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"We're So Swell" Edition

Reported by Nancy - January 4, 2005 -

On FNL this morning (1/4) Brigitte Quinn & David Asman claimed they were providing coverage of "worldwide relief efforts" to help tsunami victims. However, the only reports I saw in 2 hours related to US activities, with a very heavy emphasis on military activities & endlessly repeated plugs for freedomcorps.gov & foxnews.com. -- that is, when they weren't playing on fear & loathing by hyping reports of child exploitation.

At 10:59am (all times ET), Jennifer Griffin reported on Colin Powell & Jeb Bush in Thailand (2 clips of Powell). Griffin added that Powell also said it is "most urgent" to get more military help to distribute relief. At 11:01am Quinn reported on Aceh airport problems & US Navy vessels helping around the region. At 11:02am Greg Palkot (ny videophone from Indonesia) expanded on the US Navy involvement in relief efforts, adding some details about the devastation in isolated villages.

At 11:05am Quinn said the NYPost is reporting the kidnapping of a 12yo boy from a Thai hospital. She said there's a "fear" that he might be "sold to pedophiles", & there have also been reports of people "selling kids to parents who lost their own children in the tsunami." [comment: Quinn did not say that the Post in also owned by Rupert Murdoch's NewsCorp.] Quinn added that families are being "forced to search" through rubble for "anything to peddle."

At 11:06am Kathryn Herridge reported on US military involvement in relief efforts, completed with PowerPoint-style slides.

At 11:14am, noting again that "our troops" are "handing out supplies", Quinn said the "big question this morning" is how important this effort will be to our image. Quinn interviewed David Ignatius (WaPo) about this, asking questions like "Why is the perception of US as stingy?" & "What about WWII GIs handing out candy bars?" Ignatius pointed out that "most of the rest of the world doesn't see us" as we see ourselves [comment: DUH], they see us as "arrogant, selfish." Ignatius pointed out that "getting angry doesn't help", we "have to work to change it." Quinn asked if Bush helped our image "by assigning his father & brother to help" & Ignatius replied that "in any culture sending a member of your family says 'I care' " & added that "we're gonna be in this war for a long time" so "every gesture matters." Quinn asked "Will it generate help when we need it?" & Ignatius said he hoped so, but "we need to do a lot of remedial" work.

At 11:22am, Quinn replayed the clip from yesterday of GWBush announcing that GHWBush & BClinton would coordinate US private relief efforts & said that GHWBush & BClinton are "somewhat of an odd couple". She then interviewed Peter Mirijanian & Eric Denzenhall (both PR & crisis management consultants). Both said it will be successful, with Denzenhall calling it a "good way to diffuse blame." Quinn wanted to know if this would help Bush, pointing out that "here he's sending his father, his brother ..." Mirijanian said the "US always steps in" so Quinn asked about our "image in the Muslim world." Denzenhall pointed out that you "can't get people who hate you to like you." Quinn noted that some celebrities are "pitching in" & Mirijanian cited "Sandra Bullock's incredible gesture." Quinn wondered whether people will "lose interest after a while" & Denzenhall commented that "people want to be players in current events", so there will be "lots of interest for the immediate future."

At 11:25am, Quinn said that UNICEF estimated 50,000 children were killed by the tsunami, with hundreds of thousands more orphaned. She added a plug for usafreedomcorps.gov

At 11:31am Quinn reported an "unbelievable" survivor story -- a Malaysian fishing boat rescued a woman clinging to a palm tree swept out to sea.

At 11:32am Alisyn Camerota reported on tsunami-related scams, leading off with a story reported yesterday by Asman & ending with a plug for foxnews.com.

At 11:34am, noting that "airports [are] bursting with relief supplies", & the "Coast Guard [is] heading to help", Quinn said copters from the USS Abraham Lincoln are helping, leading into a report from David Piper (on board, via videophone).about how the US military is helping.

At 11:42am, saying that "individual Americans are already" responding, Asman interviewed John Bingham (former international volunteer) & his 10-year-old son Johnny, who are selling bracelets & giving the money to Red Cross or Catholic Relief. Asman focused on Johnny [comment: a typical 10-year-old who was not a good interview subject]. Dad said they've raised $2271 as of last night. Asman asked how he "proves" that the money is going to the Red Cross & dad said they send contributions via the web each night & get a printout for a receipt. He gave an email address where viewers could write to him.

At 11:49am, noting that "aid is pouring in" & that "WHO says fears are mounting" about disease, Quinn interviewed Dr Philip Brachman (Emory U) [comment: this was much better than her interview yesterday with the Newsweek editor, because Brachman could address specific issues & Quinn asked intelligent questions]. The main focus was on infectious waterborne diseases (salmonella, cholera, etc) & how to combat them short-term (water purification kits) & long-term (rebuild infrastructure).

At 11:54am, Quinn plugged freedomcorps.gov .

At 11:58am, Asman read some of the upcoming stories & said "the US to the rescue" commenting on US military efforts as a lead-in to Jennifer Griffin, Kathryn Herridge & Alisyn Camerota essentially repeating the reports that FNL aired in the previous hour. Griffin also noted that there are reports that [Persian] Gulf states are not contributing to relief efforts. Camerate added plugs for freedomcorps.gov & foxnews.com.

At 12:01pm FNL went to live coverage of Cheney opening the Senate session, starting with the chaplain "leading the Senate in prayer" for tsunami victims.

At 12:04pm, FNL went back to reports about SE Asia. Also, Asman noted "disturbing reports" of thieves & kidnappers, fears that children are being sold to pedophiles or for other exploitation. He said that a school in Thailand is opening again & that "America's military relief operations are picking up steam."

At 12:15pm there was an ALERT so Asman could announce that 13,000 US military are involved in relief efforts (which he characeterized as a "staggering" number). He noted that the $350M figure doesn't include costs of ships etc, then interviewed Dominic MacSorley (concernusa.org part of freedomcorp.gov) about the relief effort. At one point, Asman said that Doctors Without Borders "can't handle all the cash" that's coming in. MacSorley immediately responded that people shouldn't stop giving because while the "focus is on keeping survivors alive" now, it will take a "couple of years to rebuild." Asman commented on the difficulty of rebuilding infrastructure. MacSorley noted that the "highest fatalities are among the most vulnerable communities." Asman asked if "people [are] gonna have to change their living styles ... move away from shore" & MacSorley said that Sri Lanka now says structures must be "500 yards away" from the water [comment: it wasn't clear whether that prohibition was in effect before the disaster, or whether this is something they've instituted in the aftermath]. Asman commented that this is the "biggest disaster I can remember," but the relief effort is "the most money too" & MacSorley agreed.

At 12:23pm, Asman interviewed Peter Banks (Ctr for Missing & Exploited Children) about the "fears" & reports of child exploitation & abuse (kidnap, pedophiles, selling orphans). [Comment: why does no bloviator ever admit that the US is the biggest market in the world for child porn?]

At 12:30pm David Piper essentially repeated his earlier report from aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. At 12:32pm, Greg Palkot essentially repeated his earlier report from Indonesia.

At 12:51pm Asman said "Americans are going all out but the European press still calls us stingy" & interviewed Mark Williams & Leslie Marshall (radio talk show hosts). Williams started off with a little France-bashing & asked "Who cares what they think?" Marshall tried to interject some common sense, noting that "We have positioned ourselves to be the big brother" & "we stepped up only after others" criticized us. She added that "to whom much is given much is expected." [Comment: Why did Asman interview these 2 radio talk show hosts? Who cares what they think?]