Totenberg on Gen. Boykin: "I Hope He's Not Long for This World" --10/20/2003
2. NPR's Bob Edwards Unloads on Failures of Bush's Foreign Policy
3. ABC's Health Care Series Advocates "Right" to "Universal" Care
Eight years after NPR's Nina Totenberg, on Inside Washington, wished death upon Senator Jesse Helms ("If there is retributive justice, he'll get AIDS from a transfusion, or one of his grandchildren will get it"), on the same show over the weekend she seemingly desired to hasten the death of Army General Jerry Boykin for having supposedly expressed the view that the war on terrorism "is a Christian crusade against Muslims." Totenberg hatefully advocated: "I hope he's not long for this world."
When the other panelists were taken aback by her wish ("You putting a hit out on this guy or what?" and, "What is this, the Sopranos?"), she quickly backtracked: "In his job, in his job, in his job, please, please, in his job."
The relevant portion of the October 18 Inside Washington, a show produced at Washington, DC's Gannett-owned WUSA-TV and shown nationally on PBS stations:
Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio: "Now they've got this guy who's head of the intelligence section in the Defense Department who's being quoted as telling various groups, while he's in uniform, that this is a Christian crusade against Muslims. I mean this is terrible, this is seriously bad stuff."
This wasn't the first time Totenberg's mind jumped immediately to offing someone whom she found offensive. Back on the July 8, 1995 Inside Washington, Totenberg had this reaction to Senator Jesse Helms' complaint that AIDS research was getting a disproportionate share of federal research money. Inside Washington host Tina Gulland asked: "I don't think I have any Jesse Helms defenders here. Nina?"
That comment was a runner-up in the "I'm a Compassionate Liberal But I Wish You Were All Dead Award (for media hatred of conservatives)" category in MRC's 1999 "DisHonors Awards" for the most outrageous quotes of the decade. To view a RealPlayer clip of Totenberg in action: www.mediaresearch.org
Piling on the negative about how President Bush's foreign policy is ruining the world. On Friday's Morning Edition, NPR anchor Bob Edwards, who in a speech last April denounced Bush policies from the left and decried the media for being too soft on Bush, put his personal views into NPR news coverage as he delivered this loaded set-up to an eight-and-a-half-minute-long piece on the Bush administration's foreign policy:
NPR reporter Mike Shuster's piece, a transcript of which a CyberAlert reader e-mailed to the MRC and which I then corrected against the audio on the NPR Web site, matched Edwards and was nearly all negative, ranging from the derogatory to the condescending, as Shuster recited a litany of complaints from liberal analysts.
Twice, Shuster conceded possible up sides to the Bush policy, but then quickly added a caveat to undermine any positive achievements. Shuster reported at one point: "Ivo Daalder finds much to admire, especially the President's bold vision and decisiveness. But, says Daalder, those policies are failing." Later, Shuster asserted: "Despite all this, Michael Mandelbaum believes that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, as with the destruction of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, has made the U.S. safer, even if it has alienated allies and friends."
Some highlights from the October 17 story, which Shuster began: "President Bush's approach to foreign policy has been nothing less than groundbreaking. That is the view of many experts including Ivo Daalder, co-author of the just published America Unbound: The Bush Revolution in Foreign Policy. The President's preferences for unfettered and, when necessary, preemptive American action, the use of America's military might, and the daring to change foreign governments viewed as dangerous to the United States. In that, Ivo Daalder finds much to admire, especially the President's bold vision and decisiveness. But, says Daalder, those policies are failing."
After clips of Bush and Vice President Cheney, Shuster continued: "One of the key assumptions of the Bush foreign policy is that if the U.S. believes it is right and uses its strength to carry out policies, other nations, both friends and enemies, will be forced to follow even if they disagree. That is a misreading of how nations act, says John Mearsheimer, author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics....The Bush administration believes that other nations, even adversaries, would be forced to jump on the American bandwagon. Mearsheimer says, instead foreign nations have joined forces to balance against the U.S....
After a second Mearsheimer soundbite, Shuster explained: "At least some leaders in both North Korea and Iran appear to have decided that the way to avoid Iraq's fate is to acquire nuclear weapons as a deterrent against possible attack. In order to confront these challenges, the Bush administration has been forced, unwillingly it seems, to seek help from other nations and try the multilateral route through six party talks on North Korea and pressure from the much maligned International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran. It is an approach that many in the administration, including Vice President Cheney, view with obvious distaste."
Following a Cheney bite, Shuster continued: "Although much has been made of the Bush administration's endorsement of preemptive action to thwart imminent threats toward the security of the United States, it seems safe to say now, that without the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, that was not the nature of the U.S. war there. Johns Hopkins professor Michael Mandelbaum agrees. He's the author of The Ideas that Conquered the World: Peace, Democracy, and Free Markets in the 21st Century. But the threat was not imminent he says. Public support for the ongoing U.S. operation in Iraq may not last....
After a clip of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and of Daalder asserting that, "If it turns out that you fight a war and launch a war of choice and the intelligence information that you were using publicly and privately to justify that war was wrong, as it appears to be the case in Iraq, our ability to justify preemptive action in the next case when, perhaps the intelligence information is better or more accurate, will be undermined," Shuster acknowledged: "Despite all this, Michael Mandelbaum believes that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, as with the destruction of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, has made the U.S. safer, even if it has alienated allies and friends."
Shuster managed to find yet another line of attack: "There is one other factor that experts point to in faulting the Bush administration's foreign policy, especially in Iraq. Because the Bush team insisted on the benevolence of the U.S. war in Iraq because they see the current phase as liberation and not occupation. John Mearsheimer who teaches at the University of Chicago says they underestimated the role of nationalism in Iraq...."
Shuster worried: "The U.S. may not be able to make the corrections necessary to turn a troubled post-war Iraq into an American success. That's why, according to Ivo Daalder, UN involvement and a broader international role are not just fig leaves, but necessary conditions for turning Iraq around.
NPR's page for the October 17 Morning Edition, with a link to Shuster's story, which you can hear via either RealPlayer or Windows Media Player: www.npr.org
This biased story matched the liberal personal views of Edwards as expressed in an early April speech at the University of Kentucky which was reprinted in the April 20 Louisville Courier-Journal. An excerpt from the April 23 CyberAlert which summarized his diatribe:
The world through National Public Radio's left-wing prism where the greatest threats during war are radio stations which play patriotic music and reporters who pose softball questions to the President. A couple of weeks ago, in a speech reprinted in Sunday's Louisville Courier-Journal, NPR Morning Edition host Bob Edwards delivered quite the leftist rant.
Ruing media ownership concentration, citing efforts to boycott the Dixie Chicks and a radio station consultant's advice to clients to play patriotic music, Edwards went into a tear about how "we've had ugly periods in our history having to do with blacklisting of people our politicians didn't like," such as the "Red scares" in the 1950s when "creative people went to prison, had their careers ruined, their marriages broken up, and, yes, there were suicides, all because politicians found communism, or rather the fear of communism, a fruitful political issue." Edwards lectured: "You do not want to return to that era. Witchburning is an ugly chapter in our history. It should not be revived, even if it's good for business."
Apparently, in Edwards' world, there was nothing to "fear" about communism.
In a rich bit of irony, the NPR host castigated "the lack of diversity among broadcast owners." Edwards also adopted the standard anti-war complaint about how "many Americans feel they're getting propaganda from the so-called embedded journalists in Iraq" and regretted how a radio station posted links to a bunch of groups supporting the troops while only featuring "links to two peace groups."
Edwards complained about how reporters at President Bush's last press conference went way too easy on him. "The press didn't wait until the intern scandal to ask tough questions of Bill Clinton," Edwards insisted, "so why is the incumbent getting a pass?"
He then listed some of the questions he would have asked. None, no surprise, came from the right and virtually all came from the very far left. Two of Edwards' proposed questions: "Mr. President, you're asking for $76 billion to pay for this war, and you'll probably go back to Congress to ask for more. Given the fact that there'll be severe deficits for as long as you are President, why not let your tax cut slide?"
And Edwards would have lectured: "How did you expect to win international approval for your plan to invade Iraq when you have repeatedly told the rest of the world that the United States is ready to act alone in virtually every field, as witnessed by your withdrawal from international treaties and agreements having to do with the environment, war crimes and other matters that the rest of the world considers important?"
Edwards would come no less from the left when there is no war: "In more peaceful times I'd be likely to ask about labor laws, media ownership concentration, freedom of information, government secrecy, suspension of civil liberties, the environment, energy, corporate corruption and most assuredly health care reform."
END of Excerpt of previous CyberAlert
For a much more extensive excerpt of the Edwards screed, see: www.mediaresearch.org
Any pretense anyone had that ABC News might provide a fair and balanced look at health care in their much-touted week-long series, which carries the loaded title, "Critical Condition: Heath Care in America," should have been corrected on Sunday night. ABC anchor Carole Simpson decried how the U.S. is not socialist enough: "Even though the U.S. spends twice as much per person as any other developed country on health care, the U.S. is the only developed country that fails to provide universal coverage for all its citizens."
A bit later on World News Tonight/Sunday, ABC's "medical editor," Dr. Tim Johnson, argued that "until all of us embrace the idea that health care should be a right, not a privilege, our system cannot be glibly described as, quote, 'the best in the world.'"
And ABC's Sunday night advocacy journalism should not have come as a surprise to anyone who saw the promo ABC News ran last week. In a 45 second-long promo, unusually lengthy for a promo spot, which ran repeatedly on World News Tonight, ABC made its agenda pretty clear.
Over a heart monitor-like red line bouncing with bits of text above it that matched the announcer was saying, viewers heard this from a male-voiced announcer, as taken down by MRC analyst Ken Shepherd:
On the October 19 World News Tonight/Sunday, anchor Carole Simpson pointed out how the U.S. spends $1.7 trillion a year on health care, which amounts to 15.2 percent of the economy. Simpson lamented: "Even though the U.S. spends twice as much per person as any other developed country on health care, the U.S. is the only developed country that fails to provide universal coverage for all its citizens. Tonight more than 43 million Americans are uninsured and many millions more are under-insured."
In the first of two stories, Dr. Tim Johnson examined how the high cost of health insurance is hurting employers and employees.
After it aired, Simpson plugged the second piece: "When we come back, Dr. Tim Johnson will look at one possible obstacle keeping the U.S. from providing the best quality health care to everyone."
The "obstacle"? Health insurance companies.
Simpson, for whom Sunday's broadcast was her last as anchor, introduced the subsequent story: "Now to an industry that plays a pivotal role in our health care system: the insurance industry. This largely for profit industry pays for and controls most of the care Americans get. Critics argue it is often more concerned with self-preservation than it is with providing necessary care."
Johnson profiled a doctor in Gary, Indiana who says insurance companies are preventing him from providing the best care. In a one-sided story, Johnson featured just one elected official: liberal Senator Ted Kennedy who, in the context of Johnson highlighting how much health insurance companies donate to politicians, bemoaned the lack of government action on health care.
Following his taped piece, Johnson opined on the World News Tonight set: "We have a country that wants to believe it is the best in everything, but until all of us embrace the idea that health care should be a right, not a privilege, our system cannot be glibly described as, quote, 'the best in the world.'"
And until ABC News at least tries to provide balanced and fair coverage of a complex issue like health care, it cannot be glibly described as a "news" organization.
-- Brent Baker