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Special Favors on Special Report

Reported by Nancy - December 8, 2004 -

"Special Report" last night (12/7) did Bush a very special favor in its handling of the "story" about new Bush appointments to the US Civil Rights Commission. As usual, what Fox DIDN'T say about this issue turns out to be ... er, rather "special".

The bare facts are that Bush has decided to replace Mary Frances Berry (chair of the Commission for 20+ years) & Cruz Reynoso (vice-chair). According to the Bush Administration, his new appointments were effective immediately, on Monday, Dec 6, 2004. According to a statement from Berry, neither her appointment nor Reynoso's ends until Jan 21, 2005.

Both the lead-in teaser by Brit Hume (complete with banner "Contrary Mary") & the report by Major Garrett were weighted to make it seem as though Berry is simply being an obstructionist. Garrett's report -- in the guise of explaining the creation of the Commission by Eisenhower back in the 1950's -- even included the patently ludicrous assertion that the panel's work has been largely completed. Garrett included plenty of footage of Peter Kirsanow, also a USCRC commissioner, who plainly doesn't like Berry, as well as an old clip of Berry speaking somewhere (unidentified) & getting a laugh from a crowd with a reference to Jeb Bush & Katherine Harris.

Here's what Fox DIDN'T tell viewers: On 12/1/04, according to a press release right at the top of the home page on the USCRC's website,

In an appeal for healing a nation deeply torn across a wide ideological divide, the leaders of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights today urged President Bush to forge a stronger commitment to embracing civil rights with actions, more than words.

Commission Chairperson Mary Frances Berry and Vice Chairperson Cruz Reynoso underscored their plea for "presidential leadership" by dispatching to the White House a copy of a report prepared by Civil Rights Commission staff titled Redefining Rights in America: The Civil Rights Record of the George W. Bush Administration, 2001-2004. The 166-page report, considered for adoption in November, was rejected by the Republican-appointed members of the 8-member Commission. The report documented what it called "missed opportunities to win consensus on key civil rights issues" ranging from affirmative action, to fair housing, to immigration, to voting rights.

Comment: Let's see. On 12/1, Berry & Reynoso release a public statement about Bush's civil rights record. Some time over the next few days (talk about instant retaliation!), Bush suddenly decides to replace Berry & Reynoso immediately, 6 weeks before their appointments would otherwise have ended & by 12/6 the story about the new appointments hits the news media. On 12/7, "Special Report with Brit Hume" mentions only the "appointments" part of the story, never mentioning the Commission's release of the report on Bush's civil rights record (this report is also available on the USCRC website) or the "instant retaliation" angle. Hmmm... isn't that SPECIAL?