Written 206 pm Feb 4, 1991 by greenbase in cdpmideast.media GREENPEACE PUNDIT WATCH #2 PUN

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Written 2:06 pm Feb 4, 1991 by greenbase in cdp:mideast.media GREENPEACE PUNDIT WATCH #2 PUNDIT WATCH 2, Second in a Series of Reports on News Coverage of the Persian Gulf War. Contact: Greenpeace Media, 202-462-1177. Outrage was appropriately quick when Iraq dumped a huge amount of crude oil into the Persian Gulf. Had reaction been similar to the kinder, gentler waste of oil that's occurred in the West for decades, we might not now be at war with an oil power. In Pundit Watch 2, we'll examine the dynamics of oil -- both oil in the Gulf, and oil in our lives. Also, we'll explore the cliches and pejoratives used to describe war opponents. THEY GET SMARTER EVERY WEEK: The McLaughlin Group episode taped 2/1 offered these revised predictions: Fred Barnes, "Five weeks from now" (holding steady from last week's "six weeks"); Morton Kondracke, "the end of February" (up from a "three weeks" prediction on Jan. 25); Jack Germond, "A couple of months" (last week's wisdom was "six weeks and maybe longer"); Father McLaughlin weighed in with "March 1." (Last week's guess was for April Fool's Day or later); Arnaud DeBorchgrave, editor of Rev. Moon's Washington Times, was Pinch Pundit for Pat Buchanan this week, and offered "six weeks from now." By Wednesday 2/6, the longest of the group's original January 17 war-length predictions will have elapsed. McLaughlin's "One on One" show also added to the list of Felon/Pundits this week with an interview of former National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane. McFarlane has also shown up on CNN, giving the cable network the lead in total Felon/Pundits with two. (Richard Secord, whom CNN identified only as an air war expert, turned up last weekend.) ### "I'm not very tolerant of any dissent to what we stand for: freedom," Everett McConnell, a 60 year-old retired Air Force sergeant told the Philadelphia Inquirer (1/18) "Give peace a chance." This "reminiscent-of-the-Vietnam-era" refrain could be directed as aptly toward the media coverage of the opposition movement to the Gulf war as it does to the policymakers staging the war. In assessing the new peace movement, the press often seems to go out of its way to marginalize war opposition. Evocations of the 1960's are used to disparage opponents of the war, branding them as irrelevant and out of touch with the 80 percent of "real" Americans who support the war in the 1990's. On television, isolated incidents of flag burning are portrayed as if it were endemic of the movement. Divisions within the ranks are used to indicate weakness and pre-write the epitaphs of 90's peace activists. The subhead of the Miami Herald article story on the Jan. 19 rally in D.C. read "75,000 jam D.C. in 60's Like Scene" The Herald described the American anti-war movement as "a collection of minorities and military mothers, aging '60s veterans and fresh-faced protesters." The Baltimore Sun's Washington Bureau Chief Ernest B. Furgurson trotted out his best Love-it-or-Leave-it rhetoric for a syndicated column: "The protesters run true to type, some looking as if they just emerged after 20 years in a time capsule, or under a rock. Rummage-sale sartorial fashions and pothead hair styles remind of the days when the chant was "Hey, hey LBJ! How many kids have you killed today." Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post's Style section (1/17) conceded that in fact the new movement represented a broader coalition: "What has been most distinctive has been the presence of so many people lacking distinction at all, what you might perilously call regular folks. Men in suits and ties have chanted 'no blood for oil' in unison with angry members of the America-is- always-wrong brigade." Were the well-groomed "regular" folks really just the usual suspects disguised in suits? But while Achenbach was as scornful of the movement's diversity as he is of its message, Newsweek's Vern E. Smith and Annetta Miller did one of the most thorough profiles of the new voices of opposition. "Though the antiwar activists defied popular sentiment, they were not just rebellious kids," they wrote. "Compared with the Vietnam protests, which at the outset were overwhelmingly the work of students, opposition to the gulf war enlists a much broader constituency. Its leaders are veterans of the various peace movements-- Vietnam, Central America, nuclear disarmament --many of them now middle-aged and middle class. The heads of unions, including the United Auto Workers and the Communications Workers of America signed an anti-war advertisement in the week before hostilities began. Families of servicemen and women play a bigger role now than they did in the '60s. So do churches. And so do minority members ...Even mainstream Republican figures like John Connally and H. Ross Perot have expressed opposition a Gulf War in recent weeks. The protesters are people who don't have a reason to be radicalized or estranged from their society." US News Columnist John Leo (Feb 4) tarred war opponents with many different brushes. "The anti-war movement is ... home to an alliance of mostly far-right anti-Semitic groups (including) the Liberty Lobby, the Lyndon LaRouche organization, and Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam." Already, this peace movement has gained momentum and turned out more people in the first two weeks of Desert Storm than in the first several years of Vietnam. But many news accounts have suggested that the 1990's peace movement will have the staying power of the Nehru Jacket. Just days before more than 100,000 demonstrated against the war, The New York Times treated us to "Protesters Face Conflict in Their Ranks as They Try to Gain Momentum" (1/21). The Miami Herald ran the same piece under the headline "Anti-War Drive Hits Resistance." The Washington Post in an article the day before the rally said "The Anti-War Movement Facing Test, D.C. Protest Saturday May Indicate Whether Sentiment is Growing." The movement passed the "test" with turnout exceeding Park Service expectations. That success was unseen in USA Today (1/29). In "Peace Marchers Fight Disenchantment", Elizabeth Snead describes the hundreds of thousands that have taken to the streets in "scenes reminiscent of the 60s" and tells us that "some are already disillusioned." The Post (1/29) followed up with a piece about how disappointed some demonstrators were because the police refused to arrest them for civil disobedience. For his part, President Bush alluded to Christian tolerance of pro-peace demonstrators during a 1/28 speech at (where else?) a religious broadcasters' convention. Chief of Staff John Sununu was positively docile in his remarks on protests on the 1/27 ABC "This Week with David Brinkley." On the whole, newspapers did a far better job than TV in attempting to give protesters a fair shake. Mary McGrory reported in her 1/29 syndicated column that "CBS gave equal time to the 300, at most, pro-war demonstrators and the 75,000 at least, peace demonstrators. NBC limited its coverage to remarking that the turnout of 75,000 had been accurately predicted by the police department." CNN ran a relatively thoughtful pre-rally profile of war opponents, but TV was largely a victim of its own self-imposed stereotypes of the marchers. A newsroom staffer at Washington's, WJLA-TV (ABC) explained the equal time given a few hundred pro-war demontrators with, "We give everyone equal coverage. That's what we are supposed to do." When asked if a pro-war demo with two people would merit coverage they responded, "sure." WRC-TV (NBC) responded by saying "I'm being blasted for giving the anti-war any coverage at all." The best assessment of TV's inherently shallow approach came from an eminently qualified source. Reagan imagemaker-turned-journalist David Gergen, who told a journalists' forum at Columbia University, "TV is inherently a medium of simplicity." What's in a Poll Since the outset of the Persian Gulf crisis public opinion polls have been used by politicians to further US policy and by the media and war supporters to belittle and dismiss the opposition. In building support for an attack on Baghdad, President Bush grossly exaggerated the Iraqi threat of nuclear weapons capability after polling showed it played well to the American public. Since the beginning of the war, virtually every reference to demonstrators is qualified with a flippant 80% percent support level for the war. However, questions or polls that show that the "overwhelming" support is softer than it appears have been generally been underplayed. A NPR-Harris Poll released Jan. 27 showed that 59% of the public would be willing to accept only "rather light" or no casualties, yet 76% of those surveyed said they expected "moderate" to "heavy" casualties. In an ABC/Washington Post Poll done just before the 16th, support for war with Iraq plummeted to around 40% when 1,000 American casualties were figured in. Washington Post pollster Richard Morin did a revealing piece in the Post (1/14) casting doubts on the accuracy of polls gauging public opinion. Morin showed that just prior to the 16th, support for a U.S. war with Iraq varied by nearly 15% depending on how leading the questions were. At the Jan. 26 rally, The Post made a first-ever attempt at polling members of a demonstration in progress. A sampling of the marchers showed that a vast majority of them were not first-timers and were overwhelmingly "liberal" in their politics. The revelation that the 700 Club and the Republican National Committee were underrepresented in the march may not have deserved a front page story. But the Post deserves credit for what Morin told PW was its effort to "go beyond traditional reporting." Earlier, Post polling had underscored the divergence from national opinion by D.C. residents, who oppose the war by a roughly 60-40 split. But an important argument against the value of daily polling comes from the pollsters themselves. Every Gallup poll which has appeared includes the statement "rally round the flag effect"," the often short-lived upsurge in popularity following the outbreak of crisis or war. This little 5 word-waiver was largely ignored in news reports. ### GREENPEACE'S PICKS FOR BEST ANTI-WAR PLACARDS: 1. If You Really Want to Destroy Iraq, Send Over a Team of Our Experts to Set Up an S&L for them. 2. George, We're sorry we called you a wimp. We promise we won't do it again. 3. Kuwaitus Interruptus. George, Pull out Now ### OIL ADDS TO TROUBLED WATERS While oil is flowing in untold quantities into the Persian Gulf, stateside oil company profits for 1990's fourth quarter are gushing. The nine largest U.S. oil companies are expected to total $7.2 billion in profits for the final quarter of 1990, up 69 percent from 1989. With gasoline prices finally returning to pre-war levels, the price of crude oil dropped significantly after the start of the war and is now as low as 1989 figures of about 40 cents a gallon. At present rates, an oversupply would lower crude prices more as the war continues. So as not to sound "unpatriotic" in this time of war, oil company executives have taken great pains to play down huge profit increases and are rushing to speculate that the trend can't last. On Jan 16, Mobil, which listed a 46 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings of $651 million, opted to freeze prices for U.S. petroleum products in what Mobil CEO Allen E. Murray called "a show of support for American policy and a demonstration of our determination to do our part in the national effort during this critical juncture in American history." This price freeze held gasoline prices at a relatively high level while the price of crude continued to drop, allowing Mobil to profit. Murray asked customers to limit gasoline use and "join Mobil in its pledge not to profit from the uncertainties that now exist in the worldwide oil market. We pledged to show restraint at the time Iraq invaded Kuwait and we can do no less now," he said. By way of apology, Murray added that while price rises helped Mobil, the company reported "depressed profit margins in marketing and refining" and an outlay of $40 million to pay for future environmental cleanups at U.S. service stations. Mobil took its profits case to the public in its January 6 weekly ad. It featured excerpts from a letter responding to Congressional questions about Mobil's price system and profits. Why did consumers not feel the significant drop Mobil passed on to consumers? The December 1 five-cent increase in the Federal gasoline tax for which Congress was responsible. Mobil said that a look at gasoline and crude oil price changes from July to December should "Refute the ill-conceived notion that there has been any 'price gouging' on our part," except Mobil's 46 percent increase in quarterly earnings. In another Mobil ad (NY Times, Jan 31) the company provided a detailed chart decrying federal, state and local taxes which burden their customers. With the national average of these taxes in mind, Mobil claims consumers are paying some "$35 billion a year in direct taxes" for their gasoline. But in its January 24 ad the company pulled out all the stops with an economics lesson on the difference between profits and profitability. Lest we forget the difference, Mobil reminds us that "No matter how many pennies there are in our profit total--and, because of our size and sales volumes, there are a lot of them--bare numbers never tell the whole story." Matt Wald's article in the 2/3 New York Times "Week in Review" challenged the oil industry's benign self-portrait. Wald quoted oil analysts at John S. Herold, Inc.: "For shareholders in most major oil companies, total returns -- capital gains plus dividends -- were higher than for the Dow Jones index as a whole for the last five years." ### SIDEBAR - PAYING THE PAPER MOBIL's message is distributed weekly through opinion page ads in most of America's largest newspapers and newsweeklies. The company's message has not missed a Thursday on the New York Times op-ed page in years. While neither the Times nor Mobil would cite the cost of these ads, standard rates for similar weekly space in the Times costs $939,000 annually, according to numbers provided by a Times salesperson. (An account executive for a major Washington ad agency termed that figure "conservative.") Mobil's largesse is not limited to the ad coffers of major news organizations -- it's also second only to AT&T in Public Broadcasting Service program grants. AMOCO, the nation's largest natural gas producer and the fifth largest refiner of gasoline, reported a 69 percent jump in their fourth-quarter earnings of $538 million thanks to the crisis in the Middle East. Company executives ducked criticism that those earnings were made by high gas prices by stating that the boom would cease when the world returned to business as usual. Texaco, the nation's third largest oil company, showed a 35 percent increase over last year's earnings with fourth-quarter profits of $388 million. CHEVRON: Chevron USA Chair Kenneth Derr (USA TODAY, 1/15) said his firm's profits were "going to be high, and they're going to create a lot of flack. When oil prices go up we make more money." Chevron came in at $688 million for the fourth quarter, over a reported quarterly loss of $883 million a year earlier. Exxon: A 121 percent jump in quarterly earnings over the fourth quarter of 1989, when a horde of 11,000 Alaskan rock-wipers assaulted the company's profit margins. ARCO: An increase of 40.4 percent in earnings to $566 million. Phillips: 46.5 percent rise in quarterly earnings over 1989. Shell: A 68.9 percent jump in quarterly earnings over 1989. Unocal: 54.2 percent rise in profits for the full year. SOURCES: NY Times, Wall St. Journal, Associated Press, Reuters. President Bush made a passing reference to conserving energy in his State of the Union speech. But Energy Secretary James Watkins was more forthright about Administration plans, stating "If I thought that there was one element that was critical to the nation('s energy strategy) it is the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." (Reuters, 1/23). Greenpeace experienced a fleeting moment at the gates of Pundit Heaven for the worst of all reasons. The paucity of information on the war -- and the number of military pensioners willing to comment on it -- had an environmental parallel during the first days of the oil spill. Environmentalists, including our own, were called on to float theories on the damage despite the lack of solid spill information. While we tried our best to cite the theoretical damage to the Gulf based on the effects of past spills, we also tried to stress the most relevant fact of the spill's potential: We just don't know how bad it will be. No one else does, either. Retired Generals, please take note. ### KEEPING HOPE ALIVE FOR ALTERNATIVE VOICES? Former Reagan Arms Control Chief Ken Adelman, Former NBC News reporter and State Department mouthpiece Bernard Kalb, and the Brookings Institute's William Kaufman: Persian Gulf "expert" guests on Firing Line? No, just some of the predominantly white, male, and conservative guests on the 1/27 Jesse Jackson Show. Other panelists included conservative counterterrorism expert Neil Livingstone, George Washington U. Economics Professor Robert Dunn (who declared war "good for the economy"); and member to George Bush's Middle East Task Force Joy Starr, who stated that war was needed to "stabilize" the Middle East Region. VIETNAM WINS AGAIN: According to a Congressional Quarterly report cited on Fox TV's "Off the Record," (1/27) Vietnam was invoked in the pre-war congressional debate on Iraq 413 times. Adolf Hitler finished second with 198 mentions, while Winston Churchill was the show-horse with 46. His predecessor and the right wing's favorite historical lesson for everything, Neville Chamberlain, finished out of the money with 45. President Bush has also played the name-dropping game, prompting Christopher Hitchens to tell his "Off the Record" pals, "If George Bush quotes Churchill once more, we're going to throw up everything we've ever eaten." FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS: London's Birkbeck College distributed tips to American students on how to avoid drawing terrorist attacks. The pamphlet cautions against appearing overly American. Students should thus avoid McDonald's and the Hard Rock Cafe, and should not "conspicuously purchase or carry USA Today." (Washington Times, 1/29). SADDAM PARTS THE PERSIAN GULF, Film at Eleven: NBC Consultant Edward Peck explained on 1/16 that Americans had a New Testament heritage of "turning the other cheek," while Iraqis were "an Old Testament people." AN EXTRAORDINARILY LARGE POLLING SAMPLE: The Washington Post reported (1/30) that "millions of Americans have told pollsters they support the US intervention." ### OBSERVATION OF THE WEEK: "Q: Suddenly, it seems we have more military analysts than Elvis impersonators. Who are these so-called experts? A: Same people as the Elvis impersonators." -- J. Taylor Buckley, USA TODAY (2/1). ### Next Week in Pundit Watch: Has the dominance of TV news coverage in the Gulf made newspapers irrelevant to public opinion? Pundit Watch 2 was written by Peter Dykstra, Blair Palese, and Andrew Davis. End of text from cdp:mideast.media from PeaceNet via The NY Transfer 718-448-2358 & 718-448-2683 --- [ This file has travelled through the Socialism OnLine! BBS at +1-203-274-4639, 24 hours, 300-9600 bps HST/MNP/V42bis, on its way to you, the reader of this file. Please share any information you have about "big brother." Venceremos! ]


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