News/Time Joint Effort Describes Both Good and Bad In Iraq
3. Rather: U.S. Soldiers Bring "Light in the Eyes of a Happy Child"
4. Katie Couric Reveals Her Mom Bought Stock in Condom Companies
5. Ingraham's Criticism of Liberal Elite Upsets ABC's
The View Crew
6. On FNC, NPR's Juan Williams Refers to Democrats as "We"
Newswatch Liberals Blame MRC for CBS Pulling The Reagans
Correction: The November 9 CyberAlert item, about how FNC's Neal Gabler rejected the notion that the MRC's collection of quotes of Reagan-bashing by CBS reporters proved hostility by CBS News toward Ronald Reagan since "only two of the seven statements... were made on CBS," misspelled Gabler's first name in explaining how the MRC's compilation actually featured eight quotes and four of them were uttered by CBS News personnel while on a CBS News program. Gabler's first name is spelled "Neal," not "Neil."
Most unintentionally ludicrous claim of the year: In a Washington Post story on Friday about Joan Kroc, the widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, leaving $200 million in her will to National Public Radio (NPR), the spokesman for Kroc's estate maintained: "'She was a bit of a news nut,' said Dick Starmann, Kroc's longtime friend and spokesman. 'She loved NPR and its unfiltered presentation of the news....It wasn't liberal and it wasn't conservative. It was as objective as you're going to find.'"
Neither he or she looked very hard. And I bet she saw all kinds of terrible conservative bias on FNC.
So who sees NPR as down the middle? People who are angry about the war in Iraq and who probably also saw left-wing presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, who wants to create a Department of Peace in the cabinet, as a centrist. As Washington Post reporters Reilly Capps and Paul Farhi explained in their November 7 story, "Magnanimity & McMuffins: NPR's Arch-Angel Joan Kroc's Largess Came as No Surprise to Those Who Knew Her," Stephanie Bergsma, associate general manager San Diego NPR affiliate KPBS, "who knew Kroc for 20 years, said she and Kroc would often talk about current events over lunch. Kroc was especially horrified by the war in Iraq. 'She understood the human damage that this war was doing,' Bergsma said. 'She really had hope that by communicating with each other we could avoid these conflicts.'"
The Post reporters went on to note Kroc's shared interest with Kucinich: "Kroc also helped establish two institutes dedicated to the study of peace, at the University of San Diego and at Notre Dame."
With a $200 million bequest, on top of all the other private money they get, why does NPR continue to receive any public funding, no matter how little it may be?
For the Post story in full: www.washingtonpost.com
ABC News last week, in cooperation with Time magazine, delivered a series of in-depth reports on conditions in Iraq -- from security to health care to the state of the schools -- and provided a much more mixed view of Iraq than normally delivered by television network news' focus on violent incidents with ABC finding things both better and worse for the Iraqi people since U.S. troops ousted Saddam Hussein.
Space does not permit a full rundown of ABC's reporting across all of its shows last week, so I asked MRC analyst Jessica Anderson to write up summaries of three representative stories -- two on World News Tonight and a set of pieces which made up last Tuesday's Nightline.
-- Introducing the November 4 Nightline, Ted Koppel conceded that the Bush administration's complaints about the media's continuing focus on the negative news out of Iraq had "some merit." In response to this, he explained the joint venture of ABC News and Time magazine:
The entire half-hour consisted of three full reports from ABC reporters -- David Wright, Bob Woodruff, and Jim Sciutto -- on specific aspects of Iraqi daily life. The final result seemed to be a fairly evenhanded approach, highlighting the changes in Iraq, both positive and negative, since Saddam's overthrow.
Wright's report on security began with the problems in Baghdad: "No place is safe. The concern for security is now part of the daily life here; it intrudes on daily life." Even as he showed U.S. soldiers training any Iraqis wishing to be security officers, even women, Wright described U.S. security efforts in nearby Fallujah as "get-tough" because of the dangers faced by American troops there. Wright did allow some locals to air their complaints about harassment by U.S. soldiers, but in the end showed how daily life around Baghdad is getting somewhat back to normal, however people still cannot go out after dark. He noted that security is hampering students' ability to attend school on a regular basis. The bright spot in the security realm was Basra, secured by British troops, who do not wear flak jackets or helmets, using a "'softly-softly' approach and it seems to be working."
In his report on the status of Iraq's infrastructure, Woodruff noted that electricity throughout the country is pretty much at pre-war levels, although Hassan Fattah of Time magazine credited the success to it being autumn now and "electricity demand is far lower than it used to be." While water quality was deemed good, Woodruff pointed out that the lack of sewage treatment plants remains a problem, although this was attributed to neglect by Saddam's regime. One man, described as a "guerilla resistance fighter" against Saddam for 10 years, blamed the Americans and British for the continuing sewage problems: "The Americans came here and said they were here to spread democracy and justice in Iraq, but so far there is no democracy, there is no justice, and I don't know where they spent the money."
Woodruff included clips of other workers, though, excited by their dramatically higher wages, including a man saying he could finally get health care for his children without having to bribe the doctors. However, he did point out that the main health care problem now is the lack of available medicines with many relief agencies having pulled out of Iraq because of security concerns.
The final report, by Sciutto, dealt with the efforts to build a new democratic Iraqi government and the difficulties faced by U.S. officials: "Across Iraq, getting this patchwork of ethnicities to work together is proving to be a real obstacle to building a functioning Iraqi government." He explained the specific problems in cities like Tuz Kharmatu and Haifa, where ethnic tensions have run high, and in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, where the people are outright hostile toward their new city council, with one man declaring: "The U.S. was promising they would make Iraq an example of democracy -- we haven't seen it." Although the justice system is still manned by Ba'athist judges (with oversight by U.S. officials), Sciutto noted that defendants' are enjoying legal rights that once only existed on paper under Saddam. He concluded that until free elections are held, "many people told us they will need convincing that Iraq's new government is not an American creation but something distinctly Iraqi."
-- World News Tonight, November 3. The night before Nightline's focus recited above, Peter Jennings opened the series with a general assessment of the state of affairs in southern Iraq as he ran through the topic areas ABC assessed:
After this mixed bag of results, Jennings added, "Certainly Shiites in the south thought that Saddam Hussein's government was repressive, but they're not completely enamored of the new administration put in place by the coalition."
Bob Woodruff provided the first installment, as he traveled through southern Iraq, beginning with a 45-minute traffic jam blamed on an American checkpoint. The area past it has only British and Italian troops, with Iraqi police conducting most patrols, Woodruff observed: "There is far less tension in the south and attacks on coalition forces are rare." The reason for this, according to Woodruff, is because it is home to Shiites, "whose religion, business and personal lives were so tightly-controlled by Saddam Hussein, they are grateful for his overthrow." Tourism is up, particularly by religious pilgrims to Najaf, as well as workers' salaries, especially those paid by the coalition, Woodruff noted. He also highlighted a school where the students "tried to impress us by ripping Saddam Hussein's image from their textbooks," and their teacher said he was happy with his new pay and the fact that he could teach what he wants now. However, Woodruff pointed out that the higher pay means higher prices, finding one former "civil servant" who said that he "cannot buy what he could before the war."
From there, the report turned the negative outcomes of the war: "On the road to Nasiriyah," Woodruff pined, "we're reminded that the south is where much of the war was fought." With one hospital destroyed, Woodruff complained that the remaining two are overloaded and have persistent drug shortages because of security concerns. And in Basra, Woodruff walked through the ruined Sheraton, once "the nicest hotel in the city," picked apart by looters. Its former assistant manager, who once welcomed the war, told Woodruff she now regrets it: "In the beginning, it was really happy, but now really we are feeling sorry about this change. They did nothing." Woodruff's concluded that she represents "so much about what is right and wrong in the south now: she's found a job with a higher salary, in a new hotel where electricity is always flowing, but now she and her colleagues keep AK-47s under the counter for protection."
-- World News Tonight, November 5. Wednesday night's "A Closer Look" at Iraq focused on Baghdad and the Sunni Triangle, considered the most violent part of the country. Indeed, Peter Jennings confirmed in his introduction that "our daily reporting tells us that security is much worse than before the war," citing one statistic to make his point: "Before the war...Baghdad had an average of 16 violent deaths a month. The latest post-war figure is 667 violent deaths in a month, and that does not include U.S. soldiers."
Of course, the average of 16 does not include those tortured and killed by Saddam's regime, a context ignored by Jennings.
Next, David Wright focused primarily on the problems in Baghdad, including a 70 percent unemployment rate. Wright did find one engineer who has found work and exclaimed, "We have a good, a better life because I have much money and anything I want," although after the latest bombings he is more concerned about security. Even when Wright pointed out that his newborn daughter had died during the war, the man still declared it all worth the sacrifice: "Because we want freedom, we must pay something."
Over in Fallujah, which Wright described as "a prosperous town, a friendly town, provided you are not American," the dangers faced by U.S. troops there have forced them to "adopt an aggressive posture toward anyone they suspect of being a troublemaker. This makes the locals resent the soldiers all the more." Leaving a group of complaining locals, Wright reported that as they "said goodbye, the old man called me 'brother.' Later we learned that our translator had told him we were French."
The only bright spots Wright could report were in Baghdad, where schools are in session, although despite high security, many parents are still keeping their children home for fears of attacks. Wright concluded: "All the people we spoke with desperately want to live in peace. They wouldn't mind some prosperity, too. They may be closer now, but they're not there yet."
ABC may not be there yet in terms of balanced reporting from Iraq, but they took a big step in their series last week.
The night after Dan Rather opened the CBS Evening News by reciting "the cost of the War in Iraq measured in lives of the brave" and a "mounting federal debt," and minutes after CBS ran a story showcasing an Iraqi man pleading for the return to power of Saddam Hussein, CBS on Friday night aired an unusual story about how U.S. soldiers are being warmly welcomed and appreciated by some average Iraqis.
David Hawkins looked at how some U.S. soldiers are re-building schools. Rather acknowledged that despite "rising casualties" in daily attacks, "some very real progress" is being made and "some such progress can be measured by the light in the eyes of a happy child."
Rather introduced the November 7 story which ran at the end of Friday's CBS Evening News: "We close tonight by taking you back to Iraq where the almost daily attacks and rising casualties suffered by US troops can obscure some very real progress being made toward putting Iraqi society back on its feet. As CBS's David Hawkins reports, some such progress can be measured by the light in the eyes of a happy child."
Hawkins began, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth: "Each rebuilt school and every smiling child's face is another small step forward as America inches its way towards rebuilding Iraq."
Probably less hard to come by than hard to get reporters to pay attention to it more often.
NBC's Katie Couric revealed her feminist side in the November issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, suggesting she originally had no plans for children "because I came of age at the height of the feminist movement." Plus, she disclosed that her feminist mother "was a homemaker and Planned Parenthood volunteer growing up" who, when AIDS first appeared in the press, tried to capitalize on the malady as she "bought a lot of stock in condom companies."
[Tim Graham, the MRC's Director of Media Analysis, submitted this item for CyberAlert]
In her "Katie Confidential" cover story, writer Jennifer Allen noted how Katie valued her daughters, Ellie and Carrie, who weren't always in her life plans. "I thought that I wasn't going to have children because I came of age at the height of the feminist movement -- you know, where women wore little bow ties -- and suddenly doors were opened that hadn't been before." But Couric noted that the death of her colleague Cassie Mackin from cancer, childless and single at 43, changed her mind.
Later in the article caught last week by National Review Online's Kathryn Jean Lopez, Couric explained the importance of her parents. Allen reported that "for years, Couric called her parents after every Today show," since she said her dad, a retired public-relations executive is "just the smartest person I know." Allen added: "She's equally admiring of her mother, who was a homemaker and Planned Parenthood volunteer when Couric was growing up. 'She's clever and smart and she's a great artist,' says her daughter. 'She's very savvy.' Though 'she'll be embarrassed to her me say this,' Couric goes on to relate that when AIDS first appeared in the press, her mother 'bought a lot of stock in condom companies.'"
For the cover of the magazine featuring a picture of Couric: magazines.ivillage.com
Radio talk show host Laura Ingraham received a hostile reaction last week from crew on ABC's daytime show, The View, to the premise of her new book, Shut Up and Sing: How Elites from Hollywood, Politics, and the UN are Subverting America. Other than Rachel Campos, one of three finalists auditioning to join the show permanently, the co-hosts were all appalled by Ingraham's contention that elites on the coasts are out of touch with "the heartland."
When Ingraham argued "that the Democratic Party is not connecting with the people who are its logical constituents, from the South and from the Heartland," Barbara Walters shot back: "Excuse me, neither is the Republican Party, at this point, necessarily connecting."
Though she was raised in Manhattan as the daughter of a nightclub owner, Walters claimed "I'm from the Heartland" and simplistically saw Ingraham as attacking people's patriotism: "Whether it is someone in the United Nations or any actor or anyone who has a strong, liberal point of view is, therefore, to you elite and unpatriotic?"
Joy Behar became upset by Ingraham making fun of Hollywood liberals: "Why do you have to make these generalizations about liberals?" Behar came to the defense of Barbra Streisand: "Why are you against Barbra Streisand? She's a very, very patriotic American....All she does is speak from her heart about American values. Why do you have to go after Barbra Streisand?"
The second that Ingraham took on the "elite tendencies" of George W. Bush, citing the coddling of Ken Lay, Behar exclaimed: "Now you're talking sense!"
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson took down Ingraham's session on the November 4 The View.
Star Jones: "Now, first of all, the title of the book is 'Shut Up and Sing.' Now, it's an explanation of how the 'elites' -- which I can't stand that word -- from Hollywood, Washington and the United Nations are subverting America. What exactly do you mean, Laura?"
Laura Ingraham's Web page with a list of stations which carry her show and a big picture of the cover of her book: lauraingraham.com
For Amazon's page on her book published by Regnery: www.amazon.com
Catching up with another item from last week bumped by coverage of The Reagans mini-series, a Freudian slip by NPR correspondent Juan Williams on FNC last Wednesday night? Recounting the Tuesday election results, Williams referred to Democrats as "we" as he boasted on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume: "We took control, not only in terms of keeping control of the Mayoral seat in Philadelphia, but took control of some seats in New Jersey..."
A CyberAlert reader alerted us to the slip by Williams on November 5 and MRC analyst Amanda Monson confirmed it. During the panel segment's discussion of the election results in which Republicans took over the governorships in Mississippi and Kentucky, Hume asked: "What about yesterday? What does it mean for the national picture, if anything?"
Williams contended: "Well, I would guess that it means that the President has consolidated his support in the South, we knew that. It's a, you know red state, if you play that red state/blue state game. I would think that if you combine it with what happened out in California, he's on a little bit of a roll. And the question is what happens in Louisiana, where you have a very close governor's race up and it helps the President anytime it seems to me that you have Republican governors in control. Now, the other side of the story is in the Northeast. If you look at what happened in Philadelphia, if you look at some of the state Senate seats in New Jersey, you can, down this way and toward Virginia, Democrats did pretty well. We took control, not only in terms of keeping control of the Mayoral seat in Philadelphia, but took control of some seats in New Jersey, so, took control I should say of the state Senate in New Jersey. So, there were some victories for the Democrats, but boy I tell you, if I was in charge of the Democratic Governors' Association I would be careful about stepping out on ledges."
The two liberal panelists on FNC's Fox Newswatch over the weekend credited/blamed the MRC for CBS's decision to move its The Reagans mini-series to Showtime.
Neal Gabler asserted of the decision by CBS Chairman Les Moonves: "He pulled this because right-wing pressure from the Media Research Center, from Matt Drudge, from a number of radio talk show hosts, you know, made this just more trouble than it was worth. And it gave the right-wing veto power over broadcast television."
Jane Hall, a former Los Angeles Times reporter who now teaches journalism as American University, echoed: "There was genuine outrage and I think there's a lot of criticism to CBS, but the other thing that is true is the Media Research Center, Matt Drudge, the Republican National Committee -- all these people got on board, somebody spent nine dollars and had a CBS boycott Web site who's a Republican, former Republican Congressman's aide. The left-wing is not this well organized."
"Well organized"? More like spontaneous and uncoordinated. The MRC had no contact with any of the others who denounced CBS's movie.
(Cal Thomas pointed out how the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation "have been doing script approval for the networks on gay themes for some time. So what's the difference? You get the script before it gets on or you keep the show from getting on. The same thing, it seems to me.")
For a full rundown of coverage for the MRC's efforts on the The Reagans front, see: www.mediaresearch.org
# Odd guest-booking combo of the week: John Kerry and Toby Keith are both scheduled to appear Tuesday night on NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
-- Brent Baker