Can a news
agency such as CBS become a propaganda organ for U.S. policy? Can it
become so arrogant and righteous that it assumes the American and
world public cannot make up its mind about Saddam Hussein? Last
night CBS aired Saddam Hussein's first speech in 12 years to a Western
journalist. In the process, it became the Beast of Terror it reported
on. Find out why the stench of CBS's Beast of Journalistic Terror
still lingers in the air.
6, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 512
The Stench of CBS's
Beast of Terror Lingers
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, Feb. 6--I wanted to
smash my television screen last night. CBS had become the
worst of Terrorists. It duped me. It stole my time.
It broke its pact of Vigilance. It was the worst piece of
journalism I had ever seen a network present.
Bob Simon, CBS
60 Minutes II
It was 60 Minutes II,
hosted by Bob Simon. All day the network promoted it would
air the interview with Saddam Hussein, the first ever given to a
Western journalist in a dozen years.
I was eager to watch it. Daily, I
scour the news not only in America but from throughout the world.
I read Pravda, the Arabic News, North Korea's state publications,
Europe's take on issues and, of course, the New York Times and
Christian Science Monitor. I try to get a balance, from
the wild rhetoric of communist state party lines, to anti-American
blasts, and to Grand Ole Flag Waving "don't tread one me" American
points of view.
As a journalist, I was trained to present both
sides of the information, good and bad, right and wrong, tasteful and
distasteful, on the assumption the reader had the right to make up his
or her mind. I was not to play God. I was not to inject my
prejudice or bigotry into the news; that was reserved, I was
instructed, for the editorial page.
The night before the CBS fiasco showing of Saddam Hussein's speech, I
had spun the dial on the t.v. and zeroed in on Walter Cronkite's
history of reporting the Vietnam war. As a former U.S. Marine
Combat Correspondent who landed with the 1st Marine Division and was
trained to "fight first and write second," I hold a unique position as
a war correspondent. I know how to look down the barrel of a
rifle at the enemy and squeeze the trigger, then, when the smoke
clears, look down the barrel of a pencil and write not just the glory
of war, but its pain and anguish as well.
I cherish bi-partisanship when it
comes to "pure journalism," for it is the hardest of all things to
bring to bear upon one's words those things one personally detests.
To report fairly, one must see clearly each side, must walk in the
other's moccasins as well as his or her own, and tell the world what
it feels like to be on both sides.
Vigilant Reporter Walter Cronkite: "If you're doing your job
right, both sides will be shooting at you."
Walter Cronkite put is so well in his
documentary. He said about reporting balance: "If you're
doing your job right, both sides will be shooting at you."
I've found that to be absolutely true
in all aspects of life. No matter how much I want to be right, I
have to give the other person the right to be right too. I can't
deny that person his or her opinion, no matter how much I might
personally despise it. If I deny that right, I become a
Terrorist with Words. I become a propagandist, just another hack
with a pen sating the appetite of my editors who steer me to the
editorial board's viewpoint, or, pressure me to shave points here and
there so the advertisers won't get pissed, or readers who feed on
staples of the same ideology won't run away screaming their pabulum
has salt on it.
To be Vigilant, I have to respect the
other point of view--I have to respect Terrorism.
My take on Vigilance is that it is
One Percent more powerful than Terrorism, and that the difference
between being a Sentinel of Vigilance or a Beast of Terror can be
finitely measured by that One Percent Differential.
It's like believing in God. I
don't have to have 100 percent belief to believe in Good versus Bad,
Right versus Wrong, or that a Higher Power rules over a Lower Power.
All I have to do is have 51 percent more belief in the good than I do
the bad--in myself, in life as it is, and in the future.
The further I climb the
"I'm-right-you're-wrong" ladder, the closer I come to becoming the
Beast of Terror. I begin at that point to see the world as a
nail, and my viewpoint as the hammer. I leave no room for
critics. I leave no room for redemption. I leave no
room for me to be wrong, to learn from my mistakes, to evolve.
Right Wingers and Left Wingers, those
who stand at the extremes of everything, are brothers and sisters,
Caine and Able, Yin and Yang. They become so right and so
wrong that no one listens to them, for they spew out venom not
It would be easy for me to flog France and Germany for turning their
backs on supporting the war against Saddam Hussein--if and when that
happens. But, if I wear those nation's shoes, and walk the
walk they walk, I see differently. I realize those
nations are sick of war and have their reasons to be resentful of the
U.S. taking a unilateral stand and assuming "moral policeman" of the
Just as I hate the idea of allowing
someone like Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong Il to swagger about at will
with a strategic plan designed to stomp on all the fundamental
freedoms I cherish as an American, I have to back off and study their
motives from their point of view. I have to wonder why their
people haven't revolted internally against such despotic leaders.
I have to wonder if perhaps those nations and those people might
prefer to march to their own drummer and refute anyone making music
for them--especially the West for whom both the Far East and Middle
East holds in contempt.
For some reason, the citizens of
nations held captive by what we call Terrorist Leaders have accepted
their rulers and may have a plan for their destiny that is far more
reaching than any I might want to inject on the grounds "I know better
than they know what's good for them."
When I start this kind of thinking, I
become a Terrorist. I start to turn against my own Principles of
Vigilance which assume that each Parent of Vigilance holds the future
of his or her children more important than any political, social,
religious or economic factor. I have to go back to the pages of
human history and remind myself that nations of the world that seem to
be under the thumbscrew of despots were once great lands, holding
great powers and enjoying wondrous prosperity.
I have to back to what is called the
Empirical Curve, a record of how nations over thousands of years rise
and fall like stocks, holding to their breast great powers in one era
and losing that power in others. I have to remember that
America is on the rise or decline of its Empirical Curve, and that it
has some, not all the answers to the future prosperity of the world.
This means I
force myself to look at both sides of the coin. Vigilance
reminds me that Courage comes from Fear, and Conviction is born out of
Intimidation, and that Right Actions to the benefit of the Children's
Children's Children finds its fuel at the dangling end of
I have to remember that it
takes a "plus charge" and a "minus charge" for matter to exist, for it
is through the push and pull of atoms, the tension between opposing
forces, that creates life and universes. If everything was
only "plus" and there was no "minus" the world would stop.
Nothing would exist for gravity, the sum of the pluses and minuses,
The same holds true if everything
were negatively charged. The absence of opposition would
expire gravity, all things would fly apart into nothingness.
That's why no one can be one-hundred
percent correct except for one issue. And that issue is that all
of us, despite our differences, owe the Children, and their Children's
Children's Children the right to evolve and grow.
In the ultimate sense, we have
a moral and genetic duty to our offspring to provide them with the
highest and best use of the world into which they are born.
We have an obligation to teach them how to think and how to act, and
that they must live with consequences of their actions, but if those
actions are targeted to the benefit of the Children's Children's
Children, they will make the best possible decisions for both the
present and the future, and not just for themselves, but for the
Our goal, I believe, is
to teach a child to make up his or her own mind after thoroughly
studying both sides of the coin, including the courage to shift and
change his or her opinion as the data or knowledge or wisdom he or she
As an older man, I
am not the man I was years ago. I have much more knowledge
today, much more wisdom. I earned it all by making many
mistakes. I earned wisdom by error, and only know I have wisdom
because I have the right to be wrong. And I keep the door open
to the fact I can be wrong, that I don't know everything so that I can
change and evolve, and thus grow as the "pluses" and "minuses" of life
change around me.
last night threw all Vigilance out the window. It crushed its
stature as a news organization, and became a righteously indignant
mouthpiece, spewing out urine on the Saddam Hussein speech as though
it had become God condemning and evicting any words issued as thought
they were garbage.
It all happened so
fast I was stunned.
I sat down eager to
listen to Saddam Hussein speak for the first time in 12 years to a
Westerner. Of course I knew the interviewer was leftist
from Britain, an ally of a certain point of view I personally consider
faddic at the best. Tony Benn was in charge of the
Tony Benn was born in London in 1925.
He retired from the House of Commons in May 2001 to 'devote more time
to politics' after fifty years in Parliament, the longest serving
Labour MP in the history of the party, which he joined in 1942. So,
despite his CBS critics, he's no slouch. Agree with him or
not, he has made a impact in his sector of the world. He is as
far left as those who roost highest on the hawk stoops. He is as
liberal as those extreme conservatives, and as prolific in his
blind-eyed search for universal peace as the squinty-eyed hawks are to
kill all right wingers who oppose the hard line.
So what does
CBS do with the interview?
opens up for a couple of minutes, the interview is cut.
Instead of seeing Tony Benn suck up to Saddam Hussein with softball
questions and promotional left-wing agendas, CBS falls into the soup
with Benn, acting with the same foolish extremism that Benn does by
not pressing Saddam Hussein to the wall with penetrating questions
that would force the Iraqi leader to squirm in his chair.
CBS brings on
camera this scraggly-haired media consultant they have on tap--Fouad
Ajami, professor of Middle Eastern Studies at John Hopkins University
to berate Benn as the interview is playing. We don't hear
the interview, we hear Ajami railing on about what a smuck Benn is.
Ajami insulted Sixty Minutes II viewers
I don't think I've ever seen anything in recent times that made me so
being able to hear the interview and study both the questions and
answers, all I got was Ajami's points of view. I found myself
watching not an interview with Saddam Hussein, but a critique of it by
some guy I don't know, whose claim to fame is he needs a haircut and a
worse, it denied CBS of any respect, for it was CBS not Ajami that was
at fault. CBS sanctioned the selling of a product it
didn't deliver, and instead of letting the people make up their own
minds, preempted the interview with Saddam for senseless diatribe by
Ajami about "what he thought."
Is anyone in the gray matter of CBS?
over before it started. Viewers were treated to a few clips of
Saddam, and a whole lot of swipes at the interviewer and interviewee.
That was it.
cursed. I ranted. My wife joined me. We had
given up West Wing to see this piece of crap.
insulting, not only to us, the viewers, but to the institution of the
Earlier, I had watched Colin Powell give his evidence to the Security
Council on why we should attack Iraq. No one tried to tell me
what he was saying as he was saying it. I listened in the
privacy of my own thoughts, choosing to agree here, disagree there
with the points he was making.
When it was
over, I turned off the television. I didn't need to hear the news
pundits tell me what I saw, or suggest I think this about that.
I wanted to savor his presentation and then decide what it meant to
ME, to my family, to my children's children's children.
presents his case against Iraq
I wanted to stand in the center of the road and let Mr. Powell's words
sink in, measure the look in his eyes, the nods of his heads, the
stammers he made trying to be exact in his wording, to seek out the
flaws and strengths on my own watch. I didn't need analysis
spoon fed to me.
morning I dialed up Pravda and read the Russian's take on Colin
Powell's speech. It wasn't favorable. I went to Arabic
News and to North Korea's state paper to see what they had to say.
In the Pyongyang Times this morning (link
one of its articles stated in response to what North Korea consider
threatening U.S. policy:
The people are led
by the WPK's army-based politics, a political mode most powerful in
the 21st century, and boast single-hearted unity that is more powerful
than nuclear weapons, which are the secret of all the successes
achieved by the Korean people.
Even though the government of Kim Jong Il controls the news, there was
a powerful respect played out in the news regarding the will of the
people of North Korea. Whether valid or not, I do not
know. But I do know that "single-hearted unity" is indeed more
powerful than nuclear weapons. I know that if the people of
America were to become Parents of Vigilance, if they signed the Pledge
of Vigilance and lived by the Principles of Vigilance, and taught
their children to use the Shield and Sword of Vigilance to ward off
the Beast of Terror, that single-hearted unity would rise above all
military might. I know it would spread from parent to
parent, nation to nation, for Vigilance is not about war, it is about
peace and prosperity for our children--of all sizes and shapes and
last night to show single-hearted unity. It divided and
destroyed its role as an independent news source--at least in that
program. It became like the Pyongyang Times, a Voice of
one, not a mirror for many.
The network suggested we should tell our children what
to think before they have the chance to make up their
own minds, because it treated the viewers like children,
incapable of arriving at their own conclusions.
CBS wanted us to swallow its thinking, not for us to
think for ourselves.
Vigilance all begins by recognizing Terrorism.
To recognize it, one only needs to ask: "Are
they trying to get me to think their way?"
If a person, a group, a government, a news organization
begins to believe it has the answers, that it is without
fault, that it can presume and assume better than those
around them, then they are Beasts of Terror, employing
Intimidation and Complacency upon others to achieve
CBS roared last night, but not like a lion of Courage,
but rather like a Beast of Terror.
The stench still hangs in the air.
Feb 5.--Terrorism Stalks NYC's
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