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Posts Tagged ‘MRC’

Former Colleague Drops Bomb On ‘Palestine Pete’ Jennings

Wednesday, June 4th, 2003
Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) reported this week that Peter Jennings actively shaped news coverage in the 1980′s so that a communist dictatorship could be portrayed
in a more flattering light.

“Having kept quiet for 14 years, a former ABC News correspondent has gone public for the first time with allegations that network anchorman Peter Jennings manipulated news scripts during the 1980′s in order to praise the Marxist-backed Sandinista government in Nicaragua,” began the bombshell story by CNSNews.com’s Marc Morano.

The former correspondent, Peter Collins, is a veteran journalist who over the course of three decades toiled for the BBC, CBS News, Voice of America and CNN, in addition to ABC News.

Collins told Morano that Jennings “took a piece that I had written about the 10th anniversary of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua [in 1989] and first asked his producer to correct it for me and then he himself called me up in Managua and essentially dictated to me what I should say.”

According to Collins, “Basically what Mr. Jennings wanted was for me to make a favorable pronouncement about the 10 years of the Sandinista revolution and he called me up, massaged my script in a way that I no longer recognized it.”

Asked by Morano why Jennings was so interested in portraying the Sandinistas in a positive light, Collins responded: “Because I presume that Peter Jennings felt that the Sandinista regime, which was a communist regime – no questions about it – were mere benign agra-rian reformers…[Jennings] was a believer, was and is.”

Collins said that he and Jennings clashed often during his tenure at ABC News. At one point in the mid-1980′s, Jennings, shortly after having signed a new multi-year contract, warned Collins that changes would be made in the newsroom. Within a couple of months, ABC News executive producer Bill Lord was replaced by Paul Friedman, who had worked with Jennings when the latter was ABC’s London correspondent.

“Bill Lord had supported me in my coverage of Central America, against the wishes of Peter Jennings,” Collins told Morano. “[Jennings] was unhappy with my coverage because I tried to tell both sides of the story.”

Collins, wrote Morano, “believes CNN’s recent admission [that the network censored itself in reporting on the atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq] and his own experiences in Central America are merely “scratching at the surface” of what Collins regards
as a longstanding failure of the media to report accurately about despotic governments, particularly left-of-center authoritarian regimes.

” “We can go as far back as Walter Duranty in (1930′s) Moscow for The New York Times, Herbert Matthews in (1950′s) Cuba for The New York Times - [how] those two writers tilted their coverage in ways when compared with the historical record was outrageous,” Collins said.”

Jennings and ABC News have declined to comment on Collins’s charges, but the story certainly rings true to those of us who watch Jennings with a critical eye. One can only imagine the extent to which Jennings “massages up the script” of his newscast’s Middle East coverage, given his pronounced pro-Palestinian proclivities.

The Monitor has often cited the invaluable work of the Media Research Center (MRC) in tracking, recording and documenting liberal bias in the media. MRC has put together a damning dossier on Peter Jennings featuring example after example of his tireless efforts
to put an anti-U.S., anti-Israel spin on the news.

Readers are urged to visit the MRC website (www.mrc.org) and scroll down the left side of the screento the “Studies in Bias” section. Click on “Profiles in Bias,” scroll down a drop and click “Palestine Pete: Jennings and the Palestinians.” There you’ll find a comprehensive record of Jennings’s coverage of the war in Iraq. For his shameful record on Israel, go to the bottom of the “Palestine Pete” page and click the “MRC Spotlight Archives.”

Many of you will no doubt download much of what you find for future reference. While you’re at it, drop the people at MRC a thank-you note for a job well done.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Grading TV’s War Coverage

Wednesday, May 28th, 2003

Due to pressing post-holiday obligations, the Monitor yields this week to the Media Research Center’s Brent Baker and Rich Noyes, who prepared the following summary of MRC’s assessment of war coverage by American television:

“While it only lasted about three weeks, the second Gulf War was an unqualified success. Jubilant Iraqis danced in the streets as U.S. military forces rolled into the center of Baghdad, while the dictator Saddam Hussein and his evil cohorts were, as General Tommy Franks put it on April 11, either dead or “running like hell.”

“But what about TV’s coverage of the war? A new MRC Special Report finds while the media covered many aspects of the war well - reports from embedded journalists were refreshingly factual and mostly devoid of commentary - TV’s war news exhibited problems detected during previous conflicts: too little skepticism of enemy propaganda, too much mindless negativism about America’s military prospects, and a reluctance on the part of most networks to challenge the premises of anti-war activists or to expose their radical agenda:

“Networks: By refusing to copy the reflexive skepticism of most of the media elite, those who watched the Fox News Channel weren’t misled by the unwarranted second-guessing and negativism that tainted other networks’ war news. The main blemish on FNC’s war record occurred on March 30 when Geraldo Rivera, traveling with the 101st Airborne Division, boastfully disclosed the unit’s mission.

“In contrast, ABC received a near-failing grade for knee-jerk negativism that played up Iraqi claims of civilian suffering, hyped American military difficulties and indulged anti-war protesters with free air time. ABC’s Chris Cuomo even promoted anti-war protesters as “prescient indicators of the national mood,” even as polls showed most Americans supported the war. (Details on all networks at www.mrc.org)

“Anchors: All of the network anchors received high grades except for the highly tendentious Peter Jennings, who played up any defeatist angle he could find. Five days before Baghdad fell, Pentagon reporter John McWethy warned, “This could be, Peter, a long war.” Jennings felt vindication: “As many people had anticipated.”

“Embedded Reporters: These reporters excelled when they acted as the viewers’ eyes and ears in Iraq. NBC’s David Bloom, in his innovative Bloommobile, was the star of the group, offering hours of riveting live coverage of the Third Infantry’s historic drive toward Baghdad, while CNN’s Walter Rodgers narrated hour upon hour of armored troop movements, often under enemy fire, without straying from his “just the facts” style.

“On the other hand, ABC’s Ted Koppel spent his time pontificating as if he – not the vast military force that surrounded him – were the real star. “Forget the easy victories of the last twenty years; this war is more like the ones we knew before,” he lectured on the March 24 Nightline. “Telling you if and when things are going badly for U.S. troops, enabling you to bear witness to the high cost of war, is the hard part of our job,” he asserted. “We’ll do our very best to give you the truth in the hope and the belief that you can handle it.”

“Baghdad Reporters: Until the Iraqi dictatorship ran away April 9, Baghdad-based reporters were controlled by the Ministry of Information. Given the impediments to accurate reporting, networks should have used such reporters sparingly. Instead, ABC gave a great deal of time to the uncorroborated stories of civilian suffering which freelancer Richard Engel reported, including an April 2 claim that the U.S. had bombed a “maternity hospital.”

“National Geographic Explorer’s Peter Arnett, who was heavily used by MSNBC and NBC before he was fired, was the most outrageously biased Baghdad reporter. On March 26 on NBC’s Today, Arnett twice reported Iraqi claims that the U.S. had used “cluster bombs” to kill dozens at a Baghdad marketplace, a claim later rebutted by NBC’s Pentagon reporter Jim Miklaszewski. That was days before his infamous appearance on Iraqi TV, but spouting enemy propaganda on NBC’s airwaves was not a firing offense.”

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com  

Three Stooges Named Jennings, Gumbel And Hamill

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2002

“Peter Jennings, Palestinian sympathizer first, journalist second?” is how the conservative Media Research Center (MRC) put it in its CyberAlert of Dec. 4. “Israel,” the alert went on, “was the victim of a murderous terrorist attack by a terrorist group, Hamas, which claimed credit. “But on Monday night Jennings wanted to know if the Bush administration wished to ‘restrain the Israelis.’ Jennings also tried to absolve Yasir Arafat of responsibility as he referred to Hamas simply as an ‘organization.’ He asserted: ‘There’s some question as to whether Mr. Arafat can really control organizations like Hamas.’ ”

MRC’s apt analogy and sharp rejoinder to Jennings: “Imagine wondering on September 13 how to ‘restrain’ the Bush administration’s reaction to an ‘organization’ which completed suicide bombings two days before.”

MRC also reported on the attempted exoneration of Arafat by Bryant Gumbel, surely one of the more pompous and self-inflated windbags in a profession teeming with pompous, self-inflated windbags.

On the Dec. 3 edition of his CBS “Early Show,” Gumbel was chatting with former Senator George Mitchell. “You saw the tape, Secretary Powell chiding Yasir Arafat for not restraining those terrorist forces that he says are under his command,” said Gumbel. “Do you think it is within his capacity to restrain those forces, to restrain Hamas and Islamic Jihad?”

Gumbel followed that up with, “Should this administration be taking the same efforts to restrain Sharon, should they be acting much more even-handed than they’ve been?”

Finally, Gumbel exposed his underlying animus - as well as a terribly unsophisticated grasp of Mideast realities - by asking: “Is it realistic, Senator, to think that the Palestinians, whoever is in charge, would ever reach some kind of agreement with Ariel Sharon, a man who has done so much to oppose peace efforts in the Middle East?”

And then there’s the columnist Pete Hamill, who rarely writes about the Middle East. Unfortunately, when he does he turns out the kind of utterly predictable left-wing boilerplate published by the New York Daily News this past Monday.

Less than 24 hours after the worst-ever weekend of terrorism suffered by Israelis, here’s how Hamill began his column: “The killing goes on and on. In the morning, schoolboys throw stones at an Israeli tank in the West Bank village of Wad Burgin, near Jenin. An 11-year-old named Muhammad Salah is shot dead. On the other side of Jenin, an 18-year-old named Rami As’oos tries to move around an Israeli roadblock. He is shot dead.”

Only after establishing – by way of five completely misleading sentences, each lacking the slightest trace of context and nuance - that Israeli soldiers are a bunch of child-killers, did Hamill turn his attention to the bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa later that weekend. What followed were several gripping paragraphs (no one ever questioned Hamill’s prose skills), amounting in the end to nothing more than a well-written exercise in moral equivalency.

Ultimate blame for the violence - here’s a huge surprise – Hamill placed on Ariel Sharon: “Since his little stroll on the Temple Mount 14 months ago,” he drolly wrote, “many hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians have died in the deadly intifada.”

Hamill may be plain ignorant of the ample evidence that a Palestinian uprising was in the works from the day Yasir Arafat threw out his chips at Camp David, but perhaps something more than mere ignorance is at play here.

In a column he wrote back during the Lebanon war, Hamill quoted a conveniently anonymous “Israeli friend” who, speaking of Israeli troops, supposedly said, “Forgive me, but all I can think of is the Nazis.”

Ancient history? Perhaps. But a red flag should go up whenever a journalist resorts to anonymous sources, not just because such sources are difficult if not impossible to verify, but even more so because they have this annoying tendency to reflect and buttress a journalist’s own biases and predispositions.

Jason Maoz can be reached at jmaoz@jewishpress.com

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/media-monitor-24/2002/01/02/

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