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Damage Control, Continued

Reported by Nancy - January 3, 2005 -

On FNL today (1/3) Brigitte Quinn & David Asman are back, but the emphasis from last week (damage control for the Bush admin) continues unchanged, including 2 interview segment opposing a strong GOP & a weak Dem. One thing has changed in their coverage of the disaster in SE Asia: slightly (very slightly) less emphasis on the tourists who were affected, slightly (very slightly) more attention paid to the people who actually live & died there.

At 11:01am (all times ET) Greg Palkot in Aceh reported on relief efforts, citing US Blackhawk helicopters doing the "heavy lifting" [comment: identical language used by reactionaries like Charles Krauthammer]. Palkot showed a clip of the US commander in the region, & noted that he's "still hearing incredible stories of survival" & that "survivors [are] bound by [an] incredible spirit."

At 11:03am, Quinn noted that EU leaders are "touring" Sri Lanka, the first contingent of US Marines arrived in Sri Lanka & Germany is helping with water purification & other relief projects. She also reported that "almost an entire generation" was "literally washed away in one S Indian village" where 3/4 of the kids were killed/

At 11:05am, James Rosen reported that Bush "enlisted" support from GHWBush & BClinton, so there were "3 of 5 living presidents" at the WH this morning, now visiting the embassies of Sri Lanka, India & Thailand. Rosen reminded viewers that the US has pledged $350M but quoted Bush as saying that our greatest source is not the govt but the "good heart" of our people. Rosen also noted that Colin Powell & Jeb Bush are in Bangkok, adding that Powell "does not foresee" more than $350M being needed & that $37M is already "on the ground."

At 11:07am, noting that the UN says 1.7M people in SE Asia need food aid but there are huge logistical problems distributing it, Quinn interviewed Simon Elegant (TIME magazine SE Asia correspondent) by phone from Aceh. Quinn's questions were embarassingly inane -- "people whose homes were swept away, where are they living?" but Elegant managed to convey some of the scope of the disaster anyhow. He said the area where he is "looks like Grozny", they're sleeping "anywhere they can", living "under black plastic bags strung on strings." Quinn asked about "some parents" who "were hoping that their children ... are still alive" & Elegant said it's not just parents, survivors are "wandering dazed", "there's nothing left, nothing for them to see."

At 11:10am, Quinn reminded viewers that Bush held a news conference 1 hour ago at the WH, he's coordinating US aid efforts & "touring embassies". She announced that "he has just left the Indian embassy" where "he said he hopes to be able to visit India" & she promised more info at 12:30.

At 11:15am, Quinn interviewed Claudia Kalb (Newsweek editor) about the possibility of disease outbreaks in the aftermath of the tsunami. [Comment: Quinn asked relevant questions & Kalb was informative, but why interview a magazine editor about this topic? Why not a public health expert?]

At 11:28am there was an ALERT to show tape of Bush leaving the Indian embassy. Quinn reminded viewers that "Bush promised they [GHWBush & BClinton] will work together" on a nationwide relief effort to help victims of the tsunami & that Bush "remarked that he'd like to go to India, perhaps some time this year."

At 11:32am, Ashish Joshi (BSkyB reporter) filed an interesting report from Sri Lanka -- he is able to interview locals & translate their comments. He showed people waiting for food & lots of video of the carnage, noting that in this particular village the "death toll was higher because it was market day when the tsunami hit." Joshi noted that people there are holding "candelit vigils", they're "not celebrating the birth of a new year, but mourning the death of a nation." [Comment: while FNL did identify Joshi as a BSkyB reporter -- which they didn't do last week -- they still didn't inform viewers that BSkyB is also owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp.]

At 11:34am, FNL announced that supermodel Petra Nemcova (who survived the tsunami & was the subject of extensive coverage on FNL last week) was on the cover of the New York Post [comment: FNL didn't inform viewers that the Post is also owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp].

At 11:35am, after saying that the "politics of tsunami reilef has now ceased with Bush's call on Clinton", Asman interviewed Steve Murphy (Dem strategist, former Gebhardt manager) & Rich Galen (GOP strategist, mullings.com). Asman wanted to know if Bush had "squashed" criticism with this move. Galen said the govt "got off to a slow start" but they've "got legs under them now", & said that Bush "reached out across the aisle". Murphy was even more laudatory & eager to "work with" the admin. Having successfully dismissed "naysayers", & repeating his line about how Americans are the most generous people on earth, Asman moved on to speculation about SCOTUS, asking "Who will replace Rehnquist?" Galen said he had no idea, but it will be "someone hard for Dems to object to." Asman incredulously asked "Will any Dem oppose Scalia?" Murphy said he thought Scalia would "be confirmed but with opposition" because "he's out of the mainstream" & repeated the mantra that "Dems are ready to work with Bush". Galen got in a backhanded compliment/bash, saying that Murphy had a 'good point" about "what is mainsteam", it's "not the New York Times & the Upper East Side of Manhattan." Murphy tried to respond that "mainstream is a judge who supports the Constitution" but Asman deflected that by asking "Is Roe v Wade in jeopardy?" Asman ended with "special thanks" to Galen for his work with tsunami relief.

At 11:43am there was an ALERT to show tape of Bush visiting embassies. Again.

At 11:58am, Asman listed the "tops": Bush asking for your help, huge private fundraising drive; terrorists target democracy in Iraq, cowardly attacks; another laser incident. Then James Rosen essentially repeated his earlier report (including re-showing clip of Bush). At 12:01pm, Greg Palkot essentially repeated his earlier report (including re-showing clip of military commander).

At 12:13pm, Asman interviewed Rep Adam Schiff (D-CA) about US relief efforts. Asman asked if we're doing enough, Schiff said "we're starting to make inroads" in what's needed. Asman noted that $350M does not include cost of sending all our miltary stuff & Schiff basically agreed. Asman then separately interviewed Rep Jim DeMint (R-SC) who recited GOP talking points ("40% of humanitarian aid in the whole world last year came from Americans"). Asman wondered why "foreign news" continues to call us stingy, saying that the French Press [comment: he mangled the name, but probably meant Agence France Presse -- just couldn't bring himself to prounounce a French name properly] "spreads propaganda." DeMint said "we're gonna show the world," & "we do more than any group of nations could." Asman asked whether people should give to private or public groups "like the UN" & DeMint said "private", citing one in SC [comment: nothing like a plug for your own]. Asman added that "foxnews.com has all this info" & recommended that viewers check it out.

At 12:35pm, Jennifer Griffin reported from Phuket, Thailand, about elephants warning tourists thus saving lives. She said dogs are helping recover bodies, citing examples of a German shepherd who came with her French owner, & a man from Seattle with his dog (clip). Griffin repeated the story they focused on last week -- the 18-month blond boy from Sweden -- & said some sad "good news" is that now "only" 4000 people are missing (down from 6500), all presumed dead.

At 12:37pm, Lisa Holland (Sky News correspondent) reported from Phuket about a man from the UK searching for his brother. [Comment: FNL didn't inform viewers that Sky News is also owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp.]

At 12:43pm, William LaJeunesse reported from Los Angeles about one woman's efforts to find her mother & brother, both missing in the aftermath of the tsunami.

At 12:45pm, saying "people all over the world are opening hearts & wallets" to help tsunami relief efforts but "some" are trying to take advantage, Asman interviewed (by phone) MIchelle Tirado, a CT woman who was "conned into giving" a domain name to what she allegedly thought was a tsunami-related charity. Asman said that he read the story in the New York Post [comment: but did not inform viewers that the Post is also owned by Murdoch's NewsCorp]. The story was garbled -- apparently Tirado sells domain names on E-bay [comment: she tried hard but failed to make it sound like she does it all for very little profit]. She sold a tsunami-related domain name to "Josh Kaplan, a Canadian college student" for an undisclosed amount; he then tried to sell it for $50,000 on Ebay & he "never mentioned that was his intention" so Tirado felt "suckered." Even Asman was eventually annoyed with her, finally asking "Were you hoping to make a buck out of this?" & advising viewers again to check out the list of *real* charitable orgs at foxnews.com.

At 12:5pm, in the "Asman Observer" segment, Asman let loose on France, calling a press release (presumably the one he mentioned earlier in the program) "complete garbage" & claiming that the US gives "seven times per capita more than France" -- without, of course, citing any source for that claim. He wondered "How do these lies get around?" & said "start with Egeland". This led, of course, to some UN-bashing ("Americans wisely prefer to bypass" the "bureaucratic corruption of the UN" -- "look at the Oil for Food scandal"). [Comment: The "Asman Observer" never fails to combine some we're-so-swell, pat-ourselves-on-the back bloviating with a slam at the target du jour.]