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Arafat-Watch

Reported by Nancy - November 10, 2004 -

Special Report with Brit Hume was no worse than usual last night (11/9) -- which isn't saying much. The theme of the first half (if it can be said that there was a "theme") is that Yasser Arafat is still dying. And I keep waiting for "Saturday Night Live" to do a Generalissimo Francisco Franco update.

After a brief report from Wendell Goler about Ashcroft's & Evans' resignations from Bush's cabinet, the show swung into full bash-Arafat (& bash-Palestinians-in-general) mode.

At 6:04pm (ET), Dana Lewis reported from Paris that, despite "smoke & mirrors & spin" by Palestinian leaders, Arafat is still dying. Lewis managed to work in a completely gratuitous reference to Chirac calling Bush to "congratulate" him. Immediately following Lewis, Jennifer Griffin reported from Jerusalem. She characterized the Palestinian reaction as "procrastinating", saying they are "paralyzed" & "unable to move on" -- this despite the fact that she showed a clip (also shown earlier in the day on FNL) of a press conference with Saeb Erekat discussing burial arrangements for Arafat. Her report also included buzzwords like "anarchy" & talked about "emotions" running high.

At 6:12pm (ET), Bret Baier (at the Pentagon) & Greg Palkot (near Fallujah) reported on the battle for Fallujah, complete with plenty of shoot-'em-up video & a replay of a clip from an earlier press conference by Lt Gen Thomas Betz, then it was back to Arafat.

At 6:18pm (ET), Wendell Goler filed a report about Arafat's history with US presidents. At first I thought this might simply be an excuse to re-use some old video clips, but it soon became clear that it was Fox's way of emphasizing anything & everything negative about Arafat -- not that there isn't plenty of negative stuff, just that the negatives are what Fox is concentrating on. For example, Goler noted that Arafat "lied to Bush" about some explosives & showed a clip of Bush calling for "new & different [Palestinian] leadership", followed by a clip of Bush with Palestinian PM Mahmoud Abbas.

At 6:22pm (ET), Hume interviewed Dennis Ross (former diplomat, author of "The Missing Peace") about Arafat's impending death. Ross brings an extensive background to this discussion (as noted by Hume) & tried to be positive, saying that Arafat is an "icon", his death will be the "end of an era", he deserves credit for putting the Palestinian issue "on the map". He also tried to look to the future, emphasizing that the US should try to work towards Palestinian elections ASAP, to avoid a vaccuum. Hume, still trying to emphasize the negative, went so far as to (indirectly) give Bill Clinton some credit (referring to the failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks brokered by Clinton), saying Clinton "tried so hard" but when he (Clinton) said "They just couldn't get there" he didn't mean "they" he meant "Arafat". Ross agreed that Arafat had been the one who had sandbagged the talks, then tried to steer the discussion back to Palestinian elections. Hume persisted, noting that the "security wall" that Israel is building has made their position stronger & their offer is not likely to be repeated. Ross agreed, & was distracted by the issue of the wall/fence/barrier. The interview ended with a brief discussion of the "security wall" Israel is building.

Following the Ross interview, Hume offered a teaser for an upcoming story about why France was the "country of choice" for Arafat's treatment [comment: nice double-bash there]. At 6:31pm (ET), after an ad break & leading into "The Grapevine" segment, Hume displayed graphics of poll results, showing that 43% of the French consider Arafat a "hero" & 27% consider him a "terrorist". [comment: oh those dastardly French! how dare they not agree with Fox!] Of course this doesn't explain anything at all about why France was the "country of choice" for Arafat's treatment [comment: why should Hume follow up on a teaser? his viewers probably drew the conclusion he implied -- that France is the only country likely to treat Arafat well -- when in fact only the US & Israel have demonized the man.]