2. George W. the "Dumbest" President? Plausible to Andy Rooney
3. CNBC Notes Difference in Media Interest in Moran vs. Lott
4. Boston Globe Editor Defends Reporting as Helpful to
>>> "2003 Dishonor Awards: Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters." CyberAlert subscribers can get tickets for $150, $25 off the regular price, for the Thursday, March 27 event in Washington, DC. For all the info and how to buy tickets:
The summit in the Azores, Peter Jennings sniffed on Sunday's World News Tonight, was just "a summit of the convinced, some people said, when the time might have been used to work on those who are not convinced that war is the way to go."
Taking over the anchoring role on the big news weekend night, Jennings advanced his usual anti-war agenda. He pressed a retired Lt. General to agree that "the U.S. would be somewhat readier if we waited a little longer," highlighted a small anti-war protest in Chicago as he insisted there is an anti-war rally "somewhere every day now" and relayed how "several speakers said the war would cost billions of dollars the country needs for schools and for health care."
From Baghdad, Dan Harris found Iraqi cooperation: "Tough talk was, as usual, combined with continued cooperation with the weapons inspectors. The Iraqis destroyed two more banned missiles today."
Finally, reporter Barbara Pinto traveled to a small Indiana town where, surprise, surprise, she discovered that "many here are not convinced the man they helped elect President is making the right choice when it comes to war."
Earlier in the day, ABC was the only broadcast network to air the entire 1:30pm EST press conference from the Lajes Air Base on Terceira Island, Azores. (CBS's Dan Rather did a few short highlight special reports during college basketball games and, from what I could tell, NBC never broke away from Arena Foootball.)
When it ended, Jennings was a bit befuddled, conceding: "I may appear as thick as a post here, but I'm going to ask my colleagues to explain what is going to happen tomorrow."
Now the details about the March 16 World News Tonight/Sunday.
Wearing an unusually colorful sporty gray speckled coat, Jennings intoned following an opening story by Terry Moran: "There was, it's been said many times in the last 24 hours, some confusion about this summit meeting in the Azores, a summit of the convinced, some people said, when the time might have been used to work on those who are not convinced that war is the way to go, including the French. One thing is very clear, the Bush administration has not been able to convince the French President, who says he will veto any UN resolution which actually authorizes war."
John McWethy looked at how Bush officials on the Sunday shows were "bashing" the French "at every opportunity" and then Dean Reynolds related the reaction of Hans Blix before Jennings went to Dan Harris in Baghdad. Harris conveyed how Iraq's Foreign Minister "said the government here has been preparing its people for war for more than a year and that tens of thousands of Iraqis have been trained as martyrs to fight the Americans. This tough talk was, as usual, combined with continued cooperation with the weapons inspectors. The Iraqis destroyed two more banned missiles today. They also handed the inspectors photos and videos of mobile laboratories, as well as documents on the destruction of ingredients for mustard gas."
Next, Jennings conducted a quick back-and-forth with Retired Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold. Jennings wanted to know: "From a purely military point of view, put politics aside for a second, what are the consequences of waiting just a little longer before the war begins?"
Now on a roll, over video of a small protest, Jennings announced: "There were, as there are somewhere every day now, some demonstrations against the war. In Chicago, among other places, several thousand people gathered in Daley Plaza, religious, labor and community leaders among them. Several speakers said the war would cost billions of dollars the country needs for schools and for health care."
Best sign ABC's video showed: "Forget Freedom Fries. We need Our Allies."
But Jennings wasn't done yet with his effort to demonstrate public discontent with President Bush's Iraq policy. Jennings proceeded to air a piece by reporter Barbara Pinto who went to "small town Indiana" to learn how the 1700 residents of Bourbon view the upcoming war. She ran soundbites from residents fearing a backlash, high schoolers who fear for the safety of graduates who went into the military and noted how "one-fifth" of the police force is now in the Persian Gulf. That "one-fifth" apparently is literally one out of five officers. Pinto pointed out how the town had agreed to cover the officer's salary before she let a mother with a son in the army express her concern about her son getting attacked with chemical weapons.
After all of that, Pinto finally arrived at the political assessments and insisted that those in the Republican community don't like Bush's approach: "Residents here describe Bourbon as the kind of town where even Democrats vote Republican, but many here are not convinced the man they helped elect President is making the right choice when it comes to war."
For a rundown for the anti-war agenda of Jennings, as documented in past CyberAlerts, see a page put together by the MRC's Tim Jones:
60 Minutes commentator Andy Rooney admitted on Sunday night that he found perfectly plausible the Internet claim that, based on his IQ, George W. Bush was the "dumbest" President in the past 60 years. "It sounded possible and I foolishly tried to find the Levenstein Institute," Rooney conceded in noting how the charge was a "hoax."
Rooney devoted his March 16 commentary to how Americans hate any President for whom they did not vote. Rooney recalled how he once knew a woman in the 1950s who, when she got change, would toss out her car window any dimes because they featured the likeness of FDR.
Rooney continued: "I have friends now who own a lot of stock, but they dislike George W. Bush so much that they hope the stock market keeps going down, even though they're losing money, just so he won't get re-elected. There was a story on the Internet a while back listing the IQs of the last twelve U.S. Presidents. The study was supposedly done by a think tank called the Levenstein Institute."
Over a shot of a computer screen showing the list with Clinton Carter, and Kennedy at the top; Reagan, 41 and 43 at the bottom, Rooney explained: "Bill Clinton was at the top of the list with an IQ of 182. Jimmy Carter was second . Nixon was the highest ranked Republican at fourth. It went through the last twelve Presidents. George Bush was listed at number eleven  and George W. Bush  was listed twelfth, with the lowest IQ, the dumbest President. It sounded possible and I foolishly tried to find the Levenstein Institute. Well, of course there is no such thing. It was a hoax by someone who hates Presidents Bush..."
Like one of Rooney's Bush-hating friends?
CBS on Friday night picked up on Democratic Congressman Jim Moran's blaming of Jews for driving the new war on Iraq, leaving ABC as the only network evening newscast to yet touch the controversy. And on CNBC Friday night, Joe Johns noted the similarity with the Trent Lott case but differing media reaction: "Moran's comments were the most public recent blunder by a member of Congress since Senator Trent Lott lost his leadership position for racially insensitive remarks in December. But Moran's mistake has so far failed to generate as much attention as Lott's did."
Last Wednesday night, NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw offered the first broadcast network evening show mention of liberal Democratic Congressman Moran's claim that "if it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war we would not be doing this." See:
On Friday night, March 14, CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer observed: "Virginia Congressman Jim Moran was forced out today as the Democratic Party whip over a recent remark about Jews and a possible war against Iraq. Moran said last week the U.S. wouldn't be planning war without, quote, 'the strong support of the Jewish community.' Moran has apologized for the remark, which he called 'insensitive.'"
Actually, he was not "the Democratic Party whip" but one of a number of regional whips for House Democrats.
On CNBC's The News with Brian Williams, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, fill-in anchor Forrest Sawyer plugged an upcoming story: "Up next, the Democratic Congressman accused of slandering American Jews over the Iraq crisis now fighting for his political life. That story is next."
Sawyer introduced the March 14 story: "Washington news, another politician is under fire for controversial comments. Virginia Congressman Jim Moran's comments about the role of American Jews in a possible war with Iraq has cost him his position of regional whip within the Democratic Party. More on how all this mess happened tonight from NBC's Joe Johns."
Johns began: "Democratic Congressman Jim Moran of Virginia, well-known on Capitol Hill as a fighter, spent the week fending off political body blows for impromptu remarks made at an anti-war forum at which he accused the Jewish community of encouraging war. 'If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this. The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should.' Shortly after the statements appeared in print, Moran began backtracking."
Kudos to CNBC for taking this story seriously. While the media's lack of interest in this gaffe versus Lott's is noteworthy, and though Moran should be getting more attention, he is far less important than someone in the position of Senate Majority Leader.
Hey Saddam, be nice to us journalists since we are helping you spread your propaganda! Reacting to Iraq's expulsion of a Boston Globe reporter for using a satellite phone in his hotel room to file a story, the paper's Foreign Editor, Jim Smith, told the AP: "It was a story that should have been regarded as useful for Iraq in telling its story and responding to allegations that it had a very impressive and dangerous drone."
In his story, Globe reporter David Filipov contended Iraq's drones were flimsy and not very sturdy: "Duct tape reinforced by aluminum foil held together the black and white drone's balsa wood wings."
An excerpt from the unbylined March 14 AP dispatch:
A Boston Globe reporter was expelled from Iraq after using a satellite phone from his hotel room to file a story, the newspaper said.
David Filipov, 40, the newspaper's Moscow bureau chief, arrived in Jordan on Friday after being ordered out of Iraq the day before.
Jim Smith, the Globe's foreign editor, said Filipov was expelled by Iraqi authorities after he used a satellite phone from his room to send a story that described an Iraqi drone as being held together by duct tape and bearing the words: "God is Great."
"It was a story that should have been regarded as useful for Iraq in telling its story and responding to allegations that it had a very impressive and dangerous drone," Smith said.
Reporters are told they must use and keep their satellite phones at the press center in Baghdad....
END of Excerpt
For the AP story in full:
An excerpt from Filipov's story in the March 13 Boston Globe headlined, "Iraqis display drone and some surprise."
BAGHDAD - Seeking to dispute US claims that the discovery of an Iraqi drone constituted proof that Baghdad has been hiding secret weapons programs, Iraqi officials yesterday showed reporters a prototype of the unmanned aircraft.
Duct tape reinforced by aluminum foil held together the black and white drone's balsa wood wings. The wooden propellers and tiny engines were fastened to a well-worn fuselage, fashioned from the fuel tank of a larger aircraft. The words ''God is Great'' were hand painted in red ink on both sides.
Perched on a sawhorse at a military research base 20 miles north of Baghdad, the drone looked more like a large school science project than a vehicle capable of delivering chemical and biological weapons. Iraqi officials denied the airplane had any strategic use.
"We were astonished to hear this plane was discovered by the inspectors," Brigadier General Ibrahim Hussein told reporters at the site. He said the aircraft was a prototype drone for aerial reconnaissance, photography, and communications jamming.
He said Iraq had declared the drone, which was still in the development stage, to UN weapons inspectors. In a test flight, Hussein said, the drone flew only 2 miles.
The United States, struggling to pull together enough votes to get a UN resolution approved that would force Iraq to disarm or face war, seized on the discovery of the unmanned Iraqi drone to reinforce its contention that Baghdad has secret weapons programs....
END of Excerpt
For the entirety of the Globe story:
> Most PBS station tonight will air a special edition of Now with Bill Moyers featuring an Iraqi dissident who, this being PBS and Moyers, is critical of the Bush administration's policy. -- Brent Baker