2. CNN Focuses on How Brits "Appalled" by Bush Hiding U.S. War Dead
3. Koppel's Topic Thursday Night: "Is Iraq an Unwinnable War?"
4. CBSNews.com Chief Rails Against "Chickenhawks" Bush and Cheney
Network reporters complained again Thursday morning about how President Bush hadn't apologized during his Wednesday sessions with Arab TV networks and after Bush did say, during an afternoon appearance with Jordan's King Abdullah, he's "sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families," that development led the evening newscasts.
But not all were satisfied. Dan Rather teased the May 6 CBS Evening News: "Tonight, new photographic evidence of Iraqi prisoner abuse. President Bush finally apologizes, but will he fire Defense Secretary Rumsfeld?"
Just as on Wednesday night, on Thursday night ABC, CBS and NBC all devoted four to five stories each to the prisoner abuse and calls for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to resign, but only NBC's Chip Reid noted "a backlash from many conservative Republicans" as he highlighted how "conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh is now leading the charge in accusing the media and Democrats of hyping the Iraqi abuse story."
"APOLOGY" appeared over a shot of Bush in Rose garden as Peter Jennings teased: "On World News Tonight, President Bush says he is sorry that Iraqi prisoners were abused and humiliated...."
Jennings opened the broadcast: "Good evening. We begin tonight with an apology, from President Bush today, for the 'abuse' and the 'humiliation' -- those were the President's words -- that Iraqi prisoners suffered at the hands of U.S. soldiers. A great many people have been waiting, and some have certainly been hoping, that Mr. Bush would say just that."
From the White House, Terry Moran maintained that Bush's interviews with Arab TV were "not well received, so today he tried again." Noting how a "chorus of Democrats said Rumsfeld must go," Moran contended, "The big question: What did Rumsfeld know and when did he know it?"
Following Moran, Jennings gave credibility to a ridiculous publicity stunt: "This story resonates in so many ways. Just to emphasize how worked up the Democrats are on Capitol Hill, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York has filed articles of impeachment against the Secretary of Defense for his conduct of the war in Iraq and his handling of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib."
Next, Martha Raddatz showed the new picture given to the Washington Post and how charges are going to be filed against the soldiers in them, followed by Jonathan Karl on how the International Committee of the Red Cross had warned of problems at the Iraqi prison and how Human Rights Watch has cited abuses in Afghanistan too. Finally, Kate Snow profiled the accused soldiers.
On the CBS Evening News, after the tease from Dan Rather quoted above, David Martin covered the new photos, questions if DOD heeded warnings from the International Committee of the Red Cross and whether Rumsfeld's policies enabled the abuse since Iraqi prisoners were not accorded POW status.
John Roberts, at the White House, explained how Bush's apology was "meant to mop up a foreign policy disaster." Roberts explained: "The President's appearances yesterday on Arab TV, in which he did not apologize, were a glaring miscalculation that only annoyed the Arab street. By today even the First Lady was with the program."
Roberts moved on to Democrats in Congress attacking Rumsfeld and how one Congressman "even filed article of impeachment against him."
Next, Thalia Assuras profiled the accused soldiers, starting with some soundbites from the mother of PFC Lindie England, who claimed her daughter was just following orders. Assuras noted that Lindie is pregnant, back in the U.S. and involved with another accused soldier.
Tom Brokaw teased the NBC Nightly News: "Damage control: The President apologizes for prisoner abuse in Iraq and says Defense Secretary Rumsfeld stays."
Brokaw declared that "this is a full-blown crisis for the White House," before Nora O'Donnell ran through Bush saying "I'm sorry," how he's displeased with Rumsfeld, and how John Kerry demanded that Rumsfeld must go ("As President, I won't be the last to know what's going on in my command.")
From the Pentagon, Jim Miklaszewski showed the new pictures and, over a shot of "Resign, Rumsfeld" on the cover of The Economist magazine, asserted: "Pressure is building on Secretary Rumsfeld to step down. Tomorrow's edition of the highly-respected international news weekly, The Economist, calls on Rumsfeld to resign."
Chip Reid next highlighted Democratic attacks on Rumsfeld, running soundbites from Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Tom Harkin, and insisting that "even some Republicans are frustrated," naturally citing John McCain. Reid suggested Rumsfeld would get "brutal" questioning Friday from Senators in both parties.
Reid then went where no other broadcast network reporter has gone: "Now, a backlash from many conservative Republicans. Today, during debate in the House on a resolution to condemn the Iraqi abuse, some Republicans also condemned the Democrats, accusing them of using the issue to score political points against the Bush administration."
Finally, Andrea Mitchell took up how special operations forces may also have abused prisoners in Iraq and how an Afghan died in CIA custody.
Thursday morning on ABC's Good Morning America, Claire Shipman, in studio with Charles Gibson, had insisted: "Eyebrows are being raised at the fact he never actually apologized." Shipman did, however, add that White House officials said "this was on purpose. They don't feel it's appropriate for the President himself to actually apologize."
Over on CBS's The Early Show, Bill Plante used the same language as he had the night before: "In the interviews, the President deplored what happened but he didn't make any outright apology."
A few minutes later, MRC analyst Brian Boyd noticed, Rene Syler pressed Senator John McCain: "I want to talk to you about the actions of the president yesterday. He appeared on Arab television. He said the images were abhorrent but he did not apologize. He did not come out and say he was sorry, although, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice did along with two top generals. Should the president have actually uttered the words 'I'm sorry'?"
Several hours later, Syler got her wish.
On NBC's Today, Dawna Friesen, the MRC's Geoff Dickens observed, emphasized how in the Arab TV interviews Bush had offered "no apology for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners, but assurances the soldiers involved don't reflect America's values."
She countered: "In Baghdad there was cynicism. 'The soldiers do represent the Americans,' this man says, 'so I think we should blame all of America's military. I hope they leave the country soon.' This Iraqi journalist says people are growing increasingly impatient."
Earlier coverage. The May 6 CyberAlert recounted: The All the networks on Wednesday night stressed how, in his interviews with two Arab-language TV networks, President Bush did not apologize for the treatment of some Iraqi prisoners. "But while the President denounced the abuse of Iraqi prisoners," ABC's Terry Moran noted, "he pointedly did not apologize for it." CBS's Bill Plante emphasized how "President Bush deplored the abuses, but stopped short of an outright apology." On CNN's NewsNight, John King pointed out how "the President did not use the words 'I'm sorry' or apologize in any way." Three times in under two minutes NBC Nightly News viewers heard about the lack of an apology. CBS's Plante claimed the situation "threatens to spin out of control" as he ran an expert soundbite about how the war in Iraq is now lost, but NBC's David Gregory directed viewers to an expert who saw Arab hypocrisy since Arabs "have been silent about torture throughout Arab prisons." See: www.mediaresearch.org
CNN's Walter Rodgers filed a story from London about how the British are "appalled" at how the U.S. does not allow television coverage of returning war dead and that President Bush has yet to attend a funeral of anyone killed in Iraq. CNN's producers liked the story so much, they ran it Thursday on both Wolf Blitzer Reports at 5pm EDT and again on NewsNight at 10pm, repeated at 1am EDT.
"When the British war dead come home from Iraq now, they are not hidden," Rodgers condescendingly intoned as he asserted that "to many British, it seems bizarre that the Pentagon, citing concern for family privacy, does not allow pictures of its honored dead returning." Rodgers explained how "to the British, the fact President George W. Bush has yet to attend the funeral of a single American soldier killed in Iraq seems more than strange." (But Rodgers never specified whether Tony Blair has attended any individual funerals.)
Rodgers reported that "under Bush administration restrictions for covering the return of the American war dead, pictures like these broadcast by Britain's ITN," of flag-draped caskets coming off an airplane, "could not be gathered in the United States." In fact, the rule barring news coverage of the return of bodies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware went into effect in 1991 and was maintained throughout the Clinton years.
Blitzer ended his May 6 show, the MRC's Ken Shepherd noticed, with the Rodgers story. He introduced it: "In this country, the Pentagon usually doesn't allow pictures of coffins for American troops who have died in Iraq. It says it's the policy of the U.S. government to protect families' privacy. But across the Atlantic, there's a very different attitude about honoring fallen service members."
On screen during the first half of the Rodgers piece:
Mid-way, that changed to:
Later, NewsNight anchor Aaron Brown plugged the Rodgers story: "Ahead on NewsNight, they fight side by side. They come home worlds apart. Two views of fallen soldiers, Americans and British."
Brown set up the Rodgers story, which he made his program's "Segment Seven" piece: "It is has been said the British and American experience in Iraq is a study in differences, different approaches to governing and policing, to fighting and to dying. From theater to home, the American way of death is intensely private and officially secretive, some would argue needlessly so. The British way is otherwise."
Throughout the Rodgers story on NewsNight, beneath "Segment Seven" on screen, viewers saw: "Death and Dignity."
Over video of the Queen at a wreath-laying ceremony with bells tolling, Rodgers began his piece by painting the British as superior because their top officials publicly honor their war dead every November 11. But while "Veteran's Day" in the U.S. may not be as prominent as Britain's "Armistice Day," U.S. Presidents, including the current one, always attend very high-profile wreath-laying ceremonies on Memorial Day in May to honor the war dead.
Nonetheless, Rodgers intoned: "This is how the British honor their war dead. At the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the exact moment of the armistice in 1918 ending the great war. Even 84 years later, the dead are not forgotten. Led by the Queen, all Britain's war dead are honored with dignity and beauty."
Over video of flag-draped coffins being carried off a plane, Rodgers continued: "When the British war dead come home from Iraq now, they are not hidden. Grieving is public. Important dignitaries and families gather for the return of those killed. TV cameras are kept at a discrete distance, but the reality of war is not denied. To many British, it seems bizarre that the Pentagon, citing concern for family privacy, does not allow pictures of its honored dead returning."
For a photo of a much younger-looking Wheatcroft, who appears to be a freelancer without a particular political agenda, see a bio of him on The Atlantic magazine's Web site: www.theatlantic.com
For a picture and bio for Rodgers, a veteran of ABC News: www.cnn.com
Last week Ted Koppel insisted his 35-minute-long Friday night Nightline reading of the names of all the U.S. servicemen killed in Iraq, "The Fallen," had no political agenda and that he is not against the war, but here's how he described the content of Thursday's Nightline: "Tonight, Hanging in the Balance: Is Iraq an unwinnable war?" He devoted his half hour to a genial interview of retired General William Odom, a former chief of the National Security Agency who, Koppel relayed, now says "it's time to get out" of Iraq. But Odom opposed the war from the start, so why is his opposition to it suddenly newsworthy?
ABCNews.com on Thursday plugged the upcoming Nightline: "A distinguished retired Army general says it's time to get out of Iraq."
Meanwhile, Fox News Sunday moderator Chris Wallace, a former fill-in host for Nightline, conducting interviews to promote his own Sunday tribute to what soldiers in Iraq have accomplished, charged that "The Fallen" Nightline "came out" as a political statement.
After reading the names and showing the pictures of the 721 men and woman killed in Iraq, but not Afghanistan, Koppel insisted on the April 30 Nightline: "The reading tonight of those 721 names was neither intended to provoke opposition to the war, nor was it meant as an endorsement. Some of you doubt that. You are convinced that I am opposed to the war. I'm not." For a complete rundown on the April 30 "The Fallen" Nightline: www.mediaresearch.org
Six days later, Koppel opened the May 6 Nightline, over video of bomb-damaged trucks and Humvees and a wounded U.S. soldier: "No one ever said it would be easy, but few predicted it would be like this. Today, the most hawkish Democrat on the Hill said this:"
Koppel acknowledged at the start of the interview, which consumed the entire program: "Retired General William Odom expressed serious doubts about the war before it began and now takes the position that we have already failed in Iraq, that in fact it would be better to get out sooner rather than later."
On the Wallace front, an excerpt from a Thursday story by New York Daily News reporter David Hinckley:
Fox News host Chris Wallace plans a counterstrike Sunday against his old ABC colleague Ted Koppel, claiming Koppel's controversial roll call of slain U.S. troops on Friday's Nightline failed to explain what they died for.
"I'll take Ted at his word that ABC did not intend it as a political statement or a ratings stunt," says Wallace.
"But when you look at all the factors -- the one-year anniversary of President Bush declaring major combat over, the fact the U.S. has just had a rough stretch there, all the promotion he did for it -- I think it came out that way."
So Wallace says this week's Fox News Sunday "will list the accomplishments of U.S. troops, such as ousting Saddam Hussein and rebuilding the infrastructure.
"We are in no way saying the U.S. mission in Iraq is an unalloyed success, or that there aren't serious questions -- which we have raised ourselves.
"But to just list the names of fallen soldiers without context is like listing the names of those who died on D-Day without talking about what the invasion accomplished."...
END of Excerpt
For the Daily News article in full: www.nydailynews.com
Instead, the Savannah affiliate, "ABC 22," at least, ran an Andy Griffith Show re-run.
For the Savannah Morning News article: www.savannahnow.com
For more on Sinclair's reasons for dropping the show and which stations didn't carry Nightline, see the April 30 CyberAlert: www.mediaresearch.org ####
In an April 30 column posted on CBSNews.com, former CBS Evening News political producer Dick Meyer, who is now the Editorial Director for CBSNews.com, blasted George Bush and Dick Cheney as "chickenhawks" and railed against the "cheek, chutzpah, conceit, arrogance, condescension" of the Republicans for supposedly "impugning John Kerry's Vietnam era guts and patriotism."
[Rich Noyes, Research Director for the MRC, filed this item for CyberAlert.]
Unfortunately for Meyer's premise, top Republicans have actually praised, not impugned, Kerry's military service. On CBS's own airwaves, on Face the Nation February 22, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie declared that "Senator Kerry's service in our military is honorable, and he should be proud of it and obviously he is."
What Republicans have "impugned" is Kerry's post-war career as a medal-tossing anti-war protester and a record of anti-defense votes as a liberal U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. But Meyer saw any questioning of Kerry's "national security identity," i.e., his record over the past several decades, as a sinister attempt to paint him as "an unpatriotic chicken."
And Meyer rejected the idea that Kerry could be criticized on national security by anyone who themselves had not served in the military, echoing liberal Senator Frank Lautenberg's smear of Bush and Cheney as "chickenhawks."
"What is the word that has more gall than gall?" Meyers wrote. "Nerve? Cheek, chutzpah conceit, arrogance, condescension? You name it -- the squadron of chickenhawks that steers both the campaign and government of President Bush's have pots of it. Where do these people come off impugning John Kerry's Vietnam era guts and patriotism? John McCain, Colin Powell, Tom Ridge or Chuck Hagel might have some moral standing, but not these chickenhawks."
Meyer was a producer at CBS during the 1992 presidential campaign, but I don't recall any hint on the CBS Evening News (or in the rest of the media) that because Bill Clinton evaded service in the Vietnam war he was unfit to question the policies of then-President George H. W. Bush, a decorated World War II veteran.
An excerpt from Meyer's anti-Bush harangue:
What kind of absurd political twilight zone is it where George Bush and Dick Cheney can make John Kerry look like an unpatriotic chicken by focusing attention on his combat duty in Vietnam?
It's a doublethink world of issues-ephemera, spin, and manipulated perceptions that Bush's technicians have mastered and that we the media and we the people aid and abet: Campaign 2004, a truth odyssey.
What is the word that has more gall than gall? Nerve? Cheek, chutzpah conceit, arrogance, condescension? You name it -- the squadron of chickenhawks that steers both the campaign and government of President Bush's have pots of it. Where do these people come off impugning John Kerry's Vietnam era guts and patriotism? John McCain, Colin Powell, Tom Ridge or Chuck Hagel might have some moral standing, but not these chickenhawks.
This whole chickenhawk issue has become sort of politically incorrect, in a Republican sort of way. It's considered a rude charge. I don't buy that.
John Kerry's "national security identity" (I use this phrase because that is how campaign operators think, they are trying to forge perceptions of his character, record and patriotism) has been sliced bloody by the orchestrated switchblades of Bush's surrogates this past week. So it is hardly irrelevant that John Kerry fought in Vietnam and George Bush didn't.
The list of Bush supporter's in government, in the campaign and in the ideas industry who also had no military service at all, not just no combat, is also relevant: Karen Hughes, Karl Rove, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Lewis Libby, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz, and Tom Delay. Oh yeah, and Dick Cheney....
For the record, I don't think the biographical questions about Kerry -- or Bush -- are irrelevant sideshows that obscure the great debates of the day. I think they're important to voters. They're important to me. I want to know if Kerry lied a little about throwing away his medals, or why he wouldn't 'fess up to a youthful exaggeration if he did. I want know if Bush really did blow off months of his National Guard stint.
I don't think John Kerry should be exempted from scrutiny or explanation because he got shot in war. I don't think Kerry did a particularly good job of meeting the attack, but his tactics and even his character are not my current concern.
I am just -- forgive me -- galled at the gall of the chickenhawks. President Bush should not have sanctioned it.
...These people are, to my bewilderment, skilled at tearing down people who have made that sacrifice. They did it to Max Cleland, an ousted senator from Georgia who suffered awful wounds in Vietnam. They did it to John McCain in 2000. They're trying to do it to Kerry.
END of excerpt.
To read Meyer's "The Gall of the Chickenhawks" column in full: www.cbsnews.com
Actually, I think very few have called Kerry "unpatriotic," but I have noticed a special eagerness on the part of Democrats in the last few years to claim to have had their patriotism impugned so they can portray any criticism of their policies as somehow out of bounds.
On Thursday afternoon he posted a new one blasting Rush Limbaugh's take on the treatment of Iraqi prisoners.
# Reminder, tonight's (Friday) JAG on CBS has a plot in which the media harass the widow of a Marine killed in Iraq.
-- Brent Baker