- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2009

THE T-WORD

Skittish broadcasters soft-pedaled the idea that terrorism was involved in the Nov. 5 mass murder at Fort Hood Army base by accused shooter U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

The word “terror,” in fact, was missing in 85 percent of the prime time news stories on ABC, CBS, and NBC in the aftermath that left 13 dead, according to a tally by the Culture and Media Institute, which tracked 48 reports.

The researchers found that even a reference to terrorism was made in only seven of the stories. The networks also appeared to be taking their cues from the White House.

“Before President Obama’s Nov. 10 speech during the memorial service at Fort Hood, 93 percent of the stories had ignored any terror connection. But after Mr. Obama hinted at what ABC called ‘Islamic extremist views,’ all three networks mentioned terrorism,” the study said.

But the nod was slight. CBS and NBC mentioned it once, ABC twice.

“The alleged attackers Muslim faith was not important either,” says Dan Gainor, vice president of the conservative press watchdog.

Slightly more than one-fourth - 29 percent - of evening news reports mentioned that Maj. Hasan was a Muslim. Of those, half - seven out of 14 - defended the religion or included experts to do so,” he adds.

THE P-WORD

The press is definitely getting friskier in coverage of the attack at Fort Hood.

Was Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan “psychotic?” asked National Public Radio on Wednesday.

The answer lay with medical officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, where the accused killer of 13 trained as a psychiatrist, and probing internal documents.

“Put it this way,” one source told NPR. “Everybody felt that if you were deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, you would not want Nidal Hasan in your foxhole.”

“When a group of key officials gathered in the spring of 2008 for their monthly meeting in a Bethesda, Md., office, one of the leading - and most perplexing - items on their agenda was: What should we do about Hasan?” says NPR correspondent Daniel Zwerdlin.

The officer had received poor evaluations and warnings about his work.

“Another official reportedly wondered aloud to colleagues whether Hasan might be capable of committing fratricide, like the Muslim U.S. Army sergeant who killed 14 fellow soldiers in 2003 by setting off grenades at a base in Kuwait,” Mr. Zwerdlin says.

COMBAT READY

They’re playing hardball out in the desert. Republican Jesse Kelly - a 6-foot 8-inch former Marine who hopes to dethrone Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona’s 8th District - is living up to his motto, “send a warrior to Congress.”

He’s taking aim at his Democratic opponent.

“In 2006, she portrayed herself as a moderate who would listen to the voices of southern Arizona’s citizens. She promised economic restraint, in the ilk of Jim Kolbe’s 22 years of service. Her business background was touted as a lynchpin to promoting small businesses, and she vowed to not let her hunger for power sway her,” Mr. Kelly says.

“Rep. Giffords has become the extreme ideologue that she promised not to be. Under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Obama, Gabrielle Giffords has been a steady force and a reliable vote for the radical wing of the Democratic Party,” Mr. Kelly continues.

“Far from being the Blue Dog that she still claims to be, Giffords cannot hide from her actual voting record, which exposes her as a D.C. elitist, fitting far better in the foyer of a penthouse in New York’s Upper East Side, than in the Sonoran Desert. Rep. Giffords is clearly out of touch with her own electorate,” he concludes.

CZARDY-HAR-HAR

Curious about all those czars floating around the White House? Here’s a smidgen of insight into one of them, courtesy of the National Press Club:

Ken Feinberg, the Obama administration’s special master for executive compensation or ‘pay czar,’ will speak at a National Press Club luncheon on Nov. 23. Feinberg, who has cut compensation and benefits for executives at firms that have received U.S. government funds, is also president of the Washington National Opera and former 9/11 compensator.”

RALPH’S BIG MOMENT

Well, why not? Ralph Nader thinks the answer to our salvation lies among the well-heeled.

The perennial third party presidential hopeful is busy touring Eastern Coast enclaves like Harvard University and even a local Borders Books and Music promoting “Only the Super Rich Can Save Us,” a 700-plus page “populist fantasy” that calls on Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, George Soros, Bill Cosby, Yoko Ono, Phil Donahue and 10 others to bail out the nation.

“What if a cadre of super-rich individuals tried to become a driving force in America to organize and institutionalize the interests of the citizens of this troubled nation?” Mr. Nader asks. “What if some of America’s most powerful individuals decided it was time to fix our government and return the power to the people?”

Yeah. As if.

“What if a national political party were formed with the sole purpose of advancing clean elections?” he continues.

“This book is not a novel. Nor is it nonfiction. In the literary world, it might be described as ‘a practical utopia.’ I call it a fictional vision that could become a new reality,” Mr. Nader insists.

POLL DU JOUR

• 52 percent of Americans overall say the nation should have a third political party.

• 44 percent of Republicans, 44 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents agree.

• 53 percent of Americans do not want to see incumbents elected during the 2010 midterms.

• 50 percent of Republicans and 64 percent of Democrats agree.

• 59 percent of those who vote Republican feel “enthusiastic” about voting.

• 42 percent of those who lean Democratic feel the same way.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 2,000 adults conducted Oct. 28-Nov. 8.

Cat calls, hoots, smatterings of applause to jharper @washingtontimes.com


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