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Big Story on Dirty Bomb threat

Reported by Chrish - October 19, 2006 -

There must be an election looming - the Big Story today 10/18/06 hyped a sensational threat from "a website in Troy NY" that the Dept. of Homeland Security has already said is not credible. But the story was analyzed and speculated on and spun for the first three segments.

While Gibson reported that a website (unnamed) claimed that 7 NFL stadiums are targets for dirty bomb attacks this weekend, video panned over Giants' Stadium in NJ and a banner read, briefly (4 seconds), " US Govt. expressing doubts about the threat.'

Reporter Catherine Herridge (looking well, thank goodness) presented the same news, i.e. the threat is posted on a website and the DHS immediately "pushed back hard." DHS continues to llok at the threat, but there is nothing to support it. The reporting continued with much reiteration that the threat is not deemed credible and DHS urges people to attend large public gatherings and go about their business normally. Meantime live footage of empty stadiums across the country was shown.

Herridge veered from straight reporting into a "some say" type moment, and said "I would just caution people, that we're just about three weeks away from the election, and you do get a sense when you talk to people that they're a little bit more on pins and needles. Big events like the election are sort of big ticket target events for terrorist organizations. I'm not suggesting there's anything to indicate that something might be in the pipeline for November 7th, but you can tell people are more on edge because of the short timeline we're on. "

But then she summed up, saying that the people she spoke to at DHS today "dissed" this threat definitively So now the seed is planted that we should be fearful up till and including Election day.

Next up guest Daveed Gartensteen Ross, introduced as a terror expert, concurred that while it appears there's nothing to the threat, they can't be entirely dismissive of it. He cautions that before the AP and other media pick up the story they should realize that they run the risk of "boy who cried wolf" syndrome. (Comment: too late. We're increasingly cynical about these conveniently timed fear-raising tactics.) He brings up the very good point that if it was a real Al Queda plot the last thing they'd do is announce it and give law enforcement a heads up about the specifics - date, place, method.

Michelle Malkin was the last guest of this segment, without her usual companion Kirsten Powers. Did Gibson's producers not want an opposing view, or were the two again so closely aligned that it would be redundant?

Gibson wondered if maybe Al Queda will be the one to produce the "October surprise" and not Democrats or Republicans? Could be, said Malkin.

As far as the political implications, what these kind of alerts do is focus the mind on which party handles the security threats better, so if these kinds of alerts and threats continue to "crop up" during the next couple of weeks, it's good news for Republicans.

Gibson said that there's a great deal of cynicism these days about politics and "we were wondering today" whose it's going to be: will the Democrats have another one (my emphasis) a la Foley, or have Bush and Rove got one tucked away in their pocket? Bush and Rove have been "jaunty" about the election while other Republicans have been pessimistic (and the polls warrant that pessimism!) - does she think they have a hold card that's about to be played?

Malkin replied that that's their role - what else can they do, be all gloomy and negative? No, they have to go out and try to energize their base. But she has to be completely honest: she hears from a lot of the grassroots base that they're very gloomy on many fronts - Iraq, Republican spending, or the White House handling of the immigration issue. It's a cliche to say that turnout is going to be key, but that's what it's going to come down to.

This terror threat segment segued smoothly into a political segment, where Rove and Bush are reportedly is confident that Republicans will hold both houses of Congress. But, reports Greg Kelly, Dick Cheney said to Rush Limbaugh that there's a "chance" they could hold both houses but aides are bracing for a "catastrophic loss" in both houses.

I thought it was a startlingly frank admission that the terror threats are intimately tied to Republican vote-mongering, and even more surprising to hear that the man behind the curtain is not pretending that everything is great in Washington, even as he claims all is well in Iraq.