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Objective Reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian Situation

Reported by Nancy - February 9, 2005 -

Last night (2/8) on Special Report, Brit Hume interviewed Dennis Ross about the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Ross has been a guest before with Hume, & Hume lets him talk. This interview & Jennifer Griffin's report on the same topic were actually informative & balanced [comment: unusual for most US news media, strikingly so for Fox] -- unlike the rest of the program, which was a re-tread of stories aired earlier the same day on Fox News Live, a reiteration of GOP talking points, & a few off-hand bashes at the usual targets.

James Rosen opened the hour with a report at 6:02pm (all times ET) about Condoleezza Rice's visit to France. Rosen said that Rice "urged old Europe to put aside old differences" (clip of Rice); that Rice cited the recent election in Iraq (clip of Rice) & the Egypt summit (clip of Rice) as positive developments. He described French Pres Chirac as the "very embodiment of old Europe" & noted that the new Foreign Minister said that "alliance does not mean allegiance" (clip of him saying that). There was another clip of Rice talking about Iran. Immediately following Rosen's report, at 6:05pm, Hume noted that the last 3 French prisoners being held at Gitmo are being released to France.

At 6:05pm Jennifer Griffin reported on the Egypt summit, saying that "Ariel Sharon reached out & shook the new Palestinian leader's hand" [comment: the clip showed both Sharon & Abbas leaning across a table to shake hands]. She noted that "radicals on both sides" were quick to react [comment: it is very unusual for Fox to mention that Israeli radicals even exist, much less to label them as such]. She gave a few details about the new agreement, nothing that there is "guarded optimism on both sides" but that the same "stumbling blocks" that existed 4 years ago are still unresolved.

Hume read a teaser at 6:08pm -- Bush promotes his new budget to "the American people" [comment: is anyone else sick of this phrase? who else should he be promoting it to? the Australian people? the Nigerian people?], then at 6:10pm Carl Cameron filed a report about Bush's budget, saying that Bush was "needling Congress to act" (clip of Bush); that Bush describes the budget as "pro-growth fiscal restraint"; that "personal retirement accounts" are essential because SocSec will be paying out more than it takes in by 2018 (clip of Bush). Cameron said that other members of the admin "fanned out on Capitol Hill" to promote the budget (clip of Snow) & that Dems "have not offered alternatives." & "mostly attacked Bolten" (clip of Bolten). Cameron said that the "Senate minority leader" [comment: he didn't use Reid's name] called the budget "immoral" (clip of Reid) but the White House "chose not to fire back" because "getting into a name-calling brawl" with the Dem leader "is not Bush's style or strategy."

At 6:13pm Jim Angle expanded on Cameron's report, noting that Dems "grilled" Bolten about why SocSec is not in the budget proposal & why it does not include $754B in borrowing. Cameron showed clips of Bolten, Spratt & Tubbs Jones [comment: in the Tubbs Jones clip, she suggested that "roll[ing] back tax cuts" would be a good way to resolve any problems with SocSec & specifically said that's one alternative the Dems are offering -- so Cameron's claim in the previous segment was bogus]. Angle said that Charlie Rangel disagreed with Tubbs Jones & showed a clip of Rangel saying that Dems want to "put everything on the table" to resolve this issue [comment: doesn't sound like Rangel is disagreeing at all, simply saying that rolling back tax cuts is not the only option he'd like to see discussed]. Angle summed it all up by saying that the White House is "encouraged" that everyone is talking about "SocSec reform",

At 6:16pm Hume mentioned that Karl Rove will become Deputy Chief of Staff at the White House.

The interview with Dennis Ross (former special US Middle East envoy) started after a short clip of Ariel Sharon at 6:20pm. As in previous appearances on Special Report, Ross was calm & informative. Hume asked intelligent questions & let Ross reply fully. Most importantly, from a viewer's perspective, they stayed on topic -- the Israeli/Palestinian situation -- instead of dragging in unrelated issues. As with Griffin's report, it was relatively even-handed, with Ross in particular noting that both the Israelis & the Palestinians must contribute to the process for it to work & Hume actually using the phrase "Israeli extremists" (rarely heard in US media).

Hume lapsed back into his usual tabloid style as soon as the interview was over. At 6:27pm he read a teaser for his upcoming "Grapevine" segment: "Wait'll ya hear why Democrats are condemning Karl Rove's new White House job." As it turns out, that was item #1 on his Grapevine & it involved NYTimes reporter Elizabeth Bumiller apparently mis-reporting Rove's new duties & Dems reacting to that report. Other items on the Grapevine: Eason Jordan of CNN; "even the ACLU is defending" a UNLV prof over remarks he made about homosexuality; & another Ward Churchill "appearance" was cancelled. This was followed at 6:34pm by a report from Mike Emanuel about Iraqis trying to join the security forces.

The All-Stars wrapped up with the usual bloviating.

General Comment: It's too bad Hume doesn't do more interviews with guests like Dennis Ross. He has a hugely valuable 10-minute slot every night for an extended interview & often wastes that golden opportunity on topics & guests that aren't worth that time. When the guest is articulate & well-informed, Hume rises to the occasion & behaves more like a professional journalist.

NOTE TO READERS: The topic is Fox's coverage of the issues discussed on Special Report on 2/8. Off topic comments will be deleted. Please use our off-topic category for comments not related to this post.