Jennings Mad at Pentagon; U.S. & Taliban Kill "Innocents"; Rather Urged Perseverance; More Skeptical of bin Laden Than Bush?
1) Peter Jennings is dissatisfied with the Pentagon's information flow. After complaining about how the briefing was canceled, he demanded to know: "Is the Pentagon unable to assess what it has done or just doesn't want to share it with the public?"
2) A night after ABC dedicated a whole story to how U.S. food drops are just "propaganda," World News Tonight acknowledged that the Taliban are confiscating food trucks. But David Wright put the U.S. and Taliban in the same category as he relayed claims the U.S. bombs are killing "innocents" while "UN officials today accused the Taliban of attacking innocents as well."
3) CBS's Bob Schieffer assigned an ulterior motive to the "small group of Republicans" opposed to federalizing baggage screeners. "Their underlying fear," Schieffer suggested Wednesday night, is that if they "become federal employees they'll probably join unions and unions often support Democrats."
4) Dan Rather concluded Wednesday's CBS Evening News with a message about perseverance. "With America's fighting men and women in peril far from home tonight we know," he said as his voiced began to break up with emotion, "we must steel ourselves for many more long months."
6) Brit Hume suggested that the networks would be more skeptical about a White House video than the one from Osama bin Laden. Recalling how all the networks on Sunday immediately ran the raw bin Laden video, Hume quipped that if the White House put out a video of unknown content, "we'd be all annoyed about it, we'd be all 'they're trying to put one over on us.'"
7) Helen Thomas remains infatuated with Bill Clinton. Introducing him Tuesday night, she credited him with warning the nation about terrorism, claimed he had "brought unprecedented prosperity to our nation," maintained that he "personified" the "human spirit" and given us "hope."
8) Cokie Roberts gets around the ABC News ban on flag pins by wearing an eagle, she pointed out to David Letterman. She also joked about how a terrorist may have targeted the "American Media" building because "the guy thought he had hit the jackpot. Everybody's right there, the whole American media."
Hume's "kumbayah" video. If you caught the end of FNC's
Special Report with Brit Hume on either Tuesday or Wednesday night, you
saw an Internet mini-movie about Osama bin Laden with a surprise, yet
satisfying, ending. Hume played an encore of it on Wednesday night because
of how many requests he received after his Tuesday showing. If you
haven't seen it, it is worth viewing. It's called
"Diplomacy" and is posted on a video games site, but I don't
know who created it since the only credit for it is assigned to an AOL
e-mail address for a guy in the Boston area. To play the just under a
minute-long animation movie, go to this direct address: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view.php?id=33641 
The Pentagon isn't divulging information fast enough or in great enough detail to satisfy ABC's Peter Jennings, who on Wednesday night displayed his anxiousness.
He opened the October 10 World News Tonight by
pointing out how there was no Department of Defense briefing earlier in
the day. After John McWethy at the Pentagon finished a report on military
activity in Afghanistan, Jennings returned to the lack of a briefing:
A night after ABC's World News Tonight dedicated a whole story to how U.S. food drops are just "propaganda" as Peter Jennings asked, "Are the U.S. food drops on Afghanistan making matters worse?" and answered, "Some relief agencies say yes," ABC noted how a UN official said the Taliban has "confiscated" truckloads of food aid.
But, reporter David Wright only offered the acknowledgment after highlighting how U.S. bombs hit "innocents" as he drew parallels between the U.S. and Taliban by asserting the Taliban were accused "of attacking innocents as well."
From Northern Afghanistan, Wright relayed how "eight miles east of Kabul a family's home was hit. The target may have been an abandoned fort nearby. 'We were about to get up for morning prayers when the bomb hit our house,' says the owner, whose wife and two children were injured."
Wright explained how many were fleeing into Pakistan before blaming the U.S. for bombing civilians: "Many who are leaving say it would be one thing if the Americans were only bombing the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, but, they say, the killing of innocents is not okay. UN officials today accused the Taliban of attacking innocents as well. The UN says Afghan workers in three cities have been beaten by Taliban authorities and that several truckloads of aid have been confiscated."
NBC Nightly News provided a clearer take on
the UN charge as reporter Dana Lewis noted that UN food relief officials
"say it is not bombs but the Taliban that is endangering their
Maybe ABC News could look into that instead of trying to discredit the U.S. food relief effort. For more on ABC's Tuesday night story, in which Dan Harris asserted, "some say the U.S. is actually doing more harm than good. The bombing raids have some truck drivers too scared to carry food into the country," go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011010.asp#1 
Wednesday's Nightline did offer a bit more
of a balanced presentation as John Cochran, at an Air Force base, relayed:
"The crew members here say they cannot understand why anyone would be
critical of their attempts to save lives." But complaints about the
effort were behind the story, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson noticed, as Ted
Koppel set up the segment: "Three leading aid organizations
criticized U.S. air drops of food into Afghanistan today. They complained
it was dangerous to confuse military and humanitarian flights. They
maintain the only way to get volumes of food to the refugees was by the
very trucks whose movements have been halted by the bombing. ABC's John
Cochran has been watching the preparations for the food drops in
Koppel then interviewed Ken Bacon, the former
Wall Street Journal reporter who was the Pentagon spokesman during the
Clinton years and is now President of Refugees International. Koppel
proposed: "Give us a sense of the scope of what is needed, and how
and why it is that what is currently being delivered by air is more
symbolic than real." But, Koppel also pressed him to concede:
"Bottom line here, it's not enough, it's not nearly enough -- as you
say, a drop in the bucket -- but if you have to weigh the elements --
positive, negative -- is it better that the military does this or would it
have been better if they left it alone?"
Only conservative Republicans have an ulterior motive? CBS's Bob Schieffer on Wednesday night lamented how the airport security bill is stuck because "a small group of Republicans" oppose making security checkpoint workers federal employees. He undercut their credibility by claiming "their underlying fear" is that "if those baggage screeners become federal employees they'll probably join unions and unions often support Democrats."
Referring to federalizing the baggage screening, on the October 10 CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer bemoaned: "By most counts majorities in both the House and Senate want to do it, but a small group of Republicans who are worried about enlarging the size of the federal government, has tied up the legislation to strengthen airport security. It's one of the strangest tie-ups ever and the bi-partisan group pushing the legislation has been left exasperated."
Following clips of Senators McCain, Hutchison and Dorgan, Schieffer concluded: "Those pushing this legislation say that is the only way to really make the airports safe, but the Republicans opposing this say they're just philosophically opposed to creating a larger federal bureaucracy. They don't state their underlying fear that if those baggage screeners become federal employees they'll probably join unions and unions often support Democrats."
Of course, many liberal Democrats probably support the plan for just that reason.
Dan Rather concluded Wednesday's hour-long CBS Evening News with another patriotic message about perseverance. "It has been only a month since so much has changed," he observed, "but it has been the longest month." He added that "with America's fighting men and women in peril far from home tonight we know," he said as his voiced began to break up, "we must steel ourselves for many more long months."
Rather ended the Monday CBS Evening News with a patriotic message about accepting the deaths of U.S. servicemen in "a war forced upon us." As for fears of another terrorist attack, he maintained: "This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." For the full quote, go to: http://www.mrc.org/cyberalerts/2001/cyb20011009.asp#2 
The final story on Wednesday's CBS Evening
News looked at how the people in Middletown, New Jersey are coping with
the loss of their neighbors. Rather followed the taped piece with these
words of encouragement:
has even led Geraldo Rivera to find a Republican to admire. MRC analyst
Geoffrey Dickens noticed that on Tuesday night's Rivera Live on CNBC,
after playing a soundbite of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Rivera
Networks more skeptical about the Bush White House than the terrorist Osama bid Laden?
On Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC, during a roundtable discussion about the White House request that the networks not automatically run al-Qaeda video releases, panelist Fred Barnes prompted Hume to let viewers in on an observation Hume made earlier off air in reference to how all the networks on Sunday immediately ran, without any hesitation, the raw bin Laden video.
Barnes recalled: "You made a point to me
that if, what if a tape came in from the White House, and it was the
President and you didn't know where and you didn't know exactly what
he was going to say, would you just rush that on the air?"
Helen Thomas remains infatuated with former President Clinton. Introducing him Tuesday night at a Kennedy Center event in Washington, DC, the former UPI White House reporter claimed that "throughout his eight years in office" he had warned of terrorism and had "brought unprecedented prosperity to our nation" which President Bush can use during this crisis. She also maintained that he "personified" the "human spirit," giving us "hope." She concluded: "We miss him."
Thomas, now a columnist for the Hearst Newspapers, introduced Clinton at an October 9 lecture sponsored by the Greater Washington Society of Association Executives and shown live Tuesday night on C-SPAN2. MRC analyst Patrick Gregory took down her gushing comments about Clinton:
-- "Throughout his eight years in office, President Clinton warned us that the next great menace was international terrorism."
-- "He also brought unprecedented prosperity to our nation, and because of that President Clinton [she meant Bush] can use the surplus Mr. Clinton left behind to pay for many of the nation's needs in this time of crisis."
-- "This lecture series is about the human spirit. To me and millions of others, President Clinton has always personified that. He is the man from Hope, and that is what he has given us, hope. We miss him. Thank you, Mr. President."
Cokie Roberts gets around the ABC News ban on flag pins by wearing an eagle, she pointed out to David Letterman on Wednesday's Late Show on CBS. She also joked about how a terrorist may have targeted the "American Media" building because "the guy thought he had hit the jackpot. Everybody's right there, the whole American media."
Asked by Letterman about ABC's ban on flag pins being based on the argument doing so would inhibit objectivity, she defended the policy, but showed how she gets around it: "Since there is a debate about it ABC has decided that we shouldn't be wearing flags, so I wear an eagle."
Indeed, she was wearing and eagle-shaped ornament on her lapel. She suggested that for journalists, "the patriotic thing to do is ask questions."
Referring to the Anthrax cases at the building in Florida which houses the company which publishes The Star and National Enquirer, American Media, Roberts joked: "When I saw the first case, I was just watching it on TV and saw the building and the building has this big sign on it that says, 'American Media.' So I thought, well of course. The guy thought he had hit the jackpot. Everybody's right there, the whole American media."
I'll let that joke stand on its own. -- Brent Baker