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NYT Bank Story Condemned as 'Disgrace,' Why Times Losing Trust --6/26/2006


1. NYT Bank Story Condemned as 'Disgrace,' Why Times Losing Trust
Panelists on Fox News Sunday and on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC denounced the New York Times for its Friday article, quickly picked up by other newspapers and published over the objection of the Bush administration and 9/11 commissioners, about how the CIA and Treasury Department are tracking international banking transactions by terrorist operatives. On Sunday, Brit Hume mocked New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's "matter of public interest" reasoning: "Well, that can apply to almost anything," such as "ball scores." Hume contended the Times is "rapidly spending" its "credit" with the public and so "eventually it won't be there anymore. And at the rate it's going, it doesn't deserve to be." Bill Kristol argued: "I think the Attorney General has an absolute obligation to consider prosecution here." Friday night on FNC, columnist Charles Krauthammer lit into the judgment of the Times: "The idea of having it published out there, in a sense disarming us by letting the bad guys know how we're tracing their wire transfers, I think, is a disgrace." Krauthammer added: "I think this is the 21st century equivalent of publishing the Enigma program in the Second World War in which we listened in on secret German communications in submarines." Morton Kondracke suggested the New York Times assumes "we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks."

2. Newsweek's Thomas Questions Talk Radio's 'Anger' Over Immigration
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who in March condescendingly charged on Inside Washington that opposition to the UAE ports deals was a "classic for talk radio" since "it's something simple idiots can understand," on this weekend's edition of the panel show again ridiculed talk radio -- this time as a caldron of "anger" on illegal immigration. But Thomas was dubious about whether the anger is really about immigration, or just where talk radio listeners have parked their incessant anger. He asserted that "in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing..."

3. ABC's GMA Hails Al Gore for His Excellent Points and Passion
ABC's Good Morning America fired up the global warming bandwagon again Friday morning with a very soft and friendly "exclusive" interview with Al Gore to boost the weekend box office numbers of Gore's slide-show documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Substitute host Bill Weir assumed the entire catastrophe is under way, asking: "How urgent do you believe this is for us to turn it around? Have we passed a tipping point where it's irreversible?" Plus, how can Gore explain that conservatives still show "lingering skepticism"? In addition to praising Gore for raising an "excellent point" when Gore urged people to "listen to the scientists who are telling us we have to act in order to discharge our moral obligation to our children," Weir pleaded that he should ponder another presidential campaign: "Can the planet be saved without the help of a President?" Weir concluded: "Your passion is evident every time you speak on this."


NYT Bank Story Condemned as 'Disgrace,'
Why Times Losing Trust

Panelists on Fox News Sunday and on Friday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC denounced the New York Times for its Friday article, quickly picked up by other newspapers and published over the objection of the Bush administration and 9/11 commissioners, about how the CIA and Treasury Department are tracking international banking transactions by terrorist operatives. On Sunday, Brit Hume mocked New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's "matter of public interest" reasoning: "Well, that can apply to almost anything," such as "ball scores." Hume contended the Times is "rapidly spending" its "credit" with the public and so "eventually it won't be there anymore. And at the rate it's going, it doesn't deserve to be." Bill Kristol, Publisher of The Weekly Standard, argued: "I think the Attorney General has an absolute obligation to consider prosecution here." Kristol asserted: "This isn't a partisan thing of the Bush administration. This is a U.S. government secret program in a time of war, willfully exposed for no good reason by the New York Times."

Friday night on FNC, columnist Charles Krauthammer contended "there's a reason why we haven't had an attack since 9/11, and unfortunately we've learned about it by these journalistic leaks about all of the secret programs." He lit into the judgment of the Times: "The idea of having it published out there, in a sense disarming us by letting the bad guys know how we're tracing their wire transfers, I think, is a disgrace." Krauthammer added: "I think this is the 21st century equivalent of publishing the Enigma program in the Second World War in which we listened in on secret German communications in submarines." Morton Kondracke suggested the New York Times assumes "we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks" and regretted how "there are evidently people in the bureaucracy who share that view who are willing to blabber to the New York Times." As for what motivates the newspaper, the panelists pointed to the wish to win another Pulitzer Prize.

[The portion of this item about FNC on Friday was posted Friday night on the MRC's blog, Newsbusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Indeed, James Risen, whose byline appears on this latest divulging of an anti-terrorist program, won a Pulitzer for his December exposure of the NSA's international telephone monitoring effort. The April 18 CyberAlert item, "Pulitzer Prizes Award Journalists Who Undermined Anti-Terrorism," detailed Risen's honor along with how the prize board awarded Washington Post reporter Dana Priest for exposing the existence of secret sites in Europe to hold terrorists: www.mrc.org

"Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror," read the headline over the June 23 story by reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, who led:
"Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials."

For the front page article in full: www.nytimes.com

Clay Waters, Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site, posted an analysis, "Times Cripples Another Terrorist Surveillance Program," of the story: www.timeswatch.org

The CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News stories Friday night on the disclosure noted Bush administration objection to the publication, but ABC's World News Tonight also pointed out the objection from another respected party. Betsy Stark reported:
"The other question today is how effective the program will be now that newspapers have published stories about it. Tom Kean, the Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, told us he asked the New York Times not to publish the story."
Tom Kean: "I think we have one less tool. Because we've found that al Qaeda, when they find out things we're using to intercept messages, intercept money, intercept whatever -- they stop doing that. We were, probably, a step ahead of them, and in this area, we're probably not ahead that step anymore."


# Fox News Sunday, June 25: Some highlights from the first panel segment with Brit Hume, Bill Kristol, Juan Williams and Mara Liasson.

Hume: "I would say about the program that it's probably less important in some ways than the wiretapping or the phone intercept program. But I have to say that the case for revealing it seems even worse, even weaker. The editor of the New York Times said something to the effect it's a matter of public interest. Well, that can apply to almost anything. Juan and I were talking about this earlier. That applies to ball scores. And you know, I mean, women with their breasts exposed are a matter of public interest to some people.
"What kind of an argument is that for the revelation of a classified program? Look, we live in a country that has made a decision that there's going to be enough freedom so that editors get to make these decisions. One would certainly hope that the editor of the New York Times would have something more interesting and more compelling to say about why they chose to reveal this program and make its existence, therefore, known to the enemy than what he said...
"The New York Times over the long years of its presence there has built up, justifiably, a great deal of credit with the American people, and the paper carries great weight. It is now, in my judgment, rapidly spending that credit. There's enough of it that will last a long time, but eventually it won't be there anymore. And at the rate it's going, it doesn't deserve to be."

Bill Kristol, Publisher of The Weekly Standard: "I think the Attorney General has an absolute obligation to consider prosecution here. This is not a Bush -- I love the way Bill Keller calls it the Bush administration program. This is a program of the United States government. There's no charge that it's unconstitutional, illegal. There aren't whistle blowers coming forward saying data's being misused. This seems to have been a total sort of vanilla secret program in an ongoing war on terror.
"This is not the Pentagon Papers, a historical document that was classified where you're probably not going to prosecute people because it's not revealing ongoing operations in a war that has stopped people from killing Americans. Absolutely, I think the Justice Department has an obligation to consider prosecution, and I think Congress can weigh in here, too, because the New York Times' rhetorical defense is well, we're exposing the Bush administration.
"Well, Congress should consider whether -- if Congress approves of this program, which I believe it does, it might want to pass a sense of the Senate, sense of the House resolution this week saying you know what, we approve of this kind of legislation, and we do not think the executive editor of the New York Times has the unilateral ability to decide what is and isn't in the national security interests of the United States.
"I would like to find a single responsible Democrat from the Clinton administration who thinks this should have been exposed. As you say, they consulted Lee Hamilton, the Democratic co-chair of the 9/11 Commission. He counseled against revealing this. This isn't a partisan thing of the Bush administration. This is a U.S. government secret program in a time of war, willfully exposed for no good reason by the New York Times."

The new edition of Kristol's magazine out this week -- dated July 3 -- features two articles railing against the New York Times:

-- "National Security Be Damned: The guiding philosophy on West 43rd Street," by Heather MacDonald: www.weeklystandard.com

-- "Leaks and the Law: The case for prosecuting the New York Times," by Gabriel Schoenfeld: www.weeklystandard.com


# The first panel segment on the June 23 Special Report with Brit Hume anchored, as usual on Fridays, by Jim Angle. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video, picking up with Charles Krauthammer:
"Look, there's a reason why we haven't had an attack since 9/11, and unfortunately we've learned about it by these journalistic leaks about all of the secret programs. This is an extremely effective program. And the idea of having it published out there, in a sense disarming us by letting the bad guys know how we're tracing their wire transfers, I think, is a disgrace. There's no evidence of illegality. There is no evidence of abuse. There isn't even evidence of secrecy in the sense of a rogue operation, a J. Edgar Hoover rogue operation type thing. The heads of the central banks in Europe knew about this, the commissioners of the Swift Consortium, which is the one that routes all this information, knew about this. The members of Congress, the intelligence committee knew about this."
Angle: "The Fed."
Krauthammer: "The Fed, Alan Greenspan, the heads of the 9/11 Commission. I'm told that even John Murtha objected and tried to get the New York Times to cease and desist in publishing this. So it shows you how wide is the understanding of how important a program it is. I think this is the 21st century equivalent of publishing the Enigma program in the Second World War in which we listened in on secret German communications in submarines. Why it would end up in the public domain, given its efficacy and given the absence of abuse, is a mystery to me."
Morton Kondracke, Executive Editor of Roll Call: "Well, yeah, I concur with everything Charles said. You know, there are two terrible things. One is the totally adversarial attitude of the New York Times toward its own government. I mean, it's as though the New York Times thinks that somehow if the government, if the Bush administration is doing it, it's worse than something al-Qaeda might do to the United States, that we've got more to fear from our own government than we do from terrorist attacks. The second thing is that there are evidently people in the bureaucracy who share that view who are willing to blabber to the New York Times about the NSA spying activity, so-called, domestic spying which was not domestic spying, and now the details of bank transfers. I mean, there is no discipline anymore, and it's got to be based on Bush hatred, you know, the notion that George Bush is George III, as Ed Markey put it. Thank heavens Ed Markey is out there by himself on this one."
Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of The Weekly Standard: "Somebody tell, somebody needs to send the word to Ed Markey that bank records are not constitutionally protected information. To get them, investigators aren't required to get a warrant. But he doesn't seem to know that. He seems to think that-"
Angle: "Well, these aren't even domestic bank records."
Barnes: "I know they aren't."
Angle: "These are records of transfers of money across borders."
Barnes: "These are not, and they aren't constitutionally protected, so you don't have a constitutional issue here. Now, when you read about the kind of hoops that anybody who wants to do this, any investigator who wants to do this has to jump through in order to get an administrative warrant to investigate some transactions, it's incredible, you know. Even bringing in this, independent auditors from banks to make sure it's all right. They're not examining our ATM transactions or anything like that. And I can only, I mean, the Times argues that, well, there's the possibility of abuse. Well, in almost everything the government does there's a possibility of abuse. That doesn't warrant this. And let me say one other thing, you know, so many people, you know, even the two leaders of the 9/11 Commission and so on urged the New York Times not to reveal this. Back when they revealed the NSA eavesdropping program, which was a critical national security effort, the President, the four members, the four Democrats and Republicans, leaders of the two House and Senate Intelligence Committees, all asked the New York Times not to reveal that information. And they went ahead. There's a pattern here."
Angle: "And there is a very interesting question here, and there was no allegation that any abuse had actually occurred, so what, then, becomes the rationale for exposing a program that has been effective in uncovering terrorist activities if you're not pointing or uncovering some abuse?"
Kondracke: "You know, I think, I think what-"
Krauthammer: "Winning a Pulitzer Prize."
Kondracke: "Yeah, that's-"
Krauthammer: "That's probably a rationale."
Kondracke: "Well, they've already won one. These same guys-"
Krauthammer: "That right. They want to win another one."
Kondracke: "Right. Well, you know, I think that the ideo-
Krauthammer: "At any cost."
Kondracke: "-the ideological sensibility behind this was revealed by the Washington Post today, which didn't get the story. It got beat on the story by the New York Times, so they had to make basically editorial comment that this was vast penetration of individual constitutional rights and stuff like that. It was almost an editorial blast, and it shows you where the mainstream media, I have to say, is coming from, I think."

Newsweek's Thomas Questions Talk Radio's
'Anger' Over Immigration

Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas, who in March condescendingly charged on Inside Washington that opposition to the UAE ports deals was a "classic for talk radio" since "it's something simple idiots can understand," on this weekend's edition of the panel show again ridiculed talk radio -- this time as a caldron of "anger" on illegal immigration. But Thomas was dubious about whether the anger is really about immigration, or just where talk radio listeners have parked their incessant anger. He asserted that "in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing..."

[This item was posted Saturday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

A transcript of the relevant portion of the June 23 Inside Washington, a half-hour weekly panel show produced by Washington, DC's ABC affiliate which carries it on Sunday morning after This Week. Before that, it airs on the affiliate's all-news cable channel, NewsChannel 8, and Friday night at 8:30pm on DC's PBS station, WETA channel 26:

Evan Thomas: "Here's what's interesting to me about this. There is always a, in talk radio, in conservative talk radio there's this constant anger and it attaches itself to different issues. It sort of moves around. And right now, or for some months, it's been attached to immigration. What's not clear is whether that moveable anger will just find some other issue if Congress does nothing, or whether it will really maintain its place-"
Host Gordon Peterson: "I'm glad you brought that up because we have a psychiatrist on the panel. What gives rise to that anger, Charles? And how do we deal with it?"
Charles Krauthammer: "I think it's an invention of liberals, of the liberal imagination. Remember in the mid 1990's when the Republicans won the House, what was the mantra? The angry white voter, the angry white male. I looked at all of the studies on that election. There wasn't a single survey that showed any empirical evidence in support of this invention...."

A March 13 CyberAlert posting, with video, "Thomas: Ports 'Classic Talk Radio' Since 'Idiots Can Understand'," recounted:
Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas condescendingly charged, on this weekend's edition of Inside Washington, that opposition to the UAE ports deals resonated with the public "because it's something that simple idiots can understand." After a bit of snickering from the other panelists, especially NPR's Nina Totenberg, Thomas zeroed in on talk radio, even though the most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, supported the deal. Thomas called the subject matter "a classic for talk radio" because "you can get it on a bumper sticker." Expressing his support for the UAE's purchase of the company operating several U.S. ports -- "We need Dubai as an ally. On balance, it would be better that the deal went through" -- Thomas proceeded to lament how "it was an easy one to demagogue on talk radio." As if much of the mainstream media didn't pile on too.

For the complete transcript, with Real and Windows Media video, as well as MP3 audio, go to: www.mrc.org

ABC's GMA Hails Al Gore for His Excellent
Points and Passion

ABC's Good Morning America fired up the global warming bandwagon again Friday morning with a very soft and friendly "exclusive" interview with Al Gore to boost the weekend box office numbers of Gore's slide-show documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Substitute host Bill Weir assumed the entire catastrophe is under way, asking: "How urgent do you believe this is for us to turn it around? Have we passed a tipping point where it's irreversible?" Plus, how can Gore explain that conservatives still show "lingering skepticism"? In addition to praising Gore for raising an "excellent point" when Gore urged people to "listen to the scientists who are telling us we have to act in order to discharge our moral obligation to our children," Weir pleaded that he should ponder another presidential campaign: "Can the planet be saved without the help of a President?" Weir concluded: "Your passion is evident every time you speak on this."

[This item is adopted from a posting, by Tim Graham, Friday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters: newsbusters.org ]

Here's the transcript, from the MRC's Brian Boyd, of the 7am half hour segment on the June 23 GMA. It followed a one-sided, hyperbolic story from Bill Blakemore on the National Academy of Sciences report on how the Earth warmed one degree Fahrenheit over the last century. Weir began:
"Former Vice President Al Gore and star of the documentary, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' about global warming, joins us live from his home in Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Vice President, good morning to you."
Al Gore: "Good morning, Bill."
Weir: "Well, we know about the glaciers and the drowning polar bears. We've heard those warnings, but the weather we're seeing today in America: the floods, the wildfires, the droughts, even mosquitoes at higher elevations; how much of this do you believe is man-made?"
Gore: "Well, the major gold standard study that came out yesterday from the National Academy of Sciences says that most of it is man-made. The Earth has a fever. When your child has a fever you hear maybe that's a warning of something seriously wrong and you get it checked. Well, we've gotten it checked and the scientific community worldwide has a consensus: it's man-made global warming pollution. And it's making the droughts much more likely and more intense, the big downpours that Bill Blakemore's excellent piece just described, and a major study on hurricanes, also out yesterday, says that the more powerful hurricanes are mainly due to man-made global warming, the increased intensity and strength."
Weir: "How urgent do you believe this is for us to turn it around? Have we passed a tipping point where it's irreversible?"
Gore: "No, we still have time to take action that will allow us to avoid the worst of the damage that would otherwise occur. Some damage is now taking place. The increased wildfires are occurring on every continent, the drying out of the midsections of Europe, of Asia, of North America, South America, Africa, that's occurring worldwide. The migration of tropical diseases toward more temperate zones where more people encounter them. That's already taking place. But we can avoid the worst. But here's the point, Bill, we have to listen to what the world scientific community is now practically screaming from the rooftops. And we the citizens of our country have to hold our leaders in both political parties to account to stop just listening to special interests that don't want to have to rein in the global warming pollution that's causing this. And instead, listen to the scientists who are telling us we have to act in order to discharge our moral obligation to our children and all those who come after. We cannot allow this to continue, we have to take action."
Weir: "Well, you raise an excellent point there. Yesterday, when the hockey stick graph came out it seemed to be validated. And actually you drive this point even farther in your movie, in fact, you get on a forklift to show where the temperature is heading in the next 100 years or so. But despite the science that you say is so cut and dried, and like you say they are screaming, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe dismisses the study. He says the hockey stick is broken, it's junk science. So how do you account for that sort of lingering skepticism?"
Gore: "Well, he appointed as the chief of staff of his committee the chief lobbyist for some of the biggest polluters. The White House put in charge of their environmental policy the lobbyist and lawyer with no scientific training in charge of the disinformation campaign. It's not acceptable and it shouldn't be a political issue. It should be seen for what it is, a moral issue. And all of us are a part of this pattern that has to change, but when we as individuals change we also have a right to demand that the policies that subsidize this pollution, that give these big breaks to big oil companies that are putting out disinformation trying to confuse people into thinking that everything is fine. It's not fine. The Earth has a fever that is growing more and more intense. It is a planetary emergency. The movie, 'An Inconvenient Truth,' and the book of the same title, lays out all of the facts confirmed again in these two studies that came out yesterday and also shows how to solve the problem. I wish President Bush would change his mind and go and see this movie because it lays out exactly what is happening and how we can solve it."
Weir: "You said in the movie that this issue drove you to run for president in 88, but you've also said recently that it's keeping you, in part, from running in 2008 because the corrosive nature of modern politics would diminish the message there. But can this be fixed, can the planet be saved without the help of a President?"
Gore: "Well, we need presidential leadership but we also need to change the minds of the American people about the urgency of this crisis. We have to change minds across the board in both parties, among independents as well--"
Weir: "So quickly-"
Gore: "So who ever does run for President-"
Weir: "I'm sorry-"
Gore: "-will face an electorate, go ahead."
Weir: "I want to get it in here before we lose our time here, but what do people who are concerned walking out the door this morning? Is it selling the SUV? Is it extreme lifestyle change?"
Gore: "Go to the website climatecrisis.net. Most of the changes that you will find appropriate for your lifestyle are things that can improve your life anyway. You can become what they call 'carbon neutral,' which is no longer contribute to the problem but be part of the solution. Most importantly, become active and vocal in your family and your community and your church and synagogue and school and business and then as a citizen of this nation. This has to come from the grassroots up because the politicians will not have the spine to face this unless the people start demanding it."

Weir concluded with a final bow and scrape: "Your passion is evident every time you speak on this. Vice President Al Gore, we thank you, sir."


A couple of previous CyberAlert items which illustrate GMA's crusading agenda on global warming, starting with the approach of Bill Blakemore in a story from a couple of days before he preceded Gore with an equally evangelistic take:

# June 22 CyberAlert: ABC Blames Wild Fires on Global Warming, See Vindication for Gore. The ABC News Web site is soliciting examples of warm weather in the summer in order to demonstrate the impact of global warming and on Wednesday's Good Morning America the network illustrated how their reporters and producers assume any disaster proves global warming and vindicates Al Gore. Charlie Gibson teased at the top of the June 21 show: "The hot zone. Wildfires ravage the West and threaten homes. Is global warming to blame?" Reporter Bill Blakemore soon affirmed: "Well, Charlie, many scientists say that it fits exactly into the pattern predicted for global warming and is likely to get drier and hotter on average. This year wildfires have already burned more than three million acres, more than three times the average by this time of year." Blakemore concluded with how a fire chief in California "told me he also worries about how all the carbon from the fires only contributes to global warming. That fact about forest fires is something that Al Gore also points out in his new book and that book is now near the top of the bestseller list. It seems that people are really starting to pay attention to global warming." See: www.mrc.org

# May 24 CyberAlert: ABC Champions: "The Comeback Kid? Al Gore Takes on the World." With "The Comeback Kid? Al Gore Takes on the World," as the on-screen moniker, ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday championed Al Gore's comeback, through his hysterical global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which ABC took quite seriously as Claire Shipman touted a potential Gore presidential run. Shipman enthused: "The guy that George Bush Senior derisively dubbed 'Ozone Man' may have hit his stride after five years in hibernation by promoting his longtime passion." Shipman trumpeted: "Al Gore and global warming. On the face of it, not two subjects you'd expect to add up to the buzziest film since the last Michael Moore flick. But check it out, here's Al being celebrated in Cannes, doing the celebrity thing at an LA opening, power-walking a green carpet in Washington as rumors of another presidential run swirl." Without scolding Gore for scaremongering or the usual media accusation against conservatives -- using fear -- Shipman calmly relayed how Gore's "environmental message is blunt: humanity is sitting on a time bomb and has about ten years left to deal with it. It's the messenger, though, this almost President turned dynamic professor who's making most of the waves, dominating the blog-chatter." Letting a hopeful Arianna Huffington answer, Shipman cued her up: "Is he going to go for the Oval again?" Shipman concluded by gushing: "What does Al Gore say about the possibility of another run? We asked him the other night....He gave a hearty laugh but didn't say no." See: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker