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Peter Jennings: A Review of the ABC Anchor's Iraq Coverage

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ABCs Obsessed with Blaming U.S. for Museum Looting
Peter Jennings and ABC News are still upset about the looting of the Baghdad Museum. The U.S. did not act in accordance with international law to prevent it, Jennings claimed. World News Tonight has three stories on the museum, Nightline one and Good Morning America another.
(CyberAlert, April 21)

Peters Sympathy for Hollywood Hypocrites
ABC painted a scary picture of Hollywood actors right to express themselves under attack, but left out any mention of Hollywood actors using boycotts and blacklists of their own.
(Media Reality Check, April 17)

ABCs New McCarthyism
ABC News has ignored the vicious anti-war rants of left-wing celebrities. But when actor Tim Robbins complained about being "punished" for his unpopular views, Peter Jennings and company dedicated an entire segment to it and even compared a few disinvites to McCarthy-era blacklists.
(CyberAlert, April 17)

Jennings Worried About Efforts to Silence Celebrities
Seriously. He closed his April 15 show fretting over the aggressive efforts aimed at celebrities who have spoken out against the war. Meanwhile, Tim Robbins, an anti-war celebrity, appeared on NBCs Today and spoke at the National Press Club on back-to-back days.
(CyberAlert, April 16)

Jennings Showcases African Anti-War Protesters
A pro-troops rally of 15,000 in New York City doesnt get Peter Jennings attention but an anti-war picture from Africa that read KILL Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and Powell, NOT INNOCENT IRAQI CIVILIANS did.
(CyberAlert, April 12)

Jennings Refuses to Cover NYC Pro-Troops Rally
No anti-war protest has been too small for Jennings and ABC to cover but a pro-troops rally that drew 15,000 in New York City didnt get a mention. NBC and CBS, as well as the three cable networks, did short pieces on the event.
(CyberAlert, April 11)

Jennings Has Tough Time with Liberators
Despite the joyous scenes on the streets of Baghdad, ABCs Peter Jennings just couldnt bring himself to call American forces liberator unless it was couched in terms such as many say or others think.
(CyberAlert, April 10)

Jennings: Was Saddam Sensitive?
ABCs Peter Jennings wondered if the murdering tyrant ever understood what people thought about him?
(CyberAlert, April 10)

Jennings: Hussein Sculptor Out of Work
Seriously. Hussein is, or was, a vain man, Peter Jennings mused, but he had sculptures made of himself in every conceivable costume and in some hes fat and in others hes lean. There was one sculptor busy making a new one of Hussein but the war put an end to that.
(CyberAlert, April 10)

Jennings Repeats Himself
ABC anchor Peter Jennings used an al-Jazeera report about an American bombing that killed 18 civilians on two successive nights.
(CyberAlert, April 5)

Jennings Still Predicting Long War
When ABCs John McWethy reported it could be a long war Jennings answered that many people had anticipated just that. Meanwhile on CBS, Pentagon reporter David Martin was reporting that most of Saddams divisions had been destroyed.
(CyberAlert, April 5)

Engel-Jennings Tag Team Strikes Again
ABCs Richard Engel reported from Baghdad that a woman became terrified by bombing and went into labor. Anchor Peter Jennings, meanwhile, recited a handful of uncorroborated numbers to illustrate the pain the coalition has inflicted.
(CyberAlert, April 4)

Jennings Lauds Coalition Success
What! Even ABCs Peter Jennings was proclaiming coalition success and mocking Iraqi claims of victory after the 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Marine Division chewed up Republican Guard units outside Baghdad.
(CyberAlert, April 3)

Pessimistic Peter
ABC News anchor Peter Jennings continues to emphasize the negative, relaying a report that one American unit had moved into an area where Iraqis no longer waved at passing troops. A few minutes later, however, ABC's Pentagon correspondent John McWethy contradicted Jennings' negativity, reporting that Iraqi civilians were starting to help coalition forces find weapons and Hussein loyalists.
(CyberAlert, April 2)

Jennings and Stahl Raise Vietnam Quagmire
Jennings claimed one Marine told an ABC reporter that Iraq sometimes feels like Vietnam. Over on CBS, Lesley Stahl asked former Navy Secretary James Webb if he was getting a feeling of déjà vu.
(CyberAlert, March 27)

War of Contrasts
ABC and CBS provided contrasting views of the war in three different stories. As expected, Peter Jennings and ABC continued with their negative spin, relaying Iraqi propaganda and claims that the war has hurt Iraqi civilians.
(CyberAlert, March 26)

Happy to See Us or Looking For Food?
Couldn't it be both? That thought apparently never occurred to ABC's Bob Woodruff, who wondered if waving Iraqis were friendly or just looking for food. Elsewhere, correspondent John Donvan focused on a humanitarian disaster in Basra.
(CyberAlert, March 25)

Network Openings Provide Insights
Jennings stressed hesitation and doubt, Rather delivered an upbeat assessment of the Iraq situation and Tom Brokaw emphasized the negative, describing a wrong turn that led to the capture of some soldiers as one of the high profile Allied blunders.
(CyberAlert, March 25)

Celebrating Iraqis A Ruse?
Iraqis tore down Saddam Hussein's picture and celebrated when coalition forces came through the town of Safwan but ABC News was skeptical. Peter Jennings suggested the actions were done "for the cameras." Correspondent John Donvan went there unescorted and said he "didn't see anything like that."
(CyberAlert, March 23)

Jennings Highlights Foreign Journalists Questions About "Big Lie"
Peter Jennings highlighted only one question from Gen. Tommy Franks press conference on Sunday. The question asked if the weapons of mass destruction claim was "a big lie."
(CyberAlert, March 22)

Jennings versus Brokaw
Peter Jennings emphasis on dissent was clearly illustrated when his opening statements were compared to those of NBC's Tom Brokaw.
(CyberAlert, March 23)

Jennings: Administration Ignores Protesters
ABC's Peter Jennings suggested that to journalist David Gergen that the administration has a "tendency" to "pretend" anti-war protests aren't happening. Gergen agreed and worried that the U.S. would appear to be "a bully."
(CyberAlert, March 22)

A Little Out of Context
That was ABC's Peter Jennings comment about video of an injured Iraqi child, although the remark could apply to much of his network's coverage. Jennings also admitted that "we cannot tell you what these pictures represent." Then why did ABC show them?
(CyberAlert, March 21)

Jennings: U.S. Will Be Welcomed, But We Kept Saddam in Power
Jennings interviewed an anti-American former assistant UN Secretary General and made a pro-American point. Sort of. Iraqis will welcome Americans, Jennings said, because they want to get out from under the yoke of Saddam Hussein, in part because the U.S. supported him staying in power for a long time and kept sanctions.
(CyberAlert, March 21)

Moran Claims U.S. Has Left the United Nations
ABC White House reporter Terry Moran went so far that Peter Jennings, of all people, had to rein him in. When Moran suggested that the U.S. had left the United Nations, Jennings had to correct him.
(CyberAlert, March 21)

ABC Highlights Protesters
ABC and Jennings displayed a special zeal for the protesters cause. Reporter Chris Cuomo marveled at how New York City protesters came from two directions squeezing the police in the middle.
(CyberAlert, March 21)

WhoopsWar Catches ABC By Surprise
War was the talk of the nation but the outbreak of hostilities caught ABC News by surprise. While Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw hit the airwaves at about 9:32 p.m., ABC didn't cut into programming until 10 minutes later and correspondent Chris Wallace had to man the anchor desk for almost 20 minutes.
(CyberAlert, March 20)

Jennings Last Shots Before War
Peter Jennings said he wasnt sure Iraqis would know what coalition meant, highlighted a rise in Caesarian sections in Iraq and told the story of a suicidal man who read an anti-war letter before he jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.
(CyberAlert, March 20)

ABC Highlights Vatican Opposition
The Vatican is against the war so ABCs Peter Jennings suddenly decided it is imparting wise counsel, noting that it had issued a very strong statement today about President Bushs intention to go to war.
(CyberAlert, March 19)

Peters Peace Platoon
An MRC study of 234 stories on ABCs World News Tonight from January 1 to March 7 found that ABC News harshly criticized the Bush administration and its policies, but failed to extend that same tough critical standard to congressional Democrats, UN bureaucrats, skeptical allies like France and even to the dictatorship in Iraq.
(MRC Special Report, March 18)

Jennings: Hamas is Accused of Terrorism
Peter Jennings didnt label Hamas as a terrorist group, its just a group that the Israelis accuse of sponsoring terrorism.
(CyberAlert, March 18)

The Summit of the Convinced
ABC's World News Tonight continued its anti-war spin. Peter Jennings, reporting on the Azores summit, noted that "some people" said the time would have been better spent trying to convince skeptics. Later, correspondent Dan Harris found continued cooperation in Baghdad while reporter Barbara Pinto insisted a small Indiana town is uncertain about President Bush's Iraq policy.
(CyberAlert, March 17)

Peter Jennings: Tank Commander?
ABC's Peter Jennings donned a helmet and climbed aboard an armored vehicle to promote his interview with Gen. Tommy Franks in Qatar. During the interview, Jennings asked Franks if he wanted more time to prepare and if the U.S. would declare military targets located next to mosques and hospitals off-limits.
(CyberAlert, March 14)

ABC News Poll Finds Significant Support for Military Action
Peter Jennings reported that a new ABC News poll found 61 percent dont believe the U.S. needs the support of the U.N. to take action against Iraq. ABC News web site reported that the number jumps to 71 percent if allies participate in the action.
(CyberAlert, March 12)

Jennings Press Powell From the Left
Peter Jennings used an interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell on World News Tonight to argue that most people believe the U.N. inspections are doing a reasonably effective job.
(CyberAlert, March 10)

Jennings Expresses Disillusionment with Bush
ABCs Peter Jennings took advantage of the time after President Bushs press conference to complain that the President is not listening to UN inspectors or allies.
(CyberAlert, March 7)

Jennings: College Anti-War Crowd Well-Rounded Bunch
The college anti-war protesters on ABCs World News Tonight are well-rounded and reasonable, according to anchor Peter Jennings. The students support homeland security and think the government should be focusing on jobs, security and health care.
(CyberAlert, March 6)

Iraqis Continue to Comply With U.N.
A quiz. As Iraq brought to a mere ten the number of missiles it would dismantle out of over 100, who said the following on Tuesday, the Iraq regime's Tariq Aziz or ABC's Peter Jennings: The Iraqis continue to comply with the UN weapons inspectors.
(CyberAlert, March 5)

Worried If U.S. is Torturing Al Qaeda Mastermind
Three days after the capture of top al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of the murder of thousands of Americans, what was the chief concern of Peter Jennings? Have we tortured him?
(CyberAlert, March 5)

Upset by the Lack of Congressional Dissent
Not enough dissent on the war to satisfy ABC or NBC. Trumpeting an anti-war speech by Senator Ted Kennedy, Peter Jennings on Tuesday night rued how there has been very little opposition in the U.S. Congress to war with Iraq. Over on NBC, anchor Tom Brokaw dedicated a story to how Congress has practically gone mute on the war plans after authorizing the President to proceed in House and Senate resolutions last year. The debate on Capitol Hill has been spotty and, with just a few exceptions, it has been timid.
(CyberAlert, March 5)

Balancing Blix Statements With Iraqi Statements
ABCs Peter Jennings gave the same weight to U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix statement that Iraqs cooperation has been very limited as he did to the Iraqs agreement in principle to destroy Al-Samoud missiles.
(CyberAlert, February 28)

Jennings Hypes Virtual Protest
ABCs Peter Jennings hyped a so-called virtual protest conducted by anti-war activists. Many congressional phone lines were jammed for several hours and one Senator reported 18 times more e-mail than usual, Peter Jennings asserted in passing along an unsourced anecdote.
(CyberAlert, February 27)

Worried By Bush Saying He Would Assassinate Saddam
Peter Jennings and ABC were worried about a comment, attributed to President Bush, that the President would have Saddam assassinated if he had the chance. CBS and NBC didnt even bother to report it.
(CyberAlert, February 26)

Calls Al-Arian Arrest Controversial
Peter Jennings treated a man arrested on terrorism charges as the victim of an over-aggressive Justice Department.
(CyberAlert, February 21)

Bush Jeopardizing Relations with Oldest and Best Friends
According to ABC, its not France and Germany that are threatening old alliances; its the Bush administration. ABC White House reporter Terry Moran even claimed the Bush administration presented what amounted to an ultimatum to the U.N. Security Council.
(CyberAlert, February 20)

Jennings Trumpets Enormous Anti-War Demonstrations
ABCs Peter Jennings rued the fact that the anti-war demonstrations had done little to change President Bushs mind. The anchor did note that the marches had give opponents some sense that they have momentum.
(CyberAlert, February 19)

Touts Iraqi Concession, Claims French Reflects European Opinion
Saddam Hussein banned nuclear, chemical and biological weapons in Iraq and ABCs Peter Jennings treated it as real news. Jennings also suggested that the French government reflects the feeling of the European public who believe Mr. Bush is in too much of a hurry to go to war.
(CyberAlert, February 15)

U.S. Threatens Allied Solidarity
French recalcitrance doesnt mean a thing, according to the ABC anchor. Its Americas insistence on having its own way thats threatening to rupture NATO.
(CyberAlert, February 15)

Fleischer: Is ABC Admitting There Are Weapons of Mass Destruction?
ABC correspondent Terry Moran asked White House Press Secretary about Saddam Husseins arsenal of germs and chemicals getting to terrorists. Fleischer was surprised. Was the skeptical ABC News Division admitting Iraq had weapons of mass destruction?
(CyberAlert, February 13)

Finding Detractors Among Immigrant Iraqis
ABCs Peter Jennings was in Phoenix, highlighting the views of war opponents and Iraqis who have moved to the United States.
(CyberAlert, February 13)

Complaining About a Post-Saddam Iraq
ABC News could not find a connection between al Qaeda and Iraq but did find dissatisfaction with how the U.S. plans to do things in a post-Hussein Iraq.
(CyberAlert, February 12)

UhhNever Mind That Thing With Those Scientists
ABCs Peter Jennings was beside himself when Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz asserted that Iraq had threatened scientists who cooperated with the UN, calling it a very inflammatory charge. Three weeks later, ABC News independently verified the claim.
(CyberAlert, February 11)

Two-Thirds Back the PresidentBut Theres No Consensus
Jennings was at it again, claiming there was no consensus about war. A town meeting Jennings hosted at the Portland, Ore. ABC affiliate was proof.
(CyberAlert, February 11)

Anti-War Debate Timid in America
ABCs Peter Jennings claimed the Iraqis appear to making concessions and the U.S. thinks it has growing support for war. Jennings also promised to seek out dissent in the country.
(CyberAlert, February 10)

Americans Believe Powell, But What About Other Countries
Jennings noted that most Americans were convinced by Secretary of State Colin Powells U.N. speech, so he highlighted how people in many Arab countries that are supporting the U.S. on Iraq are upset. Many Arabs, even if they dislike Saddam Hussein, wonder about Americas long-term intentions, he said.
(CyberAlert, February 7)

Dems Impressed But Jennings Skeptical
Peter Jennings injected his personal skepticism into reports about Secretary of State Colin Powells case for war with Iraq. The anchor first used the skeptical approach on George Stephanopoulos and then tried it out on defense reporter John McWethy.
(CyberAlert, February 6)

Left Wing to CBS, Famous to Jennings
British politician Tony Benn interviewed Saddam Hussein and the three broadcast networks all showed tape of it. CBS labeled Benn a lifelong left-wing activist, NBC called him anti-war while Peter Jennings didnt bother with an ideological label and claimed he was one of Britains most famous politicians.
(CyberAlert, February 5)

Jennings Versus Reality
Despite polls indicating a substantial jump for the Presidents Iraq policy after the State of the Union, Peter Jennings claimed we found that people had not changed their minds in significant numbers.
(CyberAlert, January 30)

Jennings Stresses "More Time", Brokaw and Rather Don't
Peter Jennings led his newscast with "the inspectors want more time to do their job." Both CBS and NBC led their programs with the fact that Iraq has failed to comply with the United Nations resolution.
(CyberAlert, January 28)

U.S. Too Aggressive
Peter Jennings, on the road in Amman, Jordan, said there are a lot of people who think the Bush administration is being too aggressive about Iraq. Jennings then added that the King of Jordan thinks the Iraqi people fear Saddam Hussein more than Bush.
(CyberAlert, January 24)

Jennings Delivers Saddam Spin From Baghdad
Peter Jennings noted that artists and writers were thanking Saddam Hussein for their latest monthly stipend. Jennings also thought the dictator would be encouraged by violence against Americans in Kuwait.
(CyberAlert, January 22)

More Saddam Spin: Hes a Sound Sleeper
Jennings dutifully relayed Iraqi propaganda. Saddam Hussein claimed he goes out the second his head hits the pillow.
(CyberAlert, January 22)

World News Tonight Showcases Anti-Bush Daisy Ad
An anti-Gore Daisy ad was fretted over when it briefly ran in the 2000 campaign. An anti-Bush Daisy ad from an anti-war group, however, has caused ABC to marvel at how protesters have "gone from the streets to the information highway."
(CyberAlert, January 17)

ABC & CBS Cite Drop in Polls; Fox Says It's Holding Steady
Polls, polls and more polls. Polls show a large majority of Americans favor using military force to remove Saddam Hussein but ABC and CBS claimed their polls indicated a drop in support for Bush's Iraq policy while a Fox News poll showed support holding even.
(CyberAlert, January 17)

OK, How About Some "Other" Voices?
The January 12 World News Tonight showcased war protesters again, including a Columbia University professor who claimed "mainstream America" believes the war doesn't make sense. The story came three months after Peter Jennings promised to highlight "other voices" on the Iraq issue. That day's segment featured nine war opponents and not a single supporter of military action against Saddam Hussein.
(CyberAlert, January 15)

Jennings Says Inspections Going Well; Rather & Brokaw Say They're Not
Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw both reported that UN weapons inspectors are having problems in Iraq. Over on ABC, though, Peter Jennings said the inspections were going "quite well" and wondered why President Bush disagreed.
(CyberAlert, December 3)

Jennings: Is the Administration "Goading" Iraq?
Peter Jennings asked a question from the Bush critics' handbook, suggesting that U.S. enforcement of the no-fly zone in Iraq was little more than a taunt. The ABC anchor also claimed there were "rising anti-American sentiments in Saudi Arabia" and other Arab countries over Iraq.
(CyberAlert, November 21)

ABC Highlights Anti-Islamic Comments
Peter Jennings and ABC News showcased a poll indicating Americans felt Islam encouraged violence and was disrespectful of other religions. Correspondent Dan Harris then did a story on the anti-Muslim comments of evangelical leaders and quoted critics who said the Bush administration didn't condemn the statements because they didn't want to isolate a key constituency before the elections.
(CyberAlert, November 19)

ABC Promotes Only Anti-War Opinions
Peter Jennings promised viewers that ABC would "take 'A Closer Look' tonight at the mood in the country as the Presidents determination to wage war against Iraq becomes more defined." But Bill Redeker's story only showcased those hostile to the President's Iraq policies.
(CyberAlert, October 15)

ABCs War Against Bushs Anti-Iraq Policy
ABCs World News Tonight has been uniquely biased against President Bushs Iraq policies. An MRC study found ABC reporters were nearly four times more likely to voice doubts about the truthfulness of statements by U.S. officials than about Iraqi claims, and the newscast gave more airtime to anti-war viewpoints.
(Media Reality Check, October 3)

Fretting About Too Powerful Bush
To Peter Jennings, President Bush asking Congress to approve of using force against Iraq and saying, very forcefully, that if the UN doesnt go along the U.S. will act on its own means, smacks of bullying. On World News Tonight, Jennings rued that what we appear to have here is an administration powerful enough to have its own way.
(CyberAlert, September 20)

Bushs War Drums and Iraq Preoccupation
Just before President Bush addressed the United Nations about Iraq, ABCs Peter Jennings referred to how the sound of war drums being beaten in Washington has become unmistakable and described the administrations concern about Saddam Husseins weapons as a preoccupation, as if there were something misplaced about the worry.
(CyberAlert, September 13)

ABCs Anti-American Anchor
It already appears that the United States will go to war without support from many in the American media, those who just dont like to take sides against Middle Eastern despots preparing weapons of mass destruction. Taking a leading role is ABC, and the perpetually pompous Peter Jennings.
(Bozell's News Column, September 10)

Is ABCs Road to War? Really Anti-War?
World News Tonights in-depth reporting on the prospect of a U.S. war with Iraq has ignored the danger and duplicity of Saddam Hussein, and instead pushed the arguments of those opposed to using force.
(Media Reality Check, September 3)