CyberAlert -- 10/10/2001 -- U.S. Supports Terrorism

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U.S. "Making Matters Worse?"; U.S. Supports Terrorism; Americans First & Reporters Second; Limbaugh's "Cheerfully Right-Wing Views"

1) The U.S. just can't win. "Are the U.S. food drops on Afghanistan making matters worse? Some relief agencies say yes." So declared Peter Jennings on Tuesday night. ABC and NBC stressed the futility of the effort, how the U.S. bombing, by inhibiting ground transportation, has made matters worse -- and ABC just dismissed the food drop operation as U.S. "propaganda."

2) On CNN syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux defended Hezbollah as a group which is "simply defending their land" from Israeli invasion. She charged that the U.S. is aiding terrorism: "We cannot say that we don't like terrorism but then we support Israel's terrorism against Palestinians."

3) Americans first and journalists second. Seventeen news outlets knew two days in advance that an attack was imminent, but none reported it. More laudatory, a week before USA Today divulged how U.S. operatives were inside Afghanistan, Knight-Ridder had the story. But out of concern to endangering the operation, Washington Bureau Chief Clark Hoyt withheld the story.

4) Contrast Hoyt's attitude with how back in 1989 CBS's Mike Wallace and ABC's Peter Jennings agreed that if they were traveling with enemy troops and learned of an ambush planned to kill U.S. soldiers they would not provide any warning. A Marine commander rued: "And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."

5) Diane Sawyer repeatedly applied ideological tags to Rush Limbaugh in reporting how he had lost his hearing. She noted that "ditto heads" like him "for his cheerfully right-wing views." NBC's Lisa Myers, in the only broadcast network evening story, passed along a doctor's theory about what caused the hearing loss and Tom Brokaw remarked: "We wish him all the best."

6) Attention those subscribing to CyberAlert via Microsoft's Hotmail: How to avoid having CyberAlerts diverted to your "junk mail" and have them placed into your regular in box.

>>> Terrorism Coverage: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly since September 11. The MRC has created a Web page listing all of our terrorist attack related CyberAlert items, Media Reality Check reports, columns by MRC President L. Brent Bozell and video clips. It's a work in progress, put together by the MRC's Liz Swasey with the assistance of the MRC's Web team, so expect improvements and updates in the coming days. The page provides a useful one-stop point of access to everything the MRC has produced since the terrorist attack. To get to the page, go to the MRC home page and then click on "Terrorism Coverage" in the blue box in the center of the home page. <<<


"Are the U.S. food drops on Afghanistan making matters worse? Some relief agencies say yes." So declared Peter Jennings at the top of Tuesday's World News Tonight in showing that the U.S. can't win with some who are always looking for the dark side of any U.S. decision. "Today some humanitarian aid workers were saying this effort is little more than propaganda," ABC's Dan Harris soon charged. "And some say the U.S. is actually doing more harm than good," since bombing has stopped ground transport of food.

Instead of stressing how unusual it is in a war for a nation's military personnel to risk their lives to try to feed indigenous people, ABC on Tuesday night and NBC on Tuesday morning stressed the futility of the effort, how the U.S. bombing, by inhibiting ground transportation, has blocked food distribution -- and ABC just dismissed it all as U.S. "propaganda."

On the October 9 Today, for instance, news reader Ann Curry complained: "The U.S. has also dropped 37,000 food rations for Afghan refugees. But relief agencies say the rations will do little as 7 million people are now near famine conditions."

On the same show, MRC analyst Geoffrey Dickens noticed, reporter Dana Lewis reported: "The U.S. has dropped more than bombs, 37,000 food packs for refugees airlifted on American C-7 transports. Flown 6000 miles from Ramstein air base in Germany. But relief agencies say the air drops will do little to feed 7 million people in near famine conditions....Aid agencies say before this crisis they were moving 10,000 tons of food per month into Afghanistan. And now to give you some perspective they say only about 2000 tons every week is getting, every month is getting in here. And they're saying that these American air drops simply will not feed the hungry refugees on the move."

Tuesday night on ABC's World News Tonight, following the above-quoted tease from anchor Peter Jennings, Dan Harris in Islamabad outlined how the U.S. is supposedly making things worse. Harris began, as transcribed by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
"They call it a 'bombs and bread' mission. While attacking the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, U.S. officials have reminded the public as often as possible that they're also attacking hunger: 37,000 individual food rations dropped every night. Today some humanitarian aid workers were saying this effort is little more than propaganda."
Nicolas Detorrente, Doctors Without Borders: "The main concern that we would have with air drops is that the amounts of food delivered so far are insufficient compared to the needs."
Harris: "And 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. Many of the humanitarian workers who stayed behind in Afghanistan are now fleeing for the same reason. The attacks have significantly hampered a large humanitarian effort, and the U.S. food drops simply can't compensate for that. Also, Alex Renton of Oxfam International says while his group appreciates the U.S. food, there's a real danger of dropping packets in a nation riddled with land mines."
Alex Renton, Oxfam International: "Air drop is seen as a last resort. It's highly expensive, it doesn't target the needy, and it can create more problems than it solves."
Harris: "The Secretary of Defense today partially conceded the point."
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense: "Anyone looking at it understands that delivering from the air is not your first choice."
Harris concluded: "Rumsfeld says the goal is to create a safer situation on the ground. That way the U.S. can use the $320 million it recently pledged toward Afghanistan to deliver food via trucks. If the fighting continues, however, all that aid could be sitting on the sidelines as winter sets in."

I bet those Afghans who received a package dropped from the air have more appreciation for it than these aid workers in Pakistan who are complaining to sympathetic reporters.


Some terrorist groups have their defenders in America. Tuesday morning on CNN syndicated columnist Julianne Malveaux, whose work once appeared regularly in USA Today and who once had a talk show on Pacifica Radio, defended Syria's inclusion on the UN Security Council, despite its harboring the Hezbollah terrorist group.

Though Hezbollah was responsible for murdering 241 U.S. Marines and took American civilians hostage, Malveaux claimed "it's a group that has dealt with territory and Israeli occupation and invasion, and this is very different from the kind of terrorism that Mr. bin Laden has imposed on the world." She maintained they "are simply defending their land." In fact, she charged that the U.S. is supporting terrorism by aiding Israel: "We cannot say that we don't like terrorism but then we support Israel's terrorism against Palestinians, that is a double standard that is unacceptable."

The MRC's Rich Noyes observed Malveaux's far-left, anti-U.S. reasoning during an 8am EDT hour appearance by Malveaux with Laura Ingraham as both were interviewed by CNN's Paula Zahn. MRC analyst Ken Shepherd went back and took down some of Malveaux's words.

Malveaux declared of Syria: "They were the unanimous choice of their region, it's a non-permanent seat. I think that in the spirit of the cooperation that the United States is asking from moderate Arab states, Syria belongs on the Security Council, it was a mistake for 38 members of Congress to oppose it. I think Jewish groups are playing hard-line when they say they don't want them there. They are part of the world and we have gone to them and asked them to be part of this coalition against terrorism, how can we then turn around and say they don't belong on the Security Council?"
Zahn interjected: "Well, Julianne, you may think they deserve a part on the Security Council, but you heard what Sen. John McCain says, in a prolonged campaign against terrorism, Syria could very well wind up being targeted."
Malveaux: "Paula, Syria is one of about 30 groups, 30 countries that the United State has listed as having harbored terrorists, I think that there's a question about the United States definition of terrorism. The groups that Syria has harbored, the main one is called Hezbollah, I believe. It's a group that has dealt with territory and Israeli occupation and invasion, and this is very different from the kind of terrorism that Mr. bin Laden has imposed on the world, so I think that if the United States wants to talk about this new world cooperation, they'd better look at the difference between hard-line terrorism and people who are simply defending their land."

Malveaux is most notorious in conservative circles for this hateful outburst, about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, on the November 4, 1994 To the Contrary on PBS:
"The man is on the Court. You know, I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early like many black men do, of heart disease. Well, that's how I feel. He is an absolutely reprehensible person."

"Reprehensible"? As opposed to Malveaux who accuses the U.S. of supporting terrorism?


With President Bush properly berating Congress for the leak at least one member made last week, just before the war was launched, of classified information, it's heartening to learn that many members of the media have acted responsibly in the past few weeks and withheld military operational news of which they had learned.

The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz noted that 17 news organizations knew on Friday, when their staffers were called to join the military media pool, that an attack was imminent, but none divulged the development.

Even more laudatory, more than a week before USA Today ran a front page story about how the U.S. had Green Beret and Navy SEAL commandos inside Afghanistan, Knight-Ridder had the story. But out of concern for endangering the servicemen and the operation, Knight-Ridder Washington Bureau Chief Clark Hoyt withheld the story, the Editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press disclosed this past Sunday.

An excerpt of Kurtz's October 9 Washington Post story:

Seventeen news organizations knew Friday that the U.S. attack on Afghanistan was imminent when the Pentagon summoned their reporters for aircraft carrier duty.

There was an implicit understanding that the journalists would keep it quiet -- and no one spilled the beans....

Douglas Jehl of the New York Times, Steve Vogel of The Washington Post, Yarislov Trofimov of the Wall Street Journal, Bill Glauber of the Baltimore Sun, Walter Rodgers of CNN and Jeffrey Kofman of ABC were among those dispatched to the USS Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea, where F-18 and F-14 warplanes launched bombing raids against Afghan targets Sunday....

The more than 40 journalists summoned by the Pentagon also came from NBC, CBS, Fox, the Associated Press, Reuters, Time, Sky News, Bahrain television, the Times of London, Black Star and Britain's ITN. Some were "embedded" (to use the military's term) on the USS Enterprise, as well as a guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer.

Media organizations, for their part, aren't satisfied. "It was a good start to get us on board those ships," said Robin Sproul, ABC's Washington bureau chief. "But we're very interested in getting access to U.S. troops wherever they are."...

END Excerpt

To read Kurtz's story in full, go to:

Jim Romenesko's MediaNews ( on Monday highlighted an illuminating piece by St. Paul Pioneer Press Editor Walter Lundy about how the Knight-Ridder Washington bureau knew about U.S. commandos inside Afghanistan, but put the operation ahead of the story -- only to be scooped days later by USA Today.

In that September 28 USA Today front page story about U.S. operatives inside Afghanistan, reporter Jack Kelly, writing from Peshawar, Pakistan, maintained: "Their arrival here two weeks ago and subsequent movement into Afghanistan have been reported by English- and Urdu-language newspapers here, and would not come as a surprise to bin Laden or Afghanistan's ruling Taliban."

An excerpt from the October 7 St. Paul Pioneer Press column by the Knight-Ridder-owned paper's Editor, Walter Lundy:

....Nothing is more painful for a journalist than to be scooped. It's even more embarrassing when you had the story first but decided to hold it.

That's what happened to our Knight Ridder Washington Bureau nine days ago on an international exclusive about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

On Sept. 28, USA Today revealed that Green Berets and Navy SEAL teams had been inside Afghanistan for two weeks looking for the terrorist.

The newspaper published the story, it explained, because newspapers in Pakistan already had reported it.

The Knight Ridder Washington bureau, which serves the Pioneer Press and 31 other newspapers with a staff of 40, had also known about the ground troops, too, for more than a week.

When the USA Today story broke, Pulitzer Prize winner Clark Hoyt, the bureau's top editor, e-mailed his unhappy client-editors to explain why we were scooped. Since Sept. 11, Hoyt has been coordinating Knight Ridder's coverage of the U.S. response with eight reporters and three photographers in seven countries, including Afghanistan. You have read many of their exclusive reports in our paper.

Hoyt wrote, "Within days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, we confirmed to our satisfaction that some small units of U.S. special operations forces had entered Afghanistan and were trying to locate bin Laden. "When we sought Pentagon comment, we were asked not to publish the story on the grounds that it could endanger the lives of the servicemen involved and compromise any chances of success.

"(We editors) had a conversation about it, not really a very long one, and decided not to publish.

"Based on what we knew, we believed that making (the operation) public could have substantially increased the risk to the Americans involved and could even have been seen as contributing to a loss of life. We believe you (editors) probably would have reached the same conclusion."

He's right. We are loath to keep anything from our readers but when people's lives are at stake, what's to debate? You wait....

END Excerpt

To read Lundy's piece in full, go to:

Hoyt deserves appreciation for being an America citizen first and a journalist second.


Contrast Hoyt's attitude to the one expressed by CBS's Mike Wallace and ABC's Peter Jennings during a 1989 forum on PBS. The two network stars agreed that if they were traveling with enemy troops and learned of an ambush planned to kill U.S. soldiers they would not provide any warning.

A reprint from the April 1989 MediaWatch, a monthly newsletter then-published by the MRC:

Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace Agree
Reporters First, Americans Second

In a future war involving U.S. soldiers what would a TV reporter do if he learned the enemy troops with which he was traveling were about to launch a surprise attack on an American unit? That's just the question Harvard University professor Charles Ogletree Jr, as moderator of PBS' Ethics in America series, posed to ABC anchor Peter Jennings and 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace. Both agreed getting ambush footage for the evening news would come before warning the U.S. troops.

For the March 7 installment on battlefield ethics Ogletree set up a theoretical war between the North Kosanese and the U.S.-supported South Kosanese. At first Jennings responded: "If I was with a North Kosanese unit that came upon Americans, I think I personally would do what I could to warn the Americans."

Wallace countered that other reporters, including himself, "would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover." Jennings' position bewildered Wallace: "I'm a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story."

"Don't you have a higher duty as an American citizen to do all you can to save the lives of soldiers rather than this journalistic ethic of reporting fact?" Ogletree asked. Without hesitating Wallace responded: "No, you don't have higher duty... you're a reporter." This convinces Jennings, who concedes, "I think he's right too, I chickened out."

Ogletree turns to Brent Scrowcroft, now the National Security Adviser, who argues "you're Americans first, and you're journalists second." Wallace is mystified by the concept, wondering "what in the world is wrong with photographing this attack by North Kosanese on American soldiers?" Retired General William Westmoreland then points out that "it would be repugnant to the American listening public to see on film an ambush of an American platoon by our national enemy."

A few minutes later Ogletree notes the "venomous reaction" from George Connell, a Marine Corps Colonel. "I feel utter contempt. Two days later they're both walking off my hilltop, they're two hundred yards away and they get ambushed. And they're lying there wounded. And they're going to expect I'm going to send Marines up there to get them. They're just journalists, they're not Americans."

Wallace and Jennings agree, "it's a fair reaction." The discussion concludes as Connell says: "But I'll do it. And that's what makes me so contemptuous of them. And Marines will die, going to get a couple of journalists."

END Reprint

Let's hope neither Wallace or Jennings are given an opportunity to travel with any enemy troops or cells.


Diane Sawyer couldn't resist repeatedly applying "right wing" ideological tags to Rush Limbuagh and his listeners in reporting on Tuesday morning how he had lost his hearing. NBC's Lisa Myers offered more restraint on Today, and in the only broadcast network news story on Limbaugh aired Tuesday night, passed a along a doctor's theory about the cause of Limbaugh's ailment. (CBS's The Early Show didn't mention Limbaugh on Tuesday morning, but made room for a promotional preview of CBS's Survivor: Africa.)

On the October 9 Good Morning America, MRC analyst Jessica Anderson observed, Sawyer described Limbaugh as a "conservative firebrand," noted how his "boisterous exchange of words, ideas, barbs" have been "advancing the conservative agenda that made him a right-wing hero" and reported that "ditto heads" like him "for his cheerfully right-wing views." Are there any other kind? All of Sawyer's tags were accurate, but they seemed to distract from the real news of his health.

Sawyer set up interview segments with Judith Regan, Limbaugh's book editor, and Dr. Nancy Snyderman: "Twenty-two million people a week listen to conservative firebrand Rush Limbaugh, and as we all read recently, he signed -- are you ready for this? -- a $285 million deal, reportedly, to host his syndicated radio show. But yesterday, Limbaugh's listeners heard a stunning announcement. He told them that he is losing his hearing and he may never regain it. From the king of conservative talk radio, a startling announcement."

After a Limbuagh clip, Sawyer continued: "It was a gutsy announcement for the media megastar, Rush Limbaugh, whose life's work and pleasure had been the boisterous exchange of words, ideas, barbs, advancing the conservative agenda that made him a right-wing hero.
"He signed on for the first time when he was just 16, at a Top 40 station in his Missouri hometown. His big break, 1988, the nationally syndicated show that made conservative Americans, what he calls 'ditto heads,' calling in to say, 'Ditto to that, Rush,' for his cheerfully right-wing views."

NBC's Lisa Myers followed up a Today piece on Limbaugh with a story for Tuesday's NBC Nightly News. She ran this speculation from Dr. Alan Micco of the Northwestern University Medical School: "The most likely scenario, based on what he has told us, is this probably represents an auto-immune hearing loss where the body's immune system has formed cells that are attacking the sensory cells, that is the hair cells, in the inner ear which are responsible for sending a signal to his brain for him to hear."

Myers wrapped up her piece: "Limbaugh says he's determined to keep doing his show, for which he earns more than $30 million a year. Doctors warn his speech may get slower and louder, but say with technology he should be able to cope."
Limbaugh, shown via his Web site's video, ending his show: "Even though I can't hear, I can still communicate. So liberals and moderates: Beware."
Myers: "His hearing may be gone, but Limbaugh's legendary ego remains intact."

Viewers then heard anchor Tom Brokaw remark: "We wish him all the best."


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