2. 66% Favor Military Action, But Jennings Finds "No Consensus"
3. ABC's Sawyer Prods Blix to Say "This War is Not Justified"
4. Reporters Warn Against "Going It Alone" & "Unilateral Force"
5. Turner Compares U.S. War on Iraq with Using Nuke to Get Sniper
6. Actor Richard Gere Sees Nefarious Motive for Bush...
7. But Actor Ron Silver Stands Up for American Values & Bush
Less than three weeks after ABC anchor Peter Jennings scolded Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz for asserting, without providing proof, that Saddam Hussein has ordered that any scientist who talks to UN inspectors be killed along with his family, ABC News reporter Brian Ross found an escaped scientist who confirmed the diabolical threat.
On the January 23 World News Tonight Jennings had chided Wolfowitz: "There is no way to know how the administration verifies that Iraqi scientists were threatened with their lives if they talked to the UN inspectors. It is a very inflammatory charge at a very tense time."
Fast forward to February 10 and ABC's Ross found support for the situation Jennings had mocked. Jennings set up the new story, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
Ross relayed what he was told: "Peter, in the last ten days, UN inspectors have been given what is described as 'important, new and credible information' about the intimidation of Iraqi scientists. The information comes from a recent defector who also has told his story to ABC News. Among the defector's details, the location in a downtown Baghdad neighborhood near the Tigris River where the defector says key scientists are secretly housed with their families....The defector, interviewed by ABC News in a European country, is an engineer described as close to several of the weapons scientists who he says live in fear."
For the online version of the Ross story co-written with Christopher
For a bio of Ross with a photo of him:
Though Peter Jennings noted how a new ABC News poll found solid support for President Bush's Iraq policy, with two-thirds backing military action to oust Saddam Hussein, anchoring from Portland he focused on how in Oregon "there is no consensus about war." Actually, just no consensus amongst a panel at a town meeting which Jennings hosted on the Portland ABC affiliate, at least judging by the anti-liberation of Iraq views of those Jennings chose to highlight.
Jennings segued from the war to the awful decision of Oregon voters to reject an income tax hike. Jennings rued: "The consequences were immediate. The county jail has given up 100 spaces. The state police fired 25 percent of the force. The safety net for health and human services has been badly damaged." And with "everything from staff to after school sports" being cut back, "some of the students feel that suddenly their future is more uncertain."
Naturally, Jennings did not note by how much faster than inflation Oregon's spending rose in the 1990s, but if Oregon is like most states it did by a healthy margin.
Early on the February 10 World News Tonight Jennings relayed the latest poll numbers: "A new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds that most Americans support attacking Iraq even if the United Nations opposes it. Two-thirds of Americans say they favor military action to remove Saddam Hussein. That number drops to 50 percent if there is United Nations opposition, but it rises to 57 percent if there is support from some U.S. allies even if the United Nations Security Council remains opposed."
(Online, ABC's Gary Langer pointed out that "'strong' support for attacking Iraq outstrips 'strong' opposition by nearly 3-1." http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/World/attack_poll020310.html)
Jennings had teased at the top of the program: "On the road in America, listening to Oregon. There is no consensus about war." In fact, as he soon conceded, "the state as a whole supports the President." His prism came through a gathering in liberal Portland.
Jennings got to the Oregon opinions at the end of the broadcast:
The Sunday night town meeting, aired live at 6pm on KATU-TV channel 2. The station has posted video and text of an interview one of its staffers conducted beforehand with Jennings: http://www.katu.com/news/story.asp?ID=54468
Next stop for Jennings: Tuesday in Phoenix at KNXV-TV, "ABC-15." Web site: http://www.knxv.com/
Bottom line: Even when polls show overwhelming support for Bush's Iraq policy, Jennings manages to dig out dissent and showcase it.
Last October 14 World News Tonight devoted a one-sided story to proving how "there are growing concerns" across the country about Bush's plans to attack Iraq. The "A Closer Look" segment highlighted the opposition of nine people. Bill Redeker painted opponents as sharing Bush's concern, but just differing on the remedy, as he insisted they are "not so much against getting rid of Saddam Hussein but how, when and at what cost." But at that moment ABC was showing video of some very much out of the mainstream protesters carrying signs proclaiming things such as, "No Blood for Oil" and "Bombing = Terrorism."
After the story, Jennings promised: "On this broadcast in the days ahead, other voices."
Four months later and we're still waiting for an equally reverential and one-sided treatment of those in favor of addressing the threat from Iraq. For more on the October 14 piece:
ABC's Diane Sawyer on Monday morning tried to prod UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix to "step out of his role" and "say something personal," such as that Iraq is "cooperating enough" so "I'm going to...say" that "this war is not justified." Blix didn't fall for Sawyer's advocacy.
For Good Morning America, Sawyer also walked the streets of Baghdad relaying Iraqi propaganda. She came across some children who called America "bad" and she sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to them. In return, "I got a song back. It is a song about Saddam Hussein, his strength and their desire to protect him." She moved on to show how supposedly typical Iraqis have supplies in their homes, "enough to stay in the house for a year if they had to -- and a gun" with which the resident "says he's ready to repel anybody, Americans or any other soldiers."
Earlier stories from Baghdad, including ones I recall seeing on ABC, worried about how Iraqis barely subsist on food day to day. Sawyer stumbled upon a miracle family.
MRC analyst Jessica Anderson caught Sawyer's instances of liberal advocacy and gullibility, starting with this exchange on the February 10 show with Blix:
Sawyer: "So I wondered, what if the chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, had a trump card in his pocket, namely to step out of his role, his public role as chief inspector and say something personal, since he always seemed to be trying to be put brakes on war. Would he ever do that?
If only Sawyer had as much integrity and kept her personal feelings to herself.
At another point on Monday's Good Morning America, Sawyer related how "here in Baghdad we have heard that Iraqis are stockpiling food and weapons, so we asked the Iraqi minders to take us out to see it. They did, but of course we also saw something else: the children.
Moving on, Sawyer entered a home: "This is the house selected for us by our Iraqi minder. We went inside, a cordial welcome, the ritual picture of Saddam Hussein. And upstairs, through the house, up under the bed? Supplies, lots of them -- they told us enough to stay in the house for a year if they had to -- and a gun.
The Hussein regime will be sorry to see Sawyer go.
Despite the fact that 18 European nations are part of the U.S. coalition against Iraq and that on Monday afternoon President Bush was going to meet with another backer, the Prime Minister of Australia, on Sunday night NBC News reporters stated that the Senator Carl Levin "warned the White House it would be foolish right now to threaten to go it alone" and Russia's "President Putin declared unilateral force would result in the sufferings of millions of people."
MRC analyst Ken Shepherd observed the misuse of the two terms by reporters on the February 9 NBC Nightly News.
From the White House, Rosalind Jordan asserted: "Later, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed calls from the chief UN weapons inspector to let the inspections continue regardless of Iraq's level of compliance. Quote, 'The President has said, given the facts that Saddam Hussein is not disarming, time is running out.' But the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee warned the White House it would be foolish right now to threaten to go it alone."
From Moscow, Dana Lewis relayed: "In Germany tonight, more unyielding opposition to American war plans. After meeting with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his country now stands with Germany, France, and China against military action. President Putin declared unilateral force would result in the sufferings of millions of people. Schroeder also called for a peaceful disarmament."
Ted Turner: U.S. plans for Iraq which would "kill tens of thousands of people" just to get one man would be just like, Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper summarized, "dropping a nuclear bomb on Washington in an effort to neutralize the two snipers who terrorized the U.S. capital region last fall."
Turner made his comments during Sunday press interviews in Washington, DC to promote the new movie he funded about the Civil War or, as he would put it, the War of Northern Aggression, Gods and Generals.
The Drudge Report (www.drudgereport.com) linked on Monday to a story about Turner's comments carried in the Globe and Mail, a national newspaper in Canada. Though I heard a matching soundbite from Turner during a newscast Monday on Washington, DC radio station WMAL, I have not been able find any other story quoting Turner comparing Iraq with the sniper case.
Monday morning on Today, however, Turner maintained that Iraq is "too small to pose a threat" to the U.S. and kept up the usual liberal mantra about how poverty fuels terrorism as he told Matt Lauer that "trying to make it a better world is my top priority. A more equitable world, that's really the best way to combat terrorism is to, is to build a world where nobody's angry enough to want to be a terrorist."
Now that's a dream world.
An excerpt from a February 10 Globe and Mail story, "Media mogul Turner derides attack on Iraq," by Washington, DC-based reporter Simon Houpt:
WASHINGTON -- Former AOL Time Warner vice-chairman Ted Turner, once known as the Mouth of the South, unleashed his famous tongue again yesterday, criticizing the growing likelihood of a U.S. attack on Baghdad and suggesting that military action is a ridiculous way to bring down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
"We got all the bombs and they don't have very much but a few guns. It's the high-tech wealthy Western nation against the Third World country; it's kind of a foregone conclusion that we'll win. It's a question of how many civilians get killed over there -- that's what worries me," Mr. Turner said. "We're trying to get one man, right? And we're going to kill tens of thousands of people to get him. It seems like a pretty inefficient way to do things."
Mr. Turner compared the heavy-handed approach to dropping a nuclear bomb on Washington in an effort to neutralize the two snipers who terrorized the U.S. capital region last fall.
He made his comments during an interview to promote Gods and Generals, a rambling and often incoherent 229-minute U.S. Civil War drama that is sympathetic to the pro-secession rebellion and makes heroes out of Confederate leaders General Robert E. Lee and Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson....
END of Excerpt
Turner did display some TV programming sense: "'Connie Chung's just awful,' he said, referring to the high-priced star CNN hired last spring."
For the Globe and Mail story in full:
The site for the movie which Turner fully financed:
Monday's Today featured a taped interview with Turner. MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens passed along this portion in which Turner and Matt Lauer discussed Iraq and terrorism:
Lauer: "What drives you? What do you look forward to when you get out of bed in the morning?"
Quite a feat. Turner managed to get to the left of Lauer.
Actor Richard Gere thinks there's a nefarious motive behind President Bush's effort to oust Saddam Hussein, telling reporters at a Berlin film festival: "I have a feeling something hidden is at work here that will someday see the light of day." He also displayed disdain for the U.S. as he claimed that "America has never paid any attention to other people, so it's absurd for Bush to say that it's all in the best interests of the Iraqi people."
Gere's leftist rants occurred a few days after Dustin Hoffman, at a film awards event in London, accused the Bush administration of "manipulating the grief of the country" after the events of September 11 and charged that "this war is about what most wars are about: hegemony, money, power and oil." For details:
An excerpt from a February 10 story in Ananova, a British news service geared toward mobile phone users:
Richard Gere has slammed George W. Bush and spoken out against possible war with Iraq at the 53rd Berlin Film Festival....
The 53-year-old said: "Bush's plans for war are a bizarre bad dream. There doesn't appear to be any sort of basis for any of this.
"I have a feeling something hidden is at work here that will someday see the light of day.
"I keep asking myself where all this personal enmity between George Bush and Saddam Hussein comes from. It's like the story of Captain Ahab and the great white whale from Moby Dick."
Gere, a Buddhist, added: "We have to say 'stop', there's no reason for a war. At the moment Hussein is not threatening anybody.
"It'd be different if he was staring somebody down with a loaded gun in his hand. But there doesn't seem to be any indications whatsoever that this man poses an immediate threat to anybody.
"America has never paid any attention to other people, so it's absurd for Bush to say that it's all in the best interests of the Iraqi people.
"If the United States marches into Iraq without the backing of the United Nations, that will be done entirely without the backing of the American people."
END of Excerpt
The story is online at: http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_749299.html
For a picture of Gere and a bio, check the Internet Movie Database's page for him: http://us.imdb.com/Name?Gere,+Richard
For the MRC's collection of anti-war ravings from celebrities:
Not all Hollywood celebrities are ungrateful, anti-American lefties. Prompted by a Wall Street Journal mention a couple of weeks ago about how actor Ron Silver denounced the head of the European parliament for his anti-American attitude, FNC's Beltway Boys brought Silver aboard their Saturday show.
Silver, who plays liberal campaign strategist "Bruno Gianelli" on NBC's The West Wing, made clear he does not agree with the politics of the show's "President Bartlet," Martin Sheen. Silver told Beltway Boys co-hosts Fred Barnes and Morton Kondracke that Europeans "criticisms are logically incoherent...they hold inconsistent views that we're utterly materialistic, and then we're insufferably religious. We're boring conformists, and then we're reckless individualists. We're racists, but then we're too politically correct." When Kondracke suggested it's a problem caused by George W. Bush since Europeans liked Bill Clinton, Silver refused to accept the premise.
MRC analyst Patrick Gregory noticed the interview segment on the February 8 program and checked the tape against the transcript.
Barnes segued into a discussion with Silver about anti-Americanism by recalling how last month in "Switzerland, for the International Economic Conference there, you had a run in with the head of the European parliament who accused or at least suggested that the U.S. has become an imperialist power in the world, and you responded rather aggressively to him. Tell us about that incident, and also about the level of anti-Americanism that you discovered there."
Kondracke soon pressed Silver: "I take it
though that you judge from the entire experience that elite opinion in Europe is hostile to the United States. And I just wonder whether there is something that George Bush could have done coming on as President, because Bill Clinton didn't seem to have this problem."
Silver added: "I kind of link Rumsfeld's 'old Europe versus the new Europe,' and we saw it in the last two weeks, with France and Germany, who were not with us on June 6, 1944, I don't know why we expect them to be with us today."
Asked why Hollywood is so anti-war, Silver suggested: "My opinion is that the entertainment community along with other advocates -- human rights organizations, religious organizations, are always on the front lines to protest repression, but they're always usually the first ones to oppose any use of force to take care of these horrors that they catalogue repeatedly, and I find that inconsistent as well."
For a transcript of the interview, with a photo of Silver:
For Silver's Internet Movie Database page, sans a head shot:
> Ripped from the headlines. The plot of tonight's JAG on CBS, at 8pm EST/PST, 7pm CST/MST, as listed in the Washington Post: "Harm hears the case of a pilot involved in the accidental bombing of British troops in Afghanistan."
It looks like all they did was change Canadian to British. -- Brent Baker