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Outlets Disguise Agenda of Ex-Reporter's Group, Hype Iraq 'Lies'

By Media Research Center
January 24, 2008

AP, MSNBC, CNN and the New York Times on Wednesday all promoted a "study" by a couple of affiliated far-left groups, supposedly documenting "935 false statements" about Iraq made by Bush officials, but in hyping the proof of "lies" which led to war, the news outlets disguised the ideology of the groups -- led by a former ABC and CBS reporter/producer -- and how many of the "false" statements were about Iraq possessing WMD, which FNC's Brit Hume pointed out was "a concept nearly universally accepted by most of the world's intelligence services at the time."

     Keith Olbermann, who in 2006 slammed the Media Research Center as a "rabid right-wing spin group," Wednesday night on Countdown with "935 lies" on screen on top of a picture of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney, described the Center for Public Integrity and Fund for Independence in Journalism as merely "two non-profit groups" who have "done the algebra" on "the administration's countless lies about Iraq." Last September, CNN's Jack Cafferty accurately described the MRC as a "conservative media watchdog outfit," but he euphemistically tagged the left-wing groups as "two non-profit journalism groups" with a study which "found President Bush led the pack with 260 lies." Cafferty's labeling echoed AP's reference to "two non-profit journalism organizations."

     MSNBC's Dan Abrams lent the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) credibility as "a non-profit, non-partisan investigative journalism group." On WashingtonPost.com, Dan Froomkin hailed the "non-profit group pursuing old-fashioned accountability journalism" and a Wednesday New York Times story cited CPI as "a research group that focuses on ethics in government and public policy."

     Froomkin's piece: www.washingtonpost.com

     (For much more on the January 23 New York Times article, check this posting, "'Remarkable' New Left-Wing Database Shows Bush Lied Us Into War," by Clay Waters on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org )

     [This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Thursday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

     Olbermann on the MRC, as quoted above: www.mediaresearch.org

     Cafferty applying a label to the MRC, as quoted above: www.mediaresearch.org

     The CPI report, "False Pretenses: Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq," carried the bylines of Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith. CPI's bio for Lewis noted how he founded CPI "in 1989 and served as its executive director until December, 2004. He is now the president of The Fund for Independence in Journalism." The bio also recalled:
     "From 1977 through 1988, Lewis did investigative reporting at ABC News, and at CBS News as a producer for senior correspondent Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes."

     He may look familiar, since from the late 1990s through 2004, he was a frequent source in TV network stories about money in politics. The screen shot [to be added above to the posted CyberAlert] is from a soundbite on the May 11, 2004 NBC Nightly News.

     The report: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2008/01/23/5641/false-pretenses

     The Lewis bio: http://www.publicintegrity.org/about/our-people/founder

     Home page for the Fund for Independence in Journalism: http://www.tfij.org/

     Home page for the Center for Public Integrity: http://www.publicintegrity.org/

     FNC's Brit Hume on Wednesday night noted the common belief of many of the statements considered false and how George Soros funds CPI. From the January 23 "Grapevine" segment on Special Report with Brit Hume:

A study by two self-described non-profit journalism organizations accuses President Bush and his advisers of 935 false statements about the threat from Iraq in the two years following the 9-11 attacks. But a large number of those statements were drawn from repeated assertions that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- a concept nearly universally accepted by most of the world's intelligence services at the time. For example, President Bush said of Hussein quote, "He has weapons of mass destruction. He's used them before. He's used them on his own people before." In fact we know now that Hussein had chemical weapons. He was being tried on charges of killing 5,000 Iraqi Kurds with chemical weapons when he was executed for other crimes.

The study was done by the Fund for Independence in Journalism -- which is an arm of the Center for Public Integrity -- which is heavily funded by Bush critic George Soros.

     In his "Best of the Web Today" rundown for the Wall Street Journal's Web site, James Taranto critiqued an AP dispatch headlined, "Study: False statements preceded war." Taranto asserted:

Nowhere in the entire dispatch does the AP tell us anything more about the two groups than that they are "nonprofit journalism organizations." In fact, the Center for Public Integrity is a liberal-left group that has taken money from George Soros, who has compared contemporary America to Nazi Germany. The Fund for Independence in Journalism seems to be but a spinoff; its Web site says its "primary purpose is providing legal defense and endowment support" for the center.

     Taranto's January 23 posting: www.opinionjournal.com

     The AP story, as posted by Yahoo: news.yahoo.com

     With "935 lies" on screen in big letters over a picture of President Bush, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney, with "BUSH LIES BY THE NUMBERS: IRAQ UNTRUTHS TALLIED UP" beneath, Keith Olbermann teased Wednesday's Countdown on MSNBC:
     "So much for the theory of the administration's countless lies about Iraq: Two non-profit groups have done the algebra and show their math: 935 between 2001 and 2003, 935 false statements to the American people about the threat from Iraq."

     In the subsequent segment, Olbermann interviewed Rachel Maddow of Air America.

     In the next hour on MSNBC, 9pm EST, Dan Abrams set up a segment on his show: "We have all heard about the lies, the cherry picking, the hyped intelligence in the run-up to the war with Iraq, but now a new study is holding the Bush administration's feet to the fire. The Center for Public Integrity, a non-profit, non-partisan investigative journalism group has compiled a list of the instances the Bush administration made false statements leading up to the war. The magic number, 935..."

     On Wednesday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty lamented the fact that American troops were still in Iraq and that thousands of them had died: "President Bush said that at the time he and other officials made these statements, the U.S. intelligence community and other nations thought Iraq had WMD. But they didn't. And yet, we're still there, and almost 4,000 of our troops are dead because of it."

     Cafferty began his January 23 segment in the 4pm EST hour:

President Bush and top administration officials publicly made 935 false statements -- that's a polite way to say lies -- about the risk posed by Iraq in the two years following 9/11, according to a study done by two nonprofit journalism groups. The study found President Bush led the pack with 260 lies. But he wasn't alone. Other officials include: Vice President Cheney, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (before she got promoted), and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, among others. The study points to at least 532 times where officials said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to get them or had links to al Qaeda. They say the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

     His question of the hour: "What do you make of a study that shows President Bush and his top aides made 935 false statements about the threat from Iraq in the two years following 9/11?"

     Back later in the hour with the posted and e-mailed replies, Cafferty read one message which pointed out the Soros connection, but all the rest of the replies he highlighted condemned the "lies," urged prosecution for "war crimes" or called for impeachment:

The question this hour is: What do you make of a study? It was done by two nonprofit groups of journalist, a study that shows President Bush and his top aides made 935 false statements about the threat from Iraq in the two years following 9/11.

Larry writes: "I don't think anyone would be surprised that they lied, and this often. But, what's going to happen? Nothing. They will get away with this, like they have gotten everything else for the last seven years. What is wrong with this country when we have allowed this to happen? By tomorrow, you will never hear about this story again."

Dave in Brooklyn writes: "If I had any say in the matter at all, I would make a very strong case for impeachment out of it. But my question is, where were these journalists six years ago?"

Nelson in New Jersey: "Quick, someone make a copy of this database, so we'll have a proper backup in the event it disappears, like the administration's e-mails. This will come in handy when they're prosecuted for war crimes."

Vinny writes: "Hey, Jack, you failed to mention that the study was done by the Center for Public Integrity, which has ties to George Soros and which he funds through his Open Society Institute."

Michael writes from Connecticut: "Now that the truth has come out about what we already knew about Iraq, this Congress has a duty to bring impeachment against Bush and Cheney, as this is very serious and they must be held accountable -- billions and billions of dollars spent on top of thousands of innocent people dead because of this Iraq War based on lies. Congress must act."

Ben writes from Louisville, Kentucky: "What is worse, 935 lies or the watchdog press not doing anything about it for seven years?"

And Judy writes: "When I read your blog, my stomach turned: 4,000 kids who will never see the light of day again and their families, all for a pack of lies. Some legacy, this Bush and company."

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