: "Warren and his peers are unlikely to get the government to act unless they can present a united evangelical front. These leaders say they hope they can convince their brothers in Christ that global warming is, in fact, a pro-life issue, before it's too late. Dan Harris, ABC News, New York."

-- Brent Baker