Written 329 pm Feb 11, 1991 by greenbase in cdpmideast.media PUNDIT WATCH #3 Weekly Analys

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----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Written 3:29 pm Feb 11, 1991 by greenbase in cdp:mideast.media PUNDIT WATCH #3 Weekly Analysis of News Coverage of the War by Greenpeace USA "It's deja vu all over again," said one of the Twentieth Century's best-loved pundits, Yogi Berra. It might be an appropriate line for the re-emergence of many of the same men who lied to us about Vietnam. The role of the Military Pundits is, ironically, to help us sort out the truth in the nation's first live, Clean Enough for the Whole Family War. In Pundit Watch 3, we've examined ten retired soldiers who have been recalled to active punditry for TV analysis. Also, we've prepared an inventory of Nightline's guest list since the start of the war, and explored the style-versus-substance debate over TV and newspaper coverage. McLAUGHLIN GROUP SUFFERS 20% LOSS OF PREDICTION MAKING CAPACITY: "We should be chastened by now since we haven't been right about anything at all," said Jack Germond on 2/8, capturing the essence of the McLaughlin Group's allure in a single sentence. "There's clearly massive disinformation going on," added Morton Kondracke, without referring to any particular panel member. The ground war should commence in "6 weeks," said Morton, "But they may go in one week." Fred Barnes averred that air war will continue for five or six weeks. Germond said that ground war was "two weeks away," and Father McLaughlin pronounced ground war "necessary," and pinned its advent down to "a short period of time" in the future. Eleanor Clift, filling in during Pat Buchanan's second consecutive absence, set the date for "two or three more weeks." This week's highlight was Kondracke's enlightened reference to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Syria as "Our Arabs." "I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes .... (Chemical weapons represent) the application of Western science to modern warfare. We cannot in any circumstance acquiesce in the non-utilization of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier." Response of Winston Churchill, then in Britain's War Office, 1919, when asked by the RAF for permission to use chemical weapons "against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment." (Alexander Cockburn, 2/18 The Nation). MR BLACKWELL'S TEN BEST-ARMED LIST: An inventory of the most ubiquitous Uniformed War Pundits. Maj. James Blackwell (USA Ret.) is a former Lockheed exec and current fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank whose far-rightward slant led to a split with its Georgetown University sponsors a few years back. Blackwell was omnipresent during CNN's first days of coverage. He told the Washington Post (1/22), out of deference to Mrs. Blackwell, that the first night of Allied bombing was "the second most exciting night of my life!" Normally meek on the air and considerably younger than his fellow uniformed Pundits, Blackwell lost his cool during an exchange with quasi-dissident defense analyst Pierre Sprey. Blackwell called Sprey's criticism of the quality of US weapons a "criminal attempt" to undermine the morale of US field personnel during a heated exchange on CNN (1/28). Anchor Bernard Shaw restored decorum by cutting Sprey off during his reply in order to go to a commercial. Anthony Cordesman: His day jobs as Nixon-era DOD official and as staffer for former POW and current S & L suspect Senator John McCain are rarely mentioned. According to the Senator's office, Cordesman officially quit McCain's staff on January 15. With fellow ABC Consultant William Crowe (below), Cordesman has become a regular troupe member of "Nightline." Lt. Gen William Odom (NBC) has gone from the Puzzle Palace to Prime Time. A desk veteran of many conflicts, the former Director of the National Security Agency was also an NSC staffer for Jimmy Carter. Odom joined Crowe in cautioning against rushing into war, perhaps because it's been an awfully long time since he's seen one. Col. David Hackworth (USA Ret.): A Newsweek cover described him as Vietnam's "Most Decorated Soldier." He may be the Persian Gulf's Most Erroneous Journalist. Newsweek 1/21 (the issue hit the streets on 1/14): "Taking out Saddam Hussein's Army ... will not be a quick, massive, and decisive fight. My own estimate is ... a best case scenario suggests victory within 30 days." CNN, 1/16: "This will be known as the six-minute war." CNN Larry King, 1/21: The war will end in "eleven days." Newsweek 1/28: "I would not be surprised if (Iraqi troops) were to cut and run before the war's ground phase begins sometime in February." Newsweek 2/4: "We are not looking at a long war here, but you don't knock over a million man army in days.". Gen. George Crist (USMC Ret.), gives CBS's nightly Sermon at the Map. "My purpose is to comment on the war and give my best unbiased advice. I am retired. So I don't have any vested interests." (Reuters, 1/29) What Crist does offer viewers, however, is morbid enthusiasm for the war. General Michael Dugan (USAF Ret.): His pre-war leaks on US tactics won him early retirement from the Air Force. Many regard Dugan as the most informative member of the Pundits of Foreign Wars, as he was a planner of current US strategy. But does that mean that CBS pays him to discuss things he can't reveal? Dugan's reported day rate ($1500) will pay him in 67 days what the Air Force paid him for a full year as its Chief of Staff. Adm. William Crowe (USN Ret.), Former Joint Chiefs of Staff chair cautioned against the war,but is now providing play-by-play for ABC. Like Dugan, the recently-retired Crowe undoubtedly has first-hand war information which he can't reveal to his audience. Maj. Gen. Bernard Trainor (USMC Ret.) pulled war duty in Korea, Vietnam, and the New York Times. Paid consultant for ABC, he recently left the Times to become a scholar at Harvard. The Times dispatched him to the Middle East to cover the Iran-Iraq war in the mid-80's. Col. Bill Taylor (USA, Ret.): VP for International Security Programs at CSIS. He mysteriously vanished from CNN after the first week of the war, and was widely believed to be the first Pundit casualty of the three-week-old war. He re-emerged on a lower rung of the Pundit food chain, at Washington's WRC-TV. Col. Harry Summers (USA Ret.): Blustery in his NBC appearances, Summers actually has a daughter serving in Saudi Arabia, making his real-world links to the war closer than any other pundit save for Dugan. Summers was a bellicose pre-war columnist whose work regularly appears -- and fits well into -- the Commentary section of Rev. Moon's Washington Times, as well as the Army Times, Navy Times, and Air Force Times. Gen. Russell Daugherty (USAF Ret.). The former SAC Commander made an early appearance on Nightline, but has been little seen since. He's a former chair of the Air Force Association, a booster club of ex-airmen. Gen. Dugan is also an AFA member. CSIS is winning the on-the-air war, cashing in not only with Blackwell and Taylor, but others, like civilian pundit Edward Luttwak, who predicted that a ground war would be unnecessary in a 1/19 Washington Post op-ed. OUR PUNDIT ALLIES OVERSEAS: "Not since the Falklands War have so many retired generals and admirals and military strategists been in such demand, enlisted for special TV broadcasts and called up as armchair strategists for the newspapers." William Tuohy, LA Times 2/5, on the state of War Punditry on British TV. NIGHTLINE GUEST LIST The progressive media monitoring group FAIR released a study in 1989 criticizing ABC's Nightline for its one-dimensional guest list. Analyzing five years of Nightline guests, FAIR documented a strong bias toward white, male, and conservative guests. 92% of Nightline's in-studio guests were white, 90% were male, and the top four most frequent guests -- Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Elliott Abrams, and Jerry Falwell -- were conservatives. How diverse are Nightline's viewpoints since the January 15 deadline? Here's an inventory of the show's interview segment guests since then, with titles as listed on Nightline's transcripts. Multiple appearances by each guest are indicated: Jan. 15: "U.N. Deadline is Midnight Tonight:" Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair and current ABC News consultant Adm. William Crowe (USN Ret.); Gen. Bernard Trainor (USA Ret.) Anthony Cordesman, ABC Consultant and aide to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Brookings Institute Middle East analyst Judith Kipper. Jan. 16: "War Against Iraq Begins:" Trainor (2); Gen. Russell Daugherty (USAF Ret.); Cordesman (2); ABC News correspondents Dean Reynolds in Jerusalem and Pierre Salinger in London. Jan. 17: "US Air Attacks continue; Iraqi Missiles Hit Israel:" Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; All-Time Nightline Appearance King Henry Kissinger; ITN Camerman Sebastian Rich in Amman; ABC's Conservative Archpundit George Will; Rep. Stephen Solarz (D-NY); CSIS Senior Fellow Edward Luttwak. Jan. 18: "Third Day of War; More Iraqi Missiles Land:" Brookings Institution military analyst Joshua Epstein; Adm. Crowe (2); ABC Pentagon correspondent Bob Zelnick; ABC correspondent Chris Wallace in Tel Aviv; Israeli Health Minister Ehud Olmert (introduced by Ted Koppel as "an old friend") in Jerusalem. ABC cameraman Fabrice Moussus and freelance journalist Michael Kelly from Amman. War opponents Rev. Joan Brown Campbell of the National Council of Churches and Alex Molnar of the Military Families Support Network were joined by George Weigel of the conservative, pro-war Ethics and Public Policy Center. (The last segment, on war dissent, was cut short by a special report on Scud missiles launched at Israel. Before the break, Mr. Molnar and Mr. Weigel answered one question; Rev. Campbell, two.) Jan. 21: "Iraqis show POWs on TV; Air War Continues:" Iraqi Ambassador to Japan, Rashid al-Riefi; Journalist and former Naval Air Intelligence Officer Scott Shuger (who had appeared on Nightline in December as an expert on homelessness); former Vietnam POW Cmdr. Everett Alvarez (USN); Jean-Paul Failet, Red Cross delegation chief at the UN; Andrew Whitley of Middle East Watch, a human rights organization; DePaul U. International Law Professor Cherif Bassiouni; CBC Reporter Eric Rankin in Amman. Jan. 22: "First Israeli Scud Fatalities; Oil Fires in Kuwait:" Israel's US Ambassador Zalman Shoval; Jordanian Engineer Sharif Said; Jordanian lawyer Sharif Ali Zu'bi; Prof. Fred Singer, a frequent critic of Global Warming theories; and Carl Sagan, a proponent of such theories; Forrest Sawyer of ABC News. Jan. 23: "'Progress,' Says Pentagon; Press Restrictions:" Bob Zelnick (2); Cordesman (3); Leonard Specter, Nuclear Proliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Defense writer Stephen Zaloga; Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams; Barry Zorthian, Vietnam War-era spokesman for the US Embassy in Saigon; Carter-era State Department spokesman Hodding Carter; ABC's Forrest Sawyer (2); journalist David Halberstam; New York Times reporter Malcolm Browne. Jan. 24: "Expanding War Goals; Problems in Egypt:" Congressmen Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and Newt Ginrich (R-GA); commentator Pat Buchanan; Egyptian opposition party member and journalist Mohamed Sid-Ahmed; Los Angeles Times reporter David Lamb. Jan. 25: "US Security; Scud Hits; Saddam Spills Oil:" FBI Director William Sessions; former Energy Department Security Chief Edward Badolato; Israeli Defense Forces Spokesman Brig. Gen. Nachman Shai; journalist Lamis Andoni; Jordan's royal science advisor, Abdullah Toukan. Jan. 28: "Iraq's War Machine State; US-USSR Chill; Palestinians Caught in Crisis Again:" Georgetown U. Military Analyst Michael Dunn; Defense consultant Abraham Wagner; Soviet Foreign Ministry Spokesman Vitaly Churkin; Presidential Speechwriter Roger Porter; (The Palestinian report featured no interview guests). Jan. 29: "Bush's State of the Union, 1991:" Benjamin Netanyahu (2); ABC White House Correspondent Brit Hume; New York Times columnist Leslie Gelb; University of Virginia Iranian expert Prof. R.K. Ramazani; former Education Secretary and drug czar William Bennett; House Majority Whip William Gray (D-PA). Jan. 30: "Who Starts the Ground War?" Forrest Sawyer (3); David Halberstam (2); "Armed Forces Journal International" editor Ben Schemmer. Jan. 31: "Khafji; Women in the Gulf; British Journalist Freed:" Forrest Sawyer (4); Brig. Gen. Patricia Foote, (USA Ret.); British journalist Bruce Cheesman, held captive for over a week by Iraqi troops. Feb. 1: "LA Airline Crash/Gulf War Update:" The Gulf segment of the show included Forrest Sawyer (5); ITN reporter Brent Sadler in Baghdad. Feb. 4: "Iran Peace Plan/Why Not Assassinate Saddam Hussein?" Iranian Deputy UN Ambassador Javad Zarif; former State Dept. Legal Advisor and retired Federal Judge Abraham Sofaer; Harvard Law School Professor Abram Chayes; Rev. Forrest Church, the son of the late CIA critic Senator Frank Church. Feb. 5: "A Family Divided Over War:" This Oprah-esque show featured AWOL Reservist Stephanie Atkinson and her pro-war father, Steve. Feb. 6: "Doing Business with Saddam:" Former Commerce Undersecretary Paul Freedenberg; former Defense Undersecretary Stephen Bryen. Feb. 7: "Four Iraqis who Walked out of the Minefields:" Isabel Ellson, reporter for the British daily The Independent; Edward Barnes, Life Magazine Weekly. Feb. 8: "Domestic Terrorism:" US Counterterrorism Coordinator Ambassador Morris Busby; Clinical Psychologist James Turner. WAR AS PRIME-TIME ENTERTAINMENT: Has TV made Newspapers Irrelevant? As viewers slowly began to realize that TV's mile-wide coverage of the war was only inches deep, daily newspapers have garnered some after-the-fact prestige. But TV cornered the market on early war coverage in a way which played to, if not created, America's early-war euphoria. Since the 1960 Nixon-Kennedy debate, TV's influence over public opinion has been preeminent, and its dominance is still growing. Recent readership surveys offer more troubling news for print journalism: The number of young adults and minorities who read and rely on newspapers is declining steadily. The inevitable question is a troubling one for American journalism: Has TV's see-it-now technical prowess moved newspapers one step closer to being irrelevant to public opinion? Time Correspondent Richard Zoglin (2/11) reported a telling statement from LA Times reporter Kim Murphy in Saudi Arabia: "A friend took a picture of me..g notes in front of a TV set. That's what being a war correspondent has come to." A poll by Murphy's employer, Times-Mirror, reported "By a margin of 75% to 7%, the public thinks television reporters are digging harder to get the news than newspaper reporters." 73% said that "newspaper accounts pretty much cover the same ground (as TV), while 23% say they have been given a better understanding of what they have seen on TV." Journalists on both sides of the print/broadcast fence downplay the disparity in influence between the two media. "I don't think it's changed the equation, but it has emphasized areas where the print press is not competitive with TV," said former Atlanta Journal-Constitution Editor Bill Kovach. But many consider TV's dominance to be a victory of style over substance. "I've never seen so much news and so little information in my life," said Danny Schecter, producer of "South Africa Now!" and a former producer at ABC's "20/20." "The quote that stays with me is the person who told me his mind is being carpet bombed by CNN. As a TV professional I never thought I could be shocked and amazed by anything. I am shocked and amazed by the degree to which the networks can be a transmission belt for Pentagon pronouncements." "CNN has become the 'newspaper of record,'" said Michael Schiffer of New York University's Center for War, Peace, and the News Media, referring to the New York Times's traditional title. Removed from the "deadline every minute" pressure of broadcast and wire journalism, dailies have eluded much of TV's tendency to stereotype war opponents. Bonnie Garvin of the National Campaign for Peace in the Middle East, told of fielding a call from an NBC Today Show staffer requesting an interview with the show's notion of a cooked-to-order war opponent. Garvin recounted the Today staffer's request: "'We're tired of the experts. We'd like a working person like a stockbroker. Someone who might have voted for George Bush, but is now against the war.'" A three-person panel did appear on the 2/7 Today show, with a war-supporting stockbroker, a lukewarm war-opposing schoolteacher, and an undecided white-collar professional. On the other TV extreme was ABC, which turned in a stereotype-free, four-and-a-half minute piece on war opponents on its 2/7 evening broadcast. Less subsceptible to the video spoon-feeding of "Nintendo War" images, print journalists have also been more tenacious in challenging the company line. The Washington Post's Al Kamen waded through the controversy over the bombing of a building which the Iraqis claim was an infant formula plant, and which the Allies claim was a biological weapons facility (2/8). While Kamen gave some weight to both sides of the story, he uncovered strong third-party evidence that the Iraqis may have the more truthful version. Pro-war media critics have used the controversy to lob shells at CNN's Peter Arnett, who originated the story on an Iraqi guided and censored trip to the building's wreckage. Senator Allan Simpson (R-WY) labelled Arnett an "Iraqi sympathizer" on 2/7. An editorial in the 2/8 Washington Post slammed Simpson, contrasting his "sleazy" attack on Arnett with Simpson's own friendly visit to Saddam as part of a Senate delegation last year. Dailies have also far surpassed TV in their acknowledgment that life goes on in the rest of the world. Network news, with its rigid 22-minute format and necessarily limited attention span, has crowded its worldview into a few minutes at the tail end of the nightly news. CNN, with its all-day format, and NBC, which has moved to an hour-long weeknight newscast, have provided occasional exceptions. Zoglin's Time article provided some encouraging news for dailies in their battle to hold their ground against TV's pervasiveness. The story reported sales increases of ten to twenty thousand papers a day at the Washington Post and Philadelphia Inquirer. Also, a New York Times spokesperson told PW that the paper peaked at 82,000 extra sales on 1/18, but has since returned to pre-war sales levels. Kovach, who is now Curator of Harvard's Nieman Foundation, speculated that the war may have a positive impact on newspapers' hard news coverage: "The trend has been away from hard news in recent years. There's a feeling that hard news is not a sellable commodity. (News from the war) may have caused some news owners to stop and think about that trend. The war makes clear (newspapers') importance." THEOLOGICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Israel is being very Christian. It's turning the other cheek." Jewish biblical scholar Eugene Borowitz, 2/4 USA TODAY "The political decision has been made to keep cameras out of Dover Air Force Base, .... where the bodies of US service personnel ... are returned. This political decision was made to keep the war popular, keep the people happy, and keep the decision to make war looking good. The press should have screamed their heads off about this act of political censorship. They mumbled, then rolled over." Former Congressman Otis Pike, Minneapolis Star Tribune, 1/27. Reports surfaced this week raising hope that Bob Simon and three CBS News colleagues were alive, and could soon be released by their suspected Iraqi captors. Before their disappearance nearly three weeks ago, Simon took part in this dialogue during a Nightline set-up piece (1/23): S/Sgt Christopher Grey, USMC Public Affairs Officer: "If the media .... aren't moving with us, .... they may get lost somewhere out in the desert. Bob Simon: I don't buy that. We have talked to many company and battalion commanders who have told us that they have been ordered not to accept journalists who show up on their own." BUT IS SHE ELIGIBLE FOR MEDALS? "For the first time in my life, I am taking part in a war. Thanks to CNN's fantastic television coverage, I feel really involved." Letter to 2/11 Time Magazine from Eva Svensson, Goteborg, Sweden BIG LEAGUE SPIN CONTROL: Persian Gulf "Talking points are faxed (by the White House) almost every day to party leaders, business executives and religious figures friendly to the Administration. 'Don't forget to mention these points,' one memo instructed, 'whether it is at a cocktail party or a board meeting.'" (Newsweek, 2/11) Psychologists, both amateur and amateurish, have endeavored to probe Saddam Hussein's mind since the war began. The 1/22 CBS "48 Hours" program cited a researcher who attributed the Persian Gulf war to Saddam's fate at the hands of his brutal father. But the most inventive approach of all came from an examination not of Saddam's mind, but of his eyelids: "Saddam Hussein clearly intended to project the image of a strong and unflappable leader during his televised interview on CNN last week. But his eyes may have betrayed him by sending an altogether different message. Close watchers of the interview could not help noticing that the Iraqi leader was blinking at a frantic pace (as often as 40 times a minute, vs. 20 to 25 during a TV interview last June.) John Molloy, a consultant who trains salespeople to handle stress, says Saddam's fluttering eyelids may be a sign of mental breakdown." (Time Magazine, 2/11). A team of Pundit Watch researchers took this as a challenge to put the sanity of many American leaders to the eyelid test. Random observations revealed the following results: SUBJECT VENUE BLINKS PER COMMENTS MINUTE (bpm) George Bush 2/6 Speech, 34.4 5 1/2 Blinks Calmer New York than Saddam George Bush 10/88 debate, 38.2 Dukakis pushes VP 1.8 Wake Forest blinks away from Univ., NC breakdown level Mike Dukakis 10/88 debate 71.3 What's he hiding beneath that calm exterior? Conservative Christian 124.0 (!) The next Freddy Activist/former Broadcasting Krueger? Reagan official Network, 2/6 Gary Bauer Televangelist CBN, 2/6 96.3 Contributions down D. James Kennedy due to War? Conservative CBN, 2/6 7.3 Eyelids Glued Open Activist Paul Weyrich Jimmy Carter Press conference 35.0 Showed impacts of the 6/79 era's National Malaise Dan Quayle Speech, 2/6 20.4 One heartbeat and many blinks away Lloyd Bentsen Senate hearing, 44.9 He's no Dan Quayle C-SPAN, 2/6 Peter Bahouth Speech at anti- 20.0 Very Normal; Has Exec. Dir. of war rally, 1/26 Hiring and firing Greenpeace Power over PW staff The San Francisco Examiner has imparted its own version of the American Way to columnist Warren Hinckle. The paper killed a 1/17 column by Hinckle which criticized the war. According to the SF Bay Guardian, which published the banned column in its 1/30 edition, the Examiner "suggested that Hinckle take a three-month unpaid leave." Instead, Hinckle and Bob Callahan will go to press with "War News," a weekly that will provide an outlet for stifled anti-war voices. Their phone is 415-441-1930. DataTimes is an online database vendor holding the largest collection of U.S. daily newspapers. In its Winter Customer Newsletter, DataTimes ran an inventory of newspaper mentions of George Bush in association with the major topics of 1990: Topic Number of articles ---------------------------------------------------- George Bush and economy 43,538 George Bush and budget 27,091 George Bush and Iraq 26,800 George Bush and drugs 14,733 George Bush and education 11,970 George Bush and environment 8,142 George Bush and broccoli 990 PUNDIT WATCH 3 was written by Andrew Davis and Peter Dykstra NEXT WEEK: Civilian Pundits; War and Advertising. 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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