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Walter Cronkite: Karl Rove "Probably Set Up bin Laden" Video --11/1/2004


1. Walter Cronkite: Karl Rove "Probably Set Up bin Laden" Video
Walter Cronkite charged that Karl Rove "probably" arranged for a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden to show up just before the election. Friday night, during a live 9pm EDT appearance on CNN's Larry King Live barely five hours after the networks aired an excerpt from the bin Laden tape, Cronkite asserted: "I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, that he probably set up bin Laden to this thing." Cronkite's demeanor was quite serious, though there was a very, very slight hint of what may have been a chuckle as he said "set up bin Laden." Cronkite continued his remarks, in a serious manner, for another sentence as he supported his Rove conspiracy theory by arguing that the bin Laden tape gives an "advantage to the Republican side" since it gets "rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now...the whole problem of the al Qaqaa dump, explosive dump." King did not follow up, and so it's not absolutely clear that Cronkite was serious, but it certainly appeared so from my viewing of it.

2. Stahl Defends Planned Last-Minute Hit on Bush, Hume Scolds NYT
No "angst" inside CBS over the planned last-minute hit on President Bush, but FNC's Brit Hume saw a politically-driven news agenda at the New York Times. CBS's Lesley Stahl on Sunday told CNN's Howard Kurtz that she doesn't "feel great angst" in the 60 Minutes office over the original plan to break the missing explosives story on Sunday night, October 31, 36 hours before polls opened. She insisted that "questions about the timing of it are unfair" since it was just a coincidence that's when the story came together. When Kurtz suggested this controversy and the forged memos scandal have made it "a rough few months" for 60 Minutes, a visibly upset Stahl fired back: "Wait a minute, Howie. I don't include this in the rough couple of months. I don't include this at all." On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume doubted New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's claim that, concerned about fairness, he might not have run the story on the day before the election. Hume also contended that the Times over-played the story.

3. Cite KSTP Video as "Compelling Evidence" U.S. Lost Explosives
Update: Friday coverage of the explosives story. A day after ABC's World News Tonight played the video, from Minneapolis's KSTP-TV, of barrels of powder being opened by U.S. soldiers at al Qaqaa, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski declared on Friday's NBC Nightly News, over the video: "It's the most compelling evidence yet that some of the missing high explosive HMX was still in its bunkers after the war began." Miklaszewski proceeded to show a pre-war satellite photo of a truck outside an al Qaqaa depot and noted that an Army Major reported destroying 250 tons of munitions at the facility, but Miklaszewski concluded that each attempt by the Pentagon to determine what happened "raises more questions than answers." On NewsNight, CNN's Aaron Brown echoed Miklaszewski as he insisted the video "pretty much laid the central question to rest." CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre, however, noted that the Pentagon wonders if they figure out what occurred, whether after the election "anyone will really care about what it argues is a small fraction of Iraq's pre-war arsenal."

4. NBC's Today Continues Quest to Promote Kerry on Stem Cell Funds
For the third time in a week, NBC's Today show on Thursday spotlighted only one side of the debate over embryo-destroying stem cell research, with Katie Couric asking Michael J. Fox to explain why he's supporting John Kerry. Fox denounced Bush's 2001 federal funding compromise as "the equivalent of giving us a car with no gas, and then kind of congratulating himself on giving us the car." At least on Thursday, a movie star showed up on the other side of the stem cell divide: Mel Gibson, on ABC's Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer asked: "One challenge that is raised is this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered in a petri dish, barely visible." Gibson replied: "Well, I was never in a petri dish, but at one stage I was that little cluster of cells, myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody."

5. O'Beirne's Outrage: "Media Has Taken Sides in Presidential Race"
Kate O'Beirne made media bias in favor of John Kerry and against George W. Bush her "Outrage of the Campaign" at the end of Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN. O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review, suggested that "a foul should be called on the ref" since, "to an unprecedented degree, the establishment media has taken sides in the presidential race. Campaign coverage has been transparently hostile to President Bush." She concluded that "the media voted early and its claims of impartiality are an obvious fraud." Just before O'Beirne offered her outrage, Time magazine's Margaret Carlson demonstrated O'Beirne's point as Carlson insisted that "the media should be ashamed for airing scurrilous charges claiming Lieutenant John Kerry did not earn his silver and bronze stars."


Walter Cronkite: Karl Rove "Probably
Set Up bin Laden" Video

Walter Cronkite Walter Cronkite charged that Karl Rove "probably" arranged for a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden to show up just before the election. Friday night, during a live 9pm EDT appearance on CNN's Larry King Live barely five hours after the networks aired an excerpt from the bin Laden tape, Cronkite asserted: "I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, that he probably set up bin Laden to this thing." Cronkite's demeanor was quite serious, though there was a very, very slight hint of what may have been a chuckle as he said "set up bin Laden." Cronkite continued his remarks, in a serious manner, for another sentence as he supported his Rove conspiracy theory by arguing that the bin Laden tape gives an "advantage to the Republican side" since it gets "rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now...the whole problem of the al Qaqaa dump, explosive dump." King did not follow up, and so it's not absolutely clear that Cronkite was serious, but it certainly appeared so from my viewing of it.

On Monday morning, the MRC will post a RealPlayer clip of Cronkite's remark, as well as his sentences before it and after it, so you can judge for yourself. After 10am EST Monday, check: www.mediaresearch.org

Cronkite appeared for a couple of segments at the top of the October 29 Larry King Live where he was in the studio with King, though King did not specify whether the program was produced in Los Angeles, as it usually is, or in Washington, DC or New York City where CNN has identical sets for the King show.

King began with the bin Laden tape: "Let's first play a little bit of this tape, in which bin Laden, released today, directly addresses the American people. Watch."
Osama bin Laden video with voice of male translator: "Your security is not in the hands of Kerry or Bush or al Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands. Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked."
King: "Okay, Walter. What do you make of this?"
Cronkite: "Well, I make it out to be, initially, the reaction that it's a threat to us, that unless we make peace with him, in a sense, we can expect further attacks. He did not say that precisely, but it sounds like that when he says, you know-"
King talked over Cronkite: "The warning."
Cronkite: "-what we just heard. So now the question is, basically, right now, how will this affect the election? And I have a feeling that it could tilt the election a bit. In fact, I'm a little inclined to think that Karl Rove, the political manager at the White House, who is a very clever man, that he probably set up bin Laden to this thing. The advantage to the Republican side is to get rid of, as a principal subject of the campaigns right now, get rid of the whole problem of the al Qaqaa dump, explosive dump. Right now, that, the last couple of days, has, I think, upset the Republican campaign."
King: "Are there enough undecideds to tilt this? Or what do you think of the whole election picture?"
Cronkite: "Well, I think it's one of the biggest messes we've had in a long time. I believe that we're undoubtedly not going to know the results of this election. I don't want to knock you off the air on Monday night or anything, or Tuesday night. But I suspect that we're not going to know who the next president is, whether it is Bush or the new man, until very probably sometime in the early spring. There's so much controversy that they're planting, deliberately planting at the polls, that there's almost certainly to be a suit going back to the Supreme Court eventually, going through the other courts slowly first."

(Please note that the above transcript varies slightly from CNN's posted transcript which I checked against the MRC's DVR of the program.)

Credit: On Saturday morning Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online posted a message, on the magazine's The Corner blog, about Cronkite's claim. See: www.nationalreview.com

On Saturday afternoon the DrudgeReport.com got up a short item about it: www.drudgereport.com

# A few hours before Cronkite issued his wild conspiracy theory, ABC's Peter Jennings decided it was "not appropriate" for him to have called the bin Laden message "disgusting," but perfectly fine to have described it as "fascinating." The Saturday CyberAlert recounted: Jennings on Friday night described bin Laden's message as "quite fascinating and disgusting to read." But a minute or so later on World News Tonight, Jennings backtracked from one of his characterizations: "Probably not appropriate of me to characterize the tape as I did -- calling it 'disgusting.'" For the full context of what Jennings said, see: www.mediaresearch.org

Stahl Defends Planned Last-Minute Hit
on Bush, Hume Scolds NYT

No "angst" inside CBS over the planned last-minute hit on President Bush, but FNC's Brit Hume saw a politically-driven news agenda at the New York Times. CBS's Lesley Stahl on Sunday told CNN's Howard Kurtz that she doesn't "feel great angst" in the 60 Minutes office over the original plan to break the missing explosives story on Sunday night, October 31, 36 hours before polls opened. She insisted that "questions about the timing of it are unfair" since it was just a coincidence that's when the story came together. When Kurtz suggested this controversy and the forged memos scandal have made it "a rough few months" for 60 Minutes, a visibly upset Stahl fired back: "Wait a minute, Howie. I don't include this in the rough couple of months. I don't include this at all."

On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume doubted New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller's claim that, concerned about fairness, he might not have run the story on the day before the election. Hume also contended that the Times over-played the story: "As a piece of journalism, the problem with this story was yeah it's a news story, but it's a small news story. Front page, two column headline, long report inside, missing all kinds of details about it. No mention of the overall picture of weapons in Iraq. There was an astonishing amount of weaponry, a stupendous amount which dwarfs 377 tons..."

"Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished from Site in Iraq," blared the Monday, October 25 New York Times headline. CBS's 60 Minutes had been working on the story with the Times, which went with it when they feared another outlet would beat them. CBS intended to air the story as a last-minute hit on Bush two days before the election. Elizabeth Jensen reported in Tuesday's (October 26) Los Angeles Times: "Jeff Fager, executive producer of the Sunday edition of 60 Minutes, said in a statement that 'our plan was to run the story on [Oct.] 31, but it became clear that it wouldn't hold, so the decision was made for the Times to run it.'"

Sunday morning, October 31, on a live Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz asked Stahl, who appeared from Manhattan, about the controversy over the timing. She insisted: "This is when it was supposed to be ready. It wasn't a question of the election. It was how soon can we put these pieces together. Sometimes you can put a piece together quickly, and sometimes you just have to wait until your sources nail it down for you. And that's what happened in this case. I'm being very specific."
Kurtz: "It feels like it's been a rough few months for CBS News. There was also the 60 Minutes Wednesday story, which again you had nothing to do with, about the President's National Guard-"
Stahl: "Wait a minute, Howie. I don't include this in the rough couple of months. I don't include this at all. I see-"
Kurtz: "In other words, you see a big distinction between a story that is now under obviously outside investigation and a story that nobody is saying the story is inaccurate, but there are questions about the timing of it."
Stahl: "Well, the questions about the timing of it are unfair. We are just trying to get our pieces organized by the time they're finished. Nobody planned it to be two or three days before the election. So, and I don't feel great angst in the office over this at all."

Earlier, on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume, picking up on comments Keller made to the AP, took on the agenda of the New York Times:
"Bill Keller, the Executive Editor of the Times, said it would have been too late to run it this coming Sunday or Monday morning, today or tomorrow. But he also said this: That the reason they were going ahead last Monday, the New York Times, was that it was leaking. So it doesn't strike me that he can have it both ways. It sounds as if they were perfectly prepared, the Times, to run it today or tomorrow, just before the election, until it started leaking. And then in the course of it he said, 'oh yes, and by the way, it would not have been fair to do that,' which I think they fully intended to do because it wouldn't give the White House a chance to respond.
"And as a piece of journalism, the problem with this story was yeah, it's a news story, but it's a small news story. Front page, two column headline, long report inside, missing all kinds of details about it. No mention of the overall picture of weapons in Iraq. There was an astonishing amount of weaponry, a stupendous amount which dwarfs 377 tons. And the amount picked up and destroyed...dwarfs that as well. So, in any perspective, this is an inside page story..."

On the Keller front with which Hume started his remark, he had picked up on a Saturday AP dispatch by David Bauder. An excerpt:

It's a candidate's fear and a news executive's burden: an explosive story on the eve of an election that could tip the balance between victory and defeat for a candidate.

The reports about a missing cache of Iraqi explosives illustrated a debate unique to this time of year: Should there be any kind of "safe zone" right before an election or is that idea antithetical to what journalism is all about?

"I don't think there's a set formula that applies," said Bill Keller, executive editor of The New York Times. "I think you have to take it case by case."

The Times and CBS News received simultaneous tips about the Al-Qaqaa weapons stockpile and agreed to collaborate. "60 Minutes" was working toward Sunday's broadcast, but the Times was ready sooner and published the story Monday.

Editors at the Times worried the story would leak ahead of time. But another reason for going ahead was a sense that publication two days before the election would be unfair to the Bush administration, Keller said.

"What would we have done if we had learned about this two days before the election and been able to report it out and put it in the paper?" he said. "I don't know. I'm not faced with that predicament. It's a hard call."...

END of Excerpt

It should be a hard call, but one suspects it would not have been. So the question now is, what bombshell might the Times drop on Monday morning?

For the October 31 AP article in full: story.news.yahoo.com

Cite KSTP Video as "Compelling Evidence"
U.S. Lost Explosives

Update: Friday coverage of the explosives story. A day after ABC's World News Tonight played the video, from Minneapolis's KSTP-TV, of barrels of powder being opened by U.S. soldiers at al Qaqaa, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski declared on Friday's NBC Nightly News, over the video: "It's the most compelling evidence yet that some of the missing high explosive HMX was still in its bunkers after the war began." Miklaszewski proceeded to show a pre-war satellite photo of a truck outside an al Qaqaa depot and noted that an Army Major reported destroying 250 tons of munitions at the facility, but Miklaszewski concluded that each attempt by the Pentagon to determine what happened "raises more questions than answers." On NewsNight, CNN's Aaron Brown echoed Miklaszewski as he insisted the video "pretty much laid the central question to rest." CNN reporter Jamie McIntyre, however, noted that the Pentagon wonders if they figure out what occurred, whether after the election "anyone will really care about what it argues is a small fraction of Iraq's pre-war arsenal."

The ABC and CBS evening newscasts ran short items on what the Army Major revealed, but they, like the full NBC story, did not point out, as did Bret Baier on FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume, how Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita "said the International Atomic Energy Agency has not come forward with documentation about 377 tons of missing material. The IAEA, he said, so far has only verified 219 tons were at al-Qaqaa or surrounding facilities with paper work. Fox News caught up with the head of the IAEA, Mohammad al-Baradei, in New York today who insisted there was no political motivation for the timing of the release of this story. As far as the IAEA is concerned, they had 377 tons, although that documentation, again, has not come forward as of yet."

Friday morning, Matt Lauer repeatedly hit Paul Bremer with the video evidence. He set up the Friday Today session:
"On Close Up this morning those missing explosives in Iraq. As we reported video shot by ABC affiliate KSTP-TV in Minneapolis, which was embedded with the Army's 101st Airborne Division apparently shows that a large cache of explosives may have been at or near the Iraqi munitions complex in question after U.S. troops arrived."

As Bremer maintained the case isn't closed, Lauer, the MRC's Geoff Dickens observed, pounded at him: "This new development, this videotape that shows these explosives were at or near Al-Qaqaa on April 18th of 2003. Does it prove, in your opinion, that these munitions disappeared after U.S. forces should have been guarding them?" And: "Well April 18th, is when this videotape was shot, that's a week after the fall of Baghdad and here we have U.S. troops discovering the munitions and then when we go back later they're gone. What, what facts are we not understanding there?"

On Friday night, Dan Rather announced: "The U.S. military tried today to answer at least some questions about what's become a big campaign issue: those 380 tons of Iraqi explosives that disappeared. They were in bunkers sealed by United Nations weapons inspectors, [KSTP video] as seen in newly released videotape from ABC's Minneapolis affiliate. At the Pentagon today, a U.S. Army Major said troops he commanded destroyed 250 tons of munitions in the same area, but he said he's not sure if it included any of the missing explosives."

Over on ABC's World News Tonight, Peter Jennings asserted: "Now, just one item today to confirm or to try to clarify the story that's been dogging the candidates all week about the ammunition dump in Iraq. The Pentagon held a news conference, and an Army Major said that his unit had removed 250 tons of ammunition from the al-Qaeda site in April, or rather on April 13th last year. But, as it turned out, by the time he was finished, he could not say for certain that it was the material in question."

Tom Brokaw introduced the October 29 NBC Nightly News story: "Iraq tonight, new evidence that could help solve the mystery of the missing tons of explosives, a mystery that's been an issue all week on the campaign trail. The central questions are: Were the explosives removed before or after Americans took charge in Iraq, why weren't they secured, and where are those explosives now? NBC's Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski with new pictures that could provide some answers or raise new questions."

Jim Miklaszewski, over the KSTP-TV video of soldiers checking out powder in barrels: "It's the most compelling evidence yet that some of the missing high explosive HMX was still in its bunkers after the war began and U.S. troops arrived at the al-Qaqaa weapons facility. Video shot by KSTP-TV of Minneapolis on April 18, 2003, shows soldiers from the 101st Airborne examining barrels full of white powder marked 'Explosives.' That's two weeks after U.S. troops first arrived there. It appeared one bunker was still under seal by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Agency officials tell NBC News the seal on the video was definitely theirs, and they believe the material in the bunkers was HMX. Boxes in the bunker marked as water bottles are identical to boxes containing HMX, as seen in this earlier Iraqi video.
"There's still a critical gap between March 8th, when the IAEA last inspected the weapons bunkers, and May 8th when U.S. military inspectors declared the high explosives were missing. The Pentagon tried to fill in that gap today. Major Austin Pearson said on April 13th his unit destroyed 250 tons of explosives at al-Qaqaa but couldn't say it included HMX."
Major Austin Pearson, U.S. Army, at Pentagon briefing: "I don't know. I don't have that information."
Miklaszewski: "But that didn't stop Vice President Dick Cheney today from going a step further."
Dick Cheney: "They seized and destroyed some 250 tons of ammunition which included in that amount some significant portion of the explosives in question."
Miklaszewski: "The Pentagon also released a satellite photo taken two days before the start of the war, showing large trucks next to a bunker, suggesting they were moving something. But maps from the Atomic Energy Agency show this bunker is not one containing the now-missing HMX.
John Pike, weapons expert: "There is a bunker at that complex with the explosive material. It's just not the bunker that the truck is in front of."
Miklaszewski concluded: "Pentagon officials say they're only trying to provide as many facts as possible about what may have happened at al-Qaqaa. But each attempt raises more questions than answers. Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News, the Pentagon."

# CyberAlert items last week on the explosives story:

-- October 26. Prompted by a top of the front page New York Times story on Monday headlined, "Huge Cache of Explosives Vanished from Site in Iraq," the three broadcast network evening newscasts, as well as CNN's NewsNight, led by hyping the story picked up by John Kerry on the campaign trail, but only NBC Nightly News revealed the missing cache wasn't there when U.S. troops arrived and suggested a political motivation in the timing of the disclosure about something which occurred at least 18 months ago. Dan Rather trumpeted at the top of the CBS Evening News: "Eight days to go til America elects a President, and disturbing news from Iraq is again dominating the campaign. The White House acknowledged today that a huge stockpile of ultra-high explosives is inexplicably missing from an Iraqi weapons site. Senator John Kerry called this a quote, 'great blunder' by President Bush and his administration." CBS's 60 Minutes had been working on the story which CBS intended to air as a last-minute hit on Bush two days before the election. See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- October 27. Following the same strategy employed when CBS News came under fire for the forged memos, on Tuesday night, while other news outlet backtracked from their initial Monday night reporting on how 377 tons of explosives went missing in Iraq under the watch of the U.S. Army, CBS plowed forward. With "Where Are They?" on screen, Dan Rather teased: "Senator Kerry blasts the President over those tons of missing explosives. And where are they?" Later, Rather declared: "Those missing explosives in Iraq are much more than a headline or a political wedge issue. They are very real, very powerful, and possibly in the hands of anti-American guerrillas or terrorists." CBS acknowledged the political damage the Monday hyping had done to the Bush campaign, though the network also revealed that the IAEA had blocked destruction of the very stockpile. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski provided a through rundown on the possibilities of what happened to the explosives while Tom Brokaw was on the defensive about what NBC reported Monday night, claiming the Bush campaign mischaracterized their story. CNN's Jamie McIntyre picked up on the proposition Hussein moved the explosives before the war. FNC's Brit Hume talked to Dana Lewis, who was embedded with the first troops on the scene. See: www.mediaresearch.org

And: Assuming facts not in evidence. Tuesday morning on CBS's Early Show, Harry Smith argued that the explosives missing in Iraq have "been made into bombs that have targeted U.S. troops." But later, on the CBS Evening News, David Martin would only go as far as to relay, over video of an explosion, how "David Kay, who once headed the hunt for weapons of mass destruction, says after this bombing outside a mosque in Najaf, investigators found traces of the same kind of explosives." See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- October 28. ABC, NBC, FNC and CNN, but not CBS, on Wednesday night provided new details, about what is known to have happened at the al-Qaqaa compound in January to May of 2003, such as how satellite imagery shows trucks at the facility, which cast more doubts upon the charge that the 377 tons of explosives disappeared after U.S. troops arrived. Jim Axelrod noted on the CBS Evenings News that "the President today finally broke his silence over the missing explosives in Iraq," but it was CBS which remained silent over the revelations which conflicted with their original anti-Bush administration spin. Axelrod gloated over the negative impact on the Bush campaign: "Mr. Bush had to say something. The timing of the story couldn't be worse for him" since "the missing explosives are the kind of development that could push undecideds the other way." ABC's Dean Reynolds ruled that Bush's "counterattack, that Kerry basically doesn't know what he's talking about" on what happened to the explosives, "does not address the fundamental problem that the Senator posed" about how unguarded ammunition has left troops "at greater risk." CNN's Jamie McIntyre picked up on a Pentagon point that "the lost stockpile amounted to less than one-tenth of one percent of the 400,000 tons of total munitions the U.S. has found in Iraq." See: www.mediaresearch.org

And: ABC's Charles Gibson and NBC's Katie Couric on Wednesday morning both presumed the basic credibility of the allegation about how U.S. Army malfeasance and incompetent direction by the Bush administration led to the loss of 377 tons of explosives from the al Qaqaa compound in Iraq. On Good Morning America, Gibson asked about the "possibility that hundreds of tons of weapons in Iraq have disappeared because of poor oversight or security by American troops. Number one, does this resonate at this point?" On Today, Couric demanded: "Reports that nearly 380 tons of conventional explosives that could be used in missile warheads or to detonate nuclear weapons have raised many concerns about why U.S. forces did not go and secure these weapons if in fact they knew about them. What happened?" Couric at least also raised doubts about the charge. See: www.mediaresearch.org

-- October 29. While FNC's Bret Baier on Thursday night revealed that a January 2003 International Atomic Energy Agency report listed the "total tonnage of high explosives, HMX and RDX" as "219 tons, not 377 tons," in a story soon adopted by other outlets, ABC's Martha Raddatz touted video from an ABC affiliate which showed soldiers at al Qaqaa opening barrels and boxes of a powder. She called it "the strongest evidence to date that the explosives disappeared after the U.S. had taken control of Iraq." CNN's Aaron Brown pounced on the April 2003 video as proof the media had been vindicated and the Pentagon discredited, as did the New York Times. In three separate NewsNight segments Brown contended that "it seems to me that the argument is over" and it's "game, set and match." A headline on the front page of Friday's New York Times trumpeted: "Video Shows G.I.'s at Weapon Cache." www.mediaresearch.org

NBC's Today Continues Quest to Promote
Kerry on Stem Cell Funds

For the third time in a week, NBC's Today show on Thursday spotlighted only one side of the debate over embryo-destroying stem cell research, with Katie Couric asking Michael J. Fox to explain why he's supporting John Kerry. Fox denounced Bush's 2001 federal funding compromise as "the equivalent of giving us a car with no gas, and then kind of congratulating himself on giving us the car." At least on Thursday, a movie star showed up on the other side of the stem cell divide: Mel Gibson, on ABC's Good Morning America. Diane Sawyer asked: "One challenge that is raised is this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered in a petri dish, barely visible." Gibson replied: "Well, I was never in a petri dish, but at one stage I was that little cluster of cells, myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody."

[The MRC's Tim Graham submitted this article for CyberAlert]

The October 23 CyberAlert recounted how ABC and NBC on Friday morning, October 22, championed Dana Reeve's endorsement of John Kerry by playing lengthy excerpts from her tribute to him and her late husband, Chris. See: www.mediaresearch.org

The October 28 CyberAlert reported that NBC's Today on Tuesday had a "debate" on California's ballot initiative to use state government money for embryo-destroying stem cell research, but all three guests supported the use of embryonic stem cells. Brad Pitt and a pediatrician backed the proposition, while a nurse's lobbyist opposed it from the left for benefitting the bio-tech industry, though in principle she's in favor of the research. See: www.mediaresearch.org

On Thursday's Today, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, co-host Katie Couric made it three for three. She interviewed actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's disease and told Couric with some humor, as he sat across from her, of the bad days he sometimes has with tremors and other nervous system problems. Then they turned to the presidential candidates. Couric noted that President Bush was hailed for his stem-cell compromise in 2001, which allowed funding for research with stem-cell lines from already-killed embryos.

Fox complained: "They always say that, that he's the first guy to allow to do it. It's a little disingenuous because it wasn't really ready to go forward until 2000. So he was really the first president that had an opportunity to, to, so, so he was the first President that had the opportunity to. Instead of fully embracing it and supporting it in a real way it kind of did this thing where he, first of all over-represented how many available cell lines there were. He had said something in the area of 80 or 60, 60."
Couric: "Like 61 or something."
Fox: "And it was really less than 20."
Couric: "That were viable."

Fox then used the NBC platform to make his pitch against Bush and for Kerry: "As I said he, he said, it's the equivalent of giving us a car with no gas, and then kind of congratulating himself on giving us the car, but we can't go anywhere with it. So my involvement in Senator Kerry's campaign is really a reaction to, look, we had four years to do something effective here, and to do something substantive, and really allow federal funding of, of quality research that could be productive and you've not done that. Um, and kind of what's worse is kind of represented that you have. And, and so this, this is really an opportunity with, with Senator Kerry to, to have a forward-looking administration that really embraces this opportunity to change the world."

At least on Thursday, a movie star showed up elsewhere on the other side of the stem cell divide: actor and director Mel Gibson. On ABC's Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer announced he "recently gave $10 million for research on childhood diseases, and with him, neurologist Dr. Vincent Fortanasce." Sawyer began: "So I can see people looking up this morning and saying, Mel Gibson on stem cells?"

Via satellite, Gibson explained: "I'm very concerned with the stem cell question. I'm for stem cell research. I think it can do a lot of good. When I heard about Proposition 71 to sort of promote stem cell research, I was overjoyed, you know, because it can do so much good. But then I began to look further into the Proposition and I found that the cloning of human embryos will be used in the process and that, for me, I have an ethical problem with that...."
Sawyer countered: "One challenge that is raised is this is not a human being. This is a group of cells clustered in a petri dish, barely visible."
Gibson came right back: "Well, I was never in a petri dish, but at one stage I was that little cluster of cells, myself, as were you, as was the doctor, as is everybody. Tell me anybody who wasn't that at some point in their development, and I'll give you a cigar."
Sawyer declared: "Seventy percent of Americans polled have said they know what this is and they endorse embryonic, embryonic stem cell research, people like Michael J. Fox and Chris Reeve. Do you think they're heedless about life?"
Gibson insisted: "Not at all. I have a great deal of compassion for these guys. They're afflicted. Everyone, there are so many afflicted in the world, every family is touched by affliction and disease, my own family included. We're no different."

The poll Sawyer cited came from a survey paid for by the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research, a lobby for government-subsidized embryo cell research. See more on that here: www.stemcellfunding.org

For the other side of the argument, the National Right to Life Committee had pollsters ask the question with an emphasis on the killing of human embryos. An excerpt from an August 23 press release:

In an August 16-18, 2004 poll conducted by Wilson Research Strategies, 53 percent of respondents said that they opposed "using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that requires the killing of human embryos," while only 38 percent said that they support this.

However, 74 percent of Americans said that they "support using tax dollars to pay for the kind of stem cell research that does not require the killing of human embryos," while only 20 percent opposed this.

When asked if they believe that all human cloning should be banned, 69 percent agreed while only 24 percent of respondents said that "cloning to create human embryos for stem cell research which would kill them should be allowed and only cloning for reproduction should be banned."

END of Excerpt

For the press release in full: www.nrlc.org

Sawyer pointed out that Gibson opposes the idea of embryonic cures on principle, even if they occurred. He retorted: "If I were sick and I was given the option to use stem cells harvested from the cloning of human embryos, I would not accept it. I would find a cure....I have no faith in the cloning of human embryos."
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noted that the other guest with Gibson, Dr. Vincent Fortunasce, made an economic point, not heard in the media championing of the cause, about the feasibility of embryo-destroying cures: "What they have found out is that they have a lame duck. They have something that no venture capitalist will invest in. But what they want to do is have the California taxpayer pay for this."

O'Beirne's Outrage: "Media Has Taken
Sides in Presidential Race"

Kate O'Beirne Kate O'Beirne made media bias in favor of John Kerry and against George W. Bush her "Outrage of the Campaign" at the end of Saturday's Capital Gang on CNN. O'Beirne, Washington Editor of National Review, suggested that "a foul should be called on the ref" since, "to an unprecedented degree, the establishment media has taken sides in the presidential race. Campaign coverage has been transparently hostile to President Bush." She concluded that "the media voted early and its claims of impartiality are an obvious fraud." Just before O'Beirne offered her outrage, Time magazine's Margaret Carlson demonstrated O'Beirne's point as Carlson insisted that "the media should be ashamed for airing scurrilous charges claiming Lieutenant John Kerry did not earn his silver and bronze stars."

O'Beirne's "Outrage of the Campaign":
"This election season, a foul should be called on the ref. To an unprecedented degree, the establishment media has taken sides in the presidential race. Campaign coverage has been transparently hostile to President Bush. Bogus news is hyped and facts nitpicked in the hope of damaging the President, while John Kerry's record, distortions and wild charges are largely ignored. This year, the media voted early and its claims of impartiality are an obvious fraud."

Just before O'Beirne, Carlson offered:
"The media should be ashamed for airing scurrilous charges claiming Lieutenant John Kerry did not earn his silver and bronze stars. John O'Neill and his Vietnam vets never came close to showing the Navy was wrong in its awards, nor did they have eyewitnesses to contradict the account of Jim Rasmussen, a Republican, saved from drowning when Kerry turned his boat around and headed directly into enemy fire. O'Neill's been stalking Kerry since the Nixon White House. He's entitled to his envy and to his anger, but not to his facts and not to unlimited air time."

Of course, as any CyberAlert reader knows, the first inclination of the New York Times, MSNBC, NBC and CBS was to smear the swifties and then hype any allegations about their inaccuracy without having first informed their readers or viewers of the many charges they made which were vindicated.

-- Brent Baker