U.S. Convinced by Powell, So Jennings Looks Overseas for Ire -- 02/07/2003 CyberAlert
2. Brokaw Tells Letterman Iraqis Afraid to Say What They Think
3. NBC's Curry Relays: "We Will Fight America Like the Vietnamese"
4. Thomas Berates Fleischer About U.S. "Divvying Up" Iraqi Oil
5. Turkish Man's America-Bashing Appalls Even ABC's Sawyer
6. Mary McGrory Knows "Nobody" Who Favors War on Iraq
7. An "Unborn Child" Becomes a "Fetus" When Pronounced Dead
8. Brokaw Pivots off Reagan's Birthday to Complain About...
9. Slate.com: MRC's CyberAlert Able to "Tweeze" Out Bias Daily
Yes, but. Peter Jennings acknowledged Thursday night that a new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that 71 percent think Secretary of State Colin Powell made a convincing case at the UN and 61 percent "now think the Bush administration has presented enough evidence against Saddam Hussein to justify going to war."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert offered an optimistic caveat to the Bush team. After Russert noted how an NBC News poll determined President Bush's favorability has jumped from 54 to 61 percent and that by 66 to 11 percent the American people were "convinced by Colin Powell," but that 51 percent think the U.S. should take action "only with UN support,"
On the February 6 World News Tonight, Jennings relayed the fresh poll numbers: "The Secretary of State's presentation to the UN Security Council yesterday has had an affect on public opinion. An ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that 71 percent of Americans aware of his speech at the UN yesterday think he made a convincing case for war. And in a sizable increase from two weeks ago, 61 percent [up from 48 percent on January 20] of Americans now think the Bush administration has presented enough evidence against Saddam Hussein to justify going to war. Almost six out of ten [59 percent] say that UN inspectors should have weeks to finish their work, not months."
Then Jennings added a caveat: "We're going to check in quickly this evening on the status of opinion elsewhere overseas. There's a degree of opposition to war in every country, even where the government has been supportive. First to London and ABC's Jim Sciutto."
Sciutto actually focused not on the public but, like ABC reporters in the two subsequent field reports, on government officials.
After highlighting how British Prime Minister Tony Blair got tough questions during a BBC program and the positions of the French and German governments remained unchanged, Sciutto zoomed in on how "in one of the more interesting expressions of anti-war feeling, in Italy members of Parliament opposed to war disrupted a speech by the Italian Prime Minister. Across Europe there is clearly a large segment of the public that remains unconvinced."
Next, Claire Shipman checked in from Turkey where she observed that the Powell speech helped Bush's cause as the Turkish government had agreed to let U.S. troops launch an attack on Iraq from Turkish soil.
Jennings set up the third of three reports, a piece by Bob Woodruff in Kuwait, by stressing fears of the U.S.: "In the Arab world there is deep anxiety about the consequences of war. Many Arabs, even if they dislike Saddam Hussein, wonder about America's long-term intentions."
NBC Nightly News viewers heard similar poll numbers, but without the kvetching about foreign opinion.
Tom Brokaw went to Tim Russert for the numbers: "Tim, NBC News was in the field last night after Colin Powell's presentation. What are the American people saying about the President now?"
Now he tells us. On Thursday's Late Show on CBS, NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw told David Letterman how people in Iraq "are afraid to say anything because the wrong thing gets them not only in trouble, but probably executed." Brokaw related how when he was in Baghdad in December, a man approached him and in a loud voice praised Saddam Hussein and promised to fight American invaders, but in a quiet voice he expressed hope that the Americans would arrive before Christmas since "we'll be very happy to have them come here as quickly as possible."
Brokaw was in Baghdad just before Christmas and so I may not have seen all of his stories, but I certainly do not recall in all that I saw him ever relating what he reported on Letterman's February 7 show.
In explaining on the Late Show what he learned in Baghdad, Brokaw recalled what a man told him and in relaying the guy's comments Brokaw spoke in a loud, gesticulating voice and then in a quiet voice to illustrate how the man spoke to him in a manner so that the Iraqi minder would hear some things and not others. I've conveyed this voice difference by putting Brokaw's loud voice mimicry in ALL CAPS.
Brokaw asserted: "There is also this kind of Manchurian Candidate quality about life there. People are afraid to say anything because the wrong thing gets them not only in trouble, but probably executed. The record is pretty complete on that.
Three months before Brokaw's Baghdad conversation, the NBC Nightly News treated as meaningful and accurate pro-Saddam Hussein and anti-U.S. comments from the Iraqi populace.
In a September 17 story, Ron Allen relayed from Baghdad: "Many Iraqis believe America's true motive is to remove Saddam Hussein from power, install a puppet government and seize Iraq's vast oil wealth. On the streets, many see Hussein's offer to allow the inspectors back as a wise, brave decision showing strength."
It seems Brokaw is a bit more discerning than Allen, or at least became so a few months later.
Brokaw's insight into how Iraqis are afraid to say anything against Saddam Hussein and only praise him to reporters because Hussein regime minders are listening, apparently hasn't made it downstairs to the Today show's Rockefeller Plaza offices. (See item #2 above for what Brokaw learned.) On Thursday's Today, Ann Curry relayed from Baghdad how supposedly typical citizens promised her: "We will fight America like the Vietnamese" and "Every man, woman and child will be a soldier and we will win."
Curry keeps treating the anti-American views of supposedly average Iraqis as relevant. The morning after President Bush's State of the Union address a story by Curry offered this reaction from a supposedly typical Iraqi, a man in a suit who declared in English: "I say to Mr. Bush, keep your nose out of our, out of our affairs."
On Wednesday morning, just hours before Secretary of State Colin Powell's address to the UN Security Council, Curry conveyed from Baghdad: "On the streets of Baghdad the word to the U.S. is essentially, 'put up or shut up!' People here just don't believe their President is hiding weapons of mass destruction. These men say the inspectors have found nothing because Iraq has nothing to hide, that the U.S. government's real agenda is to seize Iraq's oil fields."
And now to Thursday morning, February 6. Curry reported the official Iraqi reaction to Powell and then, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, she went to the streets: "None of Powell's presentation has appeared on Iraqi television. As for the morning's newspapers here in Baghdad the top story, Saddam telling British peace activist Tony Benn that Iraq is not hiding any weapons of mass destruction." [As she said that, Curry picked up a newspaper off a local newsstand and pointed at it.]
Another day of wackiness from Hearst Newspapers columnist and former UPI reporter Helen Thomas at the White House press briefing as she berated Press Secretary Ari Fleischer about how President Bush is going to war in order to gain control of Iraq's oil. She demanded: "Can you categorically deny that the United States will take over the oil fields when we win this war?...Oil, is it about oil?"
Although she was unable to cite a source, Thomas insisted: "There are reports that we've divided up the oil already, divvied it up with the Russians and French and so forth."
A bit later ABC News White House reporter Terry Moran picked up on Thomas's theory, what he dubbed "Helen's very interesting line of questioning."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd caught the Thomas haranguing at just before 12:30pm EST on Thursday, which was carried by the cable news networks, and checked the White House transcript against the tape of the February 6 briefing:
Thomas: "Since you speak for the President, we have no access to him, can you categorically deny that the United States will take over the oil fields when we win this war? Which is apparently obvious and you're on your way and I don't think you doubt your victory. Oil, is it about oil?"
A bit later, Moran returned to Thomas's nefarious rumblings: "So while the civilian apparatus reemerges, the military administers things. And to follow Helen's very interesting line of questioning, would that include the oil fields?"
As for what Senator Lugar said that so excited Thomas, though she couldn't remember that he said it, he really didn't say what Thomas read into it. On Nexis, a January 23 Agence France Presse story was the most thorough I could find on Lugar's comments. It began: "If France and Russia want access to Iraqi oil fields in a post-Saddam Hussein scenario, they must be ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in any U.S.-led military intervention, Senator Richard Lugar's spokesperson said Thursday....
America-bashing went too far on Thursday's Good Morning America even for Diane Sawyer who co-hosted from Istanbul, Turkey. When a man identified as an "actor/human rights activist," apparently the Alec Baldwin of Turkey, told Sawyer that the "United States worries me more than Iraq," a visibly appalled Sawyer exclaimed in a loud and rising high-pitched voice: "What?! Really?"
The exchange took place during a pre-taped segment, that aired during the 8:30am half hour, in which Sawyer talked with four people in a restaurant about the U.S. confrontation with Iraq.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson, who caught Sawyer's indignant outburst, transcribed the exchange aired on the February 6 show:
Standing along an Istanbul street, Sawyer set up the taped piece: "As we said earlier, the decision of the government here to stand beside the United States is, in many ways, a brave one. The population has announced that it is opposed to the war, in part because of fears of the Kurds and also fears for the economy. So earlier this morning, I was sitting and having some coffee with a group of young people here in Turkey, and I asked them, 'are they afraid of the war?'"
The taped piece, which was clearly edited, began with Imre Gencer, a Turkish businesswoman: "Well, I think that nobody wants a war in their backyard. I'm very much afraid because I think this time around, if you look at the U.S. involvement in other parts of the world, I think this will be a different one, simply because I don't foresee U.S. being there just with one leg or with one arm, but with full force, simply because the conflict is much bigger now."
But then she let the Turkish bunch carry on.
Gencer: "Exactly what I thought, actually."
Back on live at street side, Sawyer emphasized: "Again, some 83 percent of the Turkish people says they oppose war."
Most Americans support a war with Iraq, but everyone I know is against it. Syndicated columnist Mary McGrory's Pauline Kael moment.
In his book Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, Bernard Goldberg recalled, as a glaring example of how the media elite are often out of touch, how after the 1972 election New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael was completely baffled about how Richard Nixon could have beaten George McGovern: "Nobody I know voted for Nixon."
Perusing McGrory's February 6 column in the Washington Post, the MRC's Rich Noyes noticed this sentence about her state of mind, before Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN, about an Iraq war: "Among people I know, nobody was for the war."
Now that's out of touch.
McGrory is a long-time columnist and before that a reporter for the old Washington Star. Older CyberAlert readers may recall her as a panelist for presidential debates in 1984 and earlier.
An excerpt from the top of her latest column. It's titled, "I'm Persuaded."
I don't know how the United Nations felt about Colin Powell's "J'accuse" speech against Saddam Hussein. I can only say that he persuaded me, and I was as tough as France to convince.
I'm not exactly a pacifist. Vietnam came close to making me one, but no one of the World War II generation can say war is never justified. I have resisted the push to war against Iraq because I thought George W. Bush was trying to pick a fight for all the wrong reasons -- big oil, the far right -- against the wrong enemy. The people who were pushing hardest are not people whose banner I could follow. I find our commander in chief a flighty thinker....
Among people I know, nobody was for the war. All of us were clinging tightly to the toga of Colin Powell. We, like the rest of the world, trusted him. We read Bob Woodward's "Bush at War" with admiration and gratitude for our stalwart secretary of state. We wished Powell would oppose the war, because it seemed like such a huge and misdirected overreaction to a bully who got on the nerves of our touchy Texas president....
END of Excerpt
For McGrory's column in full and a picture of her:
To the Boston Globe, when the fate was unknown for the entity inside a pregnant woman who was shot, it was an "unborn child," but as soon as it was dead, it became a "fetus." And the Globe's reporter on the story found it relevant to highlight how the Massachusetts policy "of defining a viable fetus as a person in a homicide" has "drawn criticism from abortion rights groups concerned about what 'fetal rights' could pose for legal abortion."
In an early edition of the February 6 Boston Globe, on page two of the "City & Region" section under "New England in Brief," the paper carried a one paragraph item headlined, "Pregnant woman hit by gunfire on T." The "T" is short for Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), the operator of Boston's subway system. The fourth sentence of the unbylined five-sentence item: "The conditions of the mother and unborn child were not available last night."
But in later editions, as well as the Boston Globe Web site's posting of the final edition, the event garnered front page placement in a much longer story headlined: "Passenger shot, her fetus dies as men clash on T."
MRC Web site visitor Steve Malloy alerted us to the posted version and I noticed the contrast with an earlier edition when I picked up a hard copy of the Globe.
An excerpt from the February 6 front page story by reporter Michael S. Rosenwald:
The fetus of a 29-year-old passenger on the Orange Line died last night after the woman was shot by someone in a group of young men who were arguing as the train pulled into the Massachusetts Avenue station about 8 p.m., authorities said.
The Roxbury mother was in critical condition at Boston Medical Center, where family members gathered late in the evening....
After the fetus died, Suffolk prosecutors huddled last night to consider whether to pursue the case as a homicide. David Procopio, spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office, said two standards first must be met: The fetus must have been viable and the death must have been caused by the shooting injuries.
Authorities said they would await an autopsy report before deciding whether to rule the fetus's death a murder....
The state's policy of defining a viable fetus as a person in a homicide is considered unusual in legal circles. The policy has drawn criticism from abortion rights groups concerned about what "fetal rights" could pose for legal abortion....
END of Excerpt
For the story in its entirety: CLICK HERE
The Globe did allow Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino to actually refer to the entity as a "baby" as the story quoted him as saying: "Our prayers go out to that woman and her family and that poor baby."
ABC and NBC, but not CBS, on Thursday night marked Ronald Reagan's 92nd birthday. Tom Brokaw pivoted off of how, because of Alzheimer's Reagan "is unaware" of "the tense time in the world today," to deliver an oddly-timed commentary about how when the year 2000 arrived we had a "booming stock market, jobs for everyone, and peace in the world." But now we have terrorism, war, "a sick economy and big debt getting bigger every day. New Year's Eve, 1999. Remember? Can we sue for breach of promise?"
Peter Jennings read this very short item on the February 6 World News Tonight: "Every February 6 we remember a birthday. President Reagan is 92 today. He has Alzheimer's, as you know. A few weeks ago Mrs. Reagan said that he was doing well."
Brokaw ended the NBC Nightly News, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Brokaw then lamented: "As for the rest of us, we remember when the Millennium celebrations kicked in as the year 2000 arrived, that some worried about the terrorist attack and even an arrest in the state of Washington, but mostly we had a sense of great relief and a big party for the good times, the very good times brought on by the booming stock market, jobs for everyone, and peace in the world. Now, a little more than three years later, terrorism at home as well as abroad, the prospects of another war, a renewal of the murderous time between Israel and the Palestinians, North Korea, the shuttle Columbia explosion, a sick economy and big debt getting bigger every day. New Year's Eve, 1999. Remember? Can we sue for breach of promise? I'll see you tomorrow night."
Two more entries in the argument over liberal versus conservative media bias:
-- "The Varieties of Media Bias, Part 1: Who threw the first punch in the press bias brawl?" read the headline over a February 5 piece on Slate.com by Jack Shafer in which he began an examination of both sides of the debate.
Space today precludes an excerpt, but Shafer, in a reference to the MRC's CyberAlert, admired how "the conservative Media Research Center finds so much liberal bias in the media it's able to tweeze the stuff out daily."
Given the length of today's edition, I think I do more than "tweeze."
The word "tweeze" in the posted piece links to the CyberAlert archive: http://www.mediaresearch.org/archive/cyber/welcome.asp
For Shafer's article: http://slate.msn.com/id/2078200/
-- "Round Two" in National Review Online's debate, "Are the Media Liberal?", between MRC President Brent Bozell and left-winger Eric Alterman, is now online:
For "Round One":
I was going to end with that list from Thursday's Late Show about messages Powell got following his UN presentation, but I'm running way long today, so to read it: CLICK HERE.
Okay, I'll "tweeze" out one of them, #6: "It's Osama. I surrender...just kidding. It's the President...give me a buzz." -- Brent Baker