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We're Still Swell -- But Don't Forget To Be Afraid

Reported by Nancy - January 5, 2005 -

Today (1/5) on FNL, the PR blitz about US relief efforts in S Asia continued, with the emphasis pretty evenly divided between lauding the US military & hyping the alleged "threat" of child kidnapping & exploitation.

At 11:01am (all times ET) Greg Palkot interviewed Jeb Bush touring SE Asia.

At 11:03am Trace Gallagher reported from Phuket island in Thailand. He noted that Australia has pledged US$750M, Germany US$674M, Japan US$500M & the US $350M. He said there was a "moment of silence" around the world this morning & recounted an "incredible tale of survival" -- a Malaysian man who was adrift for 8 days, clung to a tree, & survived by gathered rainwater & eating shellfish until a Japanese vessel rescued him. Gallagher said that Phi Phi island (which he noted was the location of a Leonardo di Caprio movie) was a scene of "devastation" but the "reefs are still pristine," so there's a "reason for people to come back."

At 11:04am, Quinn said there are "new fears" for children falling "prey" to "child trafficking gangs" who will use them for "forced labor or sexual slavery". This was a lead-in to a report from Kelly Wright, focusing on a 12-year-old Swedish boy, Christian Walker, who might have been kidnapped from a hospital in Thailand. It turns out his grandfather is from FL (clip of grandfather making emotional appeal for safe return). Wright said there are "scores of missing children" but admitted that none of the "tales" about kidnapping have yet been "verified" (clip of UN official saying protect the most vulnerable). Wright added that Thailand & Indonesia are "now posting warnings" re child trafficking. At 11:07am Quinn said there was "silence at noon" for 3 minutes across Europe with "flags at half staff" & "Americans are giving money at ASTONISHING rates" [comment: emphasis hers], with a plug for freedomcorps.gov .
[Comment 1: this particular case of alleged kidnapping was the only instance FNL mentioned today & yesterday; there was no attention paid to the fact that with >120,000 people killed in the disaster, & with the communications & logistics nightmares of the aftermath, there are bound to be "some" orphans & "some" missing kids. Comment 2: anyone care to speculate about how much air time FNL would devote to a missing 12-year-old Nigerian boy named Muhammed whose grandfather lives in FL?]

At 11:11am there were teasers for "$350M in aid", the "full force of military" in the "massive" relief effort, & "why are some Islamic clerics blaming the US for the tsunami?"

At 11:14am FNL showed a tape of "rainy Andrews AFB" & Quinn announced that Bush is going to a town in IL that the Amer Tort Reform Assoc says is a "hellhole" to start his push for "tort reform."

At 11:15am, citing the "huge humantarian effort" & showing a clip of CPowell saying "we care", Quinn interviewed Brendan Miniter (opinionjournal.com) about the US image in the Muslim world. Quinn harked back to "images of friendly GIs handing ot candy bars" & Miniter said the "military wins hearts & minds," noting that there were "joint training exercises in Thailand last year" & now "those lessons pay off." Quinn said there was a "beautiful picture in the NYTimes" of a "goodhearted American soldier" & asked whether that "will spread through the Muslim world." Miniter said it will. Quinn noted that Miniter's recent article said that "our helping is driving OBL nuts" & Miniter said that in reference to that region "Al Qaeda's vision is like now", but our vision is like what it used to be, more prosperous & thus less likely to produce terrorists.

At 11:18am teasers included a test drive with Jeff Gordon; aid efforts. At 11:26am the teaser was "You guessed it, we're being blamed for causing the tsunami."

At 11:31am Rick Folbaum joined Quinn & they showed pix of Powell "getting an aerial view" of the devastation. Folbaum noted that "of course" Jeb Bush is there too. They both commented on American generosity, hoped that it would help "win minds & hearts."

At 11:33am Kathryn Herridge reported that the US is "ramping up more military assets" for relief & is tracking diseases like malaria, cholera, hepatitis, etc. She gave a breakdown of "US assets in the region" from the Pentagon & showed a clip of Powell.

At 11:35am David Piper reported from Thailand about his copter relief mission flown from the USS Abraham Lincoln. He described the scene as a "band of death" running along the coast "as far as the eye could see", with "whole villages wiped away." He said that copters "are the only lifeline" for isolated villages. Quinn added a plug for freedomcorps.com & foxnews.com .

At 11:37am, Williamm LaJeunesse reported on "wild rumors & conspiracy theories" about the tsunami. He noted that it's human nature to feel that there's "got to be a deeper meaning" in the face of disaster. He cited various clerics who have said the tsunami was "God's retribution" or "nature's revenge for the crimes of man", then went on to what he called "stupider" claims: a blogger at DemocraticUnderground said that an underground nuclear test might have caused it, another said "all that shock & awe stuff fractured something."

At 11:39am, the teaser was about "some Americans getting personally involved" & "wait till you hear about what they're doing with their winter vacation."

At 11:43am there was an ALERT so Folbaum could announce that "Bush has tasked his father & BClinton" to head up the drive for private donations & show a clip of GHWBush's press conference -- which, as Folbaum put it, was a "perfect segue" to Quinn interviewing a "family from NY" heading to Thailand to help. Larry & Betty Lapin & their 3 kids had planned a family vacation in Thailand for February, but changed their plans & will go now. They're asking for donations from neighbors of clothes & toys, to distribute to hospitals or orphanages but "not in conjunction with any charity." Larry Lapin commented on the "outpouring from all Americans." [Comment: And no one commented that, both today & yesterday, FNL chose to highlight people who are doing the exact opposite of what usafreedomcorps.gov advises.]

At 11:46am teasers included tsunami victims; gaming addicts; Jeff Gordon. At 11:55am, teasers included: massive relief efforts, US military missions of mercy, where is Christian Walker? At 11:59am Folbaum identified the "top" stories: where's OBL; terrorists spinning a natural disaster; $3B in aid but is enough being done to protect the youngest, most vulnerable.

At 12:00pm Trace Gallagher essentially repeated his earlier report. At 12:02pm Folbaum announced "sad news", that the State Dept says "36 Americans confirmed killed," with several thousand still missing. At 12:03pm David Piper essentially repeated his earlier report. At 12:05pm Greg Palkot essentially repeated his earlier interview with Jeb Bush. At 12:07pm Andrew Stack reported on today's violence in Iraq. This essentially repeated David Lee's Miller earlier report.

At 12:08pm teasers included: tsunami rumors & conspiracy theories; US copters dropping supplies; will US image improve: Jeb Bush in S Asia -- "will he be tapped for a bigger international role?"

At 12:18 teasers included US death toll at 36; orphans at risk; Bush calling on Jeb; Jeb's possible run for national office. At 12:21pm there was an ALERT to announce that the US death toll in the tsunami is officially 36, with thousands still missing & unaccounted for.

At 12:22pm noting that "Bush [is] calling on family to help" in relief efforts, Folbaum interviewed Bob Beckel (Dem strategist) & Martha Zoller (radio talk show host) about Jeb's political future. Both agreed that family menas a lot there, Jeb's handled himself well there, no predicting what he'll do re politics. There was some talk of "dynasty" & other gossip & speculation. [Comment: who are these radio talk show hosts? who cares what they think?]

At 12:27pm teasers included: push to stop "frivolous lawsuits"; US death toll 36; S Asia govts "scramble to protect orphans." At 12:31pm there was an ALERT to repeat that 36 Americans were killed in the tsunami. At 12:31pm Jane Skinner read headlines: refugee camps on Sumatra; deadly attacks in Iraq; Bush pushes to stop "frivolous medical lawsuits"; severe storms in US.

At 12:33pm Folbaum said the "US military is doubling efforts in S Asia" to intro Kathryn Herridge, who essentially repeated her earlier report.

At 12:36pm, after Folbaum noted that "India will not relax strict rules on adoption" to protect the most vulnerable, William LaJeunesse essentially repeated his earlier report about "bizarre rumors & conspiracy theories" saying they range from religious to stupid.

Teasers at 12:39pm included: US tsunami death toll 36; GA dentist possible murder charges; online fantasy game addiction. At 12:42pm there was an ALERT to repeat that 36 Americans were killed in the tsunami.

At 12:48 the teaser repeated that 36 Americans were killed in the tsunami.

At 12:52pm Folbaum interviewed Winston De Visser, a Sri Lankan living in MD, who was home for the holidays when the tsunami. De Visser taped some of the wave, but his camera was destroyed, then he grabbed his children (3 years old & 10 years old) & fled the beach back to the hotel where he was able to warn the rest of his family to get out. De Visser has a website to try to help raise funds (www.slembassyusa.org).

At 12:56pm the teaser was about "helping orphans."

Thankfully, viewers were spared the "Asman Observer" today.