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Oops, They Did It Again

Reported by Nancy - August 3, 2004 -

FNL this morning (8/3/04) was the usual GOP-fest.

When I tuned in at 9:28am (EDT), they were in the midst of live coverage of Bush making a statement about a Free Trade Agreement just signed between Australia & the US. CNN & MSNBC were not showing live coverage. FNL stayed with this live for another 5 mins, then at 11:33am (EDT) switched to Dagen McDowell for the usual glowing market report. After happily repeating Bush's claims that free trade agreements are good for the markets, McDowell was forced to be a tad more somber in noting that the market indicators are, in fact, down today, as is consumer spending. McDowell did manage to include her usual plug for Cavuto's show later today.

Back on the "terror alert" drumbeat, at 9:36am (EDT) Kelly Wright filed a report that, in addition to the targets identified yesterday, there "may be more targets out there" -- but only identified one, the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. [Comment: I suppose one does technically qualify as "more", but FNL used the plural "targets" both in the report & in the previous teaser for the report -- was this supposed to leave viewers in suspense, wondering if their own cities were targets?]

At 9:38am, John Scott announced that Kerry has been critical of Bush on leadership issues, & interviewed Frank Keating (GOP, former Gov of OK) & Rich Masters (Dem, strategist). Scott asked if we've "lost our luster" in the rest of the world. Masters replied that the leadership issue had an impact domestically too, & asked "where's the outrage?" in the Bush administration over documented failures in intelligence. Keating countered that there's perception of safety ("feel-good") vs reality, & cited some of the steps already taken to make the US safer. Scott then switched topics, & stated that Dems don't like the PATRIOT ACT, asking Masters why not. Masters pointed out that many conservatives also don't like certain provisions of the act, & suggested that since it's coming up for renewal, now would be a good time to be thinking about & discussing which parts of it should be kept & which changed. Scott asked Keating to "wrap it up" & Keating reverted to standard bureaucrat-ese ("we must be careful to protect civil liberties" & to

At 9:43am (EDT), following a full-screen graphic of YOU DECIDE 2004, Scott did a 30-second piece about Teresa Heinz Kerry at a Dem rally last night; when she was heckled by GOPs [Comment: speaking of civil liberties, I think it's about time Dems followed the GOP playbook on this, & institute "free speech zones" for protesters, located at least 2 miles away from any Dem event] chanting "4 more years", she responded by saying "They want 4 more years of hell", then led the Dems in chanting "3 more months". FNL bannered this as "OOPS, SHE DID IT AGAIN". Scott smirked his way thru this, & was even more amused by the next 30 seconds, during which he reported that John Kerry took a ferry ride last night on his way to a campaign stop & struck a pose in the bow a la Leonardo di Caprio in Titanic -- FNL bannered this as KING OF THE WORLD. Scott snickered & commented that maybe Kerry ought to re-think the image of a captain of a sinking ship.

At 9:44am (EDT), having disposed of YOU DECIDE 2004, Scott reported that David Tiffin, a little boy missing in GA, had been found alive & apparently well. [Comment: Little David got 2 mins, as opposed to 30 seconds for each of the Kerrys.] This was followed by teasers for stories on Lori Hacking & the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty.

After an ad break, at 9:50am (EDT), FNL went to live coverage of Tom Ridge speaking at the Citigroup building in NYC (as did MSNBC & CNN). [Comment: this whole event was basically a replay of yesterday's press conferences, with the same themes & even some of the same language.] Ridge said "terrorists want us to live in fear" [Comment: no, that's not what they want, it's how they aim to achieve what they want] but we will "secure & protect our economy", we will be "vigilant & ever-watchful", "solemn", "serious" & "defiant". At 9:56am (EDT), FNL continued live coverage of NY Gov Pataki (GOP) speaking at the same event (as did CNN). Pataki said we are "strong", we "do not cower", we have "courage & resolve" [Comment: he must not have gotten the memo about not re-using exact words from yesterday's briefings]. At 9:59am (EDT), FNL continued with live coverage of NYC Mayor Bloomberg speaking at the same event (MSNBC & CNN did not). Bloomberg said NYC "is open, & will stay open." At 10:02am (EDT), FNL continued with live coverage of Ridge doing Q&A at the same event (as did MSNBC & CNN). FNL stayed with this until 10:11am (EDT).

[Comment: while all of this was going on, FNL was using a split screen to display aerial-view maps with the targeted buildings circled in bright yellow, in case any terrorist missed the briefing on where they are.]

At 10:12am (EDT) there were teasers for upcoming stories about whether the terrorist surveillance had been an "inside job" & about Lori Hacking.

After an ad break, at 10:14am (EDT) Brigitte Quinn joined Scott & announced that stories they would be covering included terrorist moles, the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty, & more Al Qaeda arrests in Pakistan. At 10:15am (EDT), Scott repeated his earlier "stories" on Teresa Heinz Kerry & John Kerry, complete with the same video & the same smirk. Scott used this as a lead-in to the next segment, where he interviewed Michael Feldman (former advisor to Gore) & Ed Rogers (GOP strategist). First, Scott asked Rogers what the GOPs need to do to counter the Dem campaign of the past few days. Rogers ignored the question & immediately attacked THKerry, saying she's a liability for the Dems, JKerry has to"grin & bear it", her money supports his lifestyle, she should release her income tax returns. Eventually Scott interrupted him & asked Feldman whether THKerry was an asset or a liability. Feldman said she's an asset, but the Dems would rather focus on issues like Iraq & the economy. FNL bannered this as COUNTERATTACK, altho they certainly hadn't bannered Rogers' remarks as ATTACK. Scott, ignoring Feldman's suggestion that they discuss real issues, then asked Feldman why Kerry got so little "bounce" after the DNC. Feldman said that it wasn't so little, given how polarized the voting public is now. Scott asked Rogers to wrap it up, & Rogers said "They're spinning".

Following yet another teaser at 11:19am (EDT) for a Lori Hacking story & an ad break, FNL devoted another 2 mins to David Tippin, with Quinn at 11:23am (EDT) interviewing by phone Lieut Kenneth Turner from the local police dept in GA. At 11:25am (EDT), there were teasers for upcoming stories about Al Qaeda having more targets in the US, the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty, & Hurricane Alex, followed by an ad break. At 11:29am (EDT) Patti Ann Browne read headlines about Lynndie England & the Messenger spacecraft on its way to Mercury.

At 10:30am (EDT) Rebecca Gomez reported on the re-openng of the Statue of Liberty, & managed to work in 1 reference to past possible terror threats against the statue & 3 references to current possible threats.

Continuing the terror theme, at 10:32am (EDT) Quinn interviewed Eric Margolis (terror expert & author of War at the Top of the World). He was calm & didn't buy into the official lines suggested by Quinn. For example, when Quinn asked if our current response of "we're not gonna be cowed by you" sends a message to the terrorists, Margolis said no, that's more of a message "from politicians to citizens". Interestingly, when Quinn asked if the current threats could be a ruse to distract us, Margolis said no, old information is "not actionable" (which is precisely the opposite of how Ridge et al have been characterizing this).

At 10:36am (EDT), Janice Dean reported on Hurricane Alex. FNL then reverted to type -- rapid-fire, content-free fluff: teasers (11:38am EDT) for upcoming stories on the re-opening of the Statue of Liberty, Lori Hacking, & married women cheating -- which turned out to be a report by Trace Gallagher at 11:41am (EDT) on how cyberspace flings are ruining families; a Quinn interview with Ginger Philips, a "former patient" of Mark Hacking (10:43am); & another Quinn interview (10:47am EDT), this time with Sarah Smith (editor of Parenting magazine) about a story in the current issue called "The Cutest Kids in America" & with one of the kids included in that story.

General comment: Heaven forfend that FNL should try to inform viewers about anything like issues. The score for 90 consecutive minutes this morning: GOPs 26 mins (directly), GOPs & Dems in interviews 8 mins, David Tippin 5 mins, Dems 2 mins (all negative), issues 0.